Hispanic PR interview with Jorge Ortega of The Jeffrey Group

Jorge Ortega is president of The Jeffrey Group, one of the nation’s largest serving both the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American PR markets. Jorge Ortega - The Jeffrey Group

What was your childhood ambition?

Well, to be honest I have always wanted to have my own talk show. As an adult I have considered this ambition further but have not really acted on it.  Also, one day I hope to run an important non-profit that really makes a difference in people’s lives.

Tell us about three people that you admire and why?

Pope John Paul II.  He was an amazing leader and spiritual person. He tried to unite people of various faiths while also making substantial progress in the Catholic religion. He knew how to connect with people and show what being Christ-like was really about.

Harold Burson.  As the founder of one of the greatest PR firms in the world, Harold epitomizes professionalism and classic communications counsel.   Clients and colleagues alike trust him, respect him and valued his words of wisdom. He still answers his own phone when he is in the office.

Bob.  My father-in-law.  He has taught me a lot about life, relationships and business.  His –constant “BOBisms” are part of my vernacular and have inspired me to manage better, lead effectively and demonstrate passion for life, love and work. His is an excellent of what a husband, father, son, grandfather and father-in-law should be.

What is your favorite life or business quote?

“Manage expectations, follow-up, no surprises” – all “Bobisms”

Besides your firm, what are you really passionate about outside of work?

I am co-founder and now past chairman of the board of The International Kids Fund, an organization dedicated to providing life saving medical need for children in need.  We have a great board and lots of exciting events – all for a great cause. Before November 21, sponsor me at www.rallyforkids.com as I seek to raise money for kids with cancer!

Tell us about your educational background?

Attended Christopher Columbus High School in Miami and later served on its board for several years. Still provide support when needed.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Marketing Concentration from The American University in Washington, D.C.

What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life?

Work hard.  Have Faith.  Enjoy family.  Give back.  Love and laugh a lot.

What is the most important business habit you have?

Management by walking around.

What the best book you’ve recently read and why?

Good to Great.  It’s a well-researched and well-written journal of amazing business practices and success.

How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you?

I went to NYC for Easter break my senior year (1985) hoping to land a job in banking.  Walking around SOHO with my brother and some friends I learned about Burson-Marsteller and a job opening there.  I went to interview, loved it and was hired for a July start date.  It was March!  Those were the days.  Since then, I have been able to live in NY, Chicago, Mexico City and Miami and travel around the world working with great people and incredible clients.  That experience prepared me to lead this awesome firm, The Jeffrey Group and help build a great team and client roster while growing both our top and bottom line!

What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?

Perfect your Spanish—written and oral. Read a lot, especially good and objective news media. Be proactive in seeking advice, listen a lot and remain active in your community.

Tell us something about you that would surprise even many of your closest friends?

That when I put my girls to bed each night I tell them a story from when I was a child… and I’m running out of good (ok for your kids) stories

What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your Hispanic-focused PR team?

We focus on Latin audiences and specifically Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. We are the only agency with 17 years of experience which specializes in exactly those markets. Our Hispanic practice is growing fast and today we boast an impressive portfolio of clients.

Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special?

The work we do for Jose Cuervo has allowed us to bring the brand to life in communities across the country. Linking the brand with soccer in places where the Cuervo consumer plays and celebrates life has made our work relevant, successful and impactful.

The work we did for Western Union for several years helped the company connect with Hispanic media, community and stakeholders like never before.

Who are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your team is presently working on?

Johnnie Walker celebrating 100 years…
Diageo Diversity communications consulting…
T-Mobile with new product launches monthly…
HBO Latino with new season of the award winning EPITAFIOS series…
FOX Sports En Español 2009=2010 Upfront Campaign…
Coco-Cola  World Cup Trophy Tour…

What is the special challenge of running an agency that is equally known for its Hispanic and Latin American PR work and what are some of the benefits of doing work with both unique markets?

We see a convergence of cultures, communications and communities.  More and more companies are trying to align their communications and marketing assets to leverage the similarities while respecting the cultural, linguistic and business differences.

However, our unique and differentiating value proposition is being noticed, recognized and appreciated by more and more clients.

What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession?

We made some limited compensation cuts, reduced or eliminated “luxury” (unnecessary) expenses and converted some full time staff to on-call consultants.   We also outsourced some resources such as creative, digital, media analysis and programming to our offices in Latin America.

What’s in the works at the Jeffrey Group for continued growth and expansion?

We just hired a senior digital communications director. Stay tuned for major Jeffrey Digital transformation and capabilities announcement. We have identified and selected existing staff to report to this new director and have these people transition from traditional PR professionals to digital communications management consulting experts.

What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché you would love to see go away?

“We just need to translate the release and send it to Hispanic media.”

What are the top dos and don’ts about marketing through Hispanic social media?

1. Be relevant
2. Consider bilingual or even Spanglish
3. Don’t assume all Hispanic on same page.
4. Focus where the real traffic and noise are

..That’s only four key considerations. You have to pay for more…

What are your three favorite news sources to find out what is going on in the U.S. Hispanic world and what do you look for in these resources?

Hispanic PR Wire—of course
HIspanicad.com
Hispanic Market Weekly

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AGENCY BACKGROUND

AGENCY NAME: The Jeffrey Group
ADDRESS: 1111 Lincoln Rd. Miami Beach 33139
AGENCY PRINCIPALS: Jeff Sharlach, Jorge Ortega, Brian Burlingame, Mike Valdes-Fauli
PR BILLINGS: $6.4 million (2008)
AGENCY FOUNDED: 1993
EMPLOYEES:     50                     PR MARKETING EMPLOYEES: 50
TOP 3 U.S. HISPANIC PR CLIENTS:  Diageo (and some of their brands), Fox Sports, Coca-Cola
WEB SITE: www.jeffreygroup.com