Hispanic PR interview with Lucia Matthews, president of Dialogo PR

This week’s Hispanic PR Blog interview is with Lucia Matthews, president of Dialogo PR in San Diego.  Lucia Matthews

What was your childhood ambition?
With the exception of being a professional singer, I never had a real “career” dream as a child.  However, since I grew up a big city girl, I was exposed to quite an eclectic group of chums from all over the world.  I envisioned my adult life traveling, speaking foreign languages and writing all about it.

Tell us about three people you admire and why?
I value family, creativity, personal growth and loyalty. I also value living in the moment.  I admire my husband Richie, my mother Patricia and Jesus for all of these reasons.

What is your favorite life or business quote
How one achieves their objectives is everything to me, so “deserve your dream” by Octavio Paz strikes a chord.

Besides your firm, what are you really passionate about outside of work?
Mi familia, cooking, traveling, the beach and writing.

Tell us about your educational background.
Self taught mostly.  However, I studied French at IFAL in Mexico City and languages and communication at the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores in Mexico City.

What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life?
That I can make lemonade out of lemons.

What is the most important business habit you have?
Patience.  A great negotiator is not, without the stomach to methodically and patiently grind to your goal.

What is the best book you’ve recently read and why?
I’m sorry I can’t pick one.  Doc Searls’ “Cluetrain Manifesto” is genius and “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Peale is a timeless business and life-lesson classic!  On the classic fiction front I’m in the middle of “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court”, by Twain.

How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you?
Experiential marketing a.k.a guerrilla marketing for a boutique Mexico City agency, that led a move to the corporate side and back to agency work.

What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?
Listen, be creative and work hard.  That is, always continue to learn and absorb as much as you can from the best and brightest around you.  Also, the Hispanic PR market is big enough, so create your own “blue ocean” strategy by creating you own niche and demand by becoming the very best at something specific and unique.   However, different doesn’t always mean better, so producing the highest quality work is the foundation to success in PR.

Tell us something about you that would surprise even many of your closest friends.
I like watching ultimate fighting matches!  Ouch.

What do you believe differentiates your agency and how big is your Hispanic-focused PR team?
While the traditional PR method is about product features written in corporate lexicon, our strategy is to foster our client’s mission and brand through culturally relevant and targeted messaging, to drive action and change market behavior. Moreover, we generate peer reaction and approval of our client’s product, service and brand. We execute this dual strategy by placing the client’s product with consumers first, to be used and scrutinized, before tapping our media contacts. By sourcing and leveraging crowds through “dialogue not monologue” we provide accurate insight into the Hispanic consumer.

Moreover, if an agency believes in their client and the project, we believe they should have skin in the game.  Therefore we share in profit with every corporate account.  The pay for performance model is the answer to inherent conflict that hourly billing models create.

Lastly, our Asociados Network is made up of senior-level PR representatives coast-to-coast. We provide clients local personalized senior level experience, with the broad reach of a national agency. For example, last night a client called to request a last minute proposal for a new project that involved a publicity initiative in another state.  Through our Asociados Network I assembled the local boots on the ground while we formulate the plan.

Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve worked on and what made it special?
Getting the client’s product, service and brand into the hands of their stakeholders is what is commonly referred to as in-market, grassroots or experiential marketing.  It’s really the oldest form of public relations and is very effective because of its simplicity and because it is tangible.  I worked on a word-of-mouth communications initiative where the targets of our efforts became carriers of our message.  Organic message adoption and valorization has tremendous ROI potential, and is a good fit with Hispanic consumerism.

What are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your team is presently working on?
We are we working with the Hispanic E-Chamber of Commerce (HISCEC) and the Hispanic Business Showcase (www.hbshowcase.com) they are hosting next year at the San Diego Convention Center.  The showcase is a first for San Diego as the two day event will feature over 250 Hispanic business exhibitors, speakers and about 2500 attendees. CEO Tayde Aburto is blazing trails with his online Hispanic business association www.hiscec.com.

Also, we are working with Gregorio, neckwear designer. Gregorio (www.gregorioties.com) is a new company rooted in Latino culture, celebrating the vibrant spirit of Latino life with a unique elegant line of men’s and women’s neck wear. These stunning handmade one-of-a-kind 100% premium silk ties, feature designs that carry over the exquisite colors and images of the Latino culture more often observed through art, architectural styles and pottery. CEO and designer William Lopez has launched this year’s line to include beautiful women’s scarfs and a new line of men’s ties.

From our San Antonio division we are working with Chef, Author, Food Brand and Media Personality Michael Flores (www.cookwithmichael.com).  As part of his media tour, we will be traveling with Michael to New York for a “Living Today” appearance on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius 112 and XM 157), hosted by Mario Bosquez, November 19th.

What is the special challenge of working for a Hispanic PR agency when you are not Hispanic?

My husband Richie Matthews is not culturally Hispanic, but because he has a command of our market and understands better than anyone I have met what is required to serve a client, his role is critical.  I think we are beyond the presumption that one needs to be Hispanic to serve and excel in this vast market. Having said that, it is critical that PR personnel create culturally relevant messaging for successful “Hispanic market” messaging.

What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession?
Show the client you are vested and committed by being compensated by performance.

What’s in the works at your agency for continued growth and expansion?
Let me just say, we have a game changing online endeavor that we believe will change the way clientmessaging will be distributed. Stay tuned!

What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché that you would love to see go away?
Reaching Hispanics through Spanish language as a strategy, instead of through cultural relevance.

What are the top dos and donts about marketing through Hispanic social media?
Just be candid about your purpose but provide value in the engagement, so all parties win. The audience will sniff out shill marketing in a Mexico City minute.

What are your three favorite sources to find out what is going on in the US Hispanic world and what do you look for in these resources?
I get my board and head to the Chula Vista skate park, read Hispanic PR Blog and Poder360.com!