What was your childhood ambition? I originally wanted to be a clinical psychologist. Though I changed my major to Public Relations, I did get a minor in Psychology, which has been extremely helpful working in this field.
Tell us about three people that you admire and why? I don’t have any specific people, and definitely not renowned names, because most of all I admire everyday people who against all odds make it in this world. Whether it’s because they grew up in poverty, or are missing a limb, or suffering a medical ailment, these courageous individuals move onward with confidence and an amazing attitude, and emerge as an example to anyone who dares complain about the trivial nuisances that we’re bothered with in everyday life. I’ve had the honor of meeting people like this, and when I leave their side I realize how lucky and blessed I am for everything I have. I’m thankful every day.
What is your favorite quote? “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world” – Desiderata
Tell us about your educational background? I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, with emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Psychology, from Cal State University Northridge.
What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life? Respect for other cultures. I grew up traveling and living in other countries due to my father’s work as a Petroleum Engineer. Every time we were heading to a new place, my parent’s told us that we had to look at it as if we were visiting a friend’s home – we had to abide by their rules, respect their property and beliefs and rather than expect them to adjust to us, we had to adjust to them. After all, it was their home, not ours. I still believe in that today, and this has become an asset in the multi-cultural society we currently live in.
What is the most important business habit you have? Organization. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do; how creative, how passionate, or visionary, if you’re not organized you’ll drop the ball sooner or later. Whether you work at an agency balancing various accounts, or at a corporate office working with various departments, organization is critical to save time, achieve more productivity and keep everyone focused on the big picture.
What’s the best book you’ve recently read and why? I truly enjoy books that open the doors to other worlds. Most recently I read a couple of books about the Amish community, and I found it fascinating. I don’t think any of us could handle living without our blackberry for one day, yet the plain people, as they call themselves, manage just fine.
Besides your career, what are you really passionate about outside of work? Besides my beautiful 5-year-old daughter, it would be travel. I can’t say enough about the importance of traveling to other countries, going beyond our levels of comfort to submerge into other cultures and gain a better understanding of other people. There’s nothing more exciting than walking a street full of history, tasting exotic meals, listening to a different language and music, and enjoying something completely different than what we’re accustomed to. I’m also very passionate about adoption. There are so many wonderful children out there that I truly wish people, even those who already have biological children, would consider adoption. My daughter Camila, whom I lovingly brought back from China in 2006, has brought me more joy and love than I could ever dream of. To quote Flannery O’Connor “The life you save may be your own.”
How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you? I began my PR career at KMEX-TV, Channel 34, Univision’s flagship station in Los Angeles. The fact that I was fluent in both Spanish and English took me into the Hispanic market, and particularly into the world of entertainment where I stayed for a period of 10 years. I launched Santa Cruz Communications in 2001, and have since expanded into other industries, though entertainment is always close to my heart.
What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers? Try to get various internships before you graduate. At Santa Cruz Communications, we always have interns; I love to teach and give young people the opportunity to gain an insight into the business. The internships will put them at an edge over their competition, as they will have acquired valuable experience.
What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team? I have a boutique PR agency, and therefore we specialize on Public Relations for the U.S. Hispanic market. This allows us to be very focused and dedicated to developing and executing PR programs that are always results-driven. We have a full-time staff of three employees, and we have a select group of consultants that we bring in for additional support on a project basis. What truly differentiate us from other agencies are our attitude, our passion, and our commitment to excellence. Attitude: Everything is possible with creativity. Passion: It’s easier to promote a company of product, if you believe in it yourself. Commitment to Excellence: There’s nothing more valuable than your name, quality reinforces your reputation in the industry no matter how big or small of an agency you are.
Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special? Our focus is not so much on which campaign we’ve worked on that has been most effective, but that every new campaign we work on has to be more effective than the last. We have to stay on the edge, take into account the changes of the times, and continue to move forward lest we risk being left behind.
Who are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your agency has worked on? All of them, since our agency focuses on the Hispanic market. I’ve enjoyed working on every campaign we’ve taken on, and they have all been exciting to me. I do have to say that because of the fact that we’ve worked on Telemundo’s Billboard Latin Music Awards for so many years, it’s quite close to my heart. They have a wonderful production team in place, and every year feels like a reunion.
What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession? We have been very blessed in that we have not suffered client losses during this period, and therefore have not been impacted; however, I believe in being prepared. We have kept a low overhead, thus securing not only low expenses on our administrative end, but also allowing us to provide services at competitive figures because of it.
What’s in the works at Santa Cruz Communications for continued growth and expansion? Last December we opened an office in Los Angeles, and this past October we hired a seasoned PR professional. This definitely puts us in a good position to expand our portfolio of clients.
What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché you would love to see go away? I think for the most part people still see us as one big group – Hispanics, not understanding our differences in ethnicity, culture, accents, etc… Yes, we all speak Spanish, but there are many differences between us depending on the country we come from. And if I hear one more person ask me if I speak “Mexican” I think I’m going to sock them.
AGENCY NAME: Santa Cruz Communications, Inc.
ADDRESS: West Coast: 3579 E. Foothill Blvd. No.776, Pasadena, CA 91107-3119. East Coast: 10773 NW 58th St. No.753, Doral, FL 33178
AGENCY PRINCIPALS: Claudia Santa Cruz
AGENCY FOUNDED: 2001
TOP 3 US HISPANIC PR CLIENTS: Teach For America, Telemundo, Billboard Latin Music Awards.