This week’s Hispanic organization profile is with Anthony Veliz of the IZO Inc. Public Relations & Marketing.

Hispanic PR Blog: What was your childhood ambition?

Anthony Veliz: To be the first in my family to earn a college degree.  Thank goodness my father beat me to it.

HPRB: Tell us about three people that you admire and why?

  • I admire Dr. Juan Andrade of the United State Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago, IL.  He had a vision and has built a powerful organization that helps Latinos all across this county.  I had the honor to work with and support his efforts in my position as Community Relations Manager for NIKE in Beaverton, OR.
  • My wife Melinda Veliz.  She represents the new generation of Latinas in the US.  She is a very smart woman who holds a masters degree, works full time in the healthcare industry making the system better for Latinos by having a seat at the table, a great mother to our three children and my lifelong partner.  Everywhere she goes people ask her for her advice.  She has a strong spiritual presence about her.  I have never met another woman like her.
  • Cesar E. Chavez, founder of the United Farmworkers Union.  My father and his generation of farmworkers where so influenced by the work that Cesar did for them that they started a college in his name called Colegio Cesar Chavez.  The college was established in 1973 and was located in Mt. Angel, OR.  That propelled a handful of Latinos here in Oregon out of poverty and into middle class.  I have surely benefited from this.

HPRB: What is your favorite life or business quote?

AV: ¡Si Se Puede!  I grew up with this quote as a migrant farmworker.

HPRB: Tell us about your educational background?

AV: I earned a Masters Degree from the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Portland State University, Portland, OR.

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

AV: Don’t become a victim of your circumstances.  We grew up as migrant farmworkers and my parents knew that the only way out of that type of work and condition was to get an education.

HPRB: What is the most important business habit you have?

  • Be a good listener.
  • Always finish what you start.
  • Do what you say you are going to do for your clients.
  • Be on time.
  • Dress professional while you are working.  You never know who you are going to meet.

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

AV: I gain my inspiration through reading about other Hispanics who are making a difference in the world of business, entertainment, politics and sports to name a few.  So, most of my reading is through the internet.  I consume on-line Hispanic magazines, websites and blogs.

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

AV: Being bilingual is not enough these days.  You need to be bi-literate.  You have to know how to read, write and speak more than one language.  It also helps if you have a cultural understanding of the group you are representing or targeting.

Also, really know the issues you are trying to communicate for your clients.

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

AV: I owned a minor league professional basketball team called the Salem Stampede in Salem, OR.  We had Grayson “The Professor” Boucher who played on the AND1 Mixtape Tour which is regularly featured on ESPN.  I built the team from scratch.

HPRB: What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team?

AV: I come from and have built the agency from the grassroots level.  As a former school board member and city councilor in a predominately Latino community, I have worked for and gained the trust of the community.  So I live and work in the community that companies are trying to reach.  Not only is my judgment built on sound research, but also from my life experience.

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

AV: The most effective Hispanic marketing campaign I have worked on is with a regional hospital called Salem Health.  I am assisting them in developing Spanish language television spots focusing on Hispanic women (Latinas).  This is special because the Hospital has never ventured into television before, English or Spanish.  Salem Health has an incredible staff to work with.  They are visionary in their thinking which makes my work much easier.

Through the relationship and trust I built with the hospital, I was able to show them the importance of Latinas in a family structure.  The television spots focus on various health moments around her life.

There is such a huge need for information and education in our Latino community.  My hope is that this groundbreaking campaign is the catalyst for the hospital to expand their efforts in targeting the Hispanic community using multiple platforms.

HPRB: 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?

AV: One of the special challenges for me here in Oregon is to be known as a firm that does general market work, but specializes in the Hispanic market.  Here in Oregon, the Latino population is about 11%.  So at this point there are only so many opportunities targeting Latinos.  Most of the work comes on the general market side.  With that said, there is a huge potential here and in the Northwest part of the country, since so few corporations, companies and non-profits are focusing on Latinos.

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

AV: Public Relations and Marketing are at the heart of what we do.   I have had to expand into Workforce Development and Customer Service Training.  For example, I work with companies to do two things:

  1. Train Latino workforce in their preferred language.  A lot of my work has been around safety.
  2. Train non-Latino workforce on how to work with their Hispanic client base.  My work has been around customer service and cultural competency.

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

AV: Hispanics are all the same.  This is the biggest misperception that my clients have of the Latino community.

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

AV: Make sure your client is truly committed to Hispanic marketing.  Also, know your audience and which Hispanic market segment you are trying to reach.

Don’t use your marketing through Hispanic social media as a “good thing to do”.  It needs to be something that will have impact on sales and profits.

HPRB: 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 Blog
  • Hispanic Market Weekly
  • Hispanic Trending

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