With the Hispanic PR & Social Marketing Conference less than a month away in Dallas, May 10-12, it’s a great time to catch up with conference organizer Manny Ruiz to find out what are the latest things happening with the conference.

HISPANIC PR BLOG: There seems to be numerous Hispanic-related conferences every year.  What makes this one unique?

MANNY RUIZ: There are staggering differences between our conference and others.  First, this is the first and only conference that has ever been organized around the twin topics of public relations and social media.  We are a double pioneer in that arena.  Second, this is the only conference officially sanctioned by both the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).  Third, you will never find a quality conference of this scale (24 sessions/60+ speakers) for less ($475 to register).  The fact the conference is being timed during the time of the 2010 Census makes it doubly relevant.  Like I said, we are staggeringly different than any other conference about Hispanic marketing.

HPRB: What has been the biggest surprise in organizing the conference so far?

MR: There have been a couple of major surprises.  

The first mild surprise is the sheer corporate appetite that exists for this conference.  From day one we said we would focus on tailoring the entire event to the needs of corporations, government agencies and non profits and that strategy’s paying off.  We don’t want to say anything to change the momentum we now see but it looks like we’re on track to exceed our expectations as it applies to corporate attendance, our key target audience.  I believe strong corporate attendance is key to the future growth of this conference.

Another surprise is how quickly things have come together for the industry.  It has been very rewarding to see how both the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) have come together to fully support and validate the incredible gap this conference fills.

HPRB: Why is this conference so heavily focused on the needs of corporate, government and non profit organizations instead of PR agencies?

MR: Because the ones who desperately need the comprehensive boot camp training sessions we’re producing are corporate, government and non profit organizations.  HPRA and I are on the same page about the fact that the only way this conference brings strong value to the marketplace is if its razor-focused on the communication needs of these organizations and particularly corporations.  We’re not worried about the PR and digital agencies.  They KNOW they have to at least be here to show they are real players in this marketplace.  Our event is completely sold out to the corporations, the core target audience.

HPRB: What networking opportunities have you created within the conference?

MR: We have deliberately created a program that is conducive to networking.  It all starts on Monday, May 10 with an opening reception by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) that will address diversity in public relations.  That’s the night that the RL Public Relations-sponsored Hispanic PR Census results will be nationally revealed.  On May 11 we have a networking dinner and on May 12, the final day of the conference, we have a networking lunch.  We’re making this conference a terrific venue for networking.

HPRB: Is this conference tailored to communications professionals that are of Hispanic descent?

MR: Actually the opposite is true.  Our conference target audience are communications professionals who are NOT Hispanic but want to get a stronger grasp of what they need to know to execute Hispanic PR and social marketing initiatives, regardless of whether they will do it themselves or outsource it.  One of our key goals is to leave attendees with a remarkable set of actionable insights needed to execute strong Hispanic PR and social media campaigns for any kind of organization large and small.

HPRB: Why is there such a strong focus on social media?

MR: The PR industry is already proving – but not without a fight from advertising – that social media is really part of PR.  We deliberately chose to make social media a core focus because it’s not only the hottest trend in marketing but because this is also our way of saying that PR should lead social media marketing.  We think this particular debate is so intense that we’re devoting a session to debate this topic within the conference.

HPRB: Will you make any of the recordings of the conference available for review post conference?

MR: Only one or two of the 24 currently slated sessions will likely be available for future rebroadcast.  We don’t want to undermine the reason why people should attend this annual conference.