Romina Bongiovanni, originally from Argentina, is vice president of Edelman’s multicultural practice.  She is the immediate past president of the Los Angeles-based Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA).

Tell us about your educational background?
I studied Hotel Management in Buenos Aires’ Centro Internacional de Hotelería y Servicios where I graduated with honors. Once I moved to California, I continued my studies at UCLA, specializing in marketing and public relations. 8105_1

What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas. There is nothing more appealing for a manager than someone with a solid understanding of the market and a vision for how he/she fits in it.

Tell us something about you that would surprise even many of your closest friends?
Earlier this year, I’ve become a devoted snowboarder, and while I love summer, now I can’t wait for the winter!

What is one of the best lessons you learned from your parents?
Give your 100%. My parents are both self-taught entrepreneurs and have given all they’ve got to drive their own business and personal success. While one can argue what is or isn’t a successful outcome, when you give your 100% you’d always feel accomplished.

Describe the most effective PR campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special?
As featured on the Edelman widget, our work on the Zune Wisin y Yandel campaign became an Edelman Multicultural signature program. Having won multiple awards and recognitions, this program is highly regarded by our clients at Microsoft and the industry alike.

What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team?
Edelman strikes a perfect balance between global and family-owned business encouraging entrepreneurism among all its talent, no matter level or region, to not only further our clients’ missions, but our individual careers.

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?
Microsoft, Unilever, Nestle, PBS, Disney’s Club Penguin, Starbucks, The Point Foundation, and FloTV, to name a few. We’re constantly working on multiple interesting and significant projects, right now we’re gearing up for the launch of Windows 7, the much-anticipated release of Latin Music USA on PBS, and helping Disney launch Club Penguin En Español to U.S. Hispanic audiences, to name a few!

What’s in the works at Edelman for continued growth and expansion?
As the media world changes, client issues become more complex and continuous conversation becomes the norm, public relations is in transition. We are now in the era of Public Engagement, and Edelman is on the front line of this evolution, defining and refining communications, and uncovering new ways to engage the public on issues, social purpose and the basis for all communications – trust.

What Hispanic social networking projects has your agency done and what did those projects consist of?
We’ve done a variety of efforts, from Latino blogger engagement to Facebook and Twitter initiatives to viral videos, etc. Whatever the medium, the key is to inspire Latinos to discuss, advocate, and follow their own interests. For example, our work with Univision’s Clickeando on behalf of Microsoft helped duplicate the radio show’s audience through viral “How To” Tech Videos posted on the show’s site, Twitter and Facebook pages that were especially developed to address the technology interests of the radio show’s Latino listeners.

What is the biggest challenge your agency has encountered in the midst of the prolonged recession?
In the midst of the downturn, communications has continued to rapidly evolve. So, Edelman increased its investment in insights to inform client programming, including:

– Trust Barometer to track opinion leaders’ attitudes across 20 countries towards companies, media, brands, spokespeople and channels of communications.
– Good Purpose to inform communications in brands and CSR with social purpose.
Social Media and Twitter Engagement Index to determine who is the most trusted and influential in social media


What is the most important business habit you have?
My business habits have evolved along with my role at Edelman through the years, but the habit of “anticipating” remains very much part of my essence. Whether it’s a client need, a staffing decision, my P&L projections, an industry development, or whatever else might be, anticipating outcomes, challenges, additional facts, and so on, force me to look at the larger picture, stay on top of my game and be prepared for everything!

What book have you recently read?
I’m currently reading “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone.” I like to read about things I can apply on my own life. Ferrazzi explores the connection between leadership success and lifeline relationships.

Who do you believe are today’s innovative Latino leaders/influencers (in general)?
Eva Longoria sets a good example of community engagement while acting as a role model for Latinos through her work with Padres Contra el Cancer, NCLR, in addition to her successful career and marriage.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
Where do I start?!  I’d say the biggest challenge was learning to embrace challenge rather than running away from it!  As they say, Mother Nature would never give you a challenge you’re not able to take.

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I’d travel for pleasure more often.

What was your childhood ambition?
I’ve always liked to draw, and as a kid, I used to draft fashion sketches and dream of becoming a fashion designer.  Now I follow every reputable fashion entity on Twitter!

Tell us about three people that you admire and why?
1.     My family for their strength (especially in dealing with me!) and unconditional love.
2.      Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, for both his humanitarian and business vision.
3.      Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” for expressing in a very articulate manner how life changes when  you commit to finding your inner truth.

What is your favorite quote?
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi

What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliche you would love to see go away?
The one-size fits all.  I’d love to see more diversity of interests and messages portrayed in Hispanic campaigns.

Tell us about your agency

PRACTICE: Multicultural
ADDRESS: 5900 Wilshire Blvd. 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036
PR BILLINGS: $446M (Multicultural PR billings not disclosed)
AGENCY FOUNDED: Oct. 1, 1952
EMPLOYEES:    3,500
TOP 3 HISPANIC PR CLIENTS: Microsoft, Unilever, AstraZeneca

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