If you’re a Hispanic PR pro who thinks it’s time to be your own boss, you might draw inspiration from MaGo! PR’s Marco Antonio González. After a 20-year career as an in-house corporate communications executive at Univision Music Group, Herbalife Nutrition, United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Estrella Media, González launched MaGo! PR last month. The LA agency, a full-service, 360° bilingual PR and communications firm, is off to a good start: its brand name is a catchy play-on-words based on the first two letters of Marco’s first and last names. “Mago” means “Magician” in Spanish.
Hispanic PR Blog caught up with González to learn more about his decision, his new agency’s focus, his PR mentors and his strategic insights into the evolving Hispanic market. González is also on the board of the Latino Equality Alliance, a social justice and advocacy non-profit organization for California LGBTQ youths. González shared his vision and immediate goals for the LEA.
What type of clients will MaGo! PR specialize in? Entertainment PR?
I like to have a diverse portfolio when it comes to the clients I work with. Since my background is in corporate communications and entertainment publicity, primarily music and TV, that would be considered my specialty. I am open to working with big corporate clients as well as developing recording artists. Currently, I am working with the first male Trans recording artist in Regional Mexican music and Reggaeton, Gio Bravo, and it takes me back to my earlier career in the music industry with Univision Records, breaking a new artist is both challenging and rewarding. I also would like to continue working in the issues management space and DEI media training for big corporations and film and & television studios. People don’t have to wait for Pride Month or Hispanic Heritage Month to offer cultural sensitivity training year-round.
How will your agency be different from others? What’s your “magic” recipe?
I think what differentiates MaGo! PR from others, especially general market monolingual PR agencies, is that we offer a full 360-degree approach to communications by being bilingual, bicultural and LGBTQ-focused. We not only offer publicity campaign development but also comprehensive communications strategies and issues management prevention planning that yield high-impact media results. LGBTQ Identities and Hispanic Culture training modules, and standard media training in both English and Spanish are some of the “magic recipes” we use to add value to our diverse client base.
How does it feel to run your own agency?
Honestly, I always saw this journey as a long shot or something that was not meant for me. I’ve been an in-house company man for 20 years, so going at it autonomously was taking a leap of faith and doing a “Thelma & Louise” moment off the cliff, but this time on my own. It’s a risk that I needed to take to venture out and see what the possibilities are in this uncharted territory for me. Many colleagues say it took me a long time, but like RuPaul says, sometimes we’re our own worst saboteurs, and we need to learn to suppress those inner voices that create fear and doubt in us and prevent us from taking risks to be truly successful.
“We must recognize our bilingualism and biculturalism as a superpower, not as a hindrance, which is what we were taught to believe by mainstream media and society.” — Marco Antonio González
What were some of the most interesting or unexpected aspects of launching MaGo! PR?
Everything! This is a completely new world for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by PR colleagues that are successful solo practitioners who have been mentoring and teaching me the ropes of navigating my own practice. I am grateful for friends like Claudia Santa Cruz of Santa Cruz Communications, Stephen Chavez of ChavezPR and Brenda Herrera of The Herrera Agency because they have held my hand and walked me through the process of building my own practice, my own brand and also teaching me about service agreements, pricing structures and most of all, have been beyond generous in subcontracting me or referring me to new clients, and for that, I am forever grateful. It’s great to have people who believe in you and support you. We uplift each other.
Can you share some tips for Hispanic PR pros and marketers…things they don’t teach in school?
The corporate communications and PR industries have evolved significantly since I completed my graduate studies at USC in communications management. I think some of the things that you are not taught in school are the art of relationship building and what my good friend Ted Rubin calls ROR, return on relationship. Staying in touch with people and making an effort to create authentic and genuine connections offline with people, continues to be the essence of public relations and the work we do. I think these two components are an integral part of success in this business.
What are some of the biggest opportunities you are seeing for communicating and marketing to Hispanics in 2022?
That we are bilingual! That as Latina(o) publicists and marketers we have the opportunity of killing two birds with one stone. We have an opportunity to exponentially reach a broader segment of the population because a vast majority of us are bilingual and bicultural, and know the cultural nuances and sensitivities of our community. My mom would always say, “a bilingual person is worth two people here in the U.S.” and I’ve capitalized on that talent and that gift and turned it into a professional advantage. We must recognize our bilingualism and biculturalism as a superpower, not as a hindrance, which is what we were taught to believe by mainstream media and society. The opportunity for us is to amplify our clients’ voices in two markets simultaneously and consecutively and that’s what I call real magic.
You wrote an article this week about the death of the telenovela and how Latino broadcasters need to evolve and create more culturally relevant content in order to compete. Are there any outlets, programs or platforms right now that you believe are moving in the right direction?
Yes, I believe there are independent networks and streaming services that strive to provide culturally relevant and targeted content for Latina(o)’s in the U.S. but we have a long way to go. As I said in my opinion piece, reality-based content tends to resonate well with Latina(o)’s living in the U.S. because it’s so easy to digest and at the same time, does not necessarily require a full-on commitment to a particular show.
I am currently a subscriber of Pantaya, and while their programming does come mostly from Mexico, they have some gems like ANA, El Refugio, Señorita 89 and Express, which appeal to a bilingual demographic like me. LATV Networks, based in Los Angeles, has been perhaps one of the first Latina(o) TV networks to offer fast-paced bilingual entertainment programming, which still has not been successfully emulated by anyone else.
Nuestra.TV is another new AVOD player that is bringing free Spanish-language and bilingual programming that seems to resonate well with Hispanics living in the U.S. At the end of the day, we need more representation in mainstream media, and streaming services like HBOMax, AppleTV and Netflix seem to be doing a better job in offering alternative (non-telenovela) Spanish-language and bilingual content here in the U.S., but they now need to direct their focus to American-born Hispanics creating, producing and curating content for Latina(o)s living in the U.S. Let’s import less and create more here, we have the talent, they just need to be given the right opportunity.
Who are your marketing, PR and social media heroes and heroines? Who do you turn to for inspiration?
While I did not come from the “Agency” world, as many of my PR colleagues did, I have great respect and admiration for those who came before me and who opened the door wide open for Hispanic PR and marketing professionals. People like Patricia Perez (VPE), John Echeveste, Roberto Orci, Liz Castells-Heard, the folks over at HPRA who are constantly pushing the advancement of Hispanics in the PR space, and esteemed colleagues and friends like Mariluz Gonzalez, Leticia Juarez (InFusion), Cristina Sanchez Camino (AltaMed), Monica Lozano and Manny Ruiz, who continue to champion Latinos in media, marketing and PR. They all have inspired and motivated me to believe that I am “un chingón” and that I add a lot of value, as all my Hispanic PR, marketing, and journalists’ friends do at the companies they work for and the industries they’re in.
What is the Latino Equality Alliance and what are your goals for the next year?
Thank you for asking. The Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) is a small but mighty social justice and advocacy nonprofit organization that serves the Latinx LGBTQ youth in Boyle Heights and South East LA areas. Since its inception, the mission has been to promote liberty, equality, and justice for the Latinx lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. As a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, with a strong focus on family acceptance, LGBTQ+ equality, and immigration reform; LEA engages Latinx LGBTQ+ community leaders and organizations in direct action organizing to address issues of bullying, homophobia, xenophobia, family separation, violence against youth, homelessness, high health risk behaviors, and HIV/AIDS. Our goals for the coming year are to increase our Board Membership to 11, so if anyone is interested in joining, please reach out to me directly. We are also expanding our services by opening a new satellite office in South East Los Angeles and we hope to establish a monthly donor program to instill in our Latina(o) community the culture of giving back to those who need it most.