Hispanic Heritage Month and Diversity in Advertising and Public Relations

I was born in El Paso, Texas, a border city with an 82.9% Hispanic and Latino population. This meant I was fortunate enough to grow up seeing myself constantly represented in the people around me. When I moved to Austin in 2019 to start college, I was in for a culture shock.

Austin is a big city with only 33.3% Hispanics and Latinos. Very quickly, I began feeling the weight of my identity.

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and is celebrated in honor of Americans from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

As I’ve gone through my studies and grown in my career, I’ve seen the effects having a lack of diversity in the decision-making room can have. For example, the NFL recently began a marketing communication campaign for Hispanic Heritage Month called “Por La Cultura,” that received a lot of backlash.

Rather than celebrating the Latino players, coaches, or employees, the NFL put out a post on its social media platforms changing its logo to include the Spanish “eñe” on the N. Not only was this a misuse of the “eñe,” but the post went on to explain that this shield “integrates an unmistakable Latin flavor,” thereby, playing into the “spicy” Latino stereotype.

“What does that do for us?” asked Nia Franzua. Nia is a freshman advertising student who identifies as Black and Latino.

Authentically celebrating the contributions and impact of the Hispanic and Latino community requires action, not blank gestures.

“If you’re going to market to a certain community or a certain demographic, you should have those people in the demographic in the room,” Franzua said.

So, what should companies do?

Lara Garanzuay, a senior Public Relations student who identifies as Hispanic, said, “Although there are many ways a company could celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I’d like companies to highlight how these heritages have shaped and formed the company into what it is. Whether it is current or former employees, ideas, etc., I think the different upbringings of those people working at these companies have a huge impact.”

Change shouldn’t be limited to large companies either. After all, the University’s motto is, “What starts here changes the world.”

“I haven’t really taken a course or had an outlet where I can use my Latino background through advertising and PR,” Garanzuay continued. “I would like to see this improved by offering courses or student orgs that allow Latinos in advertising and PR to learn more about utilizing our background in the industry to create even better-quality work.”

To honor our Hispanic students and provide this much-needed professional outlet, we are starting a Hispanic Public Relations Student Association (HPRSA) beginning Nov. 1.

HPRSA was founded in 1984 to help Hispanic and Latino practitioners navigate the field of public relations. This involves “professional networking, skills enhancement, and most importantly, a sense of community.”

To kickstart this new chapter, Texas Advertising and Public Relations will be hosting an event for Dia De Los Muertos with a celebration and community ofrenda on Tuesday, Nov. 1st at 6 p.m. There will be guest speakers, pan de muerto, and hot chocolate. Following this celebration, we will have leaders speak on HPRSA and our mission for ensuring Hispanic and Latino students are adequately represented in the field.

Larissa Aguilar