What’s new for Hispanicize 2012, the annual event focused on Latino trends and trendsetters in social media, entertainment, marketing and media? For starters, the event has broadened in its third year to include Latino filmmakers and innovators—not just brands, media, marketers and bloggers relevant to the broader Hispanic community. To be held at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Miami, the event is being billed as a launch pad for creative endeavors, new products, technologies, marketing campaigns, films, and even books targeting Latinos.

If this sounds a bit like an SXSW-inspired turn for an event that premiered as a conference with a PR and blogging focus, that’s by design, assures founder Manny Ruiz: “First, we are not a conference anymore. That’s boring and drab. We are an event,” he says. “Second, I went to SXSW and came away inspired with a vision for a much wider event. It’s PR on steroids. We went way beyond simply increasing PR and social media sessions. This reflects the evolution of PR and blurring of the lines. Film, media, social media—it’s all a vehicle for communicating with this growing demographic. We’re rolling it all together.”

In addition, the event this year will also serve as the stage where important new media companies focused on Hispanics will be unveiled, as well as new ventures, adds Ruiz. “It’s all things Latino and is the iconic annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers,” he says. “It’s the epitome of cool.”

Look no further than the fact that the conference is bringing an unprecedented mega-mansion screening of “Scarface” to Miami on April 13 and you’ll see it’s true. Intrigued? Then read on for more insights into the conference, straight from its founder:
How did last year’s Hispanicize event do? Did you meet your goals?

Every year, the event has evolved. In our first year, we were about trying to provide the marketing industry with the first Hispanic public relations and media event and making it client-driven versus talking to agencies. We accomplished that and set a great foundation for what is now Hispanicize 2012. We wanted to evolve that concept in the second year by adding a focus on social media, including lots of sessions for bloggers. It was fun having bloggers crash the party. That was the new recipe added to an already winning formula. Last year, we saw a 60% growth in attendance over the year before. And this year, we should see even greater growth.
How is this year’s Hispanicize different beyond what you already shared?

I was actually bitten by the SXSW bug hard last year and wanted to change our event then. But it was too late to adjust my content and speakers. So this year, we said we are basically the Hispanic SXSW and we’re taking it to Miami. We’re bringing the event here permanently, and we’re on the path to making it last more days.

Miami is one of the most progressive cities in the states for Latinos: It’s a hub of power, money, influence, business, etc. It’s a city that could become a model for the New America in terms of helping Latinos get to the next level. It’s a city of empowerment and hope, and we want that to inform this event.
Can you provide some data on the Hispanic market’s growth?

Sure, here are a few that may be useful for your readers:

According to the Census, “Hispanics Account for More Than Half of Nation’s Growth in Past Decade” http://bit.ly/tpc7XS

The 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, making up 16.3% of the total population. http://bit.ly/tpc7XS

The nation’s Latino population, which was 35.3 million in 2000, grew 43% over the decade. The Hispanic population also accounted for most of the nation’s growth—56%—from 2000 to 2010. http://bit.ly/tpc7XS

Hispanics, who can be of any race, are the nation’s largest minority group. http://bit.ly/tpc7XS

The buying power of Hispanics exceeded $1 trillion in 2010. By 2015, Packaged Facts forecasts the buying power of the Latino population as a whole will reach $1.3 trillion. http://bit.ly/ekhlmF. According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the purchasing power of the Hispanic community is expected to exceed $1.3 trillion by 2013.

Hispanics are overall early adopters of technology/socials media. Latinos are more likely than whites to use Twitter (The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project). Hispanics have also taken-up Face Book faster than non-Latino whites at 54 vs. 43 percent (Big Research).

Perhaps nothing drives the point home better than a recently released study by 360i Report on Hispanic Digital Influencers. The importance of taping into Hispanics via social media has never been more significant. There are roughly 32.2 million US Hispanics online.

The number of Hispanics online is expected to increase to 42 million by 2015 (Interactive Advertising Bureau). In the past year alone, the number of Hispanics using social media grew by 38 percent versus 16 percent for the general population (comScore).

Why, in particular, have you added film to this? How is that relevant?

I did it for altruistic and ulterior motives alike. I see myself as a filmmaker right now (due to a documentary I’m making, among other projects). But beyond my interest, the real answer is that as we are very carefully adopting the concept of SXSW, we realize film is an exciting component of this program. The broader category beyond film is entertainment. And entertainment marketing is critical and crucial and engaging for bloggers, marketers, etc.—and it’s important to the Latino market, as well. Hispanicize is about spotlighting Latino innovators and trendsetters—and we can amplify those voices, whether they’re in music, film, marketing or whatever.

The way you get to the point of having a Latino Obama in the future is through influencing and impacting culture and magnifying the fact that the culture of Latinos is positive and good. I believe and hope that a hip-hop Latino present will emerge from Hispanicize 2012 and beyond for the future. You don’t get there by NOT expanding your vision. For this year’s conference, it’s film. In future years, it’ll be other things. I want people to think on the level of the Latin Grammies when they think about Hispanicize in the future.
What new tracks have you added that you want to mention here?

Here’s a quick snapshot:

1. Interactive (bloggers and social media): This track features more than 20 sessions exclusively devoted to best practices in social media and working with Latino bloggers. The event will continue to aggressively build on its legacy of bringing Hispanic bloggers together with the brands, agencies and companies that want to work with them. In addition to the blogger sessions, we’ll also feature best practice programs about leveraging Facebook, Twitter and other emerging tools to engage Latino communities online.

If you’re looking for a tip about working with Latinos in this space, it would be not to assume that everything that applies to non-Latinos about social media applies to Latinos.

2. Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations: This track will showcase the largest collection of cutting-edge campaigns from the past year in Hispanic public relations and advertising, the first time both disciplines have been spotlighted this in-depth at one time. Among the sessions will be award-winning case studies from the 2011 HPRA PRemio Awards.

One of the bright spots we’ll showcase is a program titled, “The Power of Musica: An Inside Look at BlackBerry’s Innovative Q’Viva Platform and What We Can Learn About Effectively Marketing to Latinos through Music.” This basically is about a program like “American Idol” for Latinos tied to the brand. It’s hugely successful and is not only cool, but also instructive to marketers and companies who want to reach Latinos.

3. Innovators: This exciting new track consists of a “Conversation With Innovators” series, which will feature A-list Latino celebrities, entrepreneurs and other famous inspiring achievers. This will be a Q&A with a celebrity journalist probing the minds of innovators. One of these will be 19-time Grammy winner Emilio Estefan, who also wrote “The Rhythm of Success: How an Immigrant Produced his Own American Dream.” We’ll be asking him about his discipline as an innovator—his habits of success. One thing he has talked about is that they don’t partner with people. They are very measured about who they tangle themselves with. Having had 19 business partners myself, I understand that line of thinking.

4. Entertainment: Hispanicize 2012 will leverage Miami’s wealth of Latino entertainers and media as well as the event’s ability to attract a Who’s Who of Latino bloggers to help premiere select films and music talent at Hispanicize 2012. Latino artists will also perform at the event’s popular after parties.

We’ll provide attendees with professional development sessions in entertainment, and give them a platform to go to any part of the event and learn show business marketing. We’re also showcasing Latino filmmakers in particular. For many Latinos, we may have the talent but not the resources to do a full film. But short films can be a building block. So we paid attention to this, as independent filmmaking is growing among Latinos. The first film we’ve accepted to spotlight here is called “The History of Space Flight.”
What sessions would you think are most relevant to our readers?

With over 65 sessions and 100+ speakers, it’s not easy to narrow them down. But here are some general topics that might be relevant. Click through for details. We hope to see you there:

Coming of Age: The Latino Electorate in 2012 and the Challenge to Win their Vote
Meet the Latino News and Culture Sites: Huffington Post Latino Voices, Being Latino, FOX News Latino and NBC Latino
Reaching for Relevance: The Future of Multicultural Agencies
The U.S. Census 2012 Update: An In-Depth Look at the Latest Numbers and Their Implications

And here are some blogger sessions:

Secret Salsa: How To Create Authentic Brand Ambassadorships And Campaigns With Latino Food Bloggers
Los Geeks 3.0: Meet The Latino Tech Bloggers
Red Carpet Rumba: Latino Entertainment Bloggers and Media Discuss How to Score Coverage in their Platforms

~Brian Pittman