By: M.L. Stein Raise concerns about metro newspapers' attempts to siphon advertising from them with new Latino-targeted publications sp.
CONCERNED THAT mainstream newspapers in major cities are trying to gobble their lunch, Hispanic publishers are fighting back with what promises to be a titanic struggle for the 30 million people in the Latino market. The competitive threat from major dailies comes at a time when publishers of Hispanic newspapers and magazines say they generally are enjoying economic success. A warning about the mainstream press' efforts to siphon advertising from them was sounded at the 8th annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Publishers in San Diego last month by its president, Tino Duran, owner of four Hispanic weeklies in Texas. "The media giants are moving into Hispanic print," Duran declared in a fiery speech to the membership. He cited the Los Angeles Times' conversion of its monthly El Tiempo into a weekly; Chicago Tribune's Exito; Fort Worth Star-Telegram's La Estrella, which is competing with his El Informador; Miami Herald's El Nuevo Herald; and El Nuevo Tiempo, published by the Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press, which is owned by New York Times Co. He also noted that a major Hispanic newspaper in Chicago, La Raza, has entered into a joint venture with the Chicago Sun-Times to publish a Sunday magazine and La Voz, Houston, struck a deal to be inserted in the Houston Chronicle for delivery in Latino neighborhoods. The Houston Post also puts out a Spanish-language paper. "The media giants see the phenomenal growth of the Hispanic market," Duran said. "They see that between 1985 and 1993, our disposable income grew from $93 billion to $220 billion. They also see that it's projected to more than double to $477 billion by the year 2000 and they want a piece of it. They will continue reaching for the advertising dollars aimed at the Hispanic market." Such forays could doom Hispanic publications, he contended. "Without our share of advertising revenues, we will shrivel and die," he predicted. Buying space in Hispanic media is a smart move for advertisers because "we are culturally and community relevant," he maintained. In an interview, Duran scorned what he termed the "big dailies' " belated interest in the Hispanic community. Using Fort Worth as an example, he said, "The Star-Telegram is trying to strangle us ? knock us out of existence. But where were they 15 years ago when we were the only paper addressing Hispanics in Fort Worth? I'll tell you where they were. They were running stories of crimes by Latinos on the front page and anything positive we did wound up in the classified section if it ran at all." Duran carried that theme into his speech. But he said corporate America and Hispanic-owned businesses and advertising agencies share some of the blame for any loss in market share by the Hispanic print media, which generally enjoyed a healthy 1993. He lauded major corporations such as Ford, AT&T, Phillip Morris and Pepsico for advertising in Hispanic publications but said, "There are many others who have yet to see the light. And sometimes we face the toughest obstacles from our own people." He noted that several Hispanic-owned businesses in San Antonio advertise extensively in other media "but ignore us or expect us to give away the space to them at some ridiculous price below our costs." Similarly, Duran continued, some Hispanic ad agencies give secondary status to Hispanic print. "There are times when I've had to go around a Hispanic agency and deal directly with the client to make a sale," he recalled. Still, he said, handwringing about these problems will not solve them. He urged NAHP members to continue improving their publications and to act as advocates and watchdogs in their areas, "exposing those who try to degrade or exploit our communities." Hispanic media also must grow in sophistication and professionalism to attract more corporate advertisers, he pointed out. The latter is a crucial issue to Duran. NAHP rules require that applicants for membership be audited, have been published continuously for at least a year, and have their content and format approved by an admissions committee. The NAHP has about 150 members. But throughout the United States, there are 800 newspapers, magazines, journals and newsletters aimed at a Hispanic readership and printed in Spanish, English or both, said Kirk Whisler, publisher of the magazine Mexico ? Events and Destinations, Carlsbad, Calif., who maintains a database for the NAHP. Whisler is the founding president of the publishers' group. Duran said a number of Hispanic newspapers would not qualify for NAHP membership because of erratic publishing schedules. "Some will come out one week and skip the next three or four because they don't have the advertising," he explained. In his speech, the NAHP president told the audience, "Don't moonlight with a newspaper. It's a blemish on all of us. If you can't put out a quality paper regularly, get out of the business. Sell pencils or flowers ? do something else." The NAHP's three-day convention put heavy emphasis on professional improvement. Panels took on such topics as ad-buying criteria, telemarketing, legal issues and obtaining demographic data from the census. In the advertising session, ad agency executives bluntly told the audience that being a Hispanic publication isn't enough to sell space ? even to a Hispanic-owned business or agency. "Your credibility is the key," said Sandra Miyares, media director of the Tamayo-Miyares agency in Canoga Park, Calif. "Will the client's image be enhanced by advertising in your publication? My clients want you to be audited, and they want to know your track record. To say to an advertiser, 'We're serving the Hispanic community so you should support us' will not do it for you in this competitive market." Christopher Munoz of Leo Burnett U.S.A. in Chicago urged Hispanic newspaper and magazine publishers to provide detailed demographics to advertisers. "Who are you reaching?" he asked. "What is the age group of your readers, their education and household income? Editorial quality also is very important. We or the advertiser won't do the marketing legwork for you. You must do it yourself." To get ads from banks and real estate firms, newspapers should know how many of their readers are homeowners or intend to purchase a home within a year, said Carmen Sepulveda, managing director of the Hispanic Experti agency in Hartsdale, N.Y. It also helps to have a real estate section, she added. Angel Lopez, director of ethnic marketing at Sears, said the department store giant has been directing most of its Hispanic-targeted advertising to television and radio but has learned through research that Hispanics read newspapers with the same frequency as the general market. "We will be utilizing more print media in 1994, but we are looking for papers that really know the Hispanic community and are involved in it," Lopez said. He cited La Raza as an example of a newspaper that is deeply committed to its community, sponsoring a number of activities, launching a magazine and "having a vision of what a print medium can do." The panel's moderator, Rhona Bayer, advertising director of el diario/la prensa, a New York City daily, said, "It is critical that we learn what our advertisers' buying criteria are . . . so we can best fulfill advertiser needs and justify the inclusion of our publications in media buys." Ehrlich, a NAHP vice president, contended that Hispanic publications already have made "great strides" by improving their editorial content, color and circulation "as much of corporate America awakens to the realities and dynamics of the Hispanic market." ?(The move by large newspaper companies such as Times Mirror (Los Angeles Times-Nuestro Tiempo), Tribune Co. (Sun-Sentinel Publishing Co.-Exito) and New York Times Co. (Santa Barbara News-Press-El Nuevo Tiempo) to begin publishing Hispanic newspapers has prompted Hispanic publishers to take a more competitive attitude toward the mainstream press.) [Photo & Caption]