United States PR is alive and thriving in a nation that continues to push the boundaries. Outside of the U.S., the story isn’t the same. PR is still a new industry in many countries, especially in Latin America (LatAm). Despite being new, LatAm countries are ready for PR enthusiasts to come and make a difference in a growing industry.
Public relations status in LatAm
Peruvian PRSSA member Cesar Zapata Morales said that if “You go to the street, you can ask what public relations is and [Peruvians] don’t know.” Zapata attends La Universidad San Martin de Porres, which he says is the first university to teach public relations within Peru, and is one of the best in LatAm. Zapata is a pioneer in the industry, among the first to seek out a career in public relations.
One of the current issues in Peruvian PR though is that “There are PR areas in companies that are led by lawyers and psychologists.” With only a few active PR firms within Peru, change needs to happen. Zapata has optimism though and sees the potential for growth. “PR isn’t common and so PR isn’t important for some companies, but it is growing and the big countries do have PR directors.” Big companies like Telefonica and other telecommunication companies, banks and mining companies. “These kind of companies involve PR because they know that PR is very important.”
Peru isn’t alone though. Most LatAm countries are in a similar situation of growth. Fortunately, the World PR Report 2015 rated Latin America a 7.9 out of 10 in its optimism for growth in the industry. It further reported, “Agencies are also optimistic about the willingness of clients to turn to PR for nontraditional services.”
What to expect in LatAm networking and social media
In the Latin American Communication Monitor (LCM), a study of 1,774 PR professionals in 18 Latin American countries, it compared different methods of networking in order to find out what was best for Latin Americans.
- Face-to-face communication was the most formal, trusted and professional method of communication.
- Communicating through “WhatsApp” was the most time-efficient method.
- Email was the most effective method of communicating among people.
This means that interpersonal skills hold great importance in order to make a difference among Latin publics. Networking is very important to the people in LatAm. The more interaction and involvement in their lives, the more those people will trust an individual or organization.
Once an organization builds trust with their publics, then “WhatsApp” and email become great ways to communicate and build relationships. With that being said, email is the method of communication most used among communication experts.
Within the last few years, the proper use of social media has become important issue among professionals. Latin America still has a lot to learn about the possibilities of social media and publics are expecting a lot of growth in that area.
Three aspects of social media highly valued in LatAm communication are:
- Being able to interact with consumers and stakeholders (84.8 %)
- Being able to resolve demands, complaints and suggestions in order to detect and prevent possible crisis (74.8 %)
- The possibility for public comment on experiences related to the organization, its products or services (69.4 %)
Despite the high value that professionals put in these three aspects of social media, they are not as successful as they would hope. For that reason, it is very beneficial to have knowledge of how to implement social media strategies in order to increase their social media efficiency. If you excel in social media, you will help LatAm industries to excel as well.
The public relations industry in Latin America is ready for willing and able professionals to come and be communications champions. There is a lot of potential for experts to tap and opportunities to explore. Take advantage of a new world of PR and be ready to make a difference.
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Karsten Kutterer is a public relations student at Brigham Young University. He is happily married to the girl of his dreams and is excited for his son to be born in June. He loves passing the hours away with his nose in a book, playing board games or eating his wife’s delicious cooking.