Today’s New Latina Spotlight is on Midy Aponte, CEO of The Sanchéz Ricardo Agency, a digital media and public relations firm based in Washington, D.C. Midy shares her thoughts on the growing presence and influence of Latina bloggers, public relations and representation.
NL: Midy, tell us a little about yourself and where were you born and raised?
I was born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC. My parents met in New York after fleeing Cuba in the late 60s. But unfortunately, I can’t call myself a New Yorker. Shortly after my first birthday, they moved my older brother and I to Miami, FL where I was subsequently raised.
I grew up in a very conservative environment. My mom was a Southern Baptist and my dad a Catholic. Combine those two with your usual over-protective parents and well, you catch my drift. This foundation though, has given me the spiritual anchor I rely on ‘till this day to navigate through life.
For college, I went to Florida International University and majored in Communications with a minor in English Literature. I usually held fulltime jobs while attending class on nights and weekends. First, as a receptionist at a law firm and then as an administrative assistant for a local magazine. I was known as the jack-of-all trades at the magazine. I managed all the administrative functions, but also handled billing and accounting, magazine distribution efforts, public relations, and ad layouts and design.
NL: You own your own business, Sanchez Ricardo, a digital media and public relations agency. Can you tell us more about your company and how you represent your client’s interest across various media platforms?
Sánchez Ricardo is a digital media and public relations firm based in Washington, D.C. We represent government, non-profits, corporations and starter companies seeking strategic expertise in reaching, or being seen by, targeted interests online and off.
We wholeheartedly subscribe to the belief that we have entered a new era in PR. One where traditional public relations must be married to New Media strategies, and where organizations – and people — serve as the main conduit to deliver important, consistent and actionable information to others. What this means for clients is that they now have direct access to, and a mutually beneficial relationships with, consumers, advocates and/or constituents.
For starter companies, this means small business owners now have a platform to significantly elevate their visibility among potential business partners if strategic, intentional and measureable business planning methods are implemented.
NL: In 2009, the blogosphere experienced a significant rise in the number of Latina bloggers. Two years later, the presence and power of Latina bloggers is undeniable. Brands and companies are paying attention and engaging Latina bloggers. What have been your observations about these important trends?
Yes, I started Sánchez Ricardo in 2009 and came onto the Twitter scene as a way to connect with other entrepreneurs. So I’ve been fortunate to witness the growth of Latina bloggers firsthand. What started out as good-natured conversations between Latina bloggers, soon caught the attention of large brands, like General Mills’ Que Rica Vida and Kmart’s Latina Smart campaigns. Online collectives and groups started forming like Latina Bloggers Connect, Latina Mom Bloggers and Latina Lifestyle Bloggers. Bloggers started expanding their own platforms by writing for eachother and are now being identified for their writing by online forces like AOL Latino’s Tu Voz En Tu Vida. It is no wonder brands and companies have been paying attention and engaging with these powerful voices. The fact that bloggers have caught national attention is a testament to their hard work and dedication – not to mention very long hours each pull on a daily basis. I know, I’ve been on the phone or on email well into the late, late night hours with many of these Latina online influencers.
Having said that, the fast pace evolution of the Latina blogosphere is at risk of stalling in 2012. Latina bloggers must prepare themselves for this possibility and take measures NOW to innovate their overall business and online platforms. How do they continue solidifying their presence as online influencers? What ventures do they participate in to monetize their brand and evolve their presence from blogger to business owner? I heard once that one should “rebrand” every 18 months. The time is ripe for this evolution to take place.
NL: Big brands are sponsoring larger online platforms dedicated to Latino content, bypassing smaller platforms held by Latina bloggers. How does this impact the way Latina bloggers engage these brands? What advice would you give Latina bloggers interested in working with these large companies?
Big brands are able to do this because they have the financial capital and resources to invest toward new endeavors. And while Latina bloggers may not have the same monetary backing, they do posses a new kind of online currency – influence.
Latinas must utilize their business savvy and investigate the full value of their worth. Then be aggressive about protecting it. I was doing some research once where I asked a Latina blogger for her rate. She mentioned she would write X number of posts for $35 each. I then asked another blogger for the same, and she quoted me $125 – per hour. Each had similar levels of experience and an equitable online presence, but their pricing was incredibly disparate. It was like comparing apples to oranges. As a PR person, managing campaigns for national corporations, this formula becomes a quandary for me to translate to a client.
Building blocks by themselves don’t create an infrastructure. Put them together and they create a mansion. It’s time for Latinas to shed their apprehensions and formulate aggressive tactics to compete with larger online platforms.