Multicultural communications continue to be an important consideration for all marketing and PR professionals. At a healthcare roundtable hosted last month by Chandler Chicco Companies (CCC) and PRWeek, Julie Adrian from CCC noted “We are way past the point of simply translating patient education brochures and the like into other languages. Understanding the patient, their journey, their mindset is so crucial. You must be prepared to listen and learn.”

In my own efforts in recent years, I’ve seen that literal translation of existing English-language content is rarely effective. We need to start from the ground up to develop the right tone and messages in Spanish-language materials to break through social, emotional and cultural barriers that prevent patients from seeking help. I had the privilege of working on an award-winning Spanish-language campaign that brought many insights and learnings that have helped our team understand the critical need to bring healthcare-focused programs that are new and culturally relevant to this ever-growing community. This allowed us to deliver targeted and sensitive health messages to an often hesitant patient population.

Recently, there’s been another shift in how best to communicate with this audience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of people of Hispanic origin is approximately 53 million strong, making them the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Estimates show that 25.6 million Hispanics (more than 46%) will be using smartphones by the end of this year and that U.S. Hispanics have been on the leading edge of mobile adoption.

How does that impact how we think and reach this important community? By taking the same approach we’ve used in the past but updating it for today’s social- and digital-savvy world. Customization. Personalization. And by providing truly helpful and impactful resources through a medium that will resonate with our audiences.

When we truly speak the right language, the impact can be rewarding on many levels. I’ve seen it with campaign receptivity. I’ve seen it with resource utilization. I’ve seen it with media coverage and audience reach. Most importantly — and what’s most inspiring to me — is the honest and sincere appreciation for the efforts made to speak a community’s language.

At the end of the day, assembling the right campaign has always been critical to encouraging action among the Hispanic-American community. I believe that’s the case even more in today’s digital age. We as experts in the field of healthcare communications should ensure appropriate market research and culturally relevant insights are utilized to reach consumers of various ethnicities. And we must stay abreast of trends like the adoption of social media platforms and the use of mobile devices. For some, this may mean engaging our audience on Twitter or Instagram. For others, it’s ensuring our campaigns and resources are available to patients via basic internet research.

No matter what the situation, we should always strive to speak the language of the patient.


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