Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the COVID Era

by Camila Rodriguez, PRSA Tampa Bay member and co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM)! HHM is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year, so now is the time to consider programming if you haven’t already! HHM is a chance to celebrate the important Latinx women and men who have shaped the community and the world around us, and now during COVID, it’s even easier to come up with virtual programing.

HHM was originally proclaimed in September 1968 during the tenure of President Lyndon B. Johnson, but it started as only one week. Then, 20 years later, the celebration was expanded to an entire month. The dates for the celebration may seem random but on Sept. 15, five Latin countries celebrate their independence: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

All Hispanic countries declare Spanish as main language, but every single country is different in how they express themselves, figuratively and literally. Indigenous areas have their own languages; and rice is not made the same way across Latin America. As such, this month is a great opportunity to learn about the nuances of the cultures, traditions and customs of different nations around the world.

It is important to note that appreciation and appropriation are two very different concepts. Cultural appropriation is the act of borrowing or stealing cultural artifacts or customs from a culture other than your own as a prop or to make a profit, while cultural appreciation is learning and honoring the culture along with its tradition and history with respect. Furthermore, as mentioned in a previous blog post, Looking at Communications through a Diversity Lens, a single Latinx person cannot speak for the entire community. So, when considering what program would work best for your organizations and key stakeholders, make sure to research your approach.

Here are some ideas for public relations professionals who want to help their organizations honor and appreciate HHM:

1. Event Program

1. Hosting a Latinx Zoom Panel that is relevant to the industry and target audience

2. Highlighting a locally owned Latin business by catering for the office and providing space for that business to share their culture (while following CDC guidelines with regards to COVID)

3. Hosting a virtual “How to Make Cafecito” session with a Latinx coffee shop and/or barista, while tying in how every culture drinks their coffee differently

4. Creating a “Virtual Passport” for contestants to complete items from a checklist in order to win a prize, while learning about Latin culture

5. Hosting an outdoor event to showcase local Latinx dance groups and the countries they represent

2. Social Media Campaign

1. Reaching out to the employee base and get testimonials about what Latinidad means to them and share them on the company’s social platforms

2. Publishing facts and historical references to members of the Latinx community who have made an impact in the industry or community

3. Compiling a list of local Latinx businesses close to the office or business and asking for short blurbs from each company to post on social

1. This strategy can also help build more followers for your own account!

4. Fundraising

1. Hosting a (virtual) fundraiser that benefits local scholarships for Latinx students – fundraisers have many forms, just make sure to follow CDC guidelines during implementation

2. Hosting a virtual Silent Auction through a platform or online store and donating the funds to Latinx community members and organizations

5. Public Service

1. Providing pro-bono services to serve majority Latinx communities

1. This idea has to be an endowed effort by the organization to continue to build trust in the community

2. Volunteering time to an organization that serves mostly Latinx community members while following CDC protocols

3. Attending local community events that are hosted by Latin affinity groups in the community


If there is an idea that was not included in this list, feel free to comment below or tweet to @camilarodr12 and @PRSATampaBay.

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