Social Media as Networking Tool

Hispanic Public Relations Association's seminar provides career-building skills for communications professionals

Published on LatinoLA: June 23, 2008

Social Media as Networking Tool

Public relations practitioners from all areas of the industry and aspiring students gathered at the Alumni Center at UCLA Thursday recently for the Hispanic Public Relations Association's (HPRA) third annual professional development seminar. The seminar provided a forum for news and industry trends, but also brought to light the networking trends of Latino professionals in their career advancement.

Among the 60 attendees, 53% agreed networking was the way to get recommendations or leads for employment. Of those, 47% agreed that social media was the way to increase job leads and networking opportunities, citing Facebook and Linked In as sites where they have a professional profile.

Professional development and networking opportunities for our members are a key component of the mission of HPRA

While social media may be the new frontier in professional networking, face-to-face interaction remains a strong preference. More than 80% of the seminar's attendees cited networking being one of the main incentives for attending the seminar. Attendees also cited the seminar's association with a Latino organization like HPRA as another reason for attending since more than 85% noted being a bilingual Latino as a helping factor in their current employment.

"Professional development and networking opportunities for our members are a key component of the mission of HPRA," said Ivette Zurita, HPRA President. "With this seminar and our ongoing CHARLA program we hope to bring continued education for our members and communications professionals."

On the professional development side, the half-day seminar featured industry leaders and media experts presenting three insightful workshops on key topics to enhance communications and career-building skills.

The first workshop, "Latino Issues in the General Market Media," presented strategies and tips on how to place stories with a Latino interest in the general market media. Led by Julio Moran, Executive Director of the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA), the panel included: Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times, East Los Angeles County Bureau Chief; Minerva Navarro, New York Times, West Coast Bureau Reporter; Carolina Garcia, Daily News, Executive Editor; Christie Fajardo, KTTV-TV Fox, Reporter; and Jose Mayorquin, KABC-TV Vista L.A. / Eye on L.A., Producer. The panel presented trends in the news helpful ways to re-position stories with a high Latino interest and make them relevant to General Market media. The panel also stressed the continuous need for bilingual practitioners who can relate to and communicate news agenda items relevant to the Latino community, such as legal immigration.

"It's important to continue to meet the need for bilingual practitioners, and programs like this seminar and organizations like this [HPRA] can continue to promote the need for this," stated Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times, East Los Angeles County Bureau Chief.

The second workshop was a "Crisis Communication Roundtable" that included some of the industry's leading crisis management professionals presenting case studies and valuable lessons learned, as well as crisis communications plans and tips on how to work with the media during a crisis. The roundtable was led by Manuel Valencia, Partner, Valencia, Perez & Echeveste PR, and included industry leaders such as: Joann Killeen, APR, Fellow PRSA, President, Killeen Furtney Group; Steve Hawkins, Managing Partner, PainePR; and Sebastian White, Spokesperson, JetBlue Airways.

The third and last workshop of the day, "Strategies to Building Your Career and Your Network," was presented by networking expert Hank Blank and addressed the need and ways to maintain professional marketability by building business relationships.

Leading companies participated in the exhibitor area to showcase new resources to the Communications field. Among the companies in attendance were Cision, PR Newswire, Marketwire, Innovative Productions, UCLA Extension and the College of Communications at the California State University, Fullerton. Special thanks to Cision, RL Public Relations, Sportivo, and Edelman Worldwide for graciously sponsoring the program and PR Week, Tu Ciudad, and Cybelle Wines for donating services.

The event concluded with a dinner that allowed attendees to speak with panelists one-on-one, meet colleagues from the California Southland, and interact with the exhibitors.

The next event for HPRA will be a Political Forum talking about the Latino vote on Thursday, August 21st hosted at and by the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more details about HPRA, please visit <a href=""></a>.

HPRA was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization to establish a network of Hispanics employed in the public relations profession in the Southern California area. HPRA has more than 250 members representing public relations, marketing and advertising professionals from agencies, government, non-profit and corporate companies. HPRA is dedicated to the advancement of Hispanic professionals and provides educational seminars and workshops throughout the year. The organization has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to Latino students pursuing a career in communications during the last 20 years. HPRA strives to be a resource for communications professionals and for those seeking insights into the Hispanic market.

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