Univision’s Jorge Ramos graced the April cover of Time Magazine—the issue highlighting the 100 most influential people in the world.
Ramos, who was born in Mexico City, used his time at the podium during the magazine’s coinciding gala to demand the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Some in the crowd were undoubtedly surprised to hear a prominent broadcast journalist pronounce such an outspoken view, but Ramos’ activism is not isolated.
On the contrary, he’s joined by hundreds of Hispanic journalists around the country who stake out positions publicly on issues ranging from government corruption in Mexico to the exploitation of immigrants in the United States.
An interview with these journalists can be intimidating for some candidates. But with Hispanic voters sure to play an influential role in the 2016 cycle, ignoring this voting bloc and its gatekeepers can be costly. So here are five steps you can take to ensure you’re properly prepped for an interview with Spanish-language media.
1. Do Your Homework
Spanish-language journalists are seasoned professionals so candidates need to come into an interview ready. Want to get a sense of how Spanish-language journalists operate? Spend some time studying up and observing the styles of these Spanish-language media giants: Univision’s Ramos, Maria Elena Salinas, Teresa Rodriguez, Maria Antonieta Collins, and Leon Krauze; Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart (who doesn’t practice advocacy journalism), Lori Montenegro, and Marisa Venegas; Mi Gente’s Rafael Prieto and Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa, just to name a few.
2. Come Prepared to Talk About Immigration
Questions on immigration and its implications for issues like education, healthcare, natural disasters, jobs and environmental policy are often near the top of these journalists’ lists. If you don’t come prepared to discuss public policy in detail, you’re going to have a hard time getting through the first minute.
3. Read Up On Latin America and World Affairs
Thirty years ago the connection between Latinos living in America and their home countries in Latin America was weak, with the exception of Cuban Americans. Now, the connection is so strong that politicians from the region come to the United States to campaign during their elections.
So don’t get stumped by a question on Latin American affairs and place yourself at a disadvantage. Know the demographics of the voters you are seeking to represent and make it a point to study and understand what’s happening in their home countries. In many instances their friends and families are directly impacted by Latin American politics.
4. Brush Up On Spanish
There’s a significant difference between the declared GOP and Democratic presidential candidates for 2016: two of the Republicans, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, are bilingual. Meanwhile, the Democratic presidential field is at a grave disadvantage when it comes to the candidates’ Spanish-language skills. Hillary Clinton and company should be taking private Spanish lessons. A few answers en español during an interview could impress the abuelitos who have a strong influence on their Millennial grandsons and granddaughters.
5. Be Primed On Moral Issues
Hispanic voters may not all be religious, but most have religious roots. Moreover, the influence of Christian doctrine touches their political views. Churches and religious communities around the nation are the first and most influential contact for Hispanic immigrants.
Hispanic voters have strong opinions on abortion, LGBT rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Candidates should sit down for an interview with a solid handle on all of these issues and be prepared to discuss them.
Alejandro Alvarado Bremer is founding partner of 720 Grados LLC, Consultoría Política, and vice president of the newly formed Association for Latino Media, Markets & Communication Research.