Miami: City or Ciudad?

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Posted At: December 6, 2013 1:52 p.m.

by Aime O’Keefe

“This is America and we speak English in this office.”

This was said in a recent interview I had with a PR professional in the Miami-Dade area when I asked about overcoming linguistic differences in the workplace. The blending of Latin and European cultures has long defined Miami and been the source of patriotic debate. Families immigrate to Miami to embrace the opportunities or escape persecution, whether they are documented or not.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness and Response Information for Miami-Dade County, 55 percent of the population primarily speaks Spanish in the household.

So people prefer to speak Spanish in their households— but does that carry outside the home? In my experience, definitely. It won’t take long to realize it’s a lot easier to order “uno Whopper con queso” at the Miami Beach Burger King than “a cheeseburger.”

During a recent job interview with a Miami sports-marketing firm, I heard Spanish in my interview and was mentally reminded the demand of my linguistic skills in this town. Miami is part of the United States, but as immigration continues, the trends of communication change. The area is becoming the gateway to Central and South American countries interested in reaching an American market.

Companies in a variety of trades are making changes to accommodate the new market demand. Broadcast companies are recognizing the change in this market and not only broadcasting in Spanish, but making shows about Latinos in Miami!

The New York Times reported that Miami is booming with production crews for new telenovelas, “daily soap operas that are wildly popular among Spanish-speaking audiences.” Depending on the season, there are 5-9 different telenovela film crews active in Miami. Mexican actors/actresses are transferring from part-time roles to 6-day a week full time roles in Miami.

Politicians of Miami also recognize the language preference, and host some debates completely in Spanish on particular issues more important to that demographic. The Miami Herald covered such a debate during the congressional election last year, which discussed the issue of “Cuban Americans who benefit from U.S. social programs and then return to the island to spend that money.”

The language dispute has changed how some companies approach communication with their publics. Agencies are beginning to specialize in marketing to the Hispanic market. Companies such as #TeamEmar and Micstura have embraced the integration of Hispanic cultures into the American market and offer services nationally and internationally targeted to reach this emerging market, recognizing the peak times to post to social media are different and the pop culture follows different celebrities.

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