Latina Mentors Series: Meet ThinkLatino CEO Rocio Prado Kissling!

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Public Relations Executive Rocio Prado Kissling has been living and working in the United States for over 25 years, yet she can’t help but think like a Latina.

Great news for Kissling— since the seasoned PR exec owns and operates ThinkLatino! — one of the largest PR firms dedicated to connecting brands with the growing U.S. Hispanic market.

When major movie studios like Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers and Open Road Films — which produced this Falls award-winning film Nightcrawler — want to reach Latino audiences, they call Kissling, who, along with her team of Latin market experts, comes up with a strategy to create an emotional bond between the film and the U.S. Hispanic market something that she says is an integral component of connecting with the Latino community. Kissling and her team do the same thing for TV networks (including the CW network and its Golden-Globe nominated series Jane the Virgin).

Like other PR firms, Kisslings ThinkLatino! provides publicity, promotions, social media, event planning and mobile strategies among other services but what sets the firm apart from their competition is that all of the publicists at Kisslings firm are their target consumer: everyone on Kisslings team is Latino.

Here, the Spanish PR exec and our Latina Mentor of the Month! talks about her role as the head of the flourishing PR company, the value of being a great mentor and the best career advice shes ever gotten!

Tell us about your job!                                                                                                                                                                      I run a company called ThinkLatino! We’re a PR/Marketing company dedicated to helping brands — mainly Entertainment brands — reach the U.S. Hispanic market. We do everything from PR to promotions to publicity and media buying — the whole gamut of what it takes to do a campaign to reach our market.

Given our extraordinary numbers in this country, it seems everyone wants to connect with the U.S. Hispanic market these days. As the head of a PR firm that specializes in that niche market, what in your opinion is the key to success in reaching (and connecting with) Latinos?
The key is to find the emotional bond that links us to that product or that film — or, to whatever it is that we’re marketing. And I think it takes being Hispanic first of all, because there are a lot of elements that come into play when it comes to marketing to {Latinos}. Regardless of us being in the United States — and I’ve been here for 25 years myself — we still have a lot of things that differentiate us and that create a bond to certain products or films and certain values that are very unique to our market. So what it takes is really taking a step back and looking at what is important to our culture: accepted values. And the magic is: how do you find some sort of a bridge that makes sense and that’s authentic and that will deliver what the consumer is expecting. It takes a special cue.

What’s a typical work day like for you?
A typical workday is basically us talking amongst ourselves internally and brainstorming strategies for different projects that we’re working on. We look at where the opportunities are — let’s say for publicity on a given project — let’s say a film. So we watch the film and see what a good strategy would be for our market and then we brainstorm on different events that we could create, that would differentiate us from what they’re already doing. So basically, our value comes in creatively brainstorming where we can do some things differently — whether it’s a film or a product— and where we can create unique things for our market. And then for me, I’m always taking care of the clients and making sure that we’re delivering what’s expected of us and how we can further the efforts.

As a Latina Executive and a Leader, what in your opinion are the qualities that make someone a great leader and a great manager?
What makes someone a great leader and a great manager is being cause in the matter — so, always looking out to see, whoever you interact with — what you can cause so that they can be at their full potential. It’s really looking at what are people’s strengths and helping them build on those and also looking at where the gaps are — such that you can actually help them reach their full potential in every area.

I also think it’s very important to listen to what people have to say — more than being kind of like, a sense of entitlement because ‘I have 20 years and you don’t’ — that doesn’t work. What works is ‘what is possible?’ And, to always make sure that whoever is with you sees what’s possible for them. Being a great example, being a role model and that they can also see your flaws and where you have flaws yourself. I also think perseverance is key: Never giving up and continuing to create is very important as a leader or as a mentor.

Who are some of your mentors?
Luis Balaguer, who’s the owner of Latin World Entertainment was a huge mentor for me. Because he had a lot of management experience and I had a lot of marketing experience, so he was my mentor in the sense that he made everything I did bigger and better and smarter and everything else. We mentored each other and he’s been great.

Do you think mentorship is something that happens often enough in the Latino space or is it something we could have more of?
I think it’s not a Latino or a general market issue. I just think that in the kind of workforce that we’re in today, people move so fast and go at a fast pace that it’s very difficult to really do a good job mentoring, because most of the time people are just getting their job done. So it takes something to really step back and see the fulfillment there is in mentoring somebody else — that’s the key. And I think we don’t do enough of it because people don’t see the benefit of it — they just see it as a “to do” vs. how they could expand themselves into that leadership that we’re talking about. There isn’t enough, for sure.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Keep moving and keep creating — don’t ever stop. Keep generating.

What advice do you have for Latinos who are just starting their career in PR?
You have a huge competitive advantage considering you have both cultures ingrained in you. And if you’re able to sustain both sides — and work hard and persevere — you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.

Photo courtesy of Rocio Prado Kissling

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site PEOPLE.com; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine, AOL.com, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.