A Q&A with Multicultural Communications Expert, Amalia Martino, Founder and President of The Vida Agency, TVA
By Amalia Martino
Founder and President
The Vida Agency, (TVA)
Why is multicultural marketing no longer an afterthought?
Inclusive marketing is no longer optional. It is a key driver of business success. The brands able to have success in cultivating strong and authentic connections with multicultural audiences will be those who commit the time, research, dollars and learnings necessary to create culturally appropriate campaigns.
Let’s start with pure demographics. Recent census data reveals that the United States are more multicultural than ever before with 43% of the total US population comprised of people of color in 2020, up from 34% in 2010. According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), multicultural consumers are the fastest-growing segment in the United States, yet are still consistently left out of the conversation.
What are the biggest challenges and how does The Vida Agency help bridge the gaps?
As the nation continues to diversify, many brands still have a steep learning curve in figuring out how to cultivate authentic connections with multicultural audiences to remain relevant. Learning how to communicate with diverse audiences is not only challenging, it also requires a deep dive into one’s own beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors. To gain a deeper understanding, brands need to commit to discovering the unique nuances of their varied target audiences to generate appropriate communication.
While the desire to expand and reach diverse audiences is strong, brands may have little to no understanding of the cultures they are attempting to engage. To be effective, multicultural marketing must be inclusive, free of potentially offensive bias, and be respectful of the target audience. Strategies that work in one community can fall flat in another. Even worse, without fluency, they can unintentionally stereotype.
Finding the right agency partner to help bridge the gaps between industries and diverse communities is step one. Our goal at The Vida Agency is to refocus the narrative on those who are conventionally left out of the conversation. We bridge the gaps between industries and community by centering intersections and experiences to communicate effectively, amplify voices and create campaigns of and for the people.
Why is up-front data so important?
It is crucial to incorporate up-front research into your multicultural strategy to listen, learn and eliminate preconceived notions and assumptions. Each stage of research provides an opportunity to better understand and build trust with the communities served.
The Vida Agency’s adaptive methodologies and multilingual capabilities deliver culturally relevant data and insights that are foundational in the shaping of authentic, multicultural campaigns that resonate. Whether leveraging qualitative listening and outreach services, or data analysis tools, the goal is to deliver actionable, equitable, localized insight.
How do you capture meaning, not just words, in multicultural campaigns?
Nothing can taint the hard work behind a campaign faster than word-for-word translations. One of the most significant mistakes a brand can make is to adopt a cookie-cutter approach by simply translating existing content into a range of different languages. Direct translations are inauthentic, obvious, and convey a lack of deep cultural commitment.
From beginning to end, it is vital to put the native speaker first to assure they have full access to the intended information and no roadblocks to understanding your communication. The Vida Agency’s extended transcreation team is made-up of local DSHS-certified translators and interpreters in 20 languages. We work with local language professionals with communications backgrounds who are part of the local community.
Our collaborators take meticulous care to ensure each chosen word conveys the true desired meaning. We often hear that it can take 15-20 minutes to settle on just one word. This commitment makes all the difference. The Vida Agency team and our transcreation collaborators deeply understand the nuances of multicultural communications competence.
What roles do community outreach and media relations play?
Community engagement is, at its core, about building two-way conversations between an entity and members of the public. In addition to disseminating information, it is essential to hear from community members so that you understand their needs and concerns and then in turn can embed those insights into the campaigns. At The Vida Agency, we have established key community engagement principles that guide us in this work.
The principals that successfully connect projects and campaigns with multicultural media resulting in positive storytelling, are still firmly rooted in the relationship. From regional print to broadcast programming, neighborhood blogs and social influencers, it is vital to cultivate deep collaborations with local multicultural media – the most trusted sources of community news.
When is the best time to start building a multicultural campaign?
The time is now. If you do not commit to learning how to reach multicultural audiences now, your brand will continue to get farther and farther behind. Our team centers all of our work in pursuit of racial, social, and environmental equity for underrepresented and disproportionately impacted communities. We are here to help
About Amalia Martino, Founder and President
When visionary entrepreneur Amalia Martino founded The Vida Agency in 2017, it was clear she was breaking the mold. Rather than conforming to the traditional PR model, she assembled an agile, multilingual team of leaders representing the core disciplines and expertise necessary to transform the way Seattle communicates. No more checking the box, no more tokenizing the underserved, and no more burning team members out before they’ve even realized their potential. She envisioned a boutique creative agency in which every voice is valued, every client achieves strategic and inclusive impact, and every person is intentionally supported on her or his leadership development journey.
With nearly two decades leading communications and public relations, Amalia conceptualizes and executes culturally relevant initiatives that transform behavior. Amalia works together with clients spanning major market segments including health, transportation, retail, consumer, education, and the arts such as SDOT, King County Parks, Seattle Municipal Court, Washington State Recreation and Conservation, Lydig Construction, Seattle Credit Union, Satterberg Foundation and many more.