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So, Your Boss Wants to Use Facebook…

Well, here’s a little Facebook 101 to get them started.

Long gone are the days when Facebook was solely for personal use to keep in touch with classmates, friends and family. Now, many nonprofits, brands, and small businesses are using Facebook’s platform to reach their audience. Here at the Workshop, Facebook is a tool we use constantly in our online communications plan to reach our audience, nonprofit communicators. Community Media Workshop has a Facebook fan page for the organization, which allows our co-founder and staff to keep their Facebook profiles separate and for private use. Many founders and executive directors at nonprofits may want to use their Facebook profile on behalf of the organization, however, this is not recommended. Instead, create a Facebook fan page for the organization.

Our resident social media experts are often asked, “what is the difference between a Facebook profile and a page?” Even though it can seem complicated, especially to someone who is new to Facebook, the answer can be put simply: a profile belongs to a person, and a page belongs to an organization or entity, like a nonprofit (and even a cause or a brand).

You can only have one Facebook profile – ’cause there’s only one you ;-)

A Facebook profile is your personal “home” on the site where you connect with “friends” and post personal information about yourself including photos and status updates. “Friends” are the profiles of people you allow to view and interact with your profile, and in turn they allow you to view and interact with their profile. Friends will then see updates from your profile in their news feed and you will see their updates in your own news feed. On your profile you can only add 5000 friends. However, you can “follow” a person, which allows you to view any posts that they make public.

A Facebook page is essentially a fan page. You can make pages for your nonprofit, products and services, causes, your favorite band or TV show, and so on. When you create a fan page, fans must click “Like” in order to view updates and interact with the fan page. This is a great way for nonprofits to promote their cause, events, and connect with donors and volunteers.

Profiles and fan pages can tie into one another. At the Workshop, each staff member has a Facebook profile, which we use to log into Facebook and manage the organization’s page as an administrator. This means even though we are logging in with our personal profile information we are choosing to use Facebook as an administrator for Community Media Workshop’s fan page.  Did I confuse you? Sorry, there will be a part two, stay tuned.  In the meantime, sign up for our Social Media 101 training coming up on September 28th. And, enjoy this video that elaborates more on Facebook profiles vs. pages.

 

Post by DeAnndra Bunch

Storytelling with Storify

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

Looking for an innovative way to tell a story?

Try Storify.

Storify uses social media to curate and create stories.

You pull publicly available information from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and You Tube. You also can paste a link from anything you find in the web and post it on Storify.

You can pick a topic that is in the news, such as a recent protest, sporting event or anything sources have posted content about on the social media networks.

Or you can create a Storify on an issue that your nonprofit is following. Say you have an event or press conference. You can take photos, videos, tweets or stories from that event and create a Storify of the event itself, of news media coverage of the event or a combination of the two.

Here is how you start:

Login with your Twitter account.

Write a headline for your Storify.

In the box below you can write a lede or a summary.

You build a Storify by using key words or hashtags (#) to search topics on the right.

Drag the content you want to use into the left space. This is where you build your Storify.

Also note that you can write mini text blocks in between each item you curate. You can use this for captions or add additional information about the social media content.

You may want a total of eight to 10 items in your Storify. Make sure there is a balance of tweets, Facebook posts, photos, video an text.

Then you publish your piece. You can share it with others on Twitter. People also can follow you on Storify.

Many news organizations and bloggers are using Storify as a storytelling tool. Once your Storify is published you can share the link or embed it on a blog or website.

It’s a great way to aggregate and curate content as well as share your original content that you have posted on the various social media networks.

See my video tutorial here:

 

Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina Voices.com.” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

Internship Tales: My Summer as a New Media Intern at the Community Media Workshop

Guest post by Community Media Workshop new media intern Lucia Anaya

When I began working at Community Media Workshop this summer as a new media intern I was looking to improve my web and social media skills. I had prior experience posting to content management systems (CMS), as well as posting on several types of social media platforms; however, I was unfamiliar with the strategizing and planning it took to successfully engage our followers and measure that engagement; something I hoped to learn through my time at the Workshop.

Lucia Anaya, new arts journalism graduate student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earned course credit as an intern at the Workshop through her school’s internship program.

Throughout the summer, I worked alongside New Media Manager Adriana Diaz and fellow new media intern Jennifer Wolan to not only increase followers and likes to the Workshop’s multiple social media platforms, but also engage and keep those new followers interested. We wrote original blog posts, asked readers questions and shared content pertaining to the subjects of that social media platform (i.e. individuals standing up to the violence in their community for the We Are Not Alone Facebook page and city news for the Newstips Twitter). We planned these posts ahead of time, and tracked our progress using social media management software like Sprout Social.

While my title indicated I was an intern, I certainly never felt like one—there were no coffee errands to run, no busy work. I was given the opportunity to not only sit-in but participate in staff meetings, and given responsibilities that were geared to develop my web and social media skills. And though my initial goal was to familiarize myself with strategizing and planning, I came away with much more insight than I ever expected.

It’s been a great three months and while I’m sad my time is over at the Workshop, I’m confident that I’m walking away with essential skills and insight that will help place me in the career I want in the future. The guidance that I received from Adriana, and other Workshop staff members have helped me tremendously and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside them.

Interested in an internship at the Workshop? Check out opportunities here.

Lucia is a journalist and graduate student at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @luciaanaya_ 

Evolution: 23 Years of ADA, Changing Attitudes about Disability

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Gary Arnold

This summer marks the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The anniversary reminds me of a story a colleague of mine told me years ago.  The story goes: he sat in a room with reporters, then bluntly said, “The best thing you could do for us would be to never write another word about disability.”

Though not helpful for my job as public relations coordinator, his story resonated.

At the time, story lines around disability included Jerry Lewis exclaiming that if he were a person with a disability he’d only be “half a person;” and raising “pity” money for kids with muscular dystrophy; Princeton ethicist Peter Singer advocating to kill disabled babies; and Clint Eastwood directing a movie about a boxer who ends her life after becoming disabled.

The dominant message emerging from these story lines was that disability is a tragedy best dealt with by finding a cure or ending life.

These story lines conflict with reality.  Research may have its place, but resources going toward a cure are better directed toward accessible transportation, accessible schools, accessible housing, and job placement.  Million Dollar Baby may have won some awards, but the inspiration for the movie comes from a boxer named Katie Dallum who, continues to live and be productive. A painting of hers hangs in the second floor hallway of Access Living.

In reality, people with disability are average.  They are not interested in cures.  They are not wallowing about and wondering how to overcome disability. They are ordinary people who try to do ordinary things like go to school and go to work.  Unfortunately, sometimes they are not able to because they are forced to engage in communities that are not physically accommodating and engage with attitudes that are still stunted by stigma associated with disability myths.

At Access Living, our goal is to give people with disabilities the tools they need to navigate stigma and inaccessibility in order to participate in general society.

To support that goal, as the public relations coordinator for Access Living, my job is to sell the ordinary.

The better I am at pitching stories that show people with disabilities are just like everybody else, the more the general public makes connections between people with disabilities and the regular fabric of society.

The job can be challenging. Ordinary doesn’t compete with cures, infanticide and assisted suicide when it comes to headlines.   But challenges are what define the job of a non-profit communicator.  I love the process of connecting with reporters, sharing information, then building professional relationships.  More times than not, those connections don’t lead to media hits, but every once in a while they do.  Even if the connections don’t lead to stories, when we build relationships, we position ourselves as sources.  As a source, media relay our messages, even if the stories are not directly related to our organizations.

Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, more work needs to be done in terms of equality for people with disabilities.  The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is higher than any other marginalized community.  Thousands of people with disabilities are still segregated in institutions when they could be living at home with the right community supports.  These issues lead to a disconnect between the disability community and the general population.

As a result of this disconnect, media sometimes continue to describe disability as if it is a curse or disease.  But the gap between disability and non-disability is slowly closing, and there are plenty of stories to be told that will help change attitudes about disability, and that will continue to close the gap.  As a non-profit communicator, I am proud to be part of the effort to help bridge the gap.

Gary is the public relations coordinator for Access Living and a board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow him on Twitter @gary8970

People To Pitch: Lisa Bertagnoli, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Jennifer Wolan, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

Lisa Bertagnoli is a Chicago-area freelancer and frequently contributes to Crain’s Chicago Business. Her stories include ‘Sometimes an organization needs a wakeup call’ and ‘Chicago’s nonprofit struggling.’

With the extensive nonprofit and organization reporting Lisa does, we asked her tips on how to pitch her. Lisa’s answers are below.

How do you usually receive a pitch from organizations?

Email. Social Media is not an effective way to get in touch with me.

Do you have any pet peeves about press releases?

I don’t really have any pet peeves about press releases but what I am looking for is personalization. I like to be personalized. I like for people to know my column and what I write about and pitch stories to me personally. Example would be, ‘You wrote a story a month ago about XYZ and this is why I think you’d be interested ABC.’ I know that sounds very selfish but I get so many press releases and so many pitches and if someone indicates that they know what I write about. I don’t think I’d write about someone who got a grant from an organization and was able to go on and do great things– those touchy-feely stories. I know it sounds very cold and impersonal but that’s not what I write about and it’s not my beat. I write about the financial and the nonprofits and what makes them tic. So if someone understands that and conveys that in a press release, I would be more likely to read it and respond to that person.

As a freelancer I have to be really invested and excited about a story I think to pitch it well (to her editor). I just can’t say it enough, please take a few days to read my stories, understand what I do and who I do it for. And that would help immensely. Just like I need to know the publications I pitch for. I need to know who they’re writing for and who their market is. It’s a big “pitch chain”, the way I put it.

Can you give an example of what is a good personal press release?

Just an understanding of what I do, that’s what I mean by personal. If someone has googled me, read my columns in Crain’s, they understand my approach to what I do. I write for a very sophisticated audience. A lot of times I get press releases, for example, “beer and shots night at Pat’s bar and grill.” And I don’t do that.

Have you ever been pitched in person through organizations?

Sure! We get talking and an idea come up. But I don’t get ideas from pitches per say, I get ideas from talking to the person. For example, someone came up to be last week and told me a fundraiser was coming up and that turned into a story. I get a lot of story ideas that turn into stories from talking to people at events. With that in mind, if someone comes up to me at an event and says, ‘Hey, I have a great story for you.’ 9 times out of 9 I will say, ‘it sounds good, write me an email.’ So I can see it in person, digest it and think of a way I might pitch it to my editors. It functions as a network and were talking to a lot of people and it’s really hard to stand still to a 5 minute pitch and digest it. I will always as for a follow up in an email.

Do you get story ideas through social media events or organizations?

I get story sources through Twitter and Facebook, if I have a story assigned that I’m working on I will look at Facebook and Twitter to find sources from the story. A couple of times I’ve gotten story ideas based on what was trending on twitter but mostly I look at Twitter for sources. That might change in the future. I’m trying to get more active on Twitter. I tweet from events and things like that and I’m trying to do more with Twitter but not really Facebook, that’s for my personal life.

If you would like to pitch to Lisa Bertagnoli, her e-mail is lbertagnoli@comcast.net

Twitter Tips for Non-Profits

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

As Community Media Workshop welcomes a brand new class of social media bootcampers this week; Workshop board member Teresa Puente reminds us that using Twitter is a great way to share information about your nonprofit and expand your networking connections.

Here are 10 helpful tips:

1)   Make sure your Twitter profile is complete and includes a photo. If you have the generic Twitter icon people will know that you are not a serious Twitter user. Always include a link to your website and blog and even a telephone number.

Teresa Puente’s Twitter profile picture.

2)   Twitter is about sharing information. It’s a two-way street. You shouldn’t just tweet out information about your organization. Only one in three tweets should be about the work you do.

3)   You should also tweet about news that impacts people in your field as well as information about groups with similar goals. Tweet about your “frenemies” and this should also nudge them to share information about your work.

4)   Tweet often but not multiple tweets in a row. If you tweet too much at once, people will miss the bulk of your tweets.

5)   You should have a schedule for tweeting based on time constraints. Try using a program like HootSuite to schedule your tweets 15 to 30 minutes apart. You can schedule tweets in the morning and for the afternoon or evening.

6)   Look up who your favorite journalists, nonprofit or policy makers are following and follow some of their followers.

7)   You also can find new people to follow by searching for keywords in your field using the #.

8)   You also should use some of those keywords at the end of your own tweets.

9)   Always include a link in your tweets. You need a value added to the tweet and use links that provide your followers with additional information.

10) Engage journalists and influential people on Twitter by asking questions or even complimenting their work. It might lead to a new contact, story or more.

Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina Voices.com.” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

 

Anatomy of a Tweet

Often we at the Workshop will hear a nonprofit communicator say that they don’t “get” Twitter, and aren’t sure why their organization should use the platform. We hope this slide from our “How to be Twitter Literate” training will help demystify the medium!

This Thursday starts Social Media Bootcamp, wherein we’ll take an in-depth look at social media platforms (including Twitter) and talk about how to fold them into your organization’s communications plan!

#CommFri Storify – Tips on Nonprofit Branding with Facebook

Every Friday, Community Media Workshop hosts a chat on Twitter called Communications Friday. You can follow the conversations using the hashtag #commfri! Last week we talked about using Facebook to bolster your brand online. Take a look at the tips and tricks communications professionals across the Twitterverse offered!

If you enjoy this #commfri conversation, please join us ever Friday at 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. CST.

On 7/19, we’ll be talking about social media planning for nonprofits, in preparation for Social Media Bootcamp!

#commfri 7/12


#commfri 7/12

Community Media Workshop’s weekly twitter discussion, Communication Fridays, was especially talkative this week. In case you missed it, here’s a recap.

  1. Today’s #commfri conversation topic: Facebook Marketing tactics. Enjoy this #infographic on The History of #Facebook! bit.ly/15z20T5
  2. Today we’re lucky enough to have social media expert & @bundlepost CEO @fondalo joining our #communications conversation! #commfri
  3. TY 4 the invite RT @npcommunicator: Today we’re lucky enough to have @BundlePost CEO @fondalo joining #communications conversation! #commfri
  4. Content starts everything in Social media. Be consistent RT @npcommunicator: @fondalo any tips for branding via Facebook? #commfri
  5. @npcommunicator I teach that – Content leads to conversations. Conversations build relationships and relationships result in ROI #CommFri
  6. Good point, @fondalo! In our #socialmedia workshops we always teach: “Give the people what they want!” #commfri
  7. I’m a marketing/design geek. Check out what @johnhaydon does with his cover page in his #facebook fan page ht.ly/mUBNm #commfri
  8. I recommend getting everyone in the office to “like” the fanpage and invite others to like it as well! #commfri
  9. Then…. Post daily!!! with events and things that make people hit their strongest emotions. anger, frustration, happiness, etc #commfri
  10. @fondalo @npcommunicator TRUE! Ppl can find out ABOUT your organization thru ur website, what can you offer them as their “friend”? #commfri
  11. #CommFri use pics and graphics that infuse humor to your page. NOTHING does better than humor and images on Facebook. #CommFri
  12. @npcommunicator what to do whenyour voice may be one way, but your audience wants something different, or perceives it differently? #CommFRI
  13. @CRE8VEbunch Like I said before, give the people what they want! If your voice isn’t what your audience wants, change it! #commfri
  14. @CRE8VEbunch you’ll get more interactivity that way. And that’s what you want on #socialmedia, right? To be SOCIAL? ;) #commfri
  15. Many make the mistake of talking AT your fans instead of using #Facebook to talk TO them. #commfri
  16. Re-think your voice on #socialmedia platforms. Social communications are for creating community, so be real when you post! #commfri
  17. @marissapaige people love being asked their opinion & to share knowledge. #commfri
  18. @marissapaige & youtube vids have been the source of my highest converting traffic. nothing like a real person’s voice & smile. #commfri
  19. Truthfully our most effective #fb post WAS a picture of a cat. #commfri
  20. This photo of a kitten got our highest response ht.ly/mUGpL -but it was a quote from #studsTerkel so still in our voice #commfri
  21. And then we played with the “grumpy cat” meme – ht.ly/mUGNK#CommFri
  22. @marissapaige in life design everything is about “does it uplift the reader?” asking what ppl r grateful for is the top post! #CommFri
  23. @jessicamullen What would you say is the biggest difference between a #fb fanpage & a group? #commfri
  24. @npcommunicator a group is more about helping the member & less hierarchical. Everyone’s an equal with something to share. #commfri
  25. @fondalo @luciaanaya_ Agree w/strategy tip. Nothing wrong w/showing your brand is fully human as long as that’s your strategy #CommFri
  26. @cre8vebunch @npcommunicator you have to find a way to adjust to what your audience wants/likes/interests. #CommFRI
  27. #commfri I think funny or happy posts on holiday work really well!
  28. @marissapaige I find it useful to inject humor in everything! I try to remember to “be light” a skill I am still working on #commfri
  29. I would find it odd if an org whose voice isn’t funny would suddenly post something funny on fb. Stick to your voice I say! #commfri
  30. @luciaanaya_ social media marketing isn’t about you it’s about your audience. Suddenly isn’t suggested at all. Gradual w/ strategy #CommFRI
  31. #CommFri if you make your FB page marketing about you or your organization and not about what your audience is into, you’ll fail
  32. @marissapaige we use memes and funny pics of our resident celeb @thomnewstips but its related to our content & audience. #CommFri
  33. What if your org’s voice isn’t “funny” per sé? Would you still recommend posting funny-ish bits on your #fb page? #commfri
  34. @marissapaige YES! Your audience resonates with humor. This opens them up to learning about your brand. #commfri
  35. @marissapaige I would say yes, but keep it at a level where your audience would appreciate the humor. #CommFri
  36. @marissapaige 90% of our stuff isn’t funny but those few funny things that make your page human bring people in I’ve found. #CommFri
  37. Has anyone had luck with video? We have when we’ve kept it short and titled it “30 Seconds with…”, for example. #CommFri
  38. @HusaynAllmart Interesting approach. Video has never done as well as I hoped on our page. Maybe shortness is the key. #CommFri
  39. @trishanderson Brevity is key! They say the best length for a #fb text post is 80 characters! That’s less than a tweet! #commfri
  40. @fondalo Ditto on graphics and humor. Most successful things we’ve done were humorous. And short. #CommFri
  41. Wantd 2 post this on our FB page but ultimately decided not 2 cuz I realized it’s MY voice,not the org’s. ow.ly/i/2AYKV #commfri
  42. I think the conclusion we came to in today’s #commfri conversation is that #Facebook is for the people!
  43. Hope we’ll see you for the #commfri conversation next week! We’ll be talking about #socialmedia communications planning at 1P CST on 7/19!
  44. That’s all for #commfri this week! If you have any more questions or tips on #Facebook for #nonprofits, feel free to tweet at us any time!
  45. Wish I found this an hour ago. MT @wisemetrics Brand New Facebook Insights Tested &Reviewed: ht.ly/mUKhh #Facebook #commfri

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People to Pitch: La Risa Lynch, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Lucia Anaya, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

La Risa Lynch has been a Chicago freelance writer for more than 15 years, having written for several community newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader and The Final Call. Her stories are often about criminal justice or social issues affecting the city of Chicago.

With Lynch’s extensive experience and skill, we asked for tips on the best way nonprofit organizations can maximize the value of their pitch to journalists and media outlets. Below is her advice.

What key advice would you give a non profit organization who is trying to attain media coverage of their issue or event?

The one thing I could advise anyone to do is to look at what the reporter is writing and tailor your pitch to that. If you send something to me about transportation, I probably won’t be interested. But if it’s something let’s say like, the CTA isn’t hiring any minority contractors, then that would be something I would be interested in. A lot of times the newspapers that I write for are issue oriented; they prefer some of those hard-hitting issues.

What should organizations not do when pitching you?

Don’t send an attachment with an email.  Sometimes the attachment won’t open or it might have a virus. Instead just embed whatever that is in the body of the email.

Another thing is to not be too aggressive when you’re trying to pitch. We have a lot on our plates and sometimes being a little bit more subtle would catch my attention instead of saying, “well you need to come out and cover this.” If instead you say, “this is what I have here and I think this is something you might be interested in, I would love for you to come by and cover it,” it would be easier.

How do you prefer to receive pitches?

Email. I’m so busy that sometimes I don’t have the time to call you back. If you send it to me by email it’s always there to remind me. If I save you in my voicemail box, I might forget about you, so email is best.

And what should the subject line read, what would grab your attention?

Words like “protest” or “meeting on housing” will let me know what the email is about. Don’t put the phrases “story assignment or “possible story.” When pitching a story say “we’re having a protest” or “we’re having a meeting on CHA.” That will work to grab my attention.

To what extent should an organization do research on the publication?

Definitely try and do some research on the paper itself. Pick up the paper and look through their website to see what kind of stories they are covering. That’s how you’ll know if the paper will fit in with what you are trying to do. It’s helpful especially because a lot of community newspapers are not like the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune who have a lot of staff to go out and cover stuff. Community newspapers are always looking for content but it has to be the right kind of content with what matches up to what they’re writing about.

If you would like to pitch La Risa Lynch, e-mail her at larisalynch@yahoo.com

In Defense of the Spanish Language: How to Give Meaning to Your Translations

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Queta Rodríguez Bauer

Ever since I came to this country more than 30 years ago, one of my pet peeves has been the poor quality of Spanish translations.

When I see posters, ads, brochures or signs, I cringe.

I even wonder whether the quality has deteriorated in recent years, or whether it may have become an obsession of mine to avidly read all translated materials that fall into my hands with the futile hope that this time I will find no errors. Most likely there is some of both, since the former feeds the latter.

As a result of the increase in the Latino population, there are two consequences that affect language. One is that there are more first-generation Latinos who learned Spanish from their parents. The second is that governments and organizations who want to reach Spanish-speaking immigrants are developing more materials in Spanish. But the efforts are often wasted due to the poor quality of the translations.

 

So why the poor quality? I have a theory.

My sense is that more often than not, translations of items like brochures, labels, taglines and signs are made by first-generation Latinos, employed by the organizations that need the translations. These employees are acculturated Americans, having grown up and gone to school here, and speak Spanish because their parents spoke Spanish to them when they were growing up. They are well-intentioned when they offer their services; they will save their organization some money and show their willingness to help; and the organization may also view this as a money-saving practice. And how hard can it be to make a short translation? (For long translations organizations usually use professional services.)

The problem is that often the people making the translations have grown up hearing or speaking the wrong vocabulary or the incorrect syntax without realizing it. Moreover, people may repeat the incorrect words so many times that after a while they stop sounding weird.

In some cases, first-generation Latinos come from immigrant homes where the parents had little formal education because they had to work as children. These parents spoke to their own children using a type of Spanish that reflected their lack of education. As a result the children picked up their parents’ Spanish, and their written Spanish lacks the correct grammar and syntax. Furthermore, because their vocabulary is limited, their translations tend to be too literal.

Many first-generation Latinos speak Spanish very well, and even write it well (including my daughters and my Latino employees). But even they make mistakes sometimes because they did not learn the language as they would have, had they gone to school and grown up in a Spanish-speaking country.

In order to have the best possible translations into Spanish, I recommend considering the following guidelines:

• To begin, if your English copy is confusing, unclear, or poorly written, you will have a poor, unclear translation in Spanish. (“Garbage in, garbage out.”) Make sure your English copy is clear and understandable.

• Always have a professional, or somebody who was educated in a Spanish speaking country, translate your materials, or at least review the translations your first generation Spanish speakers did for you.

• When you know you are going to need materials in both languages, develop the materials in English and Spanish at the same time, with the help of a bilingual person. Sometimes people think of taglines or descriptions that sound very well in English, but once translated don’t make very much sense. They then have to be explained in Spanish, taking much more space than normal, which is important for graphic designers.

• Keep in mind translations into Spanish normally expand about 30%. Your graphic designer will have to take that into account.

• Do not confuse correct grammar and syntax with style. As with English, things can be correctly described but awkwardly phrased.

• Do not use metaphors or sports terminology in English or be prepared to use a different metaphor in Spanish.

• If possible, run your translations by native Spanish speakers from several countries to make sure you are not using words that may be offensive, or at least strange, for other nationalities. For instance: “guaguá” in Mexico means doggy, and “guagua” (no accent) means “bus” in Caribbean countries and “baby” in Andean countries.

• It seems obvious, but many people, whether they are native speakers or not, forget that when in doubt they can use a dictionary. I also recommend WordReference.com to verify the meaning of words; the website even has very useful discussion forums and links to authoritative sources. But avoid overly literal translations!

While trying to reach Latinos in the U.S., one of the first rules is to show respect for your audience by showing respect for the language.

It can seem rather condescending to provide materials in Spanish that are plagued with mistakes. Good communication, whether in English or in another language, is all about meaning; and meaning has to be conveyed with clarity. If your English copy is clear, and your Spanish translation has the correct syntax and vocabulary, it doesn’t matter if the translation is not literal. You will be saying what you mean.

 

Queta Rodríguez Bauer, MSC, ABC, is Principal of Cultural Communications, LLC., a strategic communications firm in Chicago. She may be reached at 773-285-1055 or qbauer@culturalcommunications.com.

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