I was privileged to be selected as one of the top Latina blogueras to participate in a mini-MBA that also included a White House briefing. This is a first, organized by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), one of the most powerful online communities harnessing the power of the digital space to organize and educate Hispanics.  LATISM identified an issue dogging Hispanic female bloggers--not being compensated at pace with their value and influence as well as a perceived lack of political clout.

Roxana A. Soto, one of the co-founders of Spanglish Baby--a website and forthcoming book on raising children bilingually--says the workshops taught her to use her audience reach and website traffic as a business tool when negotiating with companies and brands, “I learned not just to accept what they offered.  You need to ask and negotiate what you deserve because only you know what you’re worth.”

The demographic boom of the Latino community, its corresponding buying power estimated at $1 trillion dollars, and over-indexing in social media and mobile device usage has corporate America trying to corner this segment of the population to grow market share.  As with the general market, outreach to Latino bloggers is a key component of marketing strategy because it's a way to reach consumers, while influencing buying habits. Latinas learned how to turn their blogs into a business by mastering valuable skills such as how to pitch a public relations company personally and with your website, as well as negotiating.  The crash-course MBA was taught by industry insiders from Southwest, Consumer Reporters, Comcast, McDonald’s, Google, Porter Novelli, and Fleishman-Hillard with support from Univision and Mary Kay.

Las Blogueras also were welcomed at the White House by members of the Obama Administration to promote the policies with most impact to Latinos, including the United States Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs and school meals programs as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which aims to combat childhood obesity by encouraging a more active lifestyle.  

“We are not títeres (puppets),” LATISM founder Ana Roca-Castro reminded the administration officials, including Domestic Policy chair Cecilia Muñoz, who answered the first bloguera question on why President Obama had sped up deportations under the controversial Secure Communities program intended to target violent undocumented immigrant felons or repeat border crossers but that has ensnared others such as the student DREAMers. Other tough questions included the slow pace of the economic recovery and demanding more resources for special needs students.

Elianne Ramos, LATISM’s vice chair of communications says, “The bloggers have so much power but they don’t know it yet.  When they see a bloguera that’s awakening to that power, they take it as theirs and they start projecting to their families, neighborhoods, and communities. That’s the only way we’ll be able to effect real change.”

All--me included--are now one step closer to being, not just passionate, but smarter social entrepreneurs--business leaders with a heart.

Viviana Hurtado is the founder and blogger-in-chief at The Wise Latina Club and the host of Hispanic Business Today: American Success Stories, nationally syndicated on NBC. She is a regular columnist for Fox News Latino. You can follow her on Twitter at: @vivianahurtado

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