By Patricia Lee Hall with additional reporting by Katherine Cook

Hispanicize 2014 wrapped up another awesome event with a full day of programming. As always, the four days went by much too quickly, evidence of how much there is to do and how much the event has grown. Below we present highlights from the final day of Hispanicize 2014.

Latinovator Lunch Honors Sheila E

After a Thursday night party where she brought the house down, Sheila E was as entertaining and engaging as ever. The celebrated, Grammy-nominated percussionist and singer had performed the previous evening at the Hispanicize Positive Impact Awards, showcasing her timeless drumming skills, interacting with the audience, and even sharing the stage at one point with renowned actor Edward James Olmos, who played along both figuratively and literally.

At the Latinovator Lunch, Sheila E was honored for her four decades in the music business. The artist (full name Sheila Escovedo, daughter of legendary Mexican-American percussionist Pete Escovedo, has a new CD, “Icon,” and soon will release her autobiography, “The Beat of My Own Drum. Sheila E talked about growing up in a musical family, the importance of reaching out to youth, and her charitable work through the Elevate Hope foundation she founded.

Sessions Provide Practical Insights

The last day’s sessions again offered insights into blogging, media, and music industry trends. Sessions covered achieving marketing success on Facebook, the future of Hispanic print, best practices for web video and photography, the evolution of Hispanic TV networks, legal issues for blogging and online content creation, and important issues in videos and marketing that reach both Latinos and mainstream audiences.

At the SEO for journalists and bloggers panel, participants were reminded to think about what matters most and how they become someone’s answer to their problem – and why it’s important to mimic their readers, get to know them, and be relevant. At the Social Media for Social Good session, presenters provided useful statistics for the audience. For example, they said 81 percent of Americans want to purchase from a brand with a connection to their community and 41 percent buy based on those connections. You have to have an emotional connection to gain attention and traction in social media, and social causes take that emotional connection to a new level.

Real-life case studies are a staple of Hispanicize events, providing participants with valuable learning opportunities. Navarro Discount Pharmacy presented a “textbook” case study on how to build a successful Hispanic private label brand. Founded in 1961, Navarro has become the largest Hispanic drug retail enterprise in the United States. A key to its success, panelists said, is bridging the gap to create a shopping experience that attracts first-, second-, third-, and fourth-generation Hispanics.
Last Call for Swag!

Hispanicize attendees enjoyed a fourth day of fun in the exhibit hall, where they could meet new businesses and find lots of swag and fun photo opps. Fans of “the most magical place on Earth” could stop by the Walt Disney World for fun treats and photo booth complete with fun accessories and WDW backdrops. At the adjacent booth, they could learn about Yonderbound, a new travel site that is like a personal scrapbook where you can keep hotel options and notes and even share them with family and friends.

Helping new and existing businesses get the word out about their products and services was Hispanicize Wire, a wire service for news distribution that goes beyond the usual. Hispanicize Wire is a multimedia service that is revolutionizing the press release by making it more multimedia, social media and SEO friendly, while also being extremely affordable.

It is an especially useful resource for companies that may not have a large or any publicity or marketing department but which definitely need to tell their story through highly targeted outreach to the Latino community, said CEO and partner Bill Gato. Hispanicize Wire is a new, independent company with ties to the Hispanicize event, so it is fully immersed in the Hispanic business world and is fully Latino-owned. “We’re so different from other wire services, because we have a very strong social media component and can offer a full line of services at a fraction of the cost,” Gato said. “No other wire service has our social media reach.”

Event Closes, Party Continues!
Hispanicize attendees spend a lot of time on their feet but can take a break at one of many nice lounges, including the Cine Sony lounge, The Home Depot’s “indoor patio,” or the Target reception area. Target again hosted a fantastic happy hour where attendees could network, talk about the day’s events, relax, and enjoy beverages and treats.

After getting a little break, attendees were up on their feet in no time, ready to enjoy the closing reception hosted by Gain #MusicaParaTuNariz. The party had guests getting up and getting down with the music of the super-fun Los Rakas and the outstanding La Santa Cecilia.

Although it had been a busy four days, some participants showed no signs of slowing down. One group of attendees from Puerto Rico were still networking, making new friends, and getting ready for the evening’s events in the last hours of Hispanicize. Jeannette Quiñones of Sazon Boricua (#Sazon_Boricua) and Ferndanda Chacon of Heavenly Skinny Kitchen (#HeavenlySkinny) had traveled to Miami just for Hispanicize and had a great time, they said.

Hispanicize 2014 wrapped up with a “Latinas Who Rock” finale. The closing bash was an unforgettable night of music with live performances by three powerful Latina artists a full night of dancing. See you next year at Hispanicize 2015!

See photos from Hispanicize in the official Hispanicize photo gallery!