“When I first started my career in the late 1980s at Leo Burnett, it was a great training ground which offered my first introduction to Univision,” says Trisha Pray, Executive Vice President Network and Cable Sales, Univision Communications Inc. “Hispanic consumers were an untapped market at that time.”
Since moving to Univision sales in 1989, she has expanded the range of marketing opportunities to advertisers across Univision’s broadcast networks, Univision Network and UniMás, as well as a growing suite of cable and digital properties and strategic partnerships including Galavisión, Univision Deportes Network, El Rey Network, Fusion, Univision Creator Network, The Flama, The Root and The Onion.
The Hispanic market is not monolithic. Strategic research is needed to keep pace with this desirable and evolving consumer segment. Trisha is a big supporter of research in which custom proprietary studies help build and inform Univision’s knowledge base. She is also a proponent of personal development and is a founding member of Univision’s Women’s Leadership Council that helps to prepare future leaders.
Charlene Weisler: You have worked in the Hispanic marketplace since the 1980s. How has it evolved over the years?
Trisha Pray: The biggest change is in awareness. Today, Hispanic consumers are too important not to address. Marketers cannot achieve their growth goals without this integral consumer segment. Since I joined Univision there have been three U.S. censuses, with the results making this fact abundantly clear. When the 1990 census was made public, our phones started to ring off the hook. Marketers knew they had to establish a relationship with U.S. Hispanics. Now, we see even more momentum. The level of sophistication has increased, and we stay ahead of that through our proprietary research. Research is very important to add clarity to the marketplace.
Charlene: How do you delineate between Spanish only, Spanish dominant and English speaking Hispanic households?
Trisha: Initially, in the 80s, our focus was on Spanish-dominant households. As the lives of those consumers evolved, we evolved as well. Respecting the sensibility of the Hispanic consumer segment, we now offer a breadth of content ranging from Spanish to English-dominant. Our portfolio of products continues to reach and engage all Hispanics. For example, in recent years, we have added El Rey and Fusion, which are English dominant. While remaining sensitive to the cultural and emotional engagement of each viewer, we will continue to revolutionize our mission in the years to come.
Charlene: Do you have a digital strategy?
Trisha: This is an area that has evolved the most for us. Initially, it was done to support the TV portfolio, but we pivoted, with our focus now on content regardless of the platform. As a result, Univision creates content that is enjoyed on TV, while also consumed from an on-the-go perspective, constantly experimenting along the way. We have great traditional offerings on TV which now go beyond to give our consumers more to enhance their experience. An example is the online, behind-the-scenes content available in tandem with our novellas on TV. A new offering we have is TheFlama.com, which is fun and irreverent, all in English, for younger audiences. It has specific, culturally-focused content that has helped advertisers like Coca-Cola reach teens. We also have the Univision Creator Network, culled from a range of consumer categories such as food and fashion. Their insights help advertisers see what an influencer looks like. We have pursued talent from YouTube channels, given them greater exposure, with some even appearing on our morning show. Univision’s broad portfolio and scale resonates because we understand consumers’ behaviors throughout the day, in addition to providing advertisers with the necessary tools to connect the dots.
Charlene: Tell me about your work with the Women’s Leadership Council.
Trisha: At Univision, our mission is to recruit, develop and retain talented professionals. The Women’s Leadership Council is a critical core of that mission. We help with development inside and outside the organization. The Council consists of a senior steering committee -- 13 local chapters in many of our key markets, connecting through national and local events. We also have a speaker series which is streamed live internally throughout the company, featuring female leaders such as Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts and Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. We want both men and women to participate together while learning to build their own brand.
We also have the Women’s Leadership Academy, in partnership with Smith College, which provides internal training [as well as] professional and personal development. The knowledge gained here can be used in and beyond Univision, helping participants to think differently, along with developing self-confidence and direction.
Charlene: With everything you’re doing, how do you achieve work/life balance?
Trisha: This is an area with which I still struggle, but understand that work/life balance is critical for any lifestyle. We are better employees and human beings when we successfully maintain healthy, balanced lives. Sometime things do get out of whack. There are busier work seasons, like during the Upfront, where I expect an increased workload, but I am also responsible for ensuring that I reset everything once it is over. There certainly is a necessity to talk about this subject a lot, especially with younger people. It is important early on in your career to create boundaries and clear-set goals. In general, I believe Millennials are better than my generation at achieving a practical life balance.
Charlene: Do you have any advice for a college student considering a career in media?
Trisha: Media is a very exciting field. I love it! And the people who work in media are great. It is a very dynamic environment, with the speed of change being fascinating and fun. The only requirements are passion and curiosity about what is happening in the marketplace. It can take you in many different directions. The last three years have been the most dynamic in my career, encompassing more change than in the last decade. The future will not look as it looks now. Be open.
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