The Latin American sub-continent contains nineteen sovereign states and several territories and dependencies which cover an area stretching from the northern border of Mexico to the southern tip of South America, including the Caribbean. As of 2016, its population has been estimated at more than 626 million people. The ten largest metropolitan areas in Latin America are: Mexico, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Bogotá, Santiago, Belo Horizonte, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages of Latin America. Spanish is the native language of 60% of the population; Portuguese is spoken by about 34% of the population; and around 6% of the population speak other languages such as Quechua, Mayan languages, Guaraní, English, French, Dutch and Italian.
Latin America may not be the first region that comes to mind when one thinks of technology and innovation. Indeed, Latin America has developed at a far slower rate than other regions of the world. Recent indicators, however, suggest that Latin America is making up for lost time in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, with a growth in Internet access, science and engineering degrees, and e-commerce across the region.
As well as this, despite economic challenges, the discipline of corporate communication has evolved significantly in Latin America over the last five years.
Professionals from both internal communication departments and PR agencies have enhanced their capabilities and services aiming to satisfy the expectations and demands arising in a complex global arena, in which growing numbers of Latin American countries are attempting to compete.
Over the last few years a number of PR professionals in the region have moved beyond the traditional press relations, internal communications and corporate events model to encompass a full range of activities, from brand and reputation management to merger and acquisition strategies, digital and social media, in addition to corporate governance initiatives, governmental relations, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability projects.
Until recently, different disciplines within the communications ecosystem (press relations, institutional PR, marketing, advertising etc.) have been siloed; but this has changed, meaning that PR professionals must now work in tandem with marketing professionals, digital specialists and advertising agencies.
In this field, those who succeed and become communications leaders will need to be able to successfully assemble a team (from both internal and external agencies) from different fields, such as content providers, consumer engagers, specialists in analytics, social media experts and experienced brand builders among others.