Embracing Florida’s Rich Hispanic Heritage: Understanding Diversity for Effective Communication


Embracing Florida’s Rich Hispanic Heritage: Understanding Diversity for Effective Communication

As Florida’s top communications firm focusing on elevating bold brands and agendas, supercharging advocacy efforts, and motivating audiences to take action, Sachs Media often attracts clients trying to reach and activate the state’s important Hispanic population. 

In fact, Florida is home to a large and vibrant Hispanic population – third largest among all states. Since the Spaniard Ponce de Leon first landed on our shores in 1513, Hispanic influence has been woven into the very fabric of Florida. Thanks to our geography, Florida has long been a magnet for new residents of Hispanic origin, drawing people from across the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.

But that population can’t be painted with a single broad brush, as if it were a homogeneous group. Understanding the intricate diversity within Florida’s Hispanic community and its evolving demographic dynamics is a key to creating effective communications campaigns in a state on the verge of transitioning to majority-minority status.

Unlike many other Southern border states, whose primary source of Spanish-speaking residents is Mexico, the largest share of Florida’s Hispanic population hails from Cuba, followed by Puerto Rico. But that makeup is evolving, with a growing number of Colombians, Venezuelans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Peruvians, and Salvadorans making Florida their home.  

Even the preferred language and cultural preferences of our diverse Hispanic population are nuanced – and getting it right is crucial for effective and persuasive communication. A phrase written in Spanish may mean one thing to a 60-year-old Cubano and something entirely different to a Honduran teen. 

And while effective communication campaigns in Florida must be multi-lingual, a particular Hispanic audience may prefer to consume information in Spanish or in English. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Latinos nationwide speak English proficiently and the percentage who speak Spanish at home is dropping, though still a majority. In Florida, 71% of Hispanics who aren’t permanent residents speak Spanish as their primary language. Among permanent Hispanic residents older than 5, about 1 in 5 speak only English, while 79% speak a language other than English. 

There’s also the question of whether it’s better to refer to Hispanics or Latinos. According to the Pew Research Center, 53% prefer to call themselves Hispanic, twice the 26% who prefer the term Latino. Just 2% use Latinx, while 18% have no preference.

Another crucial element of building a successful outreach campaign is understanding the geographic distribution of different Hispanic populations within Florida. By identifying concentrations of Hispanics by country of identification within diverse metropolitan areas, we can enhance engagement with these communities and tailor approaches to address their specific needs.

For example, residents originally from Mexico are most heavily represented in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area, with other large concentrations in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas. The greater Orlando area is also home to the largest population of Puerto Ricans. Not surprisingly, South Florida has the largest Cuban population, with a staggering 1,025,000 residents in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area, followed by the Tampa Bay area as a distant second. Florida is home to about 664,000 residents originally hailing from South America, and almost three-quarters of these live in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area.

Florida’s diverse Hispanic population is a cornerstone of our rich heritage and an integral part of our evolving demographic landscape. Our Hispanic residents and visitors are as nuanced and varied as the countries and circumstances they came from. Understanding and honoring that diversity is vital to creating effective communication campaigns that reach, resonate, and persuade.

At Sachs Media, celebrating and better understanding our Hispanic population is a practice that is an essential part of how we approach our work throughout the year.