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LatISM Goes West with “Latino2″ Conference

*What: Latino2, a celebration and exploration of all things Latino in the age of digital/social engagement.  Brought to you by Latinos in Social Media (LatISM).

*When: April 30-May 2, 2010 in Los Angeles (Venue TBD)

*Want to help? Come to the pre-conference Tweetup:  Saturday February 6, 8PM at Seven Restaurant & Bar, 555 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA  90014, 213.223.0777, http://sevenrestaurantbar.com

*For more info: go to latism.org, latino2.com, or follow the conversation on Twitter (#latism, #latino2)

For those of you who know me — or at least follow my movements on Twitter — it should come as no surprise that I recently experienced a cultural reawakening, and that a new focus for me in 2010 is the emerging world of Latino communications.  It all began last summer, when I was asked by the National Hispanic Corporate Council (NHCC) to give a keynote at its annual conference.  The topic was the corporate adoption of social media, something I often speak about in public and private settings.   But, of course, the context for this talk was the Latino market.  I was less prepared for that, and I soon realized I had some homework to do.  I immediately began by searching for people and groups steeped in both social technology and Latino marketing.  The timing was right.  Earlier that summer, a group called LatISM — Latinos in Social Media — took off on the Web like a rocket, and by the Fall they had organized a number of events on the East Coast.  After the NHCC talk, I flew to speak at a LatISM in DC, connected with co-founders Ana Roca Castro, Kety Esquivel, and Louis Pagan, and we soon got to talking about bringing LatISM to the West Coast.  Today — along with my West Coast colleagues David Vallejo, Antonio Altamirano and Laura Gomez — I am proud to announce that LatISM in fact is coming to California, for a weekend conference running April 30 through May 2nd in Los Angeles (venue TBD).

We are now in the pre-production phase, and we are reaching out to people interested in speaking, sponsoring, or otherwise supporting the event. If you have attended earlier LatISM conferences, you will see the same commitment to the LatISM mission:  to bring together Latinos — and people close to Latino communities — to share insights and best practices in digital/social communications.  But there are several things that will make the “LatISM West” event different:

The scale: The western region of the U.S. is by far the largest general domestic market for Latinos, and L.A. is one of the major hubs as well as home to many of the leading innovators in social technology.  For that reason alone we are designing the event to be a bit larger.   We’ve already identified several locations that would be appropriate.  But we are also gathering the requisite people power and sponsor support for the effort.

The scope: We are also designing the event to leverage some of the unique assets of the Southern California market:  the rich clusters of talent in entertainment and media.  We will also stretch up North, tapping leaders and thinkers from Silicon Valley, Sacramento and other parts of the state where many interesting projects in government, public policy and commerce are happening today.  And we will also look to leaders from neighboring states — Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, others — to bring greater representation as well as a real Western feel to this event.

The season: Finally, there’s something special about the timing of this event.  If I have learned anything about Latino communications in the past few months — the short amount of time that frames my personal “reawakening” — it’s that Latinos are quickly organizing themselves online, and the speed at which this is happening is remarkable.   The folks at LatISM had a hunch last year that the time was right for an organization devoted to supporting — not dictating — this type of self-organization.   And it’s all happening at a time when it matters more than ever that Latinos stand up and be counted — the months preceding the 2010 Census, a project that could have a significant impact on national priorities.  But even without the census, Latinos have reason to stand up, be counted, and participate in the new conversations on Latino communications.  The approach we are taking is the broaden the umbrella wide enough to allow for even livelier conversations.   If you are “Latino too” — by origin or affinity (i.e., engaging with Latinos really matters to you) — come to Latino2. But don’t wait for April 30 to make yourself heard.  If you can, come to our Tweetup (see details above) and take part in shaping the event from the start.

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