Crossing the line between advertising and editorial can work sometimes. Camilo Alfaro is a case in point ten years in the making. He produces auto sections for 48 newspapers reaching two thirds of the nation’s Hispanic population.
Starting as an ad rep for Chicago’s LaRaza newspaper’s automotive department after graduating Michigan State University with a degree in advertising and a minor in Spanish, he soon learned, “It wasn’t easy selling automotive ads to a dealer prior to the Census. Their idea of Hispanics was that they all washed dishes in the back of a restaurant or mowed lawns for a living, so a lot of educating had to be done back then.”
He also learned that the auto interests of the paper’s readers were underserved editorially. And, that car makers were open to reaching the growing Hispanic market, which was at 11 percent of the population then and growing. “I asked some manufacturers for cars and suddenly we had a column,” he recalls. His writing and producing an auto section caused a lot of drama in the news room but, fortunately, he says, the publisher shared his vision.
After several years at La Raza, Alfaro worked at Automundo Magazine. He became one of a few bilingual auto writers and continued his career with the Sun-Times News Group (STNG). As automotive editor at STNG’s Pioneer Press headquarters for their suburban division, Alfaro was responsible for a 12-24-page weekly automotive supplement serving 50 plus suburban newspapers. Providing this volume of content for 75 percent of STNG’s publications wasn’t an easy task, but he assembled an outstanding team of writers to get the job done: Al Vinikour, Ed Noble, Jeff Taylor and Kirk Bell all worked with him. Alfaro also helped launch Chic-Auto, a high-end, glossy magazine that was inserted into the Pioneer Press and the Chicago Sun-Times.
His work for STNG brought him an offer he could not refuse: automotive editor for impreMedia’s umbrella of 24 Spanish-language print/portal publications in the nation’s top ten markets. Among them: La Opinion Los Angeles, El Diario NYC and La Raza Chicago.
With the economy’s downturn, Alfaro saw an opportunity to create www.Autoproyecto.com, a complete Spanish-language automotive content source for publications serving the nation’s 28 million Hispanic and international outlets, as well. It makes the economies of scale available weekly to 48 print/portal publications nationally, including impreMedia, with a combined weekly circulation of 5,375,562 – almost three times USA Today’s, he proudly notes. Publications serving the nation’s largest minority population (now at 15 percent) and largest second language group with an estimated purchasing power of $951 billion, are growing. Eighty two percent of the respondents to a recent survey in the five states with the highest Hispanic population say they read Hispanic publications regularly and over half of them are under age 35 – a favored demographic for car makers.
To supply quality weekly content in volume, Alfaro, as he did with the Sun-Times, has assembled an outstanding team of writers: Carlos Guzman, Jorge Covarrubias, Ignacio Demaria and Jaime Florez. “ Working with these guys makes this enormous task easy. I think when you do what you love, everything becomes easier.” Alfaro says.
Recently Alfaro has expanded to broadcast. He talks about the week’s latest auto news every Sunday on Jaime Florez’s ESPN Deportes Radio show, “Ruedas ESPN.” The show is heard in the nation’s ten largest markets from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (EST) and also on Sirius satellite radio channel 91.