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Can entrepreneurship, branding and social media content creators help the Latino community harness its collective strength into real power? Manny Ruiz and Hispanicize are more than confident that they can.

Ruiz is the founder and CEO of Hispanicize, which over the last seven years has grown to be the signature event for those looking to engage the Latino community across a growing sector of industries. Billed as the Latino SXSW, over 3,000 content producers, bloggers, brand professionals in entertainment, journalism, tech and government are expected to gather, and collaborate from April 4th to the 8th. It’s five days of workshops, press conferences and red-carpet extravaganzas that is increasingly a personal and professional community building event for a new generation of Latinos.

Not bad for a working class kid from Miami who had to repeat senior year of high school twice. A stubborn work ethic instilled in him from his Cuban parents made overcoming those early obstacles inevitable, as he parlayed his passion for storytelling and journalism into a degree at Miami-Dade College and a career at the Miami Herald. Like many reporters, that career morphed into public relations as Ruiz built up HispanicPR wire, a news distribution service targeting U.S. Hispanic audiences.

When rival PR Newswire bought out his company in 2008, Ruiz had the fortune and freedom to decide his next steps. ‘LLERO spoke to the 46-year old entrepreneur on the eve of Hispanicize about his most recent journey and the how it unexpectedly came to be.

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