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November 2018

Latin America - Guatemala

Business in Latin America, a dive in a diverse world

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“We Latin Americans take more chances. We’re less academic and don’t have as many inhibitions. We’re inventors – and playful, even. People notice this. I think Europeans, for example, have realised that in many respects our continent is untainted and that we have a lot to say to the world. In fact, we’re teeming with new and surprising knowhow.” – Gabriel Garcia Marques, one of Latin America’s most notable writers.
Each country in Latin America is a dive into a large and diverse world. So how can we wrap our heads around deciphering such an extensive continent, that despite having most of its extension communicating in the same language, Spanish, has so much cultural, economic and social diversity?
Communicating on a global scale means understanding the languages and local cultures enough to transcend their borders. Latin America has 21 countries with a plethora of local idiosyncrasies.

Effective communication strategies

One of the mistakes many companies make when planning communication projects for Latin America PR is to think that what works in one country works in another. But information and trends spread quickly and somewhat uncontrollably in our globalised world, and campaigns are accepted – or questioned – almost immediately. Not considering unique perspectives may sound crazy, but experience with the Latin market has shown that it is not uncommon.
One of the most effective communication strategies when you have a target audience, be it a country or a community, is talking to your audience in a specific, direct way in a language they know and understand – their own vocabulary included. Staying up-to-date with the daily news, the latest local movements, and the concerns and anxieties of a place can be the answer to getting across effectively. Relevant local information about trending topics can be used as a hook for your product, brand or solution and will make a huge impact in communicating with your audience.
Despite the local differences, there are also similarities across Latin America. Personal relationships carry weight, and foreign products are newsworthy. Stories that engage people and create identification are crucial for receiving attention and strengthening a brand’s standing. Taking this into account, the importance of a native team qualified to customise information, localise vocabulary and content, and build the best local strategy cannot be underestimated. At Sherlock Communications, this is our foundation for supporting our clients in reaching each country in our Latin American hub. The approach is used across the board, be it campaigns, events, announcements or a simple press release. Only professionals with an experienced local eye and cultural coexistence can successfully move between worlds and obtain the best results with confidence.

How the media works across Latin America

The way that media works over here is an important thing to know. Media is concentrated in the hands of few, with traditional families owning the majority of outlets. Large groups often have various channels under their control, including newspapers, radio and television stations. In Colombia, for instance, the production of information is in the hands of eight groups with national coverage and high levels of reception. They are large economic conglomerates.
In many Latin American countries, radio is still the primary source of information and is still growing. Taking advantage of this is vital. In Peru, there were 5,684 radio and TV stations in 2016. At the beginning of 2018, this number had jumped to 6,943. In Argentina’s capital region, more than 6 million people tune in to a radio station every day, according to the Brazilian Institute of Statistics (Ibope). News coming from radio is replicated on TV then echoed on the internet. Understanding this cycle and how information travels empowers us to better seize opportunities and tell our stories.

An Online Necessity

Social media now presents a huge window of opportunity, with a regional reach of over 90%, according to household surveys carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The digital alternative has cleared a path for independent press, small groups and a new, booming and specialised blog scene, ranging from topics as diverse as technology and food. It’s a rich field to work in with a wealth of opportunities and possibilities. Mexico has the highest online reach in the region with 98,2%, and its connected population is only second to Brazil, which, in turn, is the fourth largest internet market in the world. Brazil also has a user base of over 139 million and around 66% penetration, according to Internet Labs Stats.
Knowledge of the region and the intelligence used in developing strategy sets a good, effective communications plan apart from those that don’t reach their targets. Having the necessary support from people who understand these regional movements makes all the difference in communicating about brands and products with relevance and authenticity.
To better understand how Sherlock’s Latin American hub works and to have access to an overview of each country in the region, visit our website and learn more about South America as well as Central America and the Caribbean, where our experienced professionals effectively support our clients with expert knowledge on each market.
Nira and Ronaldo at Sao Paulo Fashion Week

Sherlock Communication’s team member joined São Paulo Fashion Week catwalk

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A Sherlock consultant had the unique chance to walk down the runway of one of Brazil’s most prestigious stylists, Ronaldo Fraga

Fashion isn’t all about the latest trends, it is a form of art – a way of expressing an idea, a feeling or a belief. Many stylists all over the world have been using their visibility at fashion shows and on social media to make statements with their pieces. Clothes are no longer just well-sewn cloth, they carry a message.

Ronaldo Fraga’s show at São Paulo Fashion Week was one of the most commented and memorable moments of the event. Setting himself apart from others, Ronaldo showed the audience a glimpse of what he had witnessed in Israel. According to him, it was a tribute to Israel and its diversity. Tel Aviv, a city where he had seen Arabs and Jews, black, white, gay and straight people coexisting, was the inspiration for his fashion show.  On the runway, many of his models were ordinary people of different backgrounds and appearances.

Nira Worcman, one of Sherlock’s consultants, had the privilege of being one of the people to walk down his runway. “It’s not every day that a 56-year-old woman can strut down a catwalk at SPFW. But at this show, Ronaldo Fraga wanted to promote diversity in age, colour, gender, sexual orientation and religion. And so, there I was”, she said.

At the centre of the runway was a large table filled with wine and food. The audience had no idea what was to come. The models walked around the table and sat in the chairs placed around it. The show kicked off with a kiss between the first two male models. Applause erupted. Another two kisses took place later on, making the audience cheer. “I was so excited to be part of a fashion show so different from anything, promoting liberty and equality”, Worcman beamed.

“It was all a matter of keeping a quiet mind, a straight spine and a peaceful heart. I was wearing beautiful overalls and all the flashes and cameras were pointing at me. I put on a shy smile and in that instant, I felt like a star.”, Worcman exclaimed. Jeans were the material of choice for most of the clothes as it embodies resistance and uniformity. “It’s a very present fabric, it units past and future like no other”, said Fraga in a press conference. Ronaldo Fraga’s show was a protest. With the second round of the presidential election around the corner, hate speech and prejudice were at a historic high. His show fought back with love and acceptance.

After all the models had taken their seats on the runway, they stood up and held hands in a circle around the table – a gesture of unity. And then something unusual happened. Ronaldo Fraga invited Israel’s Consul General to join him on the runway. Then, the models started inviting other people from the audience to join them at the feast as well.

One by one, people from the audience were invited until everybody was on the runway, participating in the show. People were ecstatic to be part of this inspiring gathering. Certainly, it was a lot more than what is usually expected from a fashion show.


Blockchain in the Brazil health sector – still in its infancy, but very health

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The use of blockchain will revolutionise several industries in a way never witnessed before, and Brazil may start at the forefront. Known as a general-purpose technology, blockchain will be used in ways that we are still incapable of predicting, but it is already changing how we deal with information, commercial relations, trust and accountability. It is expected to disrupt the world as much as the invention of the press, the industrial revolution and the internet. One of the areas where major changes are envisioned is healthcare, and Brazilians are thinking of possibilities.

Brazil is a country bursting with creativity, and its continental size presents a lot of that proverbial necessity that gives birth to invention. Local law, for example, rightfully aiming at protecting privacy, forbids hospitals and healthcare companies from sharing patient’s information. That protection has its downside, as it makes it difficult for patients to inform different doctors about their diagnosis and health history. Even the patient – himself the rightful owner of his health records – does not hold most of them, as records are kept in the clinics and hospitals where treatment was sought. That makes an accurate diagnosis hard to be achieved, and it particularly hampers the efficiency of pharmacists and paramedics – two professionals instrumental in saving lives in case of an emergency.

With that and more in mind, young Brazilians working with the AI and blockchain lab Entropia have come up with EverSafe, a project based on a blockchain platform that would reconfigure healthcare in ways that were unthinkable before.

The digitalisation of hospitals in Brazil is not new, and less than 15% of medical facilities with 50 beds or more are believed to not have started the process yet. But health records are not necessarily communicable. They are saved in different formats and different computer languages, and those holding that data often have competing interests, unlike the patient, whose only aim is to stay healthy. The problem is further compounded by the fact that there are two separate health systems, private and public. EverSafe will create a single databank  – the blockchain ledger – where each patient will be able to compile and gather his or her health information and make it available at will. Eating habits, health history, previous diagnoses, allergies, prescription drug intake will all be gathered under a single encrypted key that will allow the owner to retrieve the information instantly or share it with any person, hospital and health facility. The patient will also be able to sell that information, even anonymously. Interested buyers can be anyone from researchers, government offices dealing with epidemics, insurance companies, scientists, medical companies running drug tests. All that will be done in a safe, hack-free, encrypted platform. EverSafe also proposes the use of tokens to “gamify” the community, so people would be enticed to record their data and earn tokens for consumption within the network.

That type of incentive is also proposed by another healthcare blockchain project under development in Brazil aiming at increasing donation of bone marrow. “The idea is to create a platform where healthcare institutions can cross-check information with eligible donors,” says Samira Lopes, a member of the collective Women in Blockchain, in an interview to Onco, a Bazilian medical magazine. Donors would be entitled to tokens that serve as currency within that blockchain environment.

Two Brazilians were also part of the seven-member MIT Experimental Learning Group that won the USA Blockchain Challenge in 2016, a private initiative to reward with cash prizes the best projects in “Blockchain Technology and the Potential for Its Use in Health IT and/or Healthcare Related Research Data.” Anne Chang and Luca Forni won the challenge with a white paper presenting a project that would, as explained by Chang,  revolutionise the way treatments are prescribed to patients.”

“Today,” she says, “we depend on studies and medical articles that are done in a restricted form, with small samples and that often do not consider specific factors like ethnicity and genetic predisposition.” With blockchain, once medical records are added to the platform, with the due permissions and necessary requirements, that massive amount of anonymous yet verified data will become a goldmine for research and solutions, and person-specific treatments will become less costly and more efficient. “We want to give a more dignified destination [to our medical records]. When the patient is in the hospital, he rarely has access to his records, lab test results, treatments, drug interactions and other information that, even though it belongs to the patient, end up staying in the hospital.”  Such transformation may also reduce the frequency of medical errors, which a 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says was the third leading cause of death in the USA.

Brazil has adopted other technological innovations in health that are more widely used by the public at large precisely because they do not require access to a blockchain – still a platform to which the average person has no access from a regular phone or notebook. But with the improvement of the technology and its adaptation to everyday gadgets, several of these apps will soon be available in an improved form in a blockchain platform with its main advantages: security, encryption, anonymity and an almost guaranteed absence of fraud and forgery. One of those innovations are the already widely used apps that show the cheapest prices for drugs within one’s location. Government health departments are also discussing the use of blockchain as a means to give transparency to public tenders and avoid overbilling in drug purchases. All of that is very promising, and more so in light of the Goldman Sachs report, leaked in April 2018, which revealed the bank’s advice to clients in the medical field that it was sound business not to aim at curing a disease but at keeping it chronic.

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