Advertising with Asians is good business

Imagine a day that starts with a breakfast meeting with community leaders, followed by a luncheon with corporate executives and small-business owners, and then cap it off with a dinner party with candidates running for the local election.

Such activities are all in a day’s work for a media advertising sales representative who “knows the best way to do business,” said Helen Hsueh, president and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Chinese Daily News.

After all, these professionals are “highly energized individuals who make a lot of money just by talking to a lot of people on a regular basis,” as described by Carl Magno, VAsian TV station manager and chief distribution officer.

“Sales is where you can expand your world. You are out and about and you get a feel of the city that you live in,” said Robert Macabagdal, Asian Journal Publications vice president for Las Vegas.

The three media sales experts agree that selling advertising space is just like marketing any other product, a job that requires personality, patience and perseverance.

But compared with any other sales job, a career in advertising sales specifically in Asian ethnic media is very promising since this niche is poised to grow even more in the coming years.

This is so because Asian-owned businesses continue to be one of the strongest segments in the economy. In fact, these firms grew twice as fast as the national rate, as the number increased a massive 40 percent to 1.5 million from 2002-2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The findings, released in 2011, are from the Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, which also showed that the roughly 6,000 Asian-owned businesses in Las Vegas comprise 10.5 percent of all businesses in the city.

The increase in local Asian firms, meanwhile, is a result of the growing population of Asian-Americans in Clark County. At a massive 116.5 percent growth from 2000-2010, the U.S. Census Bureau noted that Asian-Americans in the area are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States.

VAsian TV

It is precisely the Asian-Americans’ growing presence in Las Vegas that inspired VAsian TV’s Magno and his team to set up the first Asian television station in Las Vegas.

“The Asian-American community in Las Vegas is dynamic, fast-growing and is now composed of young, upwardly mobile, highly educated individuals (who are) fluent in English,” he said in an interview.

“Yet, there is no local TV medium or channel that provides (Asians) with pride of roots and country in one setting,” he lamented.

For this reason, Magno, who is founder of Las Vegas-based marketing and entertainment promotions firm V Asian Group, decided to conceive a television channel which features English language shows that are all produced by Asians and made for Asians.

On Feb. 27, the group’s vision came to fruition as local channel KTUD 25.3 went on air for the first time to largely positive response from the Asian community.

Among the many programs that became popular quickly is “What’s for Dinner,” a one-of-a-kind cooking program that shows a chef giving step-by-step instructions to prep a featured Asian meal, as well as turn-by-turn directions to the actual restaurant where the dish is served.

Also gaining a following is “Asian News,” a weekly newscast concerning Asians in Las Vegas and about national issues that affect the local Asian community.

Making sure that each subgroup in the Asian community is well represented, the station also allots a one-hour block each to, among others, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Korean and Asian-Indian programming.

Aside from these, the 24/7 television network also features a wide variety of travel, fashion, music and reality shows that appeal not only to Asian Americans, but to Asian immigrants and Asian visitors as well.

Magno envisions VAsian TV to primarily be a window into the Las Vegas Asian community. “The (mainstream) community will know how to best deal with the thriving Asian-Americans,” he said, noting that the group’s perspectives, ancestry and heritage is what is showcased in the shows.

The station’s content is hyper-local to appeal to Asian immigrants and next generation Asian-Americans who are residents of Southern Nevada.

“It aims to give the local Asian-American community with the latest updates on matters that impact their respective lives as Americans, as Asians and as good local citizens,” Magno said.

At the same time, the channel is also expected to help attract more people from Asian countries to visit Las Vegas, said Jing Espiritu, VAsian TV chief marketing and business development officer.

“We are poised to become the welcome channel for those who want to visit Las Vegas,” he said.

To ensure that VAsian TV’s content remains perpetually relevant and responsive to the Asian American community, its executives have created an advisory council that will share its inputs on programming. The council is composed of seven Asian community leaders.

Las Vegas Asian Journal

Engaging community leaders, as well as its members, is also what drives the Las Vegas Asian Journal in its weekly issues. It is not uncommon for leaders in the Asian community and its various organizations to turn to this newspaper when disseminating information about their plans and programs or announcing their stand on issues.

Underscoring its influence in the local community, the Las Vegas Asian Journal staff is constantly invited to press conferences alongside mainstream media. Its recent exclusive interviews ran the gamut from entertainer Jim Brickman to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

“The Las Vegas Asian Journal has been fortunate since we are recognized by the main stream,” said Macabagdal. These include private and state agencies, public relations firms, advertising agencies, as well as the general non-Asian community, he noted.

It was in 1991 when Roger and Cora Oriel, both veterans in ethnic media sales, set up the Asian Journal Publications in Los Angeles. The newspaper quickly became the premier source of news and information about the Philippines and the Filipino-American community in Southern California. The company eventually came out with two editions of the Los Angeles Asian Journal every week.

As the company quickly gained a stable base of readers and advertisers, it started printing local editions in four other U.S. areas: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orange County, Calif., and New York-New Jersey.

The Las Vegas edition, established in 1995, has a 15,000 per week circulation covering Clark County from North Las Vegas to Henderson. This free community newspaper is available in most Asian grocery stores, restaurants, shops, medical clinics and legal offices in the county. It is also distributed in four public libraries in the city: Spring Valley, Sahara West, Sunrise and Clark County.

A typical issue, which comes out every Thursday, runs 20 pages, containing news and feature stories about Asian-Americans in Las Vegas. Stories on national issues that affect the local Asian community are also standard fare.

Events in Asian-American communities across the country also are featured as they are covered by news reporters and photojournalists in each of the company’s four bureaus.

Like its counterparts in other cities, Las Vegas Asian Journal was initially founded to target Filipino-Americans. Of late, however, the local edition has broadened its coverage to include other Asian groups.

“We noticed that the concerns of Filipino-Americans are almost the same as (those of) other Asians,” Macabagdal said.

In addition, it is seizing opportunities brought by the fact that the paper is in English. “The newspaper is in English, while other Asian newspapers are written in the language of their ethnicity,” he said.

This means the Las Vegas Asian Journal is what the entire Asian community relies on to foster communication among each subgroup, Macabagdal noted. “I feel that the Las Vegas Asian Journal bridges the gap among the Asian community,” he said.

At the same time, he believes the paper’s content written in the English language has made it easier for non-Asians to tap into the Asian-American and Asian immigrant market.

Las Vegas Chinese Daily News

Unlike the Asian Journal and VAsian TV, the Las Vegas Chinese Daily News offers news and information entirely in the Chinese language.

“(But) I do not see it as a problem,” the newspaper’s president and CEO Hsueh said. “I even see Americans pick up my paper because they said they are bilingual. They understand (Chinese). They even come up to me to tell me how good my paper is.”

In an interview at her office at the heart of the Las Vegas Asian corridor at Chinatown Mall on Spring Mountain Road, Hsueh relayed how the thriving publication started.

“It was June 28, 2003,” she said, noting that the date was significant since it was six months after a fateful day when she almost lost her life to a vehicular accident.

Her quick recovery from that accident was mirrored by the fast growth of the newspaper that she started with two business partners. And while she described the months of physical rehabilitation from the accident as “very painful,” the early months of the Las Vegas Chinese Daily News were the opposite.

“When I started, (advertisers) came to me,” Hsueh said. She credits this easy start to people whom she met and has maintained strong ties with when she published a Chinese-language business directory two years earlier.

Even prior to that venture, Hsueh was known as a “walking phone book” by members of her community. She recalls meeting people who introduced themselves to her in an attempt to get introduced to other people in the community.

“They always come to me. I am active in the community and I do a lot of volunteer work,” she said.

With her vast network and innate openness, Hsueh’s one man marketing team steered the fledgling paper into one of the most widely circulated Chinese community newspapers in less than a decade. Just recently, she took control of the enterprise and owns 100 percent of the business.

Currently, the typically 32-page broadsheet hits newsstands in Asian malls and stores around the Spring Valley area in Las Vegas every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is also circulated in an affluent area in Los Angeles. Special editions are also circulated to commemorate important festivals or political events.

The Chinese Daily News’ four-member editorial staff covers most Asian-related issues and all Chinese community events in Las Vegas. The staffers translate English language articles from their news sources into Chinese. News stories from Taiwan are also staples.

Hsueh credits the tireless editorial staff in coming up with reliable and credible stories every week. “I am not a professional (journalist),” she said, but claims that she is very passionate at “connecting with people,” which helped her a lot in marketing the newspaper.

The feisty but friendly Hsueh imparts wise words about selling advertising space in her newspaper. “The worst type of marketing is begging for ads. Typical marketing is asking for ads. Better marketing is just talking about advertising,” she said.

“But the best is not to ask. Just be a friend and when they need (advertising), they will come.”

Hiring in Asian ethnic media

Like the Las Vegas Chinese Daily News chief, the head honchos of the Las Vegas Asian Journal and VAsian TV agree that advertising is what pushes their products to profitability. More media sales representatives mean more business, thus, the three companies are looking forward to hiring more.

To entice more sales representatives, the Asian Journal and VAsian TV offer bonuses and commissions, though the two entities expect these professionals to maintain a minimum monthly sales performance.

“The one thing that has stuck to me about the financial side of sales is that you write your own paycheck,” Macabagdal said.

Magno said the biggest benefit is selling a novelty product such as airtime in VAsian TV. “We are offering introductory rates with deepest discounts, anyone interested to sell to this market will not hesitate to advertise,” he said.

Hsueh, meanwhile, said she does not impose a quota on her sales representatives and she gives them a good percentage or commission.

More than educational or work experience, all three require that prospective ethnic media sales professionals have good people skills and excellent communication skills.

“I’m always hiring. No degree required and no experience is needed,” Hsueh said, noting that she is even willing to train new graduates. “Passion is good. Respect for others is good,” she said when asked what traits she looks for in a media sales job applicant.

“No experience is required, but (they) must come highly recommended by local community or local church leaders,” Magno also said.

He added, “We are looking for those who love Asia and Asians. Anyone who can relate well and enjoys dealing with the global Asian or English-speaking Asians and Asian-Americans are welcome to apply.”

Macabagdal, for his part, said people skills and the right attitude are important. “They should not have any personal judgments towards anyone. I also want a sales rep who is not just looking for potential clients to come to them, but they must be able to create contacts and generate their own leads,” he added.

“Communication skill is first and foremost. In sales, we need to be able to talk to anyone and feel comfortable talking to everyone,” he said. “They need to be able to communicate the message of the advertiser to the readers.”

Communicating in two languages, meanwhile, is an advantage in an ethnic media sales career, even though such is not a prerequisite, both Macabagdal and Magno said.

“(Being bilingual) is not a requirement, but I feel it is a great advantage, Macabagdal said.

Magno agreed saying, “Yes, it is an advantage, especially if you want to focus on a particular ethnic market. However, it doesn’t mean being fluent only in English is a negative factor.”

Hsueh, on the other hand, requires her media sales representatives to be bilingual in English and Chinese. “They don’t need to be Chinese but they do need to speak the language,” she said.

Suffice it to say, all three are looking forward to hiring media sales representatives who are not part of the Asian community.

“The Las Vegas Asian Journal sales reps have always been Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. But we are open to hiring non-Asian and non-Filipino sales representatives,” Macabagdal said.

“I welcome Caucasians who know how to speak Chinese. I’ve been looking for (Chinese-speaking) Caucasians who will deal with mainstream clients and advertising agencies,” Hsueh said. “This way I can show that Caucasians and Chinese can work together.”

Magno explained the dynamics of enticing a client to advertise in Asian ethnic media: “You see, there are people who are more comfortable dealing with the same ethnic background as they have. But I also know of people who prefer not to deal with their own kind.

“The ability to quickly determine what will drive your prospective customer to buy your product right now is a special gift,” he said.

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