MIAMI—A rising Latin American middle class is driving public relations growth across a range of markets, heard delegates at the Global PR Summit in Miami today. 

The panel, led by Llorente & Cuenca Andean region CEO Luisa Garcia also featured Antonieta de Lopez, VP of corporate affairs at Cisneros; Kellog LatAm director of corporate and public affairs José Francisco Ríos; and, José Antonio Llorente, founding partner and chairman at Llorente & Cuenca.

Macroeconomic trends across most LatAm markets are encouraging, driving increasing consumption and the adoption of international trends and lifestyles. As Llorente pointed out: “I see populations that are expecting a better life. There is an emerging middle class - they want to live better.”

However, companies have to tread carefully in an environment that places a premium on responsible behaviour, particularly as new stakeholders — such as regulators and NGOs — emerge.

De Lopez pointed to a Cisneros project that required five years of community work before they could launch. “At Cisneros, corporate responsibility is one of the business strategies.”

Rios said that is was up to companies to ensure their products keep pace with changing habits.

“We need to evolve in many ways - we need to be more open and share all the good things that we do,” said Rios. “Sustainability and corporate reputation are changing the strategy of the business, from a nice-to-have.”

Multinationals should be aware of a continuing preference for local products and brands. Perhaps because of the importance of trust, Rios pointed out that “local companies run the show most of the time.”

Ultimately, Llorente believes that the changes make it a “good time to be a communicator.”

“I think the businesses are realizing that the challenges are not just produce a good product and put it in the market at the right price,” he said.