Televisa studio
The new Televisa studio in Seaport Village.

In March 1989, when TV advertising executive Patricia Alvarez de los Cobos founded Energy Communications, a Hispanic media sales marketing agency based in Chula Vista, “We started from zero,” she told Times of San Diego.

“We had zero research at the time to share with advertisers. I had almost nothing to use to sell commercial airtime,” said Alvarez de los Cobos. “Thankfully, José Luis Guasch (Channel 12’s general manager at the time) was the visionary who encouraged me to start Energy. He saw the potential of future growth possibilities for San Diego and Tijuana as the mega-region it is today. Back then, I would have never guessed where we would be right now.”

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For 32 years plus one month, Energy Communications has remained the exclusive U.S. sales representative for Televisa Californias’ five TV stations, including XEWT-TV Channel 12 and XHUA-TV Channel 57 (both covering the San Diego-Tijuana region), XHS Channel 23 in Ensenada, XHBM-TV Channel 44 in Imperial Valley and XHBC-TV Channel 4 in Mexicali. All TV properties are network affiliates of Televisa, a Mexican multi-media conglomerate considered the world’s largest producer of Spanish-language content.

Today, Alvarez de los Cobos’ agency is recognized as a national model of success at educating U.S. advertisers about Hispanic consumers and Hispanic marketplace. Over the years, she has mentored scores of advertising reps, as well as media buyers, about the return-on-investment possibilities from advertising directed at Hispanics residing in the U.S.

“We have 17 employees and many of them have been with me for over 20 years,” said Alvarez de los Cobos. “We are like family.”

When it comes to economic and demographic statistics, Alvarez do los Cobos is an encyclopedia. Take your pick: Hispanics in San Diego are one of the most affluent Hispanic markets in the U.S. with $12.6 billion total purchasing power with a median household income of $45,000; Baja California visitors primarily from Tijuana spend more than $4.5 billion a year on retail and entertainment purchases in San Diego County; 48 percent of Hispanics in San Diego have family living in Mexico.

Patricia Alvarez do los Cobos
Patricia Alarez de los Cobos

“It has taken a lot of time to plant the seeds, little by little, to overcome the misconceptions that existed 30 years ago in the minds of some advertising people,” Alvarez de los Cobos said. “We have been providing research to advertisers to help them understand the opportunity this mega-region represents for their clients. It has been a challenge at times to convince clients not to translate their English message but to directly target Hispanics in their own language, values and culture.”  

The latest career highpoint for Alvarez de los Cobos, as well as Televisa, is the opening of a small, 700-square-foot studio for XEWT at Seaport Village in downtown San Diego. The bayside mini-studio consists of three small production areas, including an interview set, a green-screen set and a nautical-themed set as a nod of Seaport Village’s waterfront influences.

XEWT’s new Seaport Village studio, in retail space previously occupied by an art gallery, will serve mainly for live interviews airing on Channel 12’s morning show “Que Buen Día.” It will also serve as a hub for XEWT news reporters covering San Diego-based stories.

“Channel 12 has always been a local TV station covering both sides of the border,” said Alvarez de los Cobos. “This new studio is a bridge between San Diego and Tijuana to serve both communities.”

Seaport Village officials said the space also will include a future exhibit of memorabilia from Televisa’s archives about the history of Spanish-language broadcasting. In addition, the TV studio is expected to host a rotating collection of artwork from local artists from both sides of the border. Studio construction began in the 2020 fourth quarter and was completed in March of this year.

Alvarez de los Cobos said Scott Andrews, Seaport Village marketing director, and Ron Troyano, who oversees community engagement at Seaport Village, initially approached XEWT with the mini-studio idea.

Seaport Village, now owned and operated by the Port of San Diego, is home to 60 retailers, including souvenir shops, a surf shop and dining options, such as cafes, fast-casual bistros and fine restaurants. A Seaport Village spokesperson described to Times of San Diego the TV station’s financial agreement with the Port as an “activation partnership” where the arrangement is open ended and could evolve into a lease in the future.

The spokesperson also said the new TV studio is regarded by Seaport Village officials as another step in recent revitalization efforts for the 14-acre waterfront retail property known for cobblestone walkways, Spanish-style storefronts and an historic carousel.

“The Port of San Diego endorses partnerships that empower meaningful relationships between the public at large and San Diego Bay. XEWT Channel 12 has been a voice for San Diego’s Latino community for decades,” said Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos in a statement. “We’re honored to welcome Televisa to Seaport Village and provide a space where they can amplify visibility for a largely underserved market and share stories from both sides of the border that may not otherwise be covered.”

“We are very honored to be in partnership with Seaport Village and looking forward to continue producing content from San Diego to our vast audience,” said Alvarez de los Cobos. “This new studio at Seaport Village ranks very high as a career highlight for all of us. It has been a great career so far, but we’re just getting started. The future is even brighter.”

A grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony with photo opps is planned for Thursday afternoon, April 29.

Anja Riedel joins Nuffer Smith Tucker

Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, a San Diego public relations firm, has announced Anja Riedel has been hired as an account executive. NST said Riedel has experience in local media relationships, crisis communications, messaging development, social media management and influencer marketing. Her previous clients have included firms in the hospitality, fitness and financial industries.

Anja Riedel
Anja Riedel

A NST spokesperson said Riedel will work on a variety of accounts, including the Port of San Diego, White Labs, Inc., San Diego County McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald House Charities San Diego, Capstone Advisors and Community HousingWorks.

Prior to joining NST, Riedel was a freelance public relations consultant with McFarland Communications in Minneapolis and PlainClarity in Encinitas, and a freelance copywriter with Wayward Kind, a San Diego digital marketing agency. She also worked as a marketing assistant with Visit Napa Valley, a destination marketing organization. She graduated in 2017 from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

“Anja’s diverse experience so early in her career gives her a deep well of strategies and tactics to leverage on behalf of our clients,” said Teresa Siles, NST president and partner.  “Her ‘Jane-of-all-trades’ attitude and desire to continually explore is in direct alignment with our vision to redefine PR and will no doubt provide incredible value for her clients and colleagues.” 

IABC Presents Zoom Webinar

The International Association of Business Communicators San Diego chapter will host a webinar titled “Lights, Camera, Zoom” from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, April 29. The free event, open to members and nonmembers, also will include networking starting at 4:45 p.m. 

The speaker will be Emmy Award-winner Greg Lefevre, media trainer and retired TV news reporter, anchor and news director, as well as a CNN bureau chief and correspondent (1983-2001).  Lefevre will share examples, anecdotes and checklists.

IABC said, “Who would have thought? That annoying little pinhole camera above your laptop screen is now a critical communications tool.”

Scholarships Offered by San Diego Association of Black Journalists

The San Diego Association of Black Journalists has four scholarships available for high school and college students. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 30. For scholarship information.

The scholarships include two $1,000 scholarships for high school seniors, one $300 scholarship for a community college student and a $1,500 scholarship for a student enrolled in a four-year university who is majoring in journalism or mass communication.

A SDABJ spokesperson told Times of San Diego the scholarships are available to any student interested in journalism, public relations or any media-related field, but applicants must be from San Diego.

Founded in 2000, SDABJ has members who work in print, broadcast, public relations and academia. The local group is affiliated with the National Association of Black Journalists.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.