Lisa Urias – It’s All About Team

Expertise and limitations marked her foray into the underserved multicultural niche 

by Kristian Seemeyer

Lisa Ureas

Lisa Urias founded Urias Communications to address an underserved need for strategic marketing and PR with a multicultural focus. Now a local and national award-winning marketing, community and public relations agency, Urias Communications specializes in the multicultural markets of the U.S. Southwest, with concentration on the Hispanic market.Urias’ first challenge came after a stint of time off from work after having her second child. She had served in international marketing in the water and energy sector — primarily in Mexico and Latin America. The challenge was: What to do next?

“It was the period during deregulation and it was very exciting and dynamic, but there was a lot of traveling involved,” says Urias. “My husband, who is an attorney and a great advisor to me, said, ‘You understand how to connect businesses with markets.’ And I realized with my experience in the Hispanic marketplace that there was this great, untapped resource.”

Building Communication

  • Lisa Urias began Urias Communications in 2003, and took full ownership in 2006.
  • Last year, Urias expanded her company and named Jennifer Sanchez a partner in the firm.
  • Urias Communications grosses approximately $6 million per year.
  • The company has won an Addy Award, National Best of Blue Award and Copper Quill Award, among other recognitions.

Urias, president and CEO, began her company, Urias Communications in 2003 and it’s been growing ever since.

One of Urias’ challenges from day one in business for herself, she says, was knowing her limitations. “After 15 years in international marketing, I knew entry market penetration. What I didn’t know were a lot of the other aspects of business. I didn’t know how to develop contractual agreements; I didn’t know HR rules; I didn’t know a lot of the financial aspects of the business. The first three years was a crash course in an MBA. I learned to get that expert help from attorneys, CPAs and HR professionals.”

It’s all about the team, Urias says. “If you don’t have the right team, you’re going to make a lot of missteps. Right now, I am surrounded by a great team. I’m not creative, so I have writers and other creative people working with me. I do not do project trafficking, so I have a team for that. It’s key to know your limitations and then surround yourself with the talented professionals you can count on to do the job. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”

Urias says she faces hurdles in the Hispanic marketplace. “There is great lack of understanding that large corporations and smaller businesses have about the Hispanic demographic. Most of the huge corporations have some understanding, but there is a serious lack of awareness,” Urias says.

How to solve that problem? “I show them the numbers, and that’s usually all it takes,” she says. 

Fifteen trillion dollars is the expected buying power of Hispanics by the year 2015; Arizona’s population is 30 percent Hispanic; 70 percent of Hispanics own a laptop and 52 percent own a Smart phone; 80 percent of Hispanic adults use social media; 60 percent of Hispanic business owners plan on expanding their business in the next year; in Arizona alone, Hispanics represent a $43-billion market. Those are just some of the numbers Urias and her team present to businesses when trying to convince them to reach out to the Hispanic population.

“It really is a surprise to find how many large companies, and even nonprofits, don’t understand the market and how much money they can make. It’s a matter of showing them the numbers. Everyone is looking for growth. The Boomers are growing older and their spending will decrease as they get older. The median age overall is 46. The median Hispanic age is 26.” Plenty of room for growth.

Another challenge Urias faces in the work force is of a different nature, and she seems reluctant and disappointed to say it.

“I’ve been a woman in the work force for 25 years and I’ve noticed some challenges associated with being a minority and a woman and showing people that you are capable of managing multimillion-dollar accounts. I’ve had to take the initiative to prove myself and sometimes go above and beyond what was asked for to prove my value. It isn’t prevalent, but it does exist.”

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