Jitter Garcia is the senior director of event marketing at TelevisaUnivision, which is home to Spanish-language cable networks and a 24/7 live news channel. The New York-based event pro shared with The Vendry her thoughts on the media company’s recent IRL upfront presentation, bringing elements of Hispanic culture to life through events, and why it’s important for event pros to put their mental health first.
As the senior director of event marketing at TelevisaUnivision, I oversee the development and execution of all B-to-B client events for the revenue-driving organization. I have the privilege of leading the team that is tasked with bringing the Univision story to life, executing about 70-plus events a year. We create memorable experiences that form emotional connections to the brand and strengthen relationships with our audiences, including clients, media, the local community, and employees.
I find inspiration in a lot of places — places like The Vendry and other event professional communities online provide ideas and examples of how other brands and companies are activating, and what’s trending. At TelevisaUnivision specifically, our events are always infused in one way or another with the culture of our audiences. After getting a clear understanding of what the goals of the event are, I like to think about how I can bring to life elements of the Hispanic culture, which always inspires me to create a vibrant and authentic experience for attendees.
One of my superpowers is my ability to communicate effectively. As an event marketer, especially at a corporate company, I spend a lot of time having to translate my ideas into bite-size explanations that can paint a picture for stakeholders who might not be able to visualize an experience as easily without tangibles.
Multi-tasking is another of my superpowers, as you have to embody the mind of a creative (to ideate and conceptualize the experience), a salesperson (to sell these ideas), a project manager (to execute the event itself), and a customer service person (to tend to your audiences and stakeholders). It can be exhausting, but I love it.
On May 17, we executed our hybrid TelevisaUnivision Upfront presentation after two years of being virtual. Being a central growth partner to brands, our annual Upfront is the event that helps us bring this to life in a big way. This year was so special because we were able to not only bring the brand to life, but immerse attendees in the culture of its audience and community as well.
We sourced a number of event elements from Hispanic entrepreneurs who also attended the event. For instance, all of our floral installations were done by Puerto Rican New York native Aurea Molaei of Flower Bodega, and our mural art installation was created and hand painted by Ricardo Gonzales, an amazing artist from Durango, Mexico, now based in Brooklyn. All of our takeaways like candles, spices, coffee, snacks, apparel, etc. were sourced from other phenomenal Hispanic entrepreneurs as well.
Good storytelling. Any event can be made memorable through gimmicks, smoke and mirrors. But what makes a great event is one with a clear message as the throughline, where the storytelling seeps into all aspects of the experience. When you can master good storytelling throughout the experience, attendees will appreciate the attention to detail, down to the menu signage.
A lot of research goes into sourcing and finding the right partners as well as referrals. I look for people who push the envelope on innovation and creativity and can communicate their ideas effectively.
Understanding the goals of the event is first and foremost and always included on the RFP, as I’ve found that very often every project requires a different skill set. I tend to select the partners that understand the goals best and provide the most creative solutions to achieve it.
Since college I knew I always wanted to work in the events industry, but I didn’t know how. I got very involved on my college campus at the University of Maryland, sitting on executive boards locally and for national organizations, mostly within the Filipino community. If you were ever involved in campus organizations, you know that most of the experience is bringing students together through events.
My senior year I led the planning committee for a semi-formal dinner and dance for 400-plus students in the Washington, D.C. area, and it was the first time I saw the process of an event play out soup to nuts, from ideation to execution. I remember the feeling I had the night of the dance, seeing everything come to life from ideas I scrawled on scrap paper—like I was on top of the world—and I fell in love.
I moved to New York to chase event dreams and got my big break at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, creating both B-to-B and consumer experiences, and eventually moving to Discovery Communications to work on events for Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, and others before landing at Univision. It’s been a wild ride but I’ve learned so much from every experience I’ve had.
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Not too long ago I was thrust into a very senior role at a relatively young age, and at the time I was reporting directly to a top-level executive whose management and communication was one that I wasn’t used to or felt prepared for. There were a lot of moments of self-doubt, anxiety, and pressure, but being put in that position allowed me to rise to the occasion and surprise even myself. He challenged me a lot but ended up being a great mentor who respected me for holding my own, speaking up when I felt strongly, and advocating for myself and my team. I learned a ton from that experience, and it propelled me into the professional that I am today. There are always going to be moments of doubt but having conviction and confidence in yourself will garner respect and credibility, no matter how young or new you are.
Find what you love! There are so many paths within the event industry that tap different skill sets and passions. I wish I had known there was such a thing as event and experiential marketing when I was in college. Luckily, I found my way here eventually, but it would have been great to have a better understanding of all the options as I was figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Explore it all. What type of event professional do you want to be? Do you want to work for an agency and work with many brands or do you want to be the client and work in house for one brand? Do you want to plan consumer-facing or B-to-B-facing events? Do you want to create large-scale experiences like festivals or curated incentive retreats for 20 VIPs? Or do you love the technical aspect of events and want to become a showcaller, or design the graphics for a major musical artist? The possibilities are endless. There’s a job in this industry for any and every type of personality, and it’s incredible. And once you find what you love, go after it. Fiercely.
My last piece of advice is to put your mental health first. Event planning is consistently listed as one of the most stressful jobs on Earth. These jobs can take a toll on your physical and mental health if you let them. I had to learn the hard way that stress can do a number on your body and mind. You can’t do what you love or be there for those that depend on you if you’re not okay. Event planning can be very stressful, and by nature planners tend to want to control every single detail, but finding balance and letting go of what you can’t control can be the difference between enjoying a happy, sustainable, successful career and burning out too quickly.
This wasn’t given to me, but is more advice I’d like to pass along. Hire and/or surround yourself with people who are, yes, skilled and competent, but moreover good and kind. You’ll foster an environment built out of respect for each other and in turn this bond will generate a greater sense of creativity and drive.
My sweet 16 birthday party planned by my mom.