The NISM SMS professionals serve as ambassadors for our certification program. Not only are they knowledgeable about our curriculum, but they also share our passion for social media. Best of all, their stories help shape our organization and the work that we do here.
In our “Meet & Greet” series, you can get to know more about our SMS community, learn more about these professionals who share your passion for social media and connect with them for collaboration and networking. Have other questions? Ask them below.
And with that, we’d like to introduce you to Rudy Vasquez and his story.
Rudy, tell us a little about yourself and the work you do.
I am the Marketing and Communications Manager for the El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD). The DMD is basically a neighborhood association on steroids, with funding from Downtown stakeholders and a portion from inter-local agreements with the City. Most people assume we’re a city department, when in fact we’re completely autonomous. We are a quasi-governmental organization but only because that portion of our funding comes from downtown property and business owners (like a tax.) Our sole mission is to foster downtown revitalization, which in turn strengthens the city economy by creating a strong tax-base and relieving the burden from homeowners.
As you might imagine, doing the marketing for downtown is exciting and not without plenty of items to highlight, but because of its very broad nature and variance of demographics, balancing the content is challenging.
I oversee managing the downtown image and branding. I work in communications to get all matter of positive or educational information to the public through media relations, or our digital deliverables. We also manager public infrastructure deliverables on lamp post banners and kiosks. I also market our in-house events, and naturally keep engagement robust through our social media efforts.
Wow. Your role has amazing variety and it sounds exciting to work with such a diverse group of businesses. How did you get started working in communications and social media?
With a background as a professional comic book illustrator in the independent market, I’ve always had a survivalist instinct. Artists traditionally don’t do well in business or self-promotion, especially pre-dating the rise of social media. I was always aware of keeping an online presence through a website, or message boards and forums prior to social media, so the transition was smooth. Eventually, I worked for a digital comic book publisher, Carnival Comics, one of the first comic book publishers to get formatted to distribute on the iPad. I learned a lot about marketing and digital marketing while with Carnival and used that experience to work in the social media realm today.
Your background as a comic book illustrator sounds so interesting , especially how going digital transitioned into your social media work. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
My favorite social media platform at the moment would have to be Instagram. While I write this, the algorithm in mostly unmolested in the sense that it’s not pinched so much we have to pay to play for more reach. In addition, being a visual artist, I enjoy the artistry of capturing an audience with a single image or video in a succinct way. The engagement promotes a conversation with the person or entity posting vs. a conversation with each other which can easily degrade into tangent that are unrelated to the content posted to begin with.
I love Instagram for the same reason! Why was it important for you to seek certification as a social media strategist?
Simply put, this train of social technology isn’t going to slow down. It’s an ever-evolving organism that won’t allow for complacency if we want to optimize the tools available to us.
Did you go through a prep course or complete the self-study program? What did you like most about that? What surprised you?
I enjoyed the prep course with instructor Crysti Couture because ironically, there was an opportunity to share ideas and learn from a group in person. Organic conversations can give way to insight that isn’t in a book, and like I said, things change to quickly that the strategy learned is an umbrella skill that allows us to adapt to change.
Learning alongside a group of people definitely leads to some great conversations. How has the SMS certification helped you so far?
Largely, the SMS certification helped to center my approach to marketing campaigns with a mindset for results, instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. It also helped me to identify that it’s not a one size fits all for content, but that there’s a healthy bit of tailoring involved.
We’re so glad you gained applicable skills by joining our community. Can you tell us something about you that not everyone would know? Something unique about yourself.
I love storytelling in all its forms. From novels to comics, and movies, there’s something satisfying about relating to a story, or creating a story that people can relate to. Ultimately, it’s about seeing the commonality in the human condition, and if this can be done as a successful T.V. or film drama, it can be done in marketing too. You can feel when something feels like it’s coming from a play of honesty, and when it’s just pandering to a demographic. Also, I love cars.
Rudy’s 1967 Mercury Cougar
Rudy, thank you for your willingness to share your story with us. Keep up the excellent work! You can connect with Rudy online: