Salvador Cruz is a Senior Account Coordinator at Runyon Saltzman. He graduated from UC Davis in 2018 with a B.S. in Managerial Economics and a B.A. in Psychology and was previously a Social Media Coordinator for the university’s Office of the Chancellor Strategic Communications office. He is passionate about bringing young marketing professionals together and excited to bolster the Sacramento marketing community. Sal loves traveling, shopping online and good food and beer.
Where do you work and what is your title?
I work at Runyon Saltzman and my position is Senior Account Coordinator.
How did you get started with AMA?
AMA had a New Year, New You event. It was actually held at the Runyon Saltzman offices, and that was back when I was working at UC Davis as an intern when I was still a student. I would say that was in January of 2018. At the event Casey, AMASV Chapter President, had an iPad that had a sign up form for volunteers because the next week they were going to do a volunteer happy hour. I thought it was a great opportunity to meet people. After that I started posting to social media on their behalf and interviewing people for blogs and stuff. I sporadically helped with assignments.
What motivated you to join the American Marketing Association?
When I was in a class in college, it was a university writing class concentrating in business writing. At some point someone brought up that there are a few organizations that students can join that offer benefits. Students can network through these organizations and they offer access to certain events and publications. I sought out a marketing organization and then I found one and saw that they had a chapter in Sacramento. That is when I went on their website and signed up for their newsletter. I wanted to be part of an organization that had people who worked in the industry that I worked in and had people who wanted to make connections and foster a sense of community with people who work in the same industry.
When did you graduate from UC Davis and what was your degree?
I graduated in December 2018 and I graduated with a B.S. in Managerial Economics and a B.A. in Psychology. I did the managerial side because I wanted to get a business degree and that was the business degree for UC Davis. The degree included classes on marketing and Agricultural Business, and organizational management. I did Psychology because I liked it but i also thought that it could lend itself to marketing because it’s the study of how people think.
How do you use your degree today in your volunteering with AMA? Do you see any connections between your degree and the work that you do with AMA?
Having been a student myself, I know how important it is for college students to have access to networking events that are informational, and teach you about different things about the industry or different jobs in the industry that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. When you’re in school those opportunities are not as clear. The way that my degree connects to my role in AMA is the same way it connects to my job. The way I use my skills is in helping with social media, with communications or writing, I think the number one most important thing my degree gave me is the fact that I went from high school to college to be able to continue building the critical skills that allow me to do my best work.
What is your title as a board member?
What are your responsibilities on the board?
I oversee our Communications Team and run a weekly team meeting to plan efforts across email, social and programming teams. I also help form our content calendars. Something else I do is to help establish our yearly goals. I create our communications plan for the year. That is when we decide if we want to do a blog at least once a month, that we want to make sure our emails are going out for a certain amount of time, and that we want to make sure we are posting on social media frequently.
Can you talk about your decision to be on the board and some challenges you faced in your role?
I wanted to make sure I was there to assist the President. I feel like it’s important when you’re volunteering to have other people who are willing to show up and willing to lend a hand. For example when we had the New Year, New You event again in 2019 I went out of my way to hold the event at my workplace. I think it’s important to always show up for your people and your community. That’s why I wanted to be on the board. As I mentioned, the biggest thing is showing up, so I wanted to be there to show up and help.
The biggest challenge has been managing the time between my actual job with making sure that I am able to dedicate the necessary amount of time to meet the goals for my role. Another challenge has been COVID-19. In the past our biggest successes were always our in person events. That is how we would get new people. Someone would just see us online or their colleague would email it to them and they would just show up and express interest in being part of the event. Once they were there you could talk to them and ask them if they were interested in volunteering with AMA. We’re always looking for volunteers. Then you would meet other people who were interested. So I think that has always been a challenge and I think our President, Casey, has done a magnificent job to continue getting us events virtually. I just feel that it is challenging because it removes that aspect of connecting with people, the small talk, the “Hey you’re here already so tell me a bit about yourself and what you’d like to do and maybe we can help each other.”
The good thing is we’re still staying strong. We’ve still got this ship afloat. So once things open back up again. I’m sure people will be dying to do those sorts of things again and make those connections with people and network. We’ll be ready.
Can you talk about some of the changes you see in the marketing space in the future and how you see marketers evolving?
Some changes that I see in the marketing space for sure are more people recognizing the value of social media to communicate with their customers. Especially now with COVID-19, I think more people realize they can’t rely on the fact that someone is just going to walk by or show up or hear from someone to know about something because if everyone is stuck at home how do you get your information? With marketing for local businesses for example, it was very important for all of those people to have a social media page to say “Our new COVID-19 hours are this — this is our menu, you can come pick up at this time and at this time.” I think a lot of people who were uncomfortable with using social media to communicate with their customers were forced to adapt.
I think digital marketing will be used more often as well because with less people being out of their homes, out of home advertising is still part of the marketing mix. If you have people at home you have to make sure you put in enough money to target those people using the right geographical targeting and interest targeting. You need to make sure you reach them because they’re not going to go and see the out of home advertisements or maybe they’re not watching live television. I think there is more of a value that is apparent now to have a one on one relationship with the people that you serve.
Clubhouse is a great example. It’s a new social media app where people voice chat and there are rooms where you can talk to people. Elon Musk recently went live on Clubhouse and people were able to directly ask him questions about random stuff. Elon Musk doesn’t need to market himself. People just flock to him, but I just thought that was a really interesting way to kind of form that democratized one on one relationship with someone where they can just hear something straight from you. I feel like with businesses there’s more of a focus on personality and putting a face to the name.
Gary Vaynerchuk is also a good example. He has a business and he is also the face of his business. You have people that are on social media and they’re the owner of a company. People want to know who’s behind that. Where they are, what their values are — who they are as a person. You kind of saw that happening a little bit more with corporate social responsibility. People wanted to know that the company that they purchased something from was doing good in the world. I think now people are not only asking if a business is doing good, but who the people are that are running this company and if they are personally doing good? People want to have that interaction. Again, I think COVID-19 made it so much easier for people to see that online interaction as valuable. We’re all working together on Zoom, on Teams. I think that wall has come down to where people just think it’s an afterthought of interacting with another person. You see that influencers have been a thing for a while now right? But Tik Tok showed people that you don’t necessarily have to be a professional influencer to have a video that goes viral and that a lot of people will see. People are all participating in these trends and it immediately becomes this big thing. It all just comes from a lot of people just choosing a trend they think is cool, everyone does it and then you hear about it pretty soon.
As an example a man takes a video of himself riding his skateboard and drinking Ocean Spray and the video goes viral. It’s kind of hard to force something like that, but that’s a good example of how something can just happen so organically. I think from a marketing perspective you can take advantage of that. That sincere fun — People want to feel like they’re involved in something. If you can take that and the lessons learned from that it helps your brand to make those direct connections and make people feel like they’re part of something. I think there’s something really valuable in that.
It’s very easy as a business to do it yourself. I feel like it’s a lot more accessible than other forms of advertisement. You don’t have to have a representative and an account executive to sell you something. You can just do it yourself, which I think is really cool. Especially for smaller businesses.
Fernando Merchado is the CMO of Burger King. I really admire him. Burger King France made a decision to purchase tons and tons of potatoes from local French farmers who have been suffering from the pandemic because restaurants have been closed and were not ordering potatoes. Burger King ended up purchasing all of these potatoes and they are just giving a five pound bag of potatoes in the drive through to anyone that comes in as part of their meal. They had the money to do it and they cared enough about those French farmers and wanted to support them. That is so much PR for them that they are just going to get for free. The earned media off of that alone is greater than whatever they could have done by making a quirky commercial.
Can you talk about your hobbies and your interests?
One of my big interests is traveling and live concerts. Usually during regular times I love live music, and especially seeing the bands I like. Whenever they’re in the area or even if they’re in San Francisco I would just love to go and visit and visit friends. I have friends from college in different places. I am always up to just leave my house and go somewhere else.Three summers ago I went to Europe. Two summers before that I went on a road trip throughout the western United States. Something I really enjoy doing is seeing new places and discovering new things and just seeing new views. Both literally, what something looks like somewhere else but also just what life is like in a different place because I feel like for me I’m never going to be content just staying in one little spot the whole year. I need to go out. I feel like it really helps you in your life to know that the world is big. There’s different ways that people live and there’s different foods that people eat. There are different paces of life. You can’t get stuck in your bubble and think that’s all that life is — only what you do everyday.
If you could travel in the next week where would you go?
I would go to Europe. I want to see Italy. I already went there, but I want to go again just because the food is amazing and the people there are cool. When I was there I was trying really hard. I had a phrase book and I was trying to order things in Italian. People might think it’s kind of funny but they recognize that this person is trying to experience something a different way. I really enjoyed it and the weather was nice just like in California. There’s so many pretty buildings there. I also feel like you can go into any place to get food to eat and the ingredients are going to be fresh. People put love into what they are doing versus here. I feel like when they recognize that you want to learn more about their culture they really appreciate it. So I’d go back to Italy and maybe visit another part of Euorope too.
What would you say to someone who wants to volunteer with the American Marketing Association?
I would say do it! We’re always looking for new volunteers and for people to help out. No matter what your interests are, your skills, we have something for everybody. If you’re really a big people person we’re trying to come up with great event ideas and plan things for members to be able to get value out of AMA. If you’re really creative and into graphic design we could always use people to help out with that. We could always use people to write blogs or articles, help us write copy for social media, help out with emails — even if you’re a numbers person we also have a lot of things to do there. No matter what your skill set is, if you’re interested in volunteering we have a spot for you.