Alumni Stories

David Weiss

Strategic Communication Campaigns Class Focuses on Alumni-Run Trolley Company

by Michelle McRuiz

Jesse Herron (left) discusses the students’ final presentations with professor David Weiss.

Some alumni read Mirage to see what other Lobos have been doing. When assistant professor of communication and journalism David Weiss (’05 PhD) read his copy of the spring 2012 issue of Mirage, however, it resulted in a serendipitous turn.

“A Driving Force” (p. 18) told the story of how Jesse Herron (’03 BBA, ’05 MBA) and Michael Silva, Jr. (’95 BA) started ABQ Trolley Co., the city’s only trolley tour service. The company turned out to be an ideal client for one of David’s fall 2012 classes.

In CJ 488 (Strategic Communication Campaigns), students form teams and develop marketing and communication plans for actual clients. “I read about ABQ Trolley Co. and thought, ‘This would be a great client for this class!’” David said. He contacted Jesse, who was happy for the trolley service to be the focus of the students’ efforts.

Of the eight student teams, four devised plans to promote ABQ Trolley Co. to local businesses; the remaining four developed campaigns for a similar, undisclosed business project. The teams formed mock agencies and spent the semester developing and honing their campaigns. On December 7, 2012, all eight teams presented their plans to David and Jesse (Michael was absent due to a funeral). As Lobos and as professionals, both men enjoyed the presentations. David spent 17 years as an advertising executive in New York before earning his doctorate at UNM; Jesse taught Sales Management 484 and 584 as an adjunct professor during the fall semester.

Getmore—comprised of students Rachelle Ray, Casey Bock, Mark Bustamante, Gerardo Manriquez, and Audriana Vigil—developed a marketing campaign for a new trolley service. “The look of it, the logo they created, the logistics . . . it was a very professional presentation,” said Jesse. “They had a mock brochure. [The campaign] was really well researched. They had a lot of ideas that we had not considered.”

Stratus Innovations—comprised of students Elisa Suttle, Rebecca Rodriguez, Sarah Goff, Cameron Gutierrez, and Samantha Aumack—won for its fresh look at ABQ Trolley Co.’s existing “Breaking Bad” tour. “It was really creative. They designed their own t-shirts. It was the presentation that excited me the most,” Jesse said.

Jesse and Michael will take ideas from all the presentations, combine the best parts of each, and use them to pitch the idea of a future project to local merchants. The students’ well-planned market and advertising research not only helped them gain real-world experience; it will also benefit Jesse and Michael in their plans for intelligent business expansion.


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