RGVision Media’s CEO and Founder Gabriel Puente had the honor of participating in Leadership Mid-Valley’s Media Panel session on May 12. Puente discussed his marketing background, his career journey in and outside the Rio Grande Valley, and how his home region can continue to grow with the power of media.
As a program of the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Mid-Valley is a program that aims to bring together rising professionals to improve their leadership skills to enrich the quality of life in Weslaco and across the Rio Grande Valley.
What is your company’s relation to the Midvalley?
When I started RGVision Publication, which eventually became RGVision Media, that was about 10 or 12 years ago. It’s now a million dollar in revenue engine that employs nine full-time employees. We’ve been around and we serve different communities, not only in Mid Valley, but across the region and across the state. But I didn’t get into this thinking how we were going to scale and how large we’re going to get. The only thing that I can say that’s helped our leadership and the leadership of the people who work here, is empathy.
I think it’s a term a lot of people are coming to understand. I was empathetic to know how people got to where they are today. I was really interested in people’s stories. I wasn’t really interested in doing anything other than telling a story. I didn’t realize that storytelling and content creation, were going to be marketing buzzwords as much as they are today. But that’s where it’s going. And I’m sure you all have seen that. That’s a key term that people are using today. Even on different platforms like Netflix, all the over-the-top television sources are using that.
I was interested in telling the stories because I knew that the Rio Grande Valley was underrepresented when it came to entrepreneurialism and the leadership that was here. The goal was to enforce that leadership and to share those inspiring stories for other people to know about and someone to relate to. Then it started rolling into something a little bit larger as the different social media platforms became more of a B2B resource.
It’s definitely changed. And we’ve grown with the market and we’ve been able to serve the market in those areas because of the nature of who we are. As an organization, we started off with storytelling, we started off with content creation. So it was an easy transition when the market started to shift into that area.
What is the role of media? What are the opportunities and challenges of Media and Communication in the Rio Grande Valley?
We’re fortunate to be owned. I own RGVision Publications. So we’re not owned by any affiliate. There are no syndications that we have to respond to. It is an ad-driven publication. But the stories that we feature, are true stories of the Rio Grande Valley. So that’s why it’s 80% content or 20% of advertising. Whereas other, sources are heavily ad-driven.
What are the qualities leaders should practice?
Empathy. Empathy is really important. It’s whenever you can see past yourself and understand what are the needs of not only the people, the people you serve as clients, or even your co-workers.
At RGVision Media, we treat each other in different departments as sometimes as customers, right. So if there are certain requests, there’s a level of respect, and there’s that level of empathy, understanding their needs, and supporting one another. That’s kind of why I came back to start the publication is really to live up to the Rio Grande Valley. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the people who are actually in the publication — the people who came on board to tell those stories. That’s my philosophy behind leadership, and the most important piece is being sensitive to the needs of others around you.
Pitch us your one-minute elevator speech about your brand.
RGVision Media is a marketing department in a box. Some of the organizations we work with don’t typically have a large marketing department. They may have an office manager or marketing director, who may not have all the skill set or capabilities to launch a full-service campaign.
We have our content creative team, we have our blog team, we have our social media marketing team, video production team, website development team, search engine optimization team. All of who help with online ad campaigns. Whatever services that businesses need, we’re able to facilitate those needs at a major reduced price without having to take on a major expense of payroll.
Aside from that, to help brand the region is just really talking about the Rio Grande Valley. I think the Rio Grande Valley struggles with its own identity. Some people call it the RGV, the Valley, some people call it South Texas. So I think if we collectively start saying, here’s the ‘Rio Grande Valley,’ this can help those outside the region recognize us as a unit.
Can you talk about how would we build that Rio Grande Valley brand, so that we can do more regional impact together? What is needed for us to build that RGV brand, as a thriving area?
So I always suggest spelling it out. If on our different platforms, whenever you’re talking about things, or if you’re doing something on the weekend, you find something exciting at the beach, don’t just say, ‘South Padre Island,’ say ‘We’re in the Rio Grande Valley in the beautiful South Padre Island.’ That’s the best way to do it. Do it within our own social media networks and just start branding it that way. It’s really tough to get one entity to take on what the whole region should be responsible for.