Student Business Highlight: Creative Rhetoric

June 27, 2011 | By Matt Salisbury

It was late 2008 when Dominic Iocco, Academic Provost of JPCatholic, sat down with me and four of my classmates to build a business. We wanted to compete with the many incredibly well crafted stories being presented by brands and political campaigns that were well-told but profoundly un-Christian. They were some of the most talked-about videos and pieces of advertising in the world. It was an intimidating challenge.

The Creative Rhetoric team: from left, Matt Salisbury, Stephen Flemings, Mollie O'Hare, and Dominic Iocco.

Creative Rhetoric, a design firm that aims to combine world-class graphics design with powerful storytelling to create influence, was born in that meeting. Today, the company is thriving. Our vision for the firm has been refined and sharpened. Multiple rounds of classroom business planning, financial projections, and pitch development have forced us into success. We're finally able to reap the benefits of our preparation. Creative Rhetoric has become a small, tightly built, smooth-functioning company that gets its clients real results.

One of my business partners and I finished our MBAs at JPCatholic a few months ago, and now we're really growing. Today, our team met with the marketing board of a local business-to-business bank and helped strategize their social media presence. Tonight, I'll be looking at storyboards for a series of spots we're producing for a pro-life political campaign out in Mississippi. We'll meet with another San Diego ad agency the day after tomorrow and discuss entering a relationship to better serve their existing client base. Later this week we'll prepare to launch an online video promoting the latest business book from a pair of bestselling authors.

And the thing our team is most drawn to with all this, the thing that makes it worth doing and continuing, is the amount of good we're able to do. That's what matters. Yes, I want to see us quadruple our revenue for a third straight year. But I'm also incredibly proud of the pro-life work we've done. Doing well by doing good: it's exhilarating stuff. Watching our team pour all they've got into positively influencing audiences is fantastic.

Being a student at JPCatholic prepared us with experience. We know we can't go it alone. Our team is hard working; the success of the company is the success of each individual. And then there's the formation we received outside the classroom. Dropping in the chapel to make visits, going to mass on campus before those early client meetings� success doesn't exist in a vacuum or a sterile environment. Our company's success (and that of the other businesses coming out of JPCatholic) can be traced to the foundation it was built on�a foundation that's allowed us to tell stories that influence and impact culture.

MATT SALISBURY is a Founding Partner and Creative Director at Creative Rhetoric. Creative Rhetoric is a fast-growing design firm that aims to influence audiences in the cultural arenas of finance, entertainment, publishing and politics.