At ArchiveSocial, we frequently hear about the problems that government and education communicators are facing. And what better resource to resolve some of those issues than to learn from other communicators? As part of this spotlight series, we reached out to some of our customers across the nation to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. Follow the series to learn about their position, some strategies they use and other insights they have into government and social media!
Agency: City of West Hollywood, CA
Position: Digital Media Officer
Our March customer spotlight focuses on Brett White. Brett White specializes in the management of public-sector digital, social and emerging media and web services. He has been with the City of West Hollywood for over two decades.
As Digital Media Officer, Brett has successfully launched and nurtured an award-winning social media presence that is recognized as unparalleled by cities across the nation.He even shared some of his insights as a speaker in our Agency to Agency webinar series. You can check out the slide deck here.
- How did you get into public affairs and social media in government?
I think it’s more accurate to say I was “put into” it. Back around 2001 I moved from HR to [then] Public Information as the “Web Guy”. Fast forward a few years and then an executive decision deemed me “The Social Media Guy” as well. I’d like to think it was because I had a reputation of being an innovator with a youthful persona. In reality, it was probably because they thought I was the only one who would know anything about it. I didn’t, but I took the ball and ran with it anyway.
- What does a typical day look like for you?
I’ve just transitioned into a new role here at the City so my typical day has changed drastically from what it used to be. I’m still managing the social media, but I’m now less hands-on and focusing more on strategy and work plans. These days I get in early, scroll through what I may have missed overnight, task things as needed, and then tackle my inbox, which is now 23 times larger than it used to be. The rest of the day is working on administrative things, policy meetings, strategy meetings, etc. It’s Manager Life™
- How do you stay organized when helping manage and maintain your social media accounts?
By maintaining a solid line of communication between our Media & Marketing Division and our Digital Media Division. Also, my Digital Media Specialist (temp at the moment) does a fantastic job of keeping a content calendar, which is truly indispensable.
- What makes social media different in government?
A personal or private sector account has to only answer to each platform’s terms of service. We here in the government sector have all kinds of other laws and requirements we need to adhere to as well. Everything we do on social media is considered “official”. It’s a public record and that comes with a bucket load of responsibilities. And then there’s that whole pesky Free Speech thing. 😉
- What is your favorite thing about using social media for government?
Personally speaking, it’s that we’re allowed here at the City of West Hollywood to push the boundaries of humor and snark in our social media posts and content. We get away with sooooo much here, it’s mind boggling. But we know our audience. We have to play to/with them. I’m pretty sure we’re the first government agency in the nation to use the term d**khead in a social video. True story.
- What advice would you give someone just starting out their career in public affairs?
Pay attention to everything, so you can learn to master navigating the nuances of politics and government.
- What was the driving force in deciding to archive your social media accounts?
That’s easy – our social media policy stipulates that we do. It didn’t take long after attempting to manually archive everything to realize an archiving solution was going to be necessary. That’s where you guys came in.
- What are some of the places you like to visit in your city during your free time?
West Hollywood has some of the best restaurants and rooftop bars in the Los Angeles area. So when I’m here during my free time and not at the beach where I currently live, you’ll find me eating and drinking here (I Uber!!!).
- Where do you see social media heading in the future for government?
Anyone’s guess really. Not to get political here but, @realdonaldtrump certainly isn’t doing governments any favors with the way he’s using it.
- Lastly, every team member at headquarters is asked to give a fun fact when they start work, what’s a fun fact about you?
At one point back in the early 90s, I was a friend of Jennifer Aniston. She came to the first show I ever played in Hollywood.
I laughed and I learned, so it was another great Brett White experience. You can follow Brett’s work @WeHoCity and gain more insights on his personal social media on Instagram and Twitter @yepthatbrett.
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