Civic Engagement and Public Participation
2017 CASE STUDY: NEXTGEN ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM
Over half of West Hollywood’s population is under 40, but the majority is not engaged in the City’s decision making processes and is disproportionately underrepresented in governmental leadership and the voting electorate. The city surveyed this group and found almost 80% indicated they want to be more civically involved, with the majority seeking new and non-traditional means of engagement beyond Boards and Commissions, which do not particularly appeal to this audience.
In response, Council directed staff to create a pilot “NextGen” civic engagement event to engage constituents under the age of 40 in an interactive civic activation in a non-traditional setting. The event was held on July 20, 2017 at the Andaz Hotel. The City partnered with an event production team to curate the event, making it feel less like a traditional City meeting and more like an educational social activation. The event had a large turnout, with 150 attendees and included a live DJ, WeHo NextGen-branded photo booth, a celebrity keynote speaker, and a panel comprised of current NextGen City Board members and Commissioners. The event also included an “Engagement Lab” interactive exercise comprised of a series of prompts seeking ideas for 21st century community engagement.
To keep the momentum going, a newly created Community and Legislative Affairs Division will collaborate with departments throughout City Hall to plan upcoming events and engage community members that have not historically been involved with local City government.
2016 CASE STUDY: EVOLVING COMMUNICATIONS METHODS
To make engaging with the City easy and enjoyable for constituents, as well as expand the reach of communication beyond those who regularly engage with staff, the Communications Department stays at the forefront of technology and innovation. Early adoption of social media trends allows the City to reach the West Hollywood community on the platforms they already use regularly. Tools like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Live have opened up the City to a new audience while making government more accessible and fun for the community.
During the 2016 Los Angeles Pride Festival, the City piloted a social media takeover from actor and local celebrity Willam Belli, giving him access to the City’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. With hundreds of thousands of followers, far beyond the reach of the City’s following, Willam brought the City our best engagement numbers yet – over three times the normal engagement on Facebook and Twitter, and four times over the normal Instagram engagement.
Beyond engaging users during major events, Facebook Live is proving to be an excellent way to engage viewers at events throughout the City. The City takes advantage of Facebook’s algorithm, which places Live stories at the top of users’ feeds and notifies users when the City is broadcasting live. Showcasing daytime and early evening events that are not always accessible to constituents, such as the WeHoPedals Bike Share launch, The Cube Art Installation, and the Automated Garage Ribbon Cutting, brings the City higher video view counts than pre-recorded videos.