Guest Speaker Recap – Zack Kenner


Zack is the Assistant Director of New Media for the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles. Using film, photography and social media he highlights Mayor Villaraigosa’s initiatives to inform and engage L.A. residents. A native Angeleno, he discovered his passion for social justice and civil society while studying at Bard College, where he received a B.A. in developmental economics with a strong emphasis in political science. Zack has been deeply involved in developmental projects in Ghana, prison reform through education in the United States, and emerging market finance in Brazil. Zack is interested in popularizing complex issues and making them more accessible through new media.


Zack Kenner originally joined the Villaraigosa team as a filmmaker. He was interested in creating films that captured how the Mayor’s policy affected real people. While looking for a distribution outlet for these films he joined the Mayor’s small Social Media team and soon was asked to wear a few other hats for the office. Zack is presently tasked with capturing the voice of the Mayor via Twitter, YouTube, Flikr and Facebook.

Posting, chatting and tweeting for ones self can be cumbersome, but doing this for another involves a whole other set of rules.  This is especially true if the person you are representing is a public figure that is constantly being scrutinized from every angle. The media and its audience can always find ways to twist words. So as a ghost writer (or media curator) not only are you faced with the inherent challenges any politician comes up against while trying to maintain an open stream of conversation with their constituents, but you constantly run the risk of putting your foot in your mouth and ruining a whole administration. I don’t think I want to switch jobs with that guy.

Like the rest of us in Social Media, Kenner is tasked with the daily challenge of getting info out to an already over-stimulated audience. He is constantly trying to supply interesting content that will create a feeling of personal connection between the Mayor and his constituents. One of the biggest challenges is staying current. It is difficult to create polished media while still keeping up with the ever-evolving buzz of conversation. Equipping the Mayor with a Flip-cam has been crucial for Kenner to capture short “in-the-moment” pieces.

Kenner does feel that this diverse media strategy has helped to better connect the dots across the different age groups in the city. He has seen that the audience base following via the social media channels does tend to be considerably younger (in the mid 30s) than those attending local town hall events (which are generally over 50). The team currently has built a following of 30,000 followers on Twitter and 9,000 friends of Facebook. Kenner hopes to grow this by forging strategic partnerships with affiliated organizations and personages in the City. He is committed to maintaining a balance as he strives to share the Mayor’s stance on key issues in a very personal and accessible way.

Rebecca Bernard Aguiar


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