Background
Case study

West Hollywood Reached 500% More People During a Crucial Time

We interviewed the City of West Hollywood’s spirited Management Specialist Paolo Kaspradit to find out how he used Livestorm to diffuse important information and give a voice back to the community.

Industry

Government

Size

51-250

Location

USA

Use case

Live Q&As

Introduction

A city built on inclusion and support

Located in the heart of the metropolitan Los Angeles area, the City of West Hollywood was officially incorporated as an independent city in 1984 when an impassioned coalition of LGBTQ activists, renters, and seniors put forth a proposal for cityhood. At this time, West Hollywood was founded on the core concepts of equal rights for the LGBTQ community, affordable rental housing, and support for their large population of Russian-speaking immigrants. Today, those core concepts continue to propel the city’s work plans, along with critical movements such as protection for the environment, women’s rights, backing for social services, and much more.

City of West Hollywood
Background

Communicating strategic initiatives through in-person events

We thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with West Hollywood’s spirited Management Analyst Paolo Kespradit, who explained to us that “everyone belongs in West Hollywood. It doesn’t matter who you are.” Having been with the City since April 2018, Paolo works in the office of the City Manager, which can be seen as the traffic controller of West Hollywood providing direction on strategic initiatives.

Paolo’s role entails liaising closely with City Council to bring all their projects to life for their main stakeholders: the business community, their 36,000+ residents, and anyone who visits and uses the services of West Hollywood. Communications and discussions with these stakeholders would come in the form of press releases, City Council events, and community meetings.

WEHO townhall
Problem

Navigating public fears without the right tools

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the City of West Hollywood in March 2020 had a much different agenda for the city’s priorities. Businesses were forced to shut down, their 36,000+ residents were ordered to stay home, and City Hall had no choice but to close its doors to in-person services and offer 100% virtual services. Paolo and his colleagues suddenly found themselves needing to do a lot of navigating in the dark.

The unknowns caused early in the pandemic created a lot of panic and confusion, as the public was unsure of the regularly-changing protocols. Moreover, “changes had to be made on the fly since the rules evolved and changed quickly from day to day”, Paolo explained. With his new COVID-19 workplan, Paolo’s role quickly evolved to assisting with business recovery, workforce planning, community outreach, and much more.

It was clear that the City of West Hollywood could benefit from additional tools on which it could actively engage with its business community to cover the most pressing topics. Not only would Paolo and his team need to be able to disseminate information as quickly as possible, but a format that would be accessible to everyone and equipped to handle sensitive conversations was also necessary. This meant having dependable controls over speaking permissions.

WEHO testing station
Solution

Virtual Q&As to give a voice back to the community

When he started participating in webinars on reopening rules hosted by City Council, Paolo had an idea. He decided that he could also leverage video communications to engage with West Hollywood’s public and answer their questions in real-time.

After considering platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which were already being used by other teams, he set his eyes on a Zoom alternative called Livestorm. When asked why, Paolo said “We wanted a different feeling, especially when it came to how we were able to interact with our attendees, and we didn’t feel that the other platforms had the capability to do that. Livestorm felt the most engaging.”

We wanted a different feeling, especially when it came to how we were able to interact with our attendees, and we didn’t feel that the other platforms had the capability to do that. Livestorm felt the most engaging.

In June 2020, equipped with a video engagement platform in their toolbox, Paolo and the West Hollywood team introduced a COVID-19 webinar series, which took the form of live Q&A discussions covering hot-topic issues like sanitary protocols, unemployment assistance, and mental health protection. Not only did Livestorm come packed with the most complete engagement features, Paolo told us that the platform’s speaking permissions gave them full control over how the public could ask questions and allowed moderators to invite individual audience members to speak when needed, giving their public a much-needed outlet for their concerns.

While speaking permissions were key for Paolo and the city’s team, they also enjoyed Livestorm’s polling feature because it gave them a simple way to gather statistics, such as the percentage of renters versus landlords. This in turn helped the team get a better understanding of their audience.

As for the video quality, Paolo told us that the quality of Livestorm’s recordings was the highest he had seen out of all the platforms that he and his team had used. He capitalized on this and posted their webinar replays on their YouTube channel to extend reach. “We like how Livestorm records in HD. It’s the only platform that our communications department - who handles all the digital media and TV stations - recommends to all of the staff because the replays are always TV ready.”

We like how Livestorm records in HD. It’s the only platform that our communications department - who handles all the digital media and TV stations - recommends to all of the staff because the replays are always TV ready.

WEHO webinar registration page
Results

500% more attendees, increased engagement, and much more

What was supposed to be a short-term mission for Paolo turned into 12 pivotal months and 29 insightful webinars. “There have been a lot of late nights and long days, but it’s been incredibly really rewarding”, he said. Their COVID-19 webinar series powered by Livestorm proved to be a huge success and this was evident in many ways.

One of the most compelling signs of success came from the noticeable spike in attendance. While West Hollywood’s in-person meetings used to see between 20 to 50 people, their webinars saw upwards of 300 live attendees - that’s an increase of 500%! “Never have we seen this level of reach before - not from our community nor City Council meetings!” Paolo exclaimed. He felt that the accessibility and user-friendliness of Livestorm’s platform helped in achieving this.

Never have we seen this level of engagement before - not from our community nor City Council meetings!

Besides attendance, Paolo also noticed at least twice the number of people speaking up and interacting during the live Q&As compared to their in-person events. “The fact that we were getting this kind of engagement showed us that we were definitely on to something. People were less afraid to raise their hands to speak”, he said.

The fact that we were getting this kind of engagement showed us that we were definitely on to something. People were less afraid to raise their hands to speak.

Thanks to both qualitative and quantitative insights gained from the live polls, Paolo and his team were able to launch new topics every week based on what their stakeholders wanted to know. Livestorm’s ease of setup also allowed them to increase their webinars from one to two each week to cover as many topics as possible. Some of these topics were also picked up by the local press, including Patch, WeHo Ville, and WeHo Times!

Perhaps the most encouraging result was the unexpected outpouring of appreciation from the public. “This pandemic caused a lot of consternation and heartache for a lot of us, but what propelled us was the gratitude we got from the public after each of our webinars”, attested Paolo.

This pandemic caused a lot of consternation and heartache for a lot of us, but what propelled us was the gratitude we got from the public after each of our webinars.

City of West Hollywood one love
Looking ahead

Keeping the virtual conversation going

Even with the sanitary situation easing up in June 2021 when we spoke, Paolo said that West Hollywood planned on keeping a cadence of at least one webinar per month since the format resonated so well with their public. “People enjoy the platform and communicating with us. As we continue with this pandemic, there are still a lot of hot topics to cover, so we will definitely continue using Livestorm to host webinars for the city”, he concluded.

Livestorm provided us a means to have an open, one-on-one dialogue with our citizens during a very difficult time. The opportunities for engagement are vast, and we’re able to provide a lot of value to our community that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise with another platform.

Paolo Kaspradit' Avatar

Paolo Kaspradit

Management Specialist

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