The public service of storytelling.

California State Assembly Democratic Caucus enhances citizen communications for greater transparency and accountability using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.

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Established

2018

Employees: 59
Sacramento, California
https://asmdc.org

17K

Pieces of dynamic content created in the past 4 years 

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Objectives

Produce impactful print, digital, and multimedia content highlighting key legislative issues and government resources

Offer Caucus members direct access to in-house creative support and media support for district events

Customize training for communications directors, legislative staff, and elected officials based on the latest trends and tactics for communications and outreach

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Results

More effectively communicated with more than 29 million constituents throughout 61 districts in California

Helped elected officials increase their social media followers by an average of 11% month-to-month

Expanded citizen engagement with rich content shared on websites and social channels including Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok

Built a team of 33 in-house creative professionals who collaborate and implement the most forward-looking strategies and dynamic content, including more than 17k pieces in the last 4 years


“Connecting people to their elected representatives is often challenging, especially on the state level. Creative storytelling helps bridge the divide and allows us to translate complex policy into digestible, relatable information. Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise makes telling those stories much easier.”

 
Susan McEntire

Director, Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach


Drivers of change and innovation

California is home to tech companies that are changing the way the world communicates. The California State Assembly Democratic Caucus needed to change as well. Under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, the Democratic Caucus was reorganized and rebranded as the Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach (DCO). This in-house, collaborative, and creative team would not only produce traditional communications tools, such as flyers, brochures, and mass mailings, but also design next-level products for the information age. Government has always been thought of as men in blue suits and red ties; the three women leading the DCO will be the first to say, “Not anymore.” 

 

California has a long history of trailblazers, so it is no wonder that innovative government communications tactics are emerging from the Golden State. The DCO team stays on top of the latest trends and technical programs by participating in the latest workshops and trainings, including Adobe MAX and Adobe Experience Makers Government Forum. In recent years, DCO’s organizational mission was sought after by local governments within California and Democratic Caucuses from other states. Even NASA consulted their “Look West” podcast producers for advice on how to launch a government-related podcast.


“The more we connect with our constituents, the more we inspire Californians to participate in democracy. My goal with re-imaging the caucus communications was to unleash the creativity of our talented staff.”

 
Anthony Rendon

Speaker of California State Assembly


Effectively reaching diverse audiences is critical when developing communications strategies in California. Not only is the state geographically and politically diverse, but no single ethnic group forms a majority of California's population, making the state a minority-majority state. Therefore, communications and outreach must be multifaceted, multilingual, and communicated by trusted messengers. The 2020 Census is a recent example of such a successful campaign.

 

Because the California Complete Count Committee was delayed in securing a media vendor in 2019, the DCO creators developed a brand and outreach plan for an 18-month campaign. The brand was created using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise and was immediately adopted by local and state partners. Because the key objective was to reach every person living in California, they hosted webinars and events to identify, educate, and activate trusted messengers in diverse communities. DCO even created a Jeopardy-style game show to further engagement. Despite a pandemic and other obstacles for some communities to participate in the Census, California actually saw an increase in Census participation from the previous decade. This was no doubt in large part to this aggressive outreach strategy.

 

Today, effective storytelling is heavily reliant on delivery tools. To reach a broad audience, it needs to be seen, watched, and heard. So DCO’s services expanded to include a full range of video, audio, graphics, illustrations, photography, web operations, podcast production, and social media design. 

“Our Members are passionate policymakers; the DCO uses Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise to translate that passion into understandable experiences for constituents,” explains Susan McEntire, Director, Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach, California State Assembly Democratic Caucus. “Connecting people to their elected representatives is often challenging, especially on the state level. Creative storytelling helps bridge the divide and allows us to translate complex policy into digestible, relatable information. Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise makes telling those stories much easier.”

Great challenges bring great opportunities

Government communications are different from typical marketing. Since the California Assembly’s work is taxpayer-funded, its messaging must be driven by legislative intent, or related to the constitutional duties of the legislature. Developing compelling content to explain why a particular law needs to “codify the statutory code to...” is a challenge. This information is complex, and to put it bluntly, is often not very interesting. To overcome this obstacle, the DCO relies heavily on a “call-to-action” based strategy where you get attention and encourage Californians to engage. The creative team is constantly challenged to develop compelling content that rises above all the other messages people see each day. 

 

“Taxpayer-funded” is also the root of another challenge: cost efficiency. When there is no budget for advertising the podcast “Look West” or boosting messages on social media, you’ve got to get creative. With the editing capabilities of Adobe Premiere Pro, the team can create a 20 to 30 second highlight reel, as well as visually and narratively compelling videos for social media. The high-quality video combined with a timely turnaround is a natural boost to standout on digital platforms.

 

Integrations between Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects enable the team to quickly develop a cinematic video that focuses on teachers championing ethnic studies in their classrooms, while weaving in students talking about how this coursework changed their lives. Editors also use Motion Graphics templates created in After Effects to easily add titles and lower-thirds to videos in Premiere Pro.

 

Today, the team can create and customize more videos in a single month than it used to do during an entire legislative session. Video content like the stirring short film Honoring Trailblazing Women of California, English- and Spanish-language updates about California’s Real ID deadline extension, and the animated explainer Juneteenth: Honoring Empowerment and Resilience invite constituents to engage with current topics.


“With better real-time collaboration through Adobe Creative Cloud, our team ensures that the pieces we make around a specific issue are stylistically aligned and present the best, clearest public messages.”

 
Albert Garcia

Senior Media Consultant, Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach, California State Assembly Democratic Caucus


Cross-talent collaboration elevates storytelling

As new generations of lawmakers enter the legislature, the demand for digital storytelling through videos, social media content, motion graphics, and GIFs has increased dramatically. Members of the media team use Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects to produce an average of 120 videos each month, as well as regular “Look West” podcast episodes that are edited in Adobe Audition. GIFs created with After Effects also help reach constituents scrolling through their social media feeds. Overall, the variety of content has helped the DCO engage millions of people throughout California each month.

 

Graphic designers rely on trusted, proven applications including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to produce a range of content, from still images and graphics for social media to digital brochures and flyers for members to share on their websites.

 

“With better real-time collaboration through Adobe Creative Cloud, our team ensures that the pieces we make around a specific issue are stylistically aligned and present the best, clearest public messages,” says Albert Garcia, Senior Media Consultant, Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach, California State Assembly Democratic Caucus.

 

Video Production Specialist Joey Hoang considers how to tell stories across evolving social media channels like Instagram and TikTok, while working with writers and graphic designers. Collaboration is one of her first and most important tools. Storing logos and style guides in Creative Cloud Libraries allows Hoang and the rest of the team to work more consistently with fonts, colors, images, and graphics.

 

While working remotely during the pandemic, Hoang and her teammates use Team Projects to collaborate in real-time on Premiere Pro and After Effects projects. Working with Creative Cloud Storage provides additional speed and peace-of-mind, with the team storing content on a more secure cloud, instead of home machines.

 

“The nature of our work is fast paced, so teamwork is essential to getting a video created, approved, and posted,” says Hoang. 


“Political communication should meet people where they are. The entire goal of re-imagining the DCO was to create modern, meaningful messages in a format and style people find engaging. The DCO delivers using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.”

 
John Casey

Communications Director, Office of Speaker Anthony Rendon


Connecting with constituents  

Constituent communications has come a long way from the flyers left on doorsteps. Hoang and her team want to give their Caucus members the resources they need to stay relevant in a 24/7 world of mass communication while encouraging constituents to get involved with the issues they feel passionate about.

 

Each month, the team circulates a Caucus-wide digest filled with dozens of toolkits that are meant to promote upcoming events and issues, such as equal pay for women, the state budget, and new laws. Currently, the DCO has over 17,000 products cataloged and available to members that are ready-to-use. Members also order customized content “a la carte'' to amplify their own legislation and district events.

 

“Political communication should meet people where they are,” says John Casey, Communications Director, Office of Speaker Anthony Rendon. “The entire goal of re-imagining the DCO was to create modern, meaningful messages in a format and style people find engaging. The DCO delivers using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.”

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