Matthew King
Communications Director at heal The bay

Matthew King

Communications Director at Heal the Bay

Santa Monica, California

www.healthebay.org
Twitter @healthebay
Instagram @healthebay
Facebook
Pinterest

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I serve as Communications Director for Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica-based nonprofit committed to safeguarding Southern California’s beaches and oceans.

For 30 years, we've been the watchdog of the Bay -- fighting for strict water-quality standards, defending the animals that call it home, and educating the public about what they can do to protect what they love. I oversee public messaging and outreach to millions of Southland residents, using all the traditional and emerging digital platforms available to us. We use a combination of science, righteous indignation and humor to inspire people to act -- be it volunteering for a cleanup, signing an e-petition, visiting our Aquarium underneath the Santa Monica Pier, or donating money to our cause.

 

WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

I began my career in journalism, serving as an editor at the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter. When that business started to crater, I made the wise decision to transition to nonprofits. In many ways, it's the same work -- storytelling and connecting audiences to important issues.

 

FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?

Two things: a sense of humor, and a sense of perspective. It's much easier to motivate people with a wink and a smile rather than guilt trips and doom-and-gloom. Also, too many causes talk endlessly about their needs and their interests, as opposed to connecting with the needs and interests of their supporters. They are like the drunk at the bar, the needy boyfriend, or whatever who won't stop talking about themselves all the time.

 

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

We are just about to launch the next version of our website, which was a great exercise in coring down. We worked hard to get to the zen of making it easier for people to connect with us and get done what they want to do as simply and easily as possible.

 

WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS? 

Take a look at “Majestic Plastic Bag,” mockumentary narrated by Jeremy Irons to bring awareness to the issue of single-use plastics in a fun, creative way. With millions of view on YouTube, this Heal the Bay-produced film helped lead the charge to ban plastic bags in California. 

 

WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?

I love writing, but I spend most of my time editing other people's writing. I just finished writing a blog post about my recent trip to Burgundy and I received a lot of positive feedback. It's got me thinking about carving out more time for personal writing.

 

WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?

Nonprofits have very little discretionary income for marketing. It's always a challenge to cobble together a coalition of the willing to donate their creative services on a pro-bono basis. It would be heaven to have a bit of budget to spend on our creative output.

 

IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?

Make clever, funny and engaging 30-second videos that capture our brand essence and motivate people to support our work.

 

LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?

I wish I had told myself in my early 20s to relax and not rush into professional life. I would have told myself that taking off two years to bartend, save up money, surf all over the world and meet as many women as I could would wind up being the smartest thing I ever did!

 

IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?

How to feel more comfortable taking truly bold creative risks. It's hard for an established nonprofit to go truly punk, but I think it would serve us well sometimes. It's still hard for me to pull the trigger on way-out-there stuff.

 

WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

We work with a lot of local ad agencies and graphic design firms in town on creative projects now and then. There are always surfers at those shops who are quietly dying -- assembling ads for toilet paper brands! -- so we've had luck finding creatives willing to help us out on projects. But we are always looking for creatives who would be on-call for various initiatives throughout the year -- graphic design, digital strategy, event planning, PR, etc.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.

I love when we develop a simpatico with a team of creatives and we give them our business challenge and then set them free to come up with a campaign. I love giving them more freedom and less notes than they are used to. The payoff is seeing their work come to market with fewer fingerprints and delays than if it were for a big brand.

 

WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE? 

As I said, we literally have peanuts for creative projects. Usually, people that work with us do it in a pro-bono basis but I can usually scrape together some money for hard production expenses -- e.g. "We need to rent this camera."

 

HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?

Just send me an email at mking@healthebay.org.

It's best if you are realistic about how much time or how many resources you can devote to a project.

If you are fishing for business or seeing if you can tap into our minuscule budget, it's best to state that upfront rather than talking vaguely about your "desire to work together."

 

HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?

Surf in the early morning.


This member profile was originally published in November 2016.