Sebastian W. James | Portfolio
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Hey! Look Who’s on YouTube!

Back in the day I was a presenter at WYIN-56, a small PBS station in Northwest Indiana. I had a regular feature on daily events happening in the area, was a personality during pledge weeks, and occasionally read the news. Years later, I realized that I missed that opportunity to stand in front of a camera and speak spontaneously or read from a teleprompter.
When I learned of an opportunity to dust off those skills at Loyola University-Chicago, I jumped. Below is my first attempt at reading the news since the early 1990’s. Enjoy!


Masters Candidate in Global Strategic Communications, Loyola University Chicago, by Fall 2019


Why Loyola? Because, very frankly, I’m not done yet. I’ve managed media for a multi-million (and victorious) political campaign. I’ve gone from freelancer to senior manager in a single company. I was the first person to help the second largest county government in the US use the web and social media to achieve transparency.


Time to do more.


The top 3 reasons why I chose Loyola’s Global Strategic Communication program:


  1. I will be exposed to challenges unavailable to recruiters, job listing services and my personal network.
  2. It is the most efficient way to adapt to and exploit changes affecting the communications industry.
  3. The program will position me for global opportunities.


What do I expect to benefit? Experience has taught me not to approach situations that way.  Better to think in terms of the positive impact. The latter takes care of the former.


That may sound a little naive; but it is what I have learned to accept about myself.


I expect to leave the program fully equipped to help organizations address real-world problems like establishing trust, refining user experience, as well as embracing new technology. I find my passion in the day-to day-grind of overcoming challenges, oddly enough.

One Facebook Ad, Ten Bucks, 1600 Website Visits and Counting….


In my never ending search for more visitors to the Hybrid and Electric Car News, I decided to give Facebook image ads a try.


These ads provide the opportunity to use up to 5 images in an ad.


Which to me, meant a perfect opportunity to retell a story with images.  And provide a link to the original.


So I tried it with $5 to see what happened.  572 website clicks later, according to Facebook (or 118 sessions according to Google Analytics), I decided to let it ride for a second day.


776 website clicks (308 GA sessions) later, I’m going to ride this for 3000 website clicks, or $30; whichever comes first.


The cpc is infinitesimal.  I’m getting 2+ pages per session, and over 2 minutes spent on site.


I’m sold.  With these results, Mark Zuckerberg can have my money.


Global Big Data Week 2012-2014


From 2012 to 2014, I produced and managed the Chicago presence of Big Data Week.  Big Data Week is a unique global platform of interconnected community events focusing on the social, political, and technological impacts of Data. It brings together a global community of data scientists, data technologists, data visualizers and data businesses spanning six major commercial, financial, social and technological sectors.


The festival connects a number of cities through locally hosted meetups, events, networking functions, data visualization demo’s, debates, discussions and hackathons. Events are designed to provide a platform to educate, inform and inspire – organized by people who are passionate and knowledgeable about data. It’s a self-organizing community where anyone is able to host and create an event during the festival; making our platform completely open and community driven.


The number of participants was fluid from year to year.  Big Data Week 2013 was the biggest one locally as well as around the world.  Globally the event saw 27 participating cities including Beirut, London, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and Toronto.  Using INXPO’s platform, Cook County and the City of Chicago held 32 virtual and physical events, the most of any participating city.


Here are some key links to my involvement with Big Data Week:


Digital Ads n’ Stuff


Here are some digital ads used during the 2010 election for the President of the Cook County Board, the transition as well as during the administration.  During the campaign, our budget was $5000.00, used mostly on AdWords.  During the transition, we spent $10,000 AdWords campaigns to generate applicants to a custom website created to capture applications and resumes outside of the process.  We felt a separate application collection system further insured there was no existing political or bureaucratic interference with new blood flowing into the system.


We used $3500 in Facebook display ads during the “Hate vs Hope” campaign.  This 2010 general election issues campaign was coordinated with the Democratic National Convention to help elect Dem candidates nationwide.  The goal of the campaign was to illustrate the difference between the xenophobic GOP message, and the one of pragmatism and optimism communicated by Democrats.


As a member of the administration, I leveraged the power of the County’s website to communicate messages and drive people to landing pages about alerts, events, meeting advisories and other key messages.

The Professional Tweets of Sebastian James

Social media is one of my favorite mediums to communicate, for both professional and personal reasons.  Over time, I’ve become quite proficient at getting the most value out of many of them.  I’ve also become very good at understanding how to measure what I said in the previous sentence.  The immediate image is from a series of tweets that I wrote while I served as Deputy Director of New Media for Cook County Government.  Writing as @ToniPreckwinkle, I was the first to aggressively use Twitter as part of my strategy to communicate the missions and successes of county bureaus and departments.  Twitter was the perfect medium to communicate current events, news, alerts, and make residents aware of how well we were serving them.


Click here for my tweets


Here’s 2 years of Twitter, Facebook, website and other social media analytics that I had to compile.  When I say “had” I mean I had to report monthly as part of a performance management ordinance passed by Cook County Government.  The ordinance required me, as well as 22,000 other county employees to identify KPIs used to measure job performance.


I also used Twitter to communicate content related to Big Data Week 2013 and 2014, and most recently, CivicBLUE 1647.  To see what’s been going on there, click here for the @CHGBigDataWeek feed, and here for the @CivicBLUE1647 feed.  To see tweets related to the Hybrid and Electric Car News, click here for the @GreenCarsGoFast feed.


FYI, if you want to see my personal tweets (if you haven’t already), click here for the tweets of @sebastianwjames.

The Cook County Budget Site

From 3 budget cycles, I collaborated with the Office of the President, and the Bureau of Finance to create a custom preliminary budget website.


The problem we were trying to solve was transparency.  Prior to our administration, the County’s budget process was quite opaque.  There was no easy way for the average person to understand the process, the numbers and the issues driving revenues and expenditures.


It fell upon me to start a conversation on how to break the black glass and let the sunshine of government transparency cover this process.  We came up with a way to break the budget down in an easy-to-understand way.  I came up with ways that the public could ask questions and provide input.  We packaged this as a website, social media campaign and live-streaming event.


Here’s a link to an archived version of the 2012 version.  As of the date of the post, 80% of the site’s links and images worked properly.


Unsung Heroines of Cook County

I worked with the Cook County Bureau of Administration and the Department of Human Rights & Women’s Issues to find a unique way to recognize the “Unsung Heroines of Cook County”.  The award, presented annually to one outstanding woman from each commissioner district, was in honor of outstanding public service.
I created a website, Unsung Heroines of Cook County.  I also created a montage for each winner, taken from pictures and text from their award application.

2013 Preliminary Budget Town Hall Live-stream

From 2011-2013, I worked with the Office of the President and the Bureau of Finance to produce the Preliminary Budget Town Hall, a big part of executing our strategy of government transparency.  The town hall featured the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Budget Director, the Chief or Deputy Chief of Staff, and a moderator taken from Chicago media.


The event was promoted to the public 2 weeks in advance, in order to gather as many questions as possible.  To further invite public interaction, we took questions from social media, and live-tweeted the event.