In 2018 I managed and implemented a complete in-house UX re-design of brightestyoungthings.com, the beloved online local culture magazine I co-founded in 2006. A primary driver of the redesign was that the aging site was not responsive, being a relic of a a pre-smartphone era. Google Analytics showed that half of our users were accessing the site on mobile devices, so I purchased a new and highly customizable responsive Wordpress theme.
The business goals of the site were skewed toward featuring our editorial content, which is what a large amount of internal resources were being spent on maintaining, but user interviews revealed that many people only went to the site to find out what was going on in DC that week/month or were specifically looking for information on our own upcoming in-house produced events. The layout was adjusted to be much more event forward and the event calendar was rebuilt from scratch including a new self-service pay to post system that helped weed out junk content and brought in additional revenue.
The IA around the editorial content itself also received revisions as the previous site featured only one large hero article followed by a long feed of content. The featured article was often overlooked with some users claiming they thought it was an advertisement, and the unorganized variety of content below it didn't appeal to the average user. The home page was formatted to feature multiple section modules that could be re-arranged and re-styled on the fly, as well as the ability to feature more than one article at a time, which helped users more easily zero in one the type of content they were most interested in. The IA was restructured on the back end as well to clean up years of bad category and tagging habits, then tested and iterated on over the course of a month, and finally formal best practices and style rules were set up to maintain it with weekly audits put in place. Finally a context sensitive mega-menu was added to house all the content in a useful (and fun) way.
Additionally SEO was improved by adding the Yoast plugin, our popular social media accounts got a lot more love, an entirely new Work With Us section was added, and many other changes. The new site launch received many positive reviews.
"Brightest Young Things, a Web-site-turned-events-organizing juggernaut that has become the locus of new-cool art and music scene." - New York Times
The most visited museum in the world, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, approached BYT to collaborate on the first-ever official open to the public ticketed after-hours event at their Washington DC location.
I managed all production of the event including creative direction, client communication, budgeting, staffing, vendor management, bar and catering ops, talent booking and stage management, sponsorships, volunteer management, attractions, security, ticketing, site plans, setup, and teardown.
The first event in 2017 was such a success, we were asked back in 2018 for a second event, totaling 3,800 tickets sold and over 4,200 attendees.
The sold-out events featured music talent from Washed Out, Moon Boots, & The Range, special Voyager Golden Record mini-music meditation sessions in the planetarium from Take 5 and Songbyrd, plus the official opening of the new interactive museum exhibition re-creating the famous hotel scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The events also featured unique sponsor activations from SKYY, PBR, & Effen Vodka, a promotional and branding partnership with the Yuri's Night organization, custom green screen floating-in-space photobooths, unique roaming performers, TED-style space talks, scavenger hunts, a midnight Ready Player One screening, and specialty cocktails and food from Service Bar, Snowing in Space, Sweetgreen, Bar Pilar & many more.
I co-created The Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival in 2009 with BYT and Tig Notaro. The goal was to create a comedy festival that both entertained the audience, but also treated the talent well, something that was severely lacking in the industry at the time. After bringing the fest back annually in 2013 it has attracted over 25,000 people and become known for showcasing both top and emerging talent with one-of-kind shows at Washington DC's top venues, unique performances in unlikely spaces, and plenty of surprise guests and after-parties. My involvement in the festival included end-to-end production and logistics, creative direction, talent booking, venue relationships, marketing and ticketing, sponsor management, customer service, micro-site design, staffing, plus show running and hosting.
In March of 2019, Events DC wanted to create an activation at SXSW that would celebrate and elevate the District's place in the vibrant e-sports community. My goal was to customize the activation for every attendee, no matter their gaming experience level. A “levels unlocked” concept, allowed guests to choose-their-own-adventure and advance further into the activation from casual gaming on retro arcade cabinets to the chance to compete against professional players on the latest platforms, along with music performances from national acts, video game-inspired craft cocktails from Drink Co., custom LED tunnels and projections, Loot Box scavenger hunts, and playful, interactive scenic installations. Later in the year, we continued the campaign in DC with a block party experience in conjunction with the opening of Drink Co.'s new eSports themed pop-up bar.
Advoc8 was tapped to bring new life into the long-running food festival that can only happen in DC: a cooking competition between embassy chefs. I chose passport stamps as the anchor in the creative design concept with custom gobos lighting up the epic Ronald Reagan Building atrium. Additionally, we created custom passport holders to house the program and various communal dining areas themed to different regions to once again create the feeling of travel and adventure.
I was also put in charge of the lackluster Advoc8 social media accounts, here are two videos I did creative direction on, working with the super talented video and motion graphics team:
This was a quick teaser trailer for our 3-year anniversary celebration.
This was a playful take on announcing our numerous Telly award wins for 2019.
I turned a money-losing afterthought into the biggest Capital Pride fundraiser of the year that has attracted over 23,000 attendees since 2010. This co-promoted event to kick off the Pride weekend has covered dancefloors in glitter at prestigious venues like The Newseum and Arena Stage to complete build-outs of unique warehouse spaces like the Wonderbread Factory and Hechts Warehouse. For 2018 we helped turn Echostage into a new go-to destination for the LGBT crowd.
I also brought in MGM National Harbor as a major sponsor for Capital Pride. Activations included an interactive element-inspired backdrop photoshoot wall, themed drag and dance performances promoting their upcoming concerts, and a video photobooth that simultaneously created Instagram-ready clips for personal use, and advertisement-ready clips for Metro ads to run throughout the weekend.
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To promote the element-themed event, I directed a no-budget photoshoot using Echostage's enormous video screens as our ever-changing backdrop:
The nation’s largest consumer co-op engaged BYT extensively in 2016 as a key partner in their east coast flagship store opening. The nearly year-long project included a number of in-house produced events such as the #UnitedOutside launch party at the National Museum of American History, the beef jerky celebration Jerky Fest, and the Wild Kitchen outdoor dinner series supporting conservation partners, all culminating in a massive six-day opening celebration at the new store.
Two institutions partnered with an outside organization to host after hours-events for the first time in their history. Bibliodiscotheque, a celebration of disco culture at the Library of Congress sold 1750 tickets in under 1 minute and featured a live performance by Gloria Gaynor, while the National Archives event celebrated the opening of the Spirited Republic exhibition covering the history of alcohol in the US, featuring craft cocktails from local mixologists with sponsorship from Heineken, Budweiser, and Tanqueray.
From 2014-2017 BYT took over production of FotoWeekDC, Washington DC’s largest visual arts festival, a truly citywide celebration attracting 40,000+ visitors annually to 150+ exhibitions, programs, and events highlighting world-class photography, and providing exposure for photographers working locally and worldwide.
In a unique partnership with National Geographic, BYT was given unprecedented access to their entire DC HQ where I created an annual after-hours museum experience selling over 15,000 tickets since 2012. The events were a choose-your-own adventure of info-tainment for the well-read DC creative class, featuring TED-style talks from emerging Explorers, music performances and dancefloors, pop-up interactive science exhibitions, craft cocktails, and much more.
RAGNARÖCK - A Hirshhorn Late Night Snallygaster Beer Festival We The Party People @ Smithsonian National Museum of American History Into the Blue - National Portrait Gallery After Hours Wonder At Night & Murder House Party @ Renwick Gallery