Political and nonprofit consultant Wade Cowper (pronounced Cooper) checks in with Santa Barbara Talks to share his views on the local journalism and public relations landscape.
Cowper has advised a variety of elected officials, including Kate Ford, Meagan Harmon, Alejandra Gutierrez, Gabe Escobedo and Virginia Alvarez.
He also managed James Joyce III’s campaign that saw him surpass the incumbent and land in second place for the mayoral seat.
Cowper earlier this year branched off to form Hidden Gems Public Relations, where he advises nonprofit organizations on how to get their messages out.
“I’ve looked around for a very long time, and seen some incredible nonprofits who do incredible work who just don’t do a good job of telling their own story,” Cowper said. “It’s really hard to connect if it is not in a real narrative that people can follow.”
Watch the full conversation by clicking on the YouTube link below.
Cowper said nonprofit organizations primarily focus on two things: raising money and programs. The media messaging gets lost, he said.
“There’s very little ability to take that step back and look at what you are trying to say,” Cowper said.
He also offers his views on local journalism and brainstorms out loud ways to pay journalists more.
“The fact of the matter is we wound up in a place where they just started giving it away for free,” Cowper said. “They just put it on the internet, they were not particularly forward thinking, and an entire generation, starting with millennials, just thought that news was free.”
Cowper said he would like to see legislation that funds local journalism because it is a public trust. News organizations also need to ask the public to support the industry.
“We’re reaching the end of the runway and conveying that to you readership and the people who love what you are doing and value it is super important,” Cowper said. “A lot of news organizations have not done a good job with that.”
Cowper also discusses social media on the podcast — the ways it works and the ways it is damaging.
“I hate social media,” Cowper said. “It is absolutely destroying our country. It is horrible for you. It is horrible for your brain. I do not understand why everybody is willing to say drugs are bad for you, but no one is willing to say social media is bad for you.”
Cowper early in his career worked as chief operations officer and junior partner for Teranomic, a tech firm in Sacramento specializing in state procurements.
He was the senior advisor to Click Labs, LLC, an Indian-based incubator; VoteChat, a social media application, and LockLetter, an NDA email security application.
Cowper attended St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where he graduated with honors. He earned his juris doctorate with a public policy certificate from McGeorge’s Capital Center.
Subscribe to Josh Molina’s newsletter here and his YouTube channel here. Make a contribution to support this podcast series by visiting www.santabarbaratalks.com. Molina writes for Noozhawk.com and teachers journalism part-time at Santa Barbara City College.