While summer is usually a bit slower for business in Malibu, the opposite has been true for Sandi Turner, the City of Malibu’s new media information officer.
Turner hit the ground running on July 8, her first day on the job, as she fielded interview requests about a new parking ticket enforcement system in Malibu, attended her first City Council meeting and began getting caught up on a long list of local hot-button issues by scheduling meetings with every department in the city.
“Malibu is a very distinctive place and I would be foolish not to absorb every piece of information about this community and what makes it tick,” Turner said. “I’m a big believer in research. Right now my focus is meeting with as many people as I can.”
Turner comes to her post after spending 15 years working as the public information officer for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, which boasts a population of 114,000. Before her job with Athens Clarke County, she spent three years as public relations director for Padgett Business Services.
Among her duties will be handling the city’s social media accounts, composing press releases, working with the local television channel and working with city council members.
Turner is playing “catch up” before brainstorming new communication plans for the city, she said, and examining how the city manages its relationship with outside agencies such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and County Fire services.
“What I’m mainly trying to learn right now is how police and fire services are delivered since they’re not internal departments of the city. I’m also looking at particulars of zoning codes and learning how emergency management works.”
All of this research will eventually inform Turner as she develops a “comprehensive work plan” for public relations within the community, Turner said.
Turner wrote that she was studying “the various ways public information has been provided in the past,” such as social media, television and its website, to provide “an emphasis on not just providing information, but explaining to people what exists and how they can access it.”
A self-described “military brat,” Turner was born in Falmouth, Mass. After moving from state to state, Turner ended up spending most of her years in Georgia, with her family settling in Athens-Clarke County toward the end of her high school career. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Georgia, Turner entered the public relations field as the PIO for her home county.
Turner moved to town last January for her husband Chris Wyrick to further pursue a career in contemporary art.
“He wanted to be closer to an international art market, and LA is really … kind of the center of the current scene,” Turner said. “We looked at a lot of different places. This was the place his work made the most sense. We liked the quality of the work that was coming out of LA.”
The couple has been married for eight years and first met in Georgia, when Wyrick asked Turner to help work on a marketing campaign for a local art gallery. Turner said she’s no artist herself, but a great admirer.
“I dabble in looking,” she said with a chuckle. “I look at a lot of art.”
Turner replaces Olivia Damavandi, who left the job in March after two years with the city.
“When this job came to my attention I realized how much I missed what I had been doing in Athens. I moved out here with no qualms about leaving my position there. I felt like it was a good time to make a move,” Turner said. “I was unprepared for the degree to which I would miss community service.”
Serving for the City of Malibu, Turner said she wants to have a full understanding of community concerns and be a gateway of knowledge and transparency.
“I feel like my goals should reflect the goals of the community at large…In communications and marketing at the local level, it’s very important to be open to all people and all voices, and to sort of be a neutral spot in the middle that delivers fact-based information,” Turner said. “Just the facts, man.”