Brian Purchia is a communications and policy strategist who has served as a new media advisor for Fortune 500 companies and as a spokesman for former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Change.org and Protect Our Defenders. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has called Purchia, “genuinely innovative.” The new media strategist is the co-founder of CivicMakers and organizes the California Open Data Roadshow with Code For America and California Forward. Purchia provides communications and public affairs services to a wide range of clients including social change organizations, tech startups, politicians, labor unions, cities, universities, and foundations.
In 2014, Purchia helped develop and launch San Francisco’s One City initiative and Circle the Schools, a joint project of sf.citi and the San Francisco Education Fund. Using an adopt-a-school model, Circle the Schools partners San Francisco-based technology companies with local public schools.
Purchia and his team continue to manage communications for the advocacy organization, Protect Our Defenders, which fights to ensure our menand women in uniform have a fair justice system equal to the civilians they protect. In 2014, the non-profit was featured in hundreds of articles and was the subject of a New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Military’s Rough Justice.” The YouTube “DoGooder” Award winner for best non-profit video is leading our nation’s effort to reform the military justice system.
Newsom’s former New Media Director has also provided media relations for Code For America, a “Peace Corps for Geeks” and their fellowship classes, accelerator program and national efforts around procurement reform. The civic tech leader advises a number of civic startups, including Neighborland, OpenGov.com and the leading provider of civic engagement solutions for government, Accela.
In 2013, Purchia helped the city that gave us Participatory Budgeting — Porto Alegre, Brazil develop and launch its Office of Civic Innovation and open data program, DataPOA, modeled after the work he led for the City of San Francisco. The Brazilian open data effort recently won two international awards, the World Smarter Cities Awards 2014 (Barcelona) and the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation (Guangzhou).
Purchia continues to organize civic tech events, like California Forward’s Transparency Week and Techwire #Innovate, a conference on technology and innovation in government, which features tech leaders and state and local officials.
In 2011, Purchia joined Change.org. With Purchia managing their media, the company’s profile “skyrocketed,” according to the New York Times. He also organized the first mayoral forum on open government and worked with the New America Foundation to develop The California Civic Innovation Project.
From 2010-11, Purchia led digital strategy on the West Coast for Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. Purchia developed online campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. One of those campaigns was awarded the ITSMA Marketing Excellence Award for Social Media.
From 2006-10, Purchia was San Francisco Mayor Newsom’s tech advisor and a deputy communications director. Purchia was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as Newsom’s “go-to guy for new, and especially social media.” Purchia’s work, described by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark as “genuinely innovative,” led to Newsom’s ranking as the number one mayor for his use of social media.
In Newsom’s book Citizenville, the former Mayor says, “as I started my second term as San Francisco Mayor I was dismayed as how far behind we still were technologically. Police cars weren’t equipped for email. City websites weren’t set up to take meaningful feedback online. We were surrounded by some of the best and brightest minds technology, but were still operating as though we were in a time warp.
“I hired a former Voice of America reporter named Brian Purchia as my new media director and asked him if he could figure out how to fix this problem. That was the beginning of a two-year period in which we transformed our city government. We started digitizing, mashing up, and opening up everything we possibly could — far beyond what I had initially imagined when I brought Brian in.”
Purchia was the driving force behind the nation’s first open data law, open source software policy, and API for government, Open 311.
In 2006, Purchia ran a first-of-its-kind new media campaign where students created online TV ads, with the winning video played as an ad during The Daily Show. The campaign became an overnight success story, garnering over one million hits in less than six weeks. The campaign was featured in Time Magazine and hailed in the blogosphere as “utterly brilliant.”
Prior to entering politics and government, Purchia worked in media, developing one of the first mobile TV networks for the US market while working for WeatherNews in Japan. From 2002-2006 he was a reporter for Voice of America in Washington, DC. He also has worked in local news for KTXL in Sacramento.