The Communications Department interviewed its own Mat Droge, Executive Director, for a look at who he is and why he chose to work in Communications along with some other fun facts.
You’re associated with the Communications Department, but what made you want to enter into the Communications field?
I started out wanting to be a veterinarian, but I found out that they had to do some fairly gross things on a regular basis (I’m a better pet owner than vet). So, I decided I wanted to work with movies and took my first video editing class my junior year of high school. At that point, I decided to be a filmmaker, but that’s a difficult field to enter and I did not want to live in Hollywood, so I looked for things that were similar; communications encompasses many of the things I love. It is the whole gammet. I got a degree in Digital Media Technology and Video Production and began my career in public relations and communications. As as I learned, gained experience in work and life, I found ultimately where I wanted to be. I absolutely love coming to work everyday!
So I heard you once placed second in the state of Kansas for Batman comic trivia. Is that true?
Yes. I like comic books a lot. I actually have my membership card to Marvel in my wallet. Taking out his Marvel ID card. When I showed Dr. Witt this card, he laughed hysterically. I do like comic books. I like the stories. I like superheroes. I like the overcoming odds and the little guy coming out on top. These are just all-around good stories. Batman is DC obviously, but he is still one of my favorite superheroes. Though an incredibly rich man, he is just a guy who is smart and uses his money and intellect to help others.
Any other claims to fame?
I’m an internationally published photographer and was also the original “#TwitterCop.” I gained recognition from around the world for my use of social media to humanize and make law enforcement more approachable.
Are you a Marvel or DC fan? Who is your favorite Marvel/DC character and why?
I am absolutely a Marvel fan. But I think that is just because I like more of their characters and stories. It’s not that I don’t like DC. I do really like Batman. Superman is alright. But the Club card I have is for Marvel. Comics sometimes have a stigma, however, they are complete works of art and tell really great stories, be they DC or Marvel or any of the other publishing companies.
You were once a police officer; what was the funniest thing someone said to you to get out of a speeding ticket?
Usually, I would decide based on the offense not based on the person; it was more fair to do it that way. So I knew whether someone was going to get a ticket before I even got to the car. Um, I didn’t write a lot of tickets. I’m kind of a softy. I don’t like to ruin people’s day, so I tried to write more warnings than anything else when appropriate. I also tweeted where I was running radar…
The Communications Department has had a lot of change since you took office, what’s next for your team?
The district has been on a path, even before I got here. It started with working on the branding for the district. We are building upon what the district has already done and taking the next steps. An example is the websites. Over the past couple years, the district websites have changed. They will continue to change as technology continues to change. How people access information online changes; within the last several years people have gone more mobile so your website has to be responsive to that user. So I the changes people are going to notice are all going to be based on evaluating what we have and how we can make it a better experience for parents, community, and staff. It has a lot to do with the “user experience.”
In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception about Communications Departments in general?
Communicating is something that each and every one of us do, all the time. It’s easy to have misconceptions about what Communications Department’s do and it’s even easier to underestimate the amount of work that goes into most all that we produce. There is a lot of planning, setting up, testing, researching, brainstorming, learning, and then producing content to get a message out in an effective way. There are also laws that dictate what we can and can’t do, so as much as our jobs are creative there is definitely a more business-like backbone. Our world is always changing and we are expected to keep up.