Inside the Office of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.): Paul Bell

Title: New-media director

Age: 24

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Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.

Education: B.B.A. from University of Minnesota in marketing, minor in political science

Last job: New-media director for Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek (D)

Biggest communications success: Getting several earned-media hits off of introducing Quick Response Codes to Rep. Karen Bass’s congressional office constituent outreach activities. [Editor’s note: Quick Response Codes are the scannable black-and-white squares appearing on everything from household products to newspaper stories.] Using technology to improve communication with constituents is important for our office, and we work every day to discover ways to expand outreach mediums.

Most memorable communications disaster: Sending an invite to a private, press-only conference call with African-American political leaders, including the president and candidate, to the campaign’s entire email list of 350,000. Needless to say, we had to change the conference call-in number.

Best communications advice you’ve received: When you start slinging mud, you’re only going to end up getting dirty.

Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: After being asked directions by a freshman member to a room in the Capitol I was also heading to, I offered to show him the way. After getting turned around attempting to navigate the Capitol tunnels, I had to confess I was lost. Funny thing is he had worked on the Hill longer than I had.

Interests outside of work:  There’s an outside of work?

Paul Bell celebrated Thanksgiving by eating traditional Peruvian food like ceviche and lomo saltado.

As a teenager, Bell moved with his family to Lima, Peru’s capital city. He went to high school there and returns frequently to visit friends and family members who still live there. He hopes to move back one day, possibly as an employee of the American Embassy.

In the meantime, Bell is immersing himself in his native country’s politics and government. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he joined former Rep. Kendrick Meek’s (D-Fla.) 2010 Senate bid. When that campaign lost, he linked up with Rep. Karen Bass’s (D-Calif.) Washington office, where he is now the new-media director.

Bell has been interested in technology since his teenage years.

“I started building websites in high school and took several technology classes,” he says. “Now it’s a back-of-my-hand kind of thing.”

Though a longterm professional goal is to look into a State Department career, before that, Bell would like to return to campaigns. 

“The lifestyle is even more difficult than being on the Hill here,” he says, but “it’s always moving, always active … and it’s something I enjoy doing — being creative.”

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