The social media czar selected to promote the city of San Luis Obispo has lost his job. But how and why remain something of a mystery, as everyone involved is mum on the subject.
What is confirmed is that Bentley Murdock, the longtime SLO resident who was selected from a pool of 44 candidates by Rosetta—a local firm with a $600,000 marketing contract with the city—was released from his contract on Aug. 30. News broke about his termination the same day.
“The Tribune article was a huge shock, considering it was public before Rosetta and I had first talked about the restructuring of the ShareSLO Campaign,” Murdock wrote to New Times via Facebook.
Murdock added that he was never contacted for an opportunity to comment, and said press coverage didn’t mention the hard work he put into the position in the last six months.
“The purpose all along was to cycle out the Ambassador, so that the Street Team would be able to function as a panel, independently, and we reached that point in [six] months, rather than 12,” he wrote.
According to Shade Vaughn, spokesman for Rosetta, the Street Team is made up of up to 100 volunteers who have been working with Murdock and the campaign on social media.
Murdock was originally hired on a $50,000, one-year contract with Rosetta in February. He said he’s donating the remainder of his salary to the campaign.
“With all I had invested into the campaign, I hoped that Rosetta and the city would have been more respectful and more willing to end on a good note, even just for the sake of the campaign,” Murdock wrote. “But the way it was handled was very unprofessional and hasty, bordering on defamation of my character.”
At first, Murdock said he and his wife would continue to work with the Street Team in promoting the city. But last New Times communicated with Murdock, on Sept. 2, he said his relationship with Rosetta had turned “pretty cutthroat,” and he was seeking an attorney. He didn’t elaborate beyond that.
Rosetta spokesman Vaughn declined to comment on Murdock, citing a personnel issue.
Clint Pierce, chair of the city’s Tourism Business Improvement District, also wouldn’t go into detail about Murdock’s performance as ambassador, but instead said that the city’s ShareSLO effort will continue through the Street Team.
“I don’t really think it affects it that much,” Pierce told New Times. “We’re happy with the results as far as the social media metrics and a lot of that has to do with what Rosetta was doing.
“The idea was to build the community and share the story of how special SLO is,” Pierce added. “And it seems to be working.”
“My impression of the campaign is that it was created with a lot of heart and passion for SLO, as we all had,” Murdock wrote. “But that somewhere along the way, they lost sight of it, in the details of politics, somehow.”