Posted 17 January 2023
Mention Hassan Raja
Interview by Frankie Faccion

Digital communications officer Hassan Raja on creating social content for the Mayor of London

What does it take to manage the Mayor of London’s social channels? Ask his digital communications officer, Hassan Raja. After a uni friend sent him the link for an internship at the Greater London Authority, Hassan applied by showcasing his aptitude for online self-promotion and his wealth of knowledge on YouTube content creators. Embarking on an 11-month journey, his openness about an interest in working within social media and digital content eventually led to him landing a position within his current team. Here, Hassan discusses how a full-time role allows him to pursue his passion of photography as a freelance side-hustle, as well as the power of making creative opportunities for yourself instead of relying on employers.

Hassan Raja

Hassan Raja

Job Title

Digital Communications Officer for the Mayor of London, Greater London Authority



Previous Employment

Intern, Woaw (2020-2021)
Intern, Battenhall (2020)

Place of Study

BA History, University of Cambridge (2018-2021)


Social Media



What I do

How would you describe what you do?
Lots of my friends think my job is to do PR for the Mayor, but the reality is very different. My work at the GLA [Greater London Authority] is to communicate the Mayor’s vision and policy platform to the people living in this city, and to inform them of the support and resources that are available to them.

I work in a team of eight to ten people. Our primary responsibilities are creating content for the Mayor’s social media channels and supporting the various GLA campaigns – such as Diwali on the Square, New Year’s Eve Fireworks, People’s Question Time Events, Affordable Housing and Air Quality – from a digital communications perspective.

We don’t have strictly allocated roles in terms of the channels we create content for, and there’s a refreshing amount of freedom to experiment and work on areas you’re passionate about. I tend to focus on drafting copy for LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and also help to develop our short-form video offering by creating content for Instagram Reels and TikTok.

“I communicate the Mayor’s vision and policy platform to Londoners and inform them of the support and resources that are available to them.”


Hassan at his place of work, City Hall

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The interior of City Hall

What recent project are you most proud of?
I think it’s got to be a short video I made for the Mayor’s TikTok and Instagram channels about the Diwali in the Square event (below). I’m really proud of it because, firstly, this event took place in the weeks following pockets of violence between Muslim and Hindu communities in cities in the North of England – so I really wanted to create content that built bridges and showed that, in London, we rise above these isolated instances of unrest.

Secondly, it popped off on social, garnering more than three million views across both platforms. Getting these kinds of results on content I created during my first two months in the job felt really cool, not going to lie.

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? And would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
I’d say strong written communication skills is probably number one.

I developed my writing skills through my degree, but also through writing hundreds of Instagram captions to share my photography – as well as writing and self-publishing articles about different topics I was interested in.

Having a creative eye is key, too. It allows you to imagine different ways of doing things, saying things and connecting with people. Creatively-minded people are constantly on the lookout for compelling stories. For me, it happens when I’m out shooting street photography and scanning places for moments to capture.

One of the things I love about working in social media is how democratic it is; there aren’t many barriers stopping people from getting on there and creating great content. In theory, anyone can do it.

That being said, there are tools that I wouldn’t know how to use if I hadn’t been trained by one of my colleagues, so being in a job where [such help] is available to me has been so valuable.

“Working in social media is democratic – there aren’t many barriers stopping people from getting on there and creating great content.”

What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
Graduating from university to working my first full-time job felt like quite a tough adjustment. The rigidity of working a nine-to-five job in a big city was very different from life as a student in a small town.

I also began life at the GLA working in the marketing campaigns team which, to my surprise, was a very process-heavy role and not as creative as I first expected or would have liked. I’m grateful to have started with a job that allowed me to work remotely most days of the week, though, as it made the transition quite a pleasant one.

Hassan’s home-working setup

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
Man, I could write a very long list about things that inspire my work, but I’ll just name a few here.

I grew up watching content on YouTube and I still take so much value from creators on the platform. One of my favourite channels is Colin and Samir (below), a duo who discuss and interview other creators who have found success in their careers, and break down what makes their content so special. In most cases, it usually comes down to really clever storytelling, but I love listening to them break down how these creators have built communities because of it.

I also love watching Ali Abdaal, who I actually discovered when he spoke at a careers event I went to about creative jobs. He makes really great videos about living a more intentional, meaningful and productive life. I try to bear his advice in mind while I navigate these early stages of my career.

Vice News is also a channel I could watch for hours on end. I love how raw their reporting is and take a lot of inspiration from the pieces they create.

How I got here

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
For a long time, I was debating between going down the photography route and trying to make a name for myself as a photojournalist – which has been a dream of mine for a long time – or choosing a career with a clearer entry route and more stability.

In the end, I chose the latter, and thankfully managed to find a job that allows me to express myself creatively while also compensating me nicely for the work I produce.

I realised that, looking at my life as a whole, there are things that I want and value beyond the thing I do for my job. For example, I love travelling and going on trips multiple times a year, so it’s important to me that I have a job that pays and gives me enough time off.

Of course, I also want to enjoy my job, but it’s been about finding a balance between those things. Now, I can take on freelance photography work in my spare time whenever I want to, and create projects without the pressure of them being monetised. I think that’s really special.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Especially in the beginning, maintaining a healthy work-life balance was a tough thing to do.

I was aware of the fact that I had a finite number of hours in the week and that a lot of them were being taken up by work, so trying to juggle my nine-to-five with the personal creative projects I wanted to do on the side meant I was spending long days staring at a screen, and probably not maintaining my health and social life as much as I should have.

I’m in year two of my career now and thankfully I’m managing all of that a lot better. Things that have helped include switching to a role that I enjoy a lot more, taking up regular sport (bouldering is my choice), and also putting less pressure on myself to create outside of work.

“Switching to a role that I enjoy and putting less pressure on myself to create outside of work has massively helped me with work-life balance.”

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Hassan’s LinkedIn articles

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How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
I know people have different opinions on this, and that some people find the idea of putting themselves out there on places like LinkedIn and being perceived by thousands of strangers incredibly cringeworthy, but for me I feel like it’s been the making of me.

When you build an online reputation for yourself and promote your work on social media, those posts do a lot of heavy-lifting for you in terms of passive networking.

The posts you create have the chance to be seen by influential people in the industries you’re interested in, and you can make strong impressions on potential employers before they’ve even met you.

I also think that most people who shy away from it mostly do so out of fear. Logging on to LinkedIn and seeing other people’s achievements fills them with dread and makes them panic.

You can’t look at each job, internship, project, or piece of work you do as a standalone thing. Yes, you gain valuable experience with each one, but you’re wasting the potential for it to impress the right people if you refuse to shout about it. In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements and talking about them online.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
I recently saw a TikTok from a career coach who advised not to neglect the social aspect of your job if you want to progress [in your career].

She essentially said it’s not enough to just show up and do good work – you have to gel with your team, get involved in non-work related chats, and really make an effort to build those relationships.

This can be really hard when you’re a new starter and workplace culture feels very alien to you, or if you don’t drink and ‘going for a drink’ is the go-to social activity – but it’s worth putting your best foot forward and giving it a good try, I think.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
In this day and age, there’s no excuse not to be doing the kind of creative work you want to be doing.

The best way to build up your experience in the creative fields you like is to practise those skills on your own. Don’t rely on an employer to give you an opportunity.

If you’re into videography, pick up your phone or camera and create short films about things you’re interested in. If you’re into writing, start writing articles about things you care about and just publish them on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re into social media and content design, pick a niche, start an Instagram page, and populate it with high quality content.

By doing all of these things, you end up building a portfolio for yourself, creating examples you can discuss during your future job interviews and learning skills that can define your career. That was my approach, anyway.

Mention Hassan Raja
Interview by Frankie Faccion