Mr. Obama Goes To Tumblr

The 2008 Obama Presidential campaign made waves for a number of
reasons, not least of which was their foray into social media. With an
active Twitter account, Facebook page and blog, the Obama campaign
reached levels of electronic “flesh pressing” never before seen.
Social media watchers are anxiously awaiting what’s next from the
campaign, and indeed the other potential candidates during the 2012

This week we may have seen the first new thing. According to
, the
Obama campaign has started a

A what? Tumblr is the hottest new blog
software (which I’ve been pushing some of my posts
) out there. In fact, the New York
Times recently covered the

as it’s collected quite a large following in the fashion industry.

Okay, Jim, now where the heck are you going? Obama, fashion, Tumblr?
What the heck does this have to do with government communication?
Well, very little to do with emergency communication specifically, but
everything to do with improving your relations with your public.
Humanizing your agency. Introducing yourself to your constituents.
Take this quote from the Mashable article about the new site’s goals:

Tumblr has become a go-to platform for publications and organizations looking to show a more human, approachable side. Accordingly, the Barack Obama Tumblr, run by the 2012 election campaign staff, is meant to focus on user submissions, behind-the-scenes shots and grassroots support.

Buried right in the middle there is why this is relevant.
Behind-the-scenes shots. As soon as I read that, I remembered a
monthly fascination I have with the photography of Pete Souza, the
White House’s official photographer. Every month, on Flickr, the
White House publishes some of Mr. Souza’s favorite shots from the
preceding month
. These
photos are rarely arranged affairs. They are quiet moments, private
moments, joyous moments, real moments. They serve to humanize the
Presidency. To tell the day-to-day story about governing a nation. So
few people understand what that means that this peek becomes
invaluable. It turns the Presidency into a man, doing a job. A job
that they’ve never seen nor understood.

Much like your job.

Now, you’ll never get Mr. Souza to snap away for you, but there’s no
reason you couldn’t snap away yourself. Tell the story about your job,
your Department. Done in a behind-the-scenes manner, this could be
your public’s peek into the day-to-day. Not official releases, nor
emergency actions, just real men and women doing a job. A job the
public has never seen nor understood.

Maybe once people understand your daily dedication toward public
safety, they’ll be more apt to listen when you tell them that thing
they need to hear.


One thought on “Mr. Obama Goes To Tumblr

  1. Jim – I’d heard of Tumblr, but hadn’t checked it out yet. I see it as a potentially very valuable tool for situational awareness. Whether it’s a flood, winter storm, tornado, or earthquake, photos / video are incredibly powerful vs. words (even via Twitter, email or spoken over the phone). If an EM agency opened up a Tumblr site for people to submit info on impacts – wow! The challenge then becomes dealing with the firehose of info, but we’re already facing that anyway. Thanks for this great heads-up!

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