If you have no idea what the above picture is all about, (you really need to catch up on your internet memes) it’s from a Tumblr blog dedicated to taking a picture that shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presumably sending a text message on her Blackberry and inserting funny language. The blog is called Texts from Hillary and it’s taken the political world by storm. From the outside, it seems that Secretary Clinton’s icy demeanor has finally gone too far and she’s being made fun of.
Right? Not really.
You see, the picture above was submitted by her staff. And built with her input. She even invited the guys who run the blog to her office and gave them a signed print of the picture.
So what in the world does that mean for us as PIOs? With just one picture, someone with one of the most difficult and treacherous jobs in the world, who has a history of being icy and standoffish, showed her human side. Showed she was a human being, not some government automaton. Someone who could not only make jokes, but make them at her own expense. While she’s still Madame Secretary, she’s also a real person.
While I’m pretty sure that no one reading this blog will ever be Secretary of State (though you never know), we all have difficult jobs. Jobs in which we’ve got to stand there and issue stiff, approved language. Language full of hurting words, like dead, killed, injured, not coming back. While I don’t advocate that you put together a funny image then, taking some time now to demonstrate that you’re more than a press-release-reading talking head could do wonders for your and, more importantly, your agency’s image. Your publics will see you as more than just the constant drone of bad news, delivered woodenly. They’ll instead see an agency staffed with folks that are real; that make funny jokes; that laugh and cry just the same as any of us; that demonstrate that the empathetic statement that your script said to say actually means something to you.
Consider this your blanket permission to enjoy yourself, to be yourself.