Her videos aren't quite viral yet and she's not tweeting, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is embracing new media, using the Web to promote the agency and her role as the nation's top envoy.
In less than three months, Clinton's State Department has embarked on a digital diplomacy drive aimed at spreading the word about American foreign policy and restoring Washington's image. Part of a broader Internet outreach by President Barack Obama's administration, Clinton's Web efforts already have outpaced those of her predecessors.
Since taking over at Foggy Bottom, Clinton's team has built on e-diplomacy innovations developed during George W. Bush's presidency:
_They have revamped the department's Web site (http://www.state.gov) and the Dipnote blog (http://blogs.state.gov and http://twitter.com/dipnote) with a fresh array of features, graphics and colorful posts.
_Users can track her foreign travel on an interactive map (http://www.state.gov/secretary/trvl/map/?trip_id5).
_They can keep up virtually with her every move through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/statevideo).
_They can pose questions through an "ask-the-secretary" column (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/ask/secretary/117297.htm) that recently was revised to "text the secretary." (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/ask/secretary/120236.htm)
"New media is critical in this new era of diplomacy, where smart power and expanded dialogues are essential to achieving our foreign policy goals," said Cheryl Mills, Clinton's longtime confidante and chief of staff.
Even for a government Web site, early indications show a surge in interest, according to internal State Department statistics provided to The Associated Press.
Well, imagine that! We actually care about our Secretary of State and what she is doing. Ahem. And, here she is expanding the ways in which we can connect with her. In fact:
Daily views of the Dipnote have doubled from 10,000 a year ago to 20,000 today, with 700 subscribers to its RSS feed, twice as many as in March 2008. The number of followers of the department on Twitter has tripled since Jan. 20, when Obama took office, while the department's Facebook friends have increased by 2 1/2 times in the same period.
"What they are bringing in is more willingness to experiment," said Peter Daou, who was Clinton's Web guru during her 2008 presidential run. "They are starting to push the envelope."
What remains unclear, though, is whether the spike in interest reflects the revamped Web site or the public's fascination with Clinton's latest career shift.
"The personality behind it can't be dismissed," said Daou, who now blogs on human rights and other issues for U.N. Dispatch (http://www.undispatch.com).
These are all pretty cool ways to keep in touch with Secretary Clinton, and see what's going on. The Travel Map is really neat - it was there that I discovered how many miles she's already logged. This woman is tireless. Unlike the president for whom she works, she rolls up her sleeves, and does what needs to be done.
If you want to read the rest of the article, just click the link above, and it will take you there. And to whet your appetite for what you can see at the State Department's Video site (YouTube), here is Secretary Clinton's Welcome Remarks TO the State Department:
Those folks are INVIGORATED to have her there. As well they should be.
And goddess knows, Clinton is the one bright spot in the current Administration. As Secretary Clinton continues to log the travel miles in her work for the Nation, we can take some solace that the one representing us to the world IS far more than competent, but excels at her job. That seems to be a rare commodity these days...