Forget about SexyTwitPics. Washington has its own crop of would-be sexy females on the loose. And an unusual trend is developing among campaign and White House reporters of the XX persuasion. They’re using provocative, sometimes sexy photographs of themselves for their Twitter accounts.
While Bloomberg is among the few outlets with strict tweeting policies (hardly any reporters are truly allowed to let loose on the medium) this is largely unexplored territory for most news organizations who tend to use the vague, unenforced “common sense” rule more than anything else.
We spoke with Brad Phillips, president of Phillips Media Relations and author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, about the matter. He’s a former journalist with ABC News and CNN. While he said none of the pictures we showed him struck him as particularly “bad” or necessarily overly “sexually suggestive”, he does see potential pitfalls. “The bigger issue, from my perspective, is whether those images (and others like them) represent their brands as well as possible,” Phillips said. “News organizations will have to decide whether having star reporters making silly faces on camera, posing artistically, or wearing skin-bearing dresses is congruent with their brand image. In some cases, that answer is yes – younger, hipper news organizations can push the envelope more. But I’d maintain that news organizations should consider issuing social media guidelines regarding appropriate avatars to try to maintain brand consistency and prevent embarrassing incidents.”
He reasoned, “I think it’s okay for reporters to be playful — as a profile picture it does strike me as odd that that is the image they want the world to see, especially when they are writing for stodgier publications.” Then he brought up a subject some find contentious: gender scrutiny. “More often, women have to fight to be taken seriously,” he said. “I think it’s unfair that women are judged on this. But my concern is, are they doing anything to undermine their credibility? For anyone in the reputation management business, that would be a great concern.”
We also checked in with Washingtonian‘s intrepid advice columnist and longtime media scribe Harry Jaffe on the question of these provocative pictures. He had another take on it, which was simply, why not? “Foxy Fox babes, yes,” Jaffe remarked. “That’s what they have going for them. How sexy? Cleavage? Kate Upton sexy? Seriously…. unless it’s truly x-rated, I think it’s within bounds to strike a cute, perhaps sexy, pose. It sells.”
Here is an initial sampling. If you spot any more, please send to FishbowlDC@mediabistro.com.