A lesson from Borges

In letting the press into his home to chronicle his day, Julio Borges shows other opposition politicians how to create that rarest of political commodities: empathy.

Yesterday, Julio Borges showed us how a modern, forward-looking politician handles the press. And Prodavinci gave us a lesson of what ambitious journalism looks in the era now dawning.

By letting the great Luis Carlos Díaz into his home to write a wonderful chronicle of his day, Borges taught the rest of his peers a lesson: it’s all about access.

Getting good PR doesn’t require schmoozing, or even a lot of time or effort. It’s simply about opening up to the public, showing respect for journalists, and letting them into your world. It’s a lesson many of our opposition politicians have yet to learn

Of course, if you’re Cilia Flores, you can’t let journalists into your world, lest they get a wind of the horrors that lurk inside. That is why she needs bodyguards to assault pesky journalists.

But I digress. If Flores shows us how it’s not done, then Julio shows us how it is.

Here is how Luis Carlos puts it:

Julio Borges doesn’t take breakfast, but he drinks a Diet Coke. That is his coffee substitute. One can tell there is a daily tornado in his house full of kids. It is no state secret that Borges and his wife Daniella had quadruplets in 2007. Not a lot of kids live in the political maelstrom, nor are they very interested in it. But these have obviously seen posters, pins, cartoons, and even a doll with their father’s semblance.

Shoes here, a Christmas tree there, in the Borges household dawn is peaceful. At six thirty am everyone is asleep because there is no school and folks are allowed to stay up late. Many might be surprised, but there are no nannies, no maids, no au-pairs flying to Brazil or France in first-class PDVSA planes, as there are in the households of legislators from the other side. Minutes later, alone, Daniella shares that the hubbub is a daily thing. She takes care of it with a smile on her face. Four kids, four promises. Thankfully they don’t need diapers any more.

That right there is PR gold.

Julio wasn’t alone with these kinds of stories. Prodavinci included one of Manuela Bolívar, written by Naky Soto, and another one of Miguel Pizarro by Laura Solórzano. But Julio’s piece stands out, mostly because of the importance of its subject.

Julio has always had a problem connecting with regular Venezuelans. So far, he’s proven to be the guy people respect more than love. While his speeches are always substantive and well written, he’s not a particularly lively speaker – I think even he would admit to this. So he needs to find some other way to connect with people.

Yesterday’s access to his day is a perfect way of doing that. By letting us peek into his home, his family, and his psyche, Julio is making up for whatever shortcomings people attribute to him.

Let’s hope the others are paying attention. And let’s pray this foreshadows a new era of cooperation between politicians and the press.