Examining the Legacy of Legendary TSA Blogger Curtis “Bob” Burns

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Examining the Legacy of Legendary TSA Blogger Curtis “Bob” Burns


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It’s unusual to have a social media star right in the middle of a government agency. But that’s exactly what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had in the late Curtis “Bob” Burns.

Burns, known as “Blogger Bob,” passed away unexpectedly last October at age 48. He has been identified as no less than a pioneer in the use of social media. From his beginnings as a TSA screener, he embraced the opportunity to engage his readers in the organization’s mission. As you can imagine, that was a huge task for a government entity that rarely gets any feedback except complaints and poor ratings.

In 2008, Burns began blogging for the TSA and then added Instagram in 2013. Perceiving the power of photos, he began publishing a daily Instagram posting showing some of the more unusual items that would-be passengers tried to pass through TSA security lines. Items like giant lobsters, a perfume bottle shaped like a grenade and a deli sandwich slicer demonstrated not only the difficulty of the screening job but also subtly helped coach the public to do their homework before packing. Because of his unique style of honesty, humor and education, the TSA’s Instagram account has grown to almost one million followers.

Lessons Learned from “Blogger Bob”

  • Make the most of photos. Instagram, of course, is a photo and video-sharing service, but adding an image to a Facebook post or a blog guarantees more attention from your readers. Images need not be limited to photos – charts, slides, cartoons and videos all catch the eye and drive your message home.
  • Add humor. Except for the most serious of topics, most blogs and social media posts will benefit from a light touch. Burns may have included photos of the knives that passengers try to pass through screening (every day, by the way), but he always lightened it up with the ridiculous and the unexpected. His sense of humor proved that you can find something funny in any
  • Make it personal. Perhaps the most memorable topics that Burns touched on were related to his family. His regular insertion of what he called “dad humor” rang true with his devoted followers. Let your patients or clients know who you are rather than just what your practice offers.


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