Public diplomacy is a hot topic today, yet only a decade ago, it was a very specialised term.
There is a new transparency in the interactions between governments and countries in the international system, influenced by such factors as the democratisation of diplomacy, globalisation, the resurgence of methods of bilateral, regional and multilateral diplomacy, and the spotlight on external and internal issues. With more public interest in foreign affairs than ever before, ordinary people are demanding open diplomacy. Governments are obliged to respond with public information about the spending of the funds they receive and the results that they achieve. This course covers the goals and methods of public diplomacy, outlining what it can and cannot do, with case studies.
By the end of the course, participants should be able to:
- Define public diplomacy and its key features.
- Describe the tasks and methods of public diplomacy, and provide examples.
- Analyse different approaches to public diplomacy and identify realistic and workable tools and methods for different situations.
- Plan strategies for country image-building activities, based on best practices.
- Assess and evaluate the impact of public diplomacy programmes.
Excerpt from course materials
The emergence of public diplomacy as a subject of study acknowledges the importance of multiple actors, especially those that are not state agencies, in relation to foreign affairs. They were never absent, but their influence has grown palpably as the diplomatic process has become more open and inclusive. Public diplomacy indirectly endorses the legitimacy of all these actors.
- Public diplomacy – concepts and methods: the role of public diplomacy, the different definitions of public diplomacy, and why we study this subject. What are the methods of public diplomacy, and what structures are best suited for its practice?
- Public diplomacy in building bilateral relations: we examine the role of public diplomacy in bilateral relationship building, and its potential in relation to the other aspects of diplomacy. What are the best practices in this area? What kind of a public diplomacy strategy is needed?
- Building the national brand with public diplomacy: Image-building is a core issue in public diplomacy; the country has become a brand. What are the issues in this area, and the possibilities in using brand building as a means of improving the overall impact of states in their international dealings? What examples are available to us from the world around us?
- The limitations of public diplomacy: public diplomacy cannot be seen as a panacea for all ills. Throwing money at propaganda, however sophisticated it may be, does not guarantee results, as the US has seen after 9/11. Public diplomacy involves listening to the public, whether abroad or at home. What other realistic limits does public diplomacy impose? How should public diplomacy be optimised?
- Public diplomacy in the information age: as people become better informed through the Internet and 24 hour news services, they develop their own opinions about international events and are less inclined to accept official positions without question. At the same time, non-state actors like NGOs and the business sector are increasing their international activity and expertise. This lecture explores how traditional approaches and methods in public diplomacy can be modernised, including through use of new developments in information and communications technologies.
- Public diplomacy in international organisations: supra- and international organisations are devoting increasing resources to public diplomacy activities. This lecture looks at the aims of public diplomacy in selected organisations including the United Nations, NATO, and the EU, and assesses the specific challenges arising from the need to satisfy member states of the organisation yet project an informative and persuasive image outside.
- Public diplomacy in the postmodern world: the USA invented the term “public diplomacy” and spends billions annually on public diplomacy activities. They use public diplomacy to promote not only policies and product but values and a way of life. Yet anti-Americanism is widespread. Is this hostility to the message or the messenger? This lecture looks at the message and the reactions, including the Obama effect, with a view to identifying challenges both for the US and for states which need to interact with them.
- Measuring impact: measuring the success of concepts like public diplomacy is notoriously difficult. But foreign ministries should be regularly reviewing their strategies, messages, targets and partners and adjusting them as appropriate. How can they evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and track influence?