There is no agreed definition of public diplomacy. Fitzpatrick identified 150 definitional statements of public diplomacy. All of them can be situated between the wide and narrow definitions of public diplomacy.
The wide definition treats it as an expression of soft power, and makes the point that PD, covering networking and other core activities, is diplomacy. Such an approach is excellent for focusing attention on the way PD integrates all the soft outreach promotional activities covering culture, education, the media and even some elements of economic work. This is good as an approach, but not for operational purposes, because each of these activities has its own context and needs. Thus cultural outreach is PD, but it is best handled as cultural diplomacy, with its own participants and its ground rules. The same is true of educational promotion work, consular work, outreach to the scientific and other research institutions and the like.
The narrow definition confines the focus of PD to influencing publics, at home and abroad, on issues relating to foreign affairs. This is fine for concentration on the operational activities that PD must first implement, and the specific methods that are to be deployed for that, mostly in partnership with the other domestic actors. For instance, the PD department in a foreign ministry can treat this definition as the basis for its own activities. But if it were to attempt to function on the basis of the wide definition, it would quickly find itself in contention with the agencies that handle this broad range of activities.
Excerpts from Diplo’s online course on Public Diplomacy – Text written by Ambassador Kishan Rana)
 Fitzpatrick, K.R. 2010. The Future of US Public Diplomacy: An Uncertain Fait. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff.
 Arguing the case for PD one expert writes: ‘Increasingly in the twenty-first century, diplomacy will be public diplomacy.’ Shaun Rirodan, ‘Dialogue-based Public Diplomacy: a New Foreign Policy Paradigm?’ New Public Diplomacy, (Palgrave Macmillian, Basingstoke, 2005) p. 187.
Research in Public Diplomacy
Diplo conducts multidisciplinary research in public diplomacy. It is evidence-based research with a strong focus on practice in public diplomacy institutions worldwide. Diplo’s research niche is research on the needs of countries with limited and financial resoruces for conducting comprehensive public diplomacy campaigns. Diplo’s research complement current research in the field of PD that focuses mainly on the position and experience of the major players (Untied States, UK, China).
Research activities include:
Academic research by Diplo’s academic staff
MA thesis written by students
In the collection of MA thesis the following titles deal with public diplomacy related issues:
Public Diplomacy and Nation Brand | The Positive Branding of Islam: A Case Study of Islamic Countries, their Public Diplomacy Efforts and Effectiveness | Establishment of Public Diplomacy in Slovakia: An Effective New Approach | The Role of Information and Communication Technologies in Diplomacy and Diplomatic Service | The Role of the Beijing Olympics in China’s Public Diplomacy and its Impact on Politics, Economics and Environment | Cultural Diplomacy An Essential and Creative Component in the Toolkit of Contemporary Diplomacy | The Role of Public Diplomacy in the Resolution of African Disputes: Civil Society Action in Sierra Leone | Virtual Diplomacy: Diplomacy of the Digital Age
Conferences and panels
Latest events on public diplomacy. You can consult the previous events on public diplomacy.
Publications (see books)
Currently, the main focus of Diplo’s research is on an impact of the Internet on public diplomacy.
Public Diplomacy in Multilateral Relations
The goal of public diplomacy for international organisations is to ensure a positive perception of their activities among opinion formers, the media, and members of the public who will consequently support continued involvement by their governments in the organisation’s activities. This will involve persuading their audiences that the activities they undertake are relevant and yield positive benefits.
In order to implement a successful communication or public diplomacy strategy, an international organisation must be clear and unanimous about its goals and the message it wants to convey. Organisation secretariats should embrace new technology and imaginative methods of spreading their messages, identify ways to accommodate the circumstances of the membership. All member states should promote the objectives and values of the organisation in question and should play their part by providing the necessary financial resources, expertise, information, and technology to allow the staff to project the right image and message.
But several questions remain. Who should bear the principal burden of responsibility for explaining and promoting the organisation to the national populations within the member states? Should the secretariat of the organisation take the principal role, or should it be the respective governments? How far can an international secretariat go in identifying shortcomings within the membership to uphold the goals of the organisation in order to preserve overall credibility? Who is best placed to assess public perceptions through opinion surveys and other instruments and who is best placed to respond to specific concerns or questions? Should the role of the secretariats be limited to anodyne glossy publications or web-based factual information or can they take on a more strategic role? The institutions themselves should not be subject to the vagaries and unpredictability of national politics and can in principle take a long-term approach to public diplomacy which is often beyond national governments. Few regional or international organisations can yet be said to do this effectively.
Excerpts from Diplo’s online course on Public Diplomacy – text written by Liz Galvez
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Training and courses
Master in Contemporary Diplomacy
Starting 29 Jan 24
Starting 19 Feb 24
Summit on Digital Diplomacy and Governance
17 Nov 22 - 19 Nov 22
[WebDebate #49] Emojis in public diplomacy: Best practices and lessons learned
06 Jul 21 - 06 Jul 21
February 2018 online courses
22 Feb 21 -
February 2021 online courses
February 2019 online courses
Public diplomacy lecture at the Serbian MFA
02 Mar 18 -
The future of diplomacy: Between continuity and change
17 Nov 17 - 18 Nov 17
Asia in the Eyes of Europe, Europe in the eyes of Asia
30 Nov 15 03 Jul 14 -
Asia-Europe Public Diplomacy training workshop
24 Aug 15 - 27 Aug 15
Public Diplomacy Workshop, Cape Town
18 Sep 12 - 20 Sep 12
South Africa, Africa
Public Diplomacy Workshop, Pretoria
10 Sep 12 - 14 Sep 12
South Africa, Africa
Workshop on Public Diplomacy for Parliamentarians
19 Apr 11 - 20 Apr 11
Public Diplomacy workshop in South Africa
11 Apr 11 - 15 Apr 11
Public Diplomacy: Language and Persuasion Workshop
21 Oct 10 -
Humanitarian public diplomacy: International calls to action in the digital era
This dissertation examines IOs (IOs) as emerging stars in the constellation of diplomatic actors, as extra-state and supra-state entities that do not replace, but rather complement, align with and encourage states. Specifically focusing on humanitarian - those attentiv... Read more...
Nation branding and the role of public diplomacy in assisting small island states in developing strong nation brands
The concept of applying branding principles and strategies to nation states has been around for decades. However, in recent years, the concept has occupied prime attention in academia and the business sector.... Read more...
Activities of the Department of Public Information: Strategic communications services
... Read more...
Data-driven Public Diplomacy: Progress Towards Measuring the Impact of Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting Activities
... Read more...