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Abstract

Public diplomacy is a subfield of political science and international relations that involves study of the process and practice by which nation-states and other international actors engage global publics to serve their interests. It developed during the Cold War as an outgrowth of the rise of mass media and public opinion drivers in foreign policy management. The United States, in a bipolar ideological struggle with the Soviet Union, recognized that gaining public support for policy goals among foreign populations worked better at times through direct engagement than traditional, often closed-door, government-to-government contact. Public diplomacy is still not a defined academic field with an underlying theory, although its proximity to the originator of soft power, Joseph Nye, places it closer to the neoliberal school that emphasizes multilateral pluralistic approaches in international relations. The term is a normative replacement for the more pejorative-laden propaganda, centralizes the role of the civilian in international relations to elevate public engagement above the level of manipulation associated with government or corporate propaganda. Building mutual understanding among the actors involved is the value commonly associated with public diplomacy outcomes of an exchange or cultural nature, along with information activities that prioritize the foreign policy goals and national interests of a particular state. In the mid-20th century, public diplomacy's emphasis was less scholarly and more practical-to influence foreign opinion in competition with nation-state rivals. In the post-Cold War period, the United States in particular pursued market democracy expansion in the newly industrializing countries of the East. Soft power, the negative and positive attraction that flows from an international actor's culture and behavior, became the favored term associated with public diplomacy. After 9/11, messaging and making a case for one's agenda to win the hearts and minds of a Muslim-majority public became predominant against the backdrop of a U.S.-led global war on terrorism and two active interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Public diplomacy was utilized in one-way communication campaigns such as the Shared Values Initiative of the U.S. Department of State, which backfired when its target-country audiences rejected the embedded messages as self-serving propaganda. In the 21st century, global civil society and its enemies are on the level of any diplomat or culture minister in matters of public diplomacy. Narrative competition in a digital and networked era is much deeper, broader, and adversarial while the mainstream news media, which formerly set how and what we think about, no longer holds dominance over national and international narratives. Interstate competition has shifted to competition from nonstate actors who use social media as a form of information and influence warfare in international relations. As disparate scholars and practitioners continue to acknowledge public diplomacy approaches, the research agenda will remain case-driven, corporate-centric (with the infusion of public relations), less theoretical, and more global than its Anglo-American roots.
Public Diplomacy
Nancy Snow
Online Publication Date: July 2020
DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780190846626.013.518
OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
(oxfordre.com/internationalstudies). (c) International Studies Association and Oxford University
Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Summary and Keywords
Public diplomacy is a subfield of political science and international relations that involves study
of the process and practice by which nation-states and other international actors engage global
publics to serve their interests. It developed during the Cold War as an outgrowth of the rise of
mass media and public opinion drivers in foreign policy management. The United States, in a
bipolar ideological struggle with the Soviet Union, recognized that gaining public support for
policy goals among foreign populations worked better at times through direct engagement than
traditional, often closed-door, government-to-government contact. Public diplomacy is still not a
defined academic field with an underlying theory, although its proximity to the originator of soft
power, Joseph Nye, places it closer to the neoliberal school that emphasizes multilateral
pluralistic approaches in international relations. The term is a normative replacement for the
more pejorative-laden propaganda, centralizes the role of the civilian in international relations to
elevate public engagement above the level of manipulation associated with government or
corporate propaganda. Building mutual understanding among the actors involved is the value
commonly associated with public diplomacy outcomes of an exchange or cultural nature, along
with information activities that prioritize the foreign policy goals and national interests of a
particular state. In the mid-20th century, public diplomacy’s emphasis was less scholarly and
more practical—to influence foreign opinion in competition with nation-state rivals. In the post-
Cold War period, the United States in particular pursued market democracy expansion in the
newly industrializing countries of the East. Soft power, the negative and positive attraction that
flows from an international actor’s culture and behavior, became the favored term associated
with public diplomacy. After 9/11, messaging and making a case for one’s agenda to win the
hearts and minds of a Muslim-majority public became predominant against the backdrop of a
U.S.-led global war on terrorism and two active interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Public
diplomacy was utilized in one-way communication campaigns such as the Shared Values
Initiative of the U.S. Department of State, which backfired when its target-country audiences
rejected the embedded messages as self-serving propaganda. In the 21st century, global civil
society and its enemies are on the level of any diplomat or culture minister in matters of public
diplomacy. Narrative competition in a digital and networked era is much deeper, broader, and
adversarial while the mainstream news media, which formerly set how and what we think about,
no longer holds dominance over national and international narratives. Interstate competition has
shifted to competition from nonstate actors who use social media as a form of information and
influence warfare in international relations. As disparate scholars and practitioners continue to
acknowledge public diplomacy approaches, the research agenda will remain case-driven,
corporate-centric (with the infusion of public relations), less theoretical, and more global than its
Anglo-American roots.
Keywords: public diplomacy, soft power, nation branding, digital diplomacy, propaganda,
persuasion, strategic communication, information, culture, public relations
Introduction
Public diplomacy (PD) refers to statecraft activities and engagements beyond traditional
diplomacy, predominantly cultural and informational, that are designed to inform, influence, and
engage global publics in support of foreign policy objectives tied to national interests. Scholars
in multiple disciplines, including political science, communications, public relations, and
international studies, have produced a substantial body of literature since the modern
introduction of the term in 1965. The first prominent usage of the phrase public diplomacy is
attributed to Edmund Guillion, then dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts
University (Massachusetts, United States), who broke ground on the parameters of the field in a
pre-digital era. The Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy was established at the
Fletcher School as a tribute to the respected World War II war correspondent and news
broadcaster at CBS who had become John F. Kennedy’s chief public diplomat as Director of the
United States Information Agency (USIA). The Murrow Center shifted the spotlight of
diplomacy from within the corridors of ministries to the person on the street who had an opinion
on foreign matters of state. Not only the influence of public attitudes was emphasized but also
cross-border interaction of private groups and individuals and the agenda-setting role of the press
in foreign policy formulation. In sum, public diplomacy concerns itself then as now with the
flow of people, information, and ideas in an intercultural context (Wolf & Rosen, 2004, p. 3).
Main Components of Public Diplomacy
British historian Nicholas J. Cull, the most cited academic in the field, refers to listening as an
imperative foundational skill in global approaches to public diplomacy, especially among
industrialized democracies that place such a normative value on the power of the individual as an
agent of change (Cull, 2019; Dobson, 2014; Martino, 2020). Listening is information gathering,
most closely aligned with ongoing data collection to analyze and use to adjust a policy or its
direction, and “overlaps with the covert realm of intelligence gathering” (Cull, 2019, p. 22).
Depending on budgets, organizations may have in-house research units that conduct surveys or
they may commission market and government research on attitudes and opinions. This method of
information gathering was a cottage industry in the first decade after 9/11 when over two dozen
reports were released on U.S. public diplomacy (Fitzpatrick, 2011).
Another primary component of public diplomacy, advocacy, is the direct appeal by presenting an
idea or policy to global publics. It utilizes diplomatic outreach methods, including social media,
press releases, management of websites, and other information tools, to tell one’s story to the
world. Advocacy can include nonstate actors’ attempts to influence state actors or other nonstate
actors. The Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2011) refers to
advocacy as a “process of communicating programs, policies or perspectives to target audiences
to win their support. It is core business and is the responsibility of all DFAT officers.”
Credibility, relevancy, and consistency in messaging are critical measures of success. The Fisher
and Bröckerhoff (2008) spectrum of public diplomacy places advocacy or direct messaging at
one end of the communications spectrum next to international broadcasting. Advocacy
approaches are usually shorter term, immediate, and closely tied to near-term policy goals. In the
middle are located the more one-way cultural diplomacy and cultural exchange methods of
influence. On the opposite end is the more two-way arena of listening, facilitation, and building
longer-range relationships.
Advocacy can be technical or political, depending on the philosophy of the actor. Political
advocates would argue in favor of outward-gazing regional expertise, a grasp of history and
journalism principles and practice, and comparative culture in order to successfully reach foreign
audiences. As USIA Director Edward R. Murrow told members of the Radio Television News
Directors Association, “What we do is solely for export” (Snow, 2013, p. 114). In contrast, Leo
Bogart (1995) explains in Cool Words, Cold War that some public diplomacy actors view
advocacy as more of a technical expertise, easily transferable from a domestic to an international
audience. To those advocates, it “makes no difference whether an operator is writing an ad for
soap, a movie script for ‘Sadie Smith in New Orleans,’ or a message for a foreign audience. A
top officer of a large advertising agency or public relations firm is an ideal propaganda program
executive” (Bogart, 1995, pp. 198–199). In 2001, when former Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter
Thompson advertising executive Charlotte Beers was nominated as the first post-9/11 assistant
secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in the George W. Bush administration, then
Secretary of State Colin Powell crowed about her skills in product management and their transfer
readiness in selling Uncle Sam, the national personification nickname for the United States:
“Well, guess what? She got me to buy Uncle Ben's rice and so there is nothing wrong with
getting somebody who knows how to sell something” (Carlson, 2001; Lopez, 2001). Her
government advertising Shared Values Initiative received strong criticism for targeting a global
Muslim audience as a sole means to serve U.S. policy objectives—reducing anti-American
tensions in the Muslim world—by offering video testimonials from “happy Muslims” living in
the United States. In that context, the short-lived campaign was seen by some as a form of
American propaganda disguised as sponsored media (Plaisance, 2005).
If listening is the first foundation of public diplomacy, then culture is its centerpiece. Cultural
exchange and cultural diplomacy are overtly committed to enhancing a country’s soft power.
Edward Corse (2013, p. 147) maintains that cultural diplomacy is the human kingdom’s version
of the animal kingdom’s peacock tail. It can entice and put on display one’s best features.
Cultural diplomacy definitions vary as much as those of its parental sponsor, public diplomacy.
Mark (2010) defines it in almost military terms: “the deployment of aspects of a state’s culture in
support of its foreign policy goals or diplomacy”; while Milton Cummings (2003) places it in a
two-way context: “the exchange of ideas, information, art, and other aspects of culture among
nations and their peoples in order to foster mutual understanding.” The last two components,
exchanges and international broadcasting, are mainstays of public diplomacy across national
governments (Seib, 2008). They are also often the least studied aspect of public diplomacy today
(Sevin, Metzgar, & Hayden, 2019). In her May 2009 commencement address at Yankee Stadium
to graduates of New York University, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “You know,
study abroad is like spring training for this century. It helps you develop the fundamentals, the
teamwork, and the determination to succeed.” Clinton made over 100 trips abroad where she
regularly touted exchanges, particularly the Fulbright Program, as fundamental to promoting
democracy and human rights and empowering women. Exchanges are viewed as the
relationship-building layer of the public diplomacy cake, located at the base to provide structure,
and whose outcomes are expected in the long term (Bettie, 2015; Scott-Smith, 2020; Snow,
2020b).
Because scholarship on the practice of public diplomacy first took root in the United States, its
components outlined here tend to influence approaches globally, although countries may place a
stronger emphasis on one over another. For instance, countries that are consistently seen as soft
power superpowers, such as Japan (Watanabe & McConnell, 2008) or France (Wintour, 2017),
will likely emphasize culture as the centerpiece of their public diplomacy. This evolved out of
the contributions from the founding fathers of their respective disciplines, Harold Lasswell in
political science, Walter Lippman in journalism, and Edward Bernays in public relations. All
were involved in counterpropaganda efforts during the era of the world wars when mass media
and advertising were used to shape public opinion of overseas audiences to the American war
cause (Bernays, 1928; Davison, 1965; Lasswell, 1927; Lippmann, 1922). In peacetime, even
with ideological battles looming between the United States and Soviet Union, a new term was
needed, public diplomacy, that would not carry such a heavily loaded or negative connotation
like propaganda. This does not mean that propaganda was discarded altogether, as is pointed out
by Stecopoulos (2011, p. 1025) in his review of authors Cull (2009), Falk (2010), Snow (2009)
and Richmond (2008) who “have played a long-standing role in the making of propaganda
studies within and without the academy.” Public diplomacy scholarship, which is understood as
an approach that an international actor can use to leverage soft power (Nye, 2004), continues to
be produced predominantly in the United States and the United Kingdom, but adaptions
elsewhere, especially in China, show that it is no longer exclusively Anglo-American. Daya
Kishan Thussu points to the rise of non-U.S. soft powers such as India, Turkey, and Russia as
examples of “de-Americanizing soft power” (Thussu, 2013). A global network of scholars is
contributing facts-on-the-ground cultural and geopolitical realities to add much-needed diversity
to the field (Chang & Lin, 2014; Ociepka, 2018; Pamment, 2011; Vickers, 2004; White & Radic,
2014; Wilding, 2007). Nevertheless, research foundations inevitably return to U.S. legacy
approaches in the Cold War and post-Cold War (Huntington, 1993; Lake, 1993) and the War on
Terror (Holbrooke, 2001; Ross, 2003).
Conceptual Roadmaps
Neoliberalism and Soft Power
The bulk of public diplomacy research closely aligns with liberalism and neoliberalism as
opposed to realism and neorealism. Joseph Nye, who coined the term soft power, a foundational
concept associated with public diplomacy, is also the cofounder, along with Robert Keohane
(1984), of neoliberalism, which has dominated international relations theory since the 1980s.
Keohane and Nye argue that states are not just sovereign actors competing against each other in
an anarchical system. States operate across multiple channels of cooperation, collaboration, and
competition and the international system is less hierarchical and more networked. Keohane and
Nye do not give up on the threat or use of hard power as a means of forceful persuasion in
foreign policy, but rather define state behavior as complex in its multiple soft, hard, and smart
power agendas. Smart power, the combination of soft and hard power, is necessary in
counterterrorism measures, and has antecedents that go back to Teddy Roosevelt’s (1900)
proverbial “speak softly and carry a big stick: you will go far” words of advice. In 2007, the
neoconservative Richard L. Armitage and the neoliberal Joseph L. Nye chaired a CSIS
Commission on Smart Power that called for the United States to complement its leadership in
economic and military power with a rise in soft power leadership using a multilateral pluralist
agenda. This agenda would require implementing trust-building measures and forging good
relations with key partners, an approach to state power that advanced Keohane and Nye’s (1989)
“complex interdependence” theory that mitigates the possibility of a military option to resolve
disputes (pp. 23–24). Most scholars of public diplomacy use the popular term soft power more
than the original term complex interdependence as a way of explaining how states rely on
attraction and cooperation for mutual benefit and advancing their respective agendas.
In the 21st century, John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School and David Ronfeldt of
RAND (1999, 2001, 2020) have reinforced the neoliberal school strain with their promotion of
noopolitik (politics and policies based on ethics and ideas) and the noosphere (“sphere of
reason”) over realpolitik and realism. Conjoined with public diplomacy, the best practices lead
with truth and promote deep coalitions between nation-states and nongovernmental
organizations. In noopolitik, civil society actors are as important as state actors in public
diplomacy outcomes. All collective efforts are dedicated to building a global civil society
“steeped in American-oriented values: democracy, human rights, and social, political, and
economic liberalism” (Arquilla & Ronfeldt, 1999, pp. 65–66). Such global interconnectedness
rhetoric is a key driver in much of the public diplomacy scholarship worldwide (Castells, 2004;
Xifra & McKie, 2012) despite the U.S.-centric language of Arquilla and Ronfeldt. For instance,
Catalonian scholar Jordi Xifra and New Zealander scholar David McKie (2012, pp. 821–822)
describe the noosphere as ‘a vector through which international activity unfolds and knowledge
is crucial. The necessary knowledge may not be achieved through a one way and consecutive
process, but rather through multiple processes and stages. These can be summarized as:
information, perception, analysis, and dissemination. New communication technologies act on
the first horizon (information); soft power, in combination with public diplomacy, acts on the
latter two (analysis and dissemination), and public diplomacy, with a public relations approach,
on perception and reputation.”
Other scholars identify new information wars that pit global civil society actors with transparent
transnational agendas in competition with covert or rogue nonstate actors and authoritarian states
that do not uphold the same values. European scholars Corneliu Bjola and James Pamment
(2019, pp. 174–175) call for scholars to “reinterpret the history of (new) public diplomacy” in
areas of engagement that “are deliberately manipulated in order to sow division and discord, as
part of a wave of nationalism sweeping the globe.” What seemed a benign nascent development
of the digital age that allowed like-minded actors to co-create content in public diplomacy
context has, in the second decade of the 21st century, allowed hostile actors to use those same
techniques to build support for bias, trolling, and hate messaging. Digital platforms are as much
cesspools that splay “firehoses of falsehoods” (Bjola & Pamment, 2019, p. 2) that exploit the
dark side of digital diplomacy as they are water cooler avenues for building understanding and
exchanging knowledge. Anti-civil society nonstate actors such as ISIS/Daesh are engaging
global publics too, but their values clash with the neoliberal vision of an enlightened public
working toward some common good.
Soft power is the catchphrase that supersedes public diplomacy because of the prominence of
Joseph Nye in the literature and because it refers to the intangible assets of a state and nation
with which everyone seems to have some opinion. Which country is the most appealing and
why? Whose culture stands out? Which nation-state has the most charismatic political leader?
These questions lead to popular measures such as Portland Communications’ “Soft Power 30,”
an annual ranking of the top 30 soft power nations. The popular culture reach globally, including
pop music celebrity, is now an integral part of ministries of foreign affairs in many parts of the
world, notably Japan (Cool Japan) and South Korea (“Hallyu” or Korean Wave), that compete
regionally and globally on cultural appeal, particularly to youth. In her 2013 inaugural address
South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for action in developing a creative economy and
stated, “in the 21st century, culture is power” (Yonhap News Agency).
Old, Middle, New Paths
A widely accepted path in the literature is the conceptual roadmap between government-led and
defined public diplomacy and new public diplomacy defined by an assortment of state and
nonstate international actors who seek to influence the behavior and attitudes of international
citizens. The “old” path (traditional, legacy) favors unidirectional and unilateral outreach to
global publics led by mass media (Voice of America; Radio Free Europe), memorable
monologues (e.g., JFK’s anti-Communist “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech during the Cold War),
and competitive rhetoric such as Edward R. Murrow’s famous dictum, “truth is the best
propaganda” (Snow, 2013), which juxtaposed the U.S. approach to government information
sharing in a free press environment to the closed authoritarian model. The traditional path relied
heavily on surveys and public opinion polls to provide feedback to governments and ministries
of foreign affairs for fine-tuning messaging. A “middle” path occurred in the first decade of the
post-Cold War era when the internet and global connectedness were becoming the norm. The
United States dominated the middle path development of the field of study. The digital path
(2000–) coincides with the globalization of public diplomacy. It is driven by information and
communication technologies and has a larger toolkit of digital data to evaluate, including
ongoing persuasion and social influence monitoring using real-time measures from social media
platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, China’s WeChat, Sino Weibo, Tencent QZone, Japan’s
Line, South Korea’s KakaoTalk, and Russia’s VK, to name just a few. Embassies around the
world are quick to embrace new media, but don’t always know what to do with the messages
they receive, in part due to staff who are unprepared for the online world outside prescribed
scripts. In the first decade of the 21st century, Second Life was a popular virtual medium of
which many embassies took advantage to communicate directly with increasingly online-reliant
global publics (Sandre, 2015). Joshua Fouts (2009), founding director of the USC Center on
Public Diplomacy, advocated for Second Life as a platform of public diplomacy at the U.S.
Department of State, but he observed that the critical “one-on-one” conversations were absent in
favor of the traditional one-to-many mass media model.
Public diplomacy scholarship is best analyzed through eras of its transitioning methodologies
and messages, such as the Cold War, post-Cold War, or post-9/11, and the digital era that
coincides with communication preferences of the actors involved. In addition, public diplomacy
is commonly viewed through three prisms: one-way monologue, two-way dialogue, and
networked or collaborative (Cowan & Arsenault, 2008). When one thinks of the Cold War, it is
natural to focus on the monologues and speeches of charismatic political figures, such as
Kennedy’s appearance at Brandenburg Gate or Nikita Khrushchev’s shoe-banging incident in
1960 during a Plenary Meeting at the United Nations. Nixon’s trip to China is a major dialogic
event in public diplomacy history because of who Nixon was as an international actor and how
he behaved with what was then considered the enemy. An avowed anti-Communist, Nixon
surprised the world with his willingness to show respect to Chinese Communists, particularly his
person-to-person camaraderie with Mao Zedong during his seven-day trip of February 21–28,
1972 (MacMillan, 2007). It’s unlikely we can remember any speech Nixon gave, but the shift in
the perception of China, and of America’s relationship with China, was forever changed through
the powerful images in mainstream media. That event led to every subsequent American
president visiting China, with the exception of Jimmy Carter. Collaborative public diplomacy
efforts are, unlike government approaches, less hierarchical and more networked. Collaboration
recognizes that the sum is greater than its parts and that there are some global issues, such as the
UN Sustainable Development Goals, nuclear arms, and the environment, that require partnership
over competition. It is the spirit of former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s (1996) imperative, “it
takes a village” to raise a global civic society. Collaboration can be challenging when NGOs
work with governments. Traditional diplomats who represent the state must uphold the principle
of nonintervention and national sovereignty. They cannot be too partisan or too political, letting
policy lead the way. Foreign policy and human rights NGOs are often driven by intervention for
the public good (Hocking, 2008). Governments and corporations that collaborate with political
NGOs must be mindful of the values that may clash when carrying out common missions.
Examples of high-profile public diplomacy collaboration include Sister Cities International, the
Washington, DC-based global citizen diplomacy organization that links cities and their citizens
in business, educational, and cultural partnerships. After the triple disaster in Tohoku, Japan
known as 3/11 (March 11, 2011), the U.S. Armed Forces assisted the Japanese government in a
disaster relief effort called Operation Tomodachi (“Friends”) that involved 24,000 U.S.
servicemembers in Japan. Their efforts to rebuild roads and air strips were positively noted by
the Japanese people. As Air Force Major Rockie K. Wilson (2012) noted, Operation Tomodachi
leveraged an immediate peacetime crisis response by servicemembers trained to wage wars.
Magnifying the efforts of this collaboration with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is a way to
emotionally appeal to the public and may help to retain military budgets that are being
questioned over operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Collaborative approaches and partnerships
are highlighted in many of the public relations approaches to public diplomacy, since PR works
in partnership with its client sponsor to promote public trust. As Cowan and Arsenault (2008)
state about collaboration, “projects, networks, and partnerships … have value because they breed
social trust and foster norms of reciprocity, and create stores of goodwill that can prove
invaluable during times of crisis” (p. 23).
Evaluating Public Diplomacy
Much of the scholarship on public diplomacy evaluation focuses on praxis: how to accomplish
public diplomacy on a budget or how to replicate what has worked in the past. At its core, public
diplomacy values listening at its foundation to help guide practices that work (Cull, 2019, p. 4).
Public opinion polls, both internal and external, focus groups, and content analysis of new and
old media are as valued in the 21st century as they were in the 20th, but they have their
limitations. They are often subject to an aggregate mentality, as when in February 2020 the U.S.
Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs published a list of Fulbright top
producing higher education institutions. An overall highly regarded exchange program may not
always have positive consequences. When something goes horribly wrong, as it did for Fulbright
scholar to South Africa Amy Biehl in 1993, the negative consequences of a person-to-person
exchange get amplified in the media and immediately impact foreign policy and race relations
(Gish, 2018). In 1961 during his first year serving as Director of USIA, former journalist Edward
R. Murrow resisted congressional needling about the lack of measurement data to assess USIA’s
impact in the world (Wilson, 2004). During a speech to the 59th Convention of the American
Advertising Federation, he said: “Our concern is with the idea and the ideal. We cannot gauge
our success by sales. No profit and loss statement sums up our operations at the end of each year.
No cash register rings when a man changes his mind” (Snow, 2013, p. 181). Across the globe,
governments are expected to do more with less and soft power agenda items are lower priority
than immediate threats to national security. While elected officials rarely question military
budgets, they may question a foreign ministry’s need for a new media monitoring unit. What are
the methods and techniques that have been used by public diplomats? What should aspiring
public diplomats know how to do? In many—if not most—instances of research that fits into this
category, public diplomacy is not eyed critically and is, instead, seen as a wholly positive
opportunity for better achieving national interest goals. In its early stages in the 1960s, public
diplomacy was seen as a necessary adjunct to doing diplomacy, given the rise of commercial
mass media such as film and television. State actors involved in carrying out foreign policies
recognized the need for a mix of communication activities for targeted public communication
purposes. Wang (2006) notes that most of the government methods were one-way message
campaigns to positively position a nation in order to shape attitudes and opinions overseas. This
can no longer stand. He warns (p. 94) that the “credibility and efficacy of the government as the
primary communicator is now often suspected, because people tend to perceive communication
by a foreigngovernment as political propaganda.”
Communications scholars Benno Signitzer and Timothy Coombs (1992), writing in the
immediate post-Cold War period, recognized that public diplomats and public relations
professionals share an overarching goal of affecting public opinion. “Virtually any introductory
public relations text will note public relations is used to achieve information exchange, the
reduction of misconceptions, the creation of goodwill, and the construction of an image” (pp.
139–140), which are certainly similar to the some of the aims of public diplomacy. This did not
guarantee that public diplomats could simply adopt public relations techniques, though, because
purposes of public diplomacy may differ. Signitzer and Coombs (1992) draw upon Deibel and
Roberts’s (1976) two foreign policy functions of culture and information to distinguish between
tough-minded and tender-minded schools of thought, to help show the difference between public
diplomacy and public relations methods, and to show areas of convergence.
The tough-minded hold that the purpose of public diplomacy is to exert an influence on attitudes
of foreign audiences using persuasion and propaganda. Hard political information is considered
more important than cultural programs. Fast media, such as radio, television, newspapers, and
news magazines are given preference over other forms of communication. Objectivity and truth
are considered important tools of persuasion but not extolled as virtues in themselves. Supreme
criterion for public diplomacy is the raison d’etat defined in terms of fairly short-term policy
ends. The tender-minded school argues that information and cultural programs must bypass
current foreign policy goals to concentrate on the highest long-range national objectives. The
goal is to create a climate of mutual understanding. Public diplomacy is seen as a predominantly
cultural function as opposed to the conveying of hard political information. Slow media such as
films, exhibitions, language instruction, academic and artistic exchanges with a view toward
transmitting messages about lifestyles, political and economic systems, and artistic achievements
are used. Truth and veracity are considered essential, much more than a persuasive tactics.”
(1992, p. 140)
Zaharna and Uysal (2016) suggest that 21st-century public diplomacy practices have evolved to
include multiple stakeholders. These include actors from business, nongovernmental, and
transnational organizations who co-create and collaborate on public diplomacy products. Other
actors include nongovernmental adversaries who may engage in their own public diplomacy
processes to compete or confront state power.
Another stream of the scholarship seeks to subject public diplomacy to social science theorizing
and empirical investigation. One early example is Manheim (1994), who evaluates the effect of
other countries’ efforts at political “image management” (i.e., public diplomacy) in the United
States and the consequent effect on U.S. foreign policy. Nevertheless, Gilboa (2008, p. 73) points
out that “despite the growing significance of public diplomacy in contemporary international
relations, scholars have not yet pursued or even sufficiently promoted systematic theoretical
research in this field” nor have they “proposed a comprehensive and integrated framework.” This
is due in part to the lack of rigor perceived by some in the social sciences to the subject; for
instance, there is no equivalent school of thought variations such as realpolitik or ideapolitik that
drive the subject, but there are directions in which to point across a continuum from propaganda
(Lopez, 2001; Snow, 2010; Taylor, 2003) to new public diplomacy (Gonesh & Melissen, 2005;
Melissen, 2005; Pamment, 2011) to social network and relationship analysis (Zaharna, 2005),
netwars, and noopolitik nuances (Arquilla & Ronfeldt, 1999, 2001). “What is public diplomacy?
Whatever you call it, we’re in the influence business” (Fisher & Bröckerhoff, 2008, p. 3).
Sevin et al. (2019, p. 4814) describe public diplomacy scholarship as less of a discipline and
more of a crossroads of power, media, culture, and communication in an international context.
Translating Research to Practice
Practitioners of public diplomacy learn from this social science approach. They draw upon
empirical discovery or what happens in experience and observational data-gathering practice
over values-based ideals. For instance, a more strategic application of public diplomacy would
include development of instruments to measure which strategies of influence work better with
foreign publics, from active listening to network-building, cultural exchange, and cultural
diplomacy, to direct messaging and broadcasting. Certain governments or international nonstate
actors are attuned to certain methodologies based on resources available and training in metrics.
As of yet, public diplomacy does not have a sophisticated global typology of options of
influence. The United States Broadcasting Board of Governors’ U.S. Agency for Global Media
(2018) uses an Audience and Impact model with both fundamental and optional indicators to
assess the impact of U.S.-based overseas broadcast programming. Data is pulled from internal
measures such as overall audience size and the size of the audience using digital platforms, as
well as external public polling and representative surveys, focus groups, stories, and anecdotes.
Criticisms
Some scholars question the value of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy originally referred to
the official voices involved in external influence services of the state to global publics (Taylor,
1997). Various global publics that are weighing in are offering counterinfluence challenges for
officials, including demands for more transparency, accountability, and explanation of ground-up
to top-down policies. They are asking to what extent unofficial voices and global publics really
even matter that much to public diplomacy careerists? Is public opinion something to be
managed and manipulated, a reality-shaping machine as Bernays (1928) saw it, or is the ideal of
developing an informed and educated public voice in international affairs the foundational brick
of credible public diplomacy? These questions call for more qualitative and quantitative
approaches to our understanding of the Habermasian notion of the public sphere and authentic
democratic participation over managed publics. Critical public relations work by L’Etang and
Pieczka (2006) and Weaver, Motion, and Roper (2004) offer critical debates and theories that are
necessary probes for contemporary approaches to public diplomacy that are being led by public
relations. As L’Etang (1997, p. 34) states, “it is something of a truism that public relations needs
more public relations to increase public understanding of its role in society.” Weaver et al. (2004,
p. 1) acknowledge that “indeed, public relations rarely enjoys good press and is continually
maligned as little more than an industry of propaganda and spin that trades in lies and deceit.”
Nevertheless, a critical approach does not dismiss the growing number of related functions that
exist in the literature of public relations and public diplomacy. These include rhetoric, oratory,
advocacy, negotiation, peacemaking, counseling, advising, and intelligence/information
gathering (Fitzpatrick, Fullerton, & Kendrick, 2013).
A lacuna in the scholarship is a gendered assessment of public diplomacy and public diplomats,
both the positive contributions that women make in the field (gender diplomacy, gender
diplomats), as well as the negative consequences of masculine-defined modern warfare that
surveils populations from a distance more than it seeks face-to-face dialogue. Snow (2017) notes
that overseas exchange students from Japan are serving as gender diplomats who are challenging
stereotypes of the self-conscious, reserved, and silent second sex. On the other end of the gender
spectrum, state actors may be complicit in unethical actions by managing the global impressions
made by new technologies such as drones. MIT media scholar Lisa Parks and American Studies
professor Caren Kaplan (2017) published a groundbreaking gender studies book that addresses
“life in the age of drone warfare.” New technologies, including new media, are changing societal
notions of identity, who is watching whom, and how multimedia presentations of drone images
that marvel the senses can also distract global publics from holding government officials
responsible for their policies. In 2020, the era of a global pandemic is elevating the need for the
noosphere and its concomitant cooperative and collaborative partnerships in noopolitik (Arquilla
& Ronfeldt, 1999, 2001, 2020). The complexities of interdependence associated with combatting
a global public health crisis are awakening nostalgia for the taken for granted aspects of modern
living in international travel, tourism, and study abroad.
As a subfield of political science and international relations, public diplomacy has grown up
largely a “great man” field, just like public relations (Cassidy, 2017; Lamme, Russell, Hill, &
Spector, 2017; Snow, 2020a). It relies on studies by prominent male scholars and officials (Nye,
Cull, Bjola, Pamment, Melissen, Anholt) over women scholars. Some women scholars are
visibly active (Emily Metzgar, Kathy Fitzpatrick, Candace White, R. S. Zaharna), but women of
color or those from ethnic and religious minorities are mostly invisible in the English-language
literature that dominates the discussion. Ironically, in public diplomacy and public relations
programs women strongly outnumber men, but seem to disappear in driving the field at high-
profile leadership and scholarship levels. In a nearly twenty-year span since the the U.S.
government created an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, nine
women and four men have served in that office. Among the women who served was Ambassador
Margaret Tutwiler (December 16, 2003–June 30, 2004), presidential counselor Karen Hughes
(September 9, 2005–December 14, 2007), television executive Judith McHale (May 26, 2009–
July 1, 2011), senior Clinton White House official Tara Sonenshine (April 5, 2012–July 1, 2013),
and legendary advertising executive Charlotte Beers (October 2, 2001–March 28, 2003). The
most prominent of the male Under Secretaries of State were George W. Bush senior official
James K. Glassman (June 10, 2008–January 15, 2009) and former editor-in-chief of Time,
Richard Stengel (February 11, 2014–December 7, 2016). Stengel (2019) published Information
Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation & What We Can Do About It
based on his public diplomacy tenure, and James Glassman received high praise in the press
when Newsweek (2009) staff gave him glowing marks with the headline, “The Man Who Sells
America Abroad,” while Charlotte Beers and Karen Hughes (Worldpress, 2005) received
attention, but low marks. In the milieu of public diplomacy scholarship, women remain the foot
soldiers while men remain the generals.
Theorizing Public Diplomacy in the Information Age
The advent of the Information Age and the rapid increase in potential strategies for public
diplomacy have resulted in innovative approaches to theorizing public diplomacy. Ronfeldt and
Arquilla see 21st-century informational strategies as operating around two poles, one
technological, that will continue to emphasize cyberspace safety and security, and the other,
political and ideational. In this second pole, soft power is at work to attract, influence, and lead
in terms of “right makes for might” (Arquilla & Ronfeldt, 1999, p. x). In noopolitik, the political
sphere is no longer driven by the state as primary actor in international relations (as in
realpolitik), but through the interaction of state with nonstate actors in pursuit of more global and
society-wide outcomes. As realpolitik theories empowered the state and power politics, so does
noopolitik empower national interests through networks and coalitions based less on state-centric
and more on global commons terms. Noopolitik will not overtake power politics and realpolitik,
but rather, like smart power (Nye, 2009; Wang, 2006), coexist with realpolitik realities. As the
world becomes more in need of global cooperation structures to resolve global problems,
noopolitik and soft power strategies will be put into play. The more they do, the more likely that
the primacy of public diplomacy in its most tender-hearted and truth-oriented, will come to the
fore.
Public Relations and Public Diplomacy
The Information Age and the popularity of social media have directly contributed in content and
platform to an increase in the study of fake news and polarizing messages that are communicated
easily online. The decline in trust in social institutions (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2020;
Friedman, 2018), combined with the modern contested narratives of the global information
environment, have expanded the range of public diplomacy. No other profession has become so
merged with public diplomacy as public relations. Public diplomacy, once primarily a
specialized field of practice and inquiry for diplomats and scholars of diplomacy and
international relations, is in the 21st century intellectual fertile field for scholars addressing
public diplomacy from the perspective of public relations. Public relations scholars are
contributing a plethora of scholarship that offers a measurement and methods-rich perspective;
that said, public diplomacy has traditionally not had an association with public relations (PR)
because diplomats viewed PR in a business context of marketing and advertising, industries of
spin that tainted the higher calling of diplomacy that was associated with the public sector.
Lamme et al. (2017) argue that 20th-century U.S. public relations historiography focuses on
corporate public relations and their agencies and marginalizes contributions of women and
minorities in favor of the “great man” perspective. PR, suffering more from a public image
problem, needs more public relations (L’Etang, 1997), while PD has suffered more from a
budget problem (Snow, 2015, p. 74). It wasn’t until after 9/11 that public relations scholars in the
United States began to shift their attention to how diplomatic actors communicate, build, and
maintain relationships with global publics. They debate questions of what is ethical, credible, and
how we can improve relations between client and customer as we do between state and citizen
(Fitzpatrick et al., 2013; Golan, Yang, & Kinsey, 2014; Gregory, 2005, 2008; Grunig, 1992;
Signitzer & Coombs, 1992; Vanc & Fitzpatrick, 2016). Is it more ethical to prioritize the
engagement process, that is, the public interest, when public relations professionals serve their
clients’ interests first? Is there a public interest in public relations, and if so, is it even
measurable? Corporate public relations is more closely associated with propaganda while
government public relations is associated more with relationship building in peacetime. To that
end, the term public affairs officer (PAO) is used by both the military and the government more
often than Public Relations Officers (PRO) to describe what officials do in building strong ties to
reporters and using media to help improve the narrative of the organization. Edward Bernays, the
father of public relations, is known for his 1928 book, Propaganda, in which he observed the
following: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of
the masses is an important element in democratic society.” He referred to himself as a “public
relations counsel” offering advice to clients on how to massage the message of their product or
idea in the court of public opinion. Other scholars have noted the ties between modern public
relations and propaganda (Olasky, 1984; Tye, 2002). Curt Olsen, a former president of the San
Francisco chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, notes that Bernays viewed
propaganda as a tool of freedom in democracy where choices are rampant, to “lighten that
burden of responsibility and for comfort. This human need for psychic ease is amplified by a
society that increasingly emphasizes sensate experience over thought and reflection” (Olsen,
2005, p. 28). Despite their differences, scholars from both disciplines understand that today’s
global publics need to be able to locate, access, and assess information quickly and legitimately.
They need to be able to communicate reputable and reliable information to others, and to be able
to work productively in collaboration with others, including state and nonstate actors and
international actors.
Conceptual Debates
Public Diplomacy: Statecraft or Corporatized Public
Relations?
A debate in the scholarship (as well as more generally among the public) is about the
fundamental character of public diplomacy: is public diplomacy more of an exercise in statecraft,
or is it disguised public relations and advertising by other means? Traditionally, public
diplomacy has been analyzed as a kind of elevated statecraft that operates above or at least
outside the for-profit market-driven private sector. Cull (2019) refers to the term public
diplomacy, with its inclusion of civilians (the public) with diplomats, as “better than the business
world of state public relations, let alone the covert and manipulative realm which English
speakers understand from the term ‘propaganda’” (p. 3). Public diplomacy definitions still begin
with government-led efforts to influence publics (Gregory, 2005, 2008; Nakamura & Weed,
2009). Snow and Taylor (2009) refer to the statecraft-led and military-adopted model of public
diplomacy with preference for the term strategic communication. Other definitional examples
from the Cold War era include The Word War (Sorensen, 1968), which refers to USIA officials
as “overseas propagandists.” Charles Frankel’s (1965) The Neglected Aspect of Foreign Affairs
refers to the intellectual neglect of the study of the government’s overseas educational and
cultural policies. Frankel underscores the rapt attention that has been given to U.S. military,
economic, and diplomatic policy while overlooking the work of someone such as the Cultural
Affairs Officer (CAO), who is the “proverbial man in the middle, the man on the spot” (p. 10),
for the immediate personal interactions that occur between a field embassy staff person and local
nationals. Edward R. Murrow, in his capacity as Director of USIA under Kennedy, called the
work of public diplomacy a new dimension of diplomacy that engaged the minds of the people
while the Soviet Union waged competition. “Our goal is the minds of men. But the war we wage
is not to capture men’s minds; it is a war to free them.” In contrast, Herbert I. Schiller (1989), in
his influential assessment in Culture, Inc., views the American dominant public diplomacy in the
same realm as corporatized, commercial transactions. The corporatized PR model is exemplified
by the post-9/11 take-off in research by public relations scholars and practitioners, whom Vanc
and Fitzpatrick (2016) refer to as “uniquely qualified” to contribute (p. 1). Snow (2010) argues in
Propaganda, Inc. that in the last decade of the 20th century corporate public relations and a
business dominance in public diplomacy infiltrated the process of public diplomacy management
because the United States viewed itself as the victor in the Cold War and sought to lead by
example. The corporate approach was obvious when public diplomacy officials pushed for
NAFTA and the Clinton Doctrine’s “democratic enlargement” agenda sought to expand U.S.
strategic and economic interests (Brinkley, 1997; Lake, 1993). Public diplomacy could not stand
on its own merits as the “last three feet” in international communication (Kiehl, 2014).
Increasingly in the 21st century, government actors and budgets as lead actors in foreign
engagement are diminishing as corporate and brand-defined influencers are increasing. Of the
two approaches, the traditional statecraft approach is viewed by some scholars as less viable with
its tendency to choose one-way communication models, less measurable as trust in government
institutions declines, and unlike the war efforts of the 20th century or post-9/11, there is no
common enemy such as communism or terrorism with which to galvanize unity or collective
interest. On the other hand, the corporatized public relations model is commercially viable,
strategic, and measurable based on client interests.
Public diplomacy methods fundamentally are a form of nation branding intended to create a
favorable image of a state or its publics in the hearts and minds of other state actors and their
publics (Dinnie, 2016; Dinnie & Sevin, 2020). That can occur naturally and over time, like two
neighbors having an occasional chat over a fence, or it can be manipulated through focus group
studies and audience preferences. Public diplomacy conceptually adopts characteristics of
diplomacy in general: at its best it promotes the use of ongoing dialogue in support of foreign
policy goals and avoids a strict one-way sales pitch endemic of the worst propaganda campaigns
(Snow, 2010, p. 86). As Mitchell (1986) writes about cultural relations, he reminds us of the
tender-minded school: “At their most effective, their purpose is to achieve understanding and
cooperation between national societies for their mutual benefit. Cultural relations proceed ideally
by the accretion of open professional exchanges rather than selective self-projection. They
purvey an honest picture of each country rather than a beautified one. They do not conceal but
neither need to make a show of national problems” (p. 5).
Public Diplomacy: Practice or Paradigm?
Public diplomacy may be hard to define but we know it when we see it in practice. It is in the
good or bad experience outcome of a government-sponsored exchange student (Furnham &
Bochner, 1986; Gullahorn & Gullahorn, 1963; Gullahorn & Gullahorn, 1966). It is in a national
story like the triple disaster known as 3/11 in Japan that grew foreign legs and impacted how
outsiders viewed the country’s brand image and media relations (Snow, 2016). It is in the ears of
a jazz aficionado behind the Iron Curtain listening to Willis Conover on the Voice of America
(Davenport, 2013; Von Eschen, 2004), or the infowar tweets of @ISRAEL21C or
@PalestineToday (Samuel-Azran, 2020). This amorphous collection of public diplomacy in
practice may be insufficient in moving the research agenda from an ancillary or adjunct status in
the academy to an accepted paradigm of building mutual understanding, trust, and lasting
engagement in international relations (Cull, 2019; Welsh & Fearn, 2008). Traditional diplomats
in the early adoption days occasionally viewed public diplomacy as a necessary evil in a Cold
War era where publics began to take a stakeholding interest in foreign affairs. To still others,
public diplomacy may be used as a shiny ornament to darker propaganda intents—a credibility
gateway to policies that are undemocratic and nonegalitarian (Bjola & Pamment, 2019). Fortner
(1994) refers to public diplomacy as “civilized persuasion” while scholars Beata Ociepka and
Marta Ryniejska, building on legacy scholars Hamid Mowlana define it in an international
communication context as “directing the flow of diplomatic information via media of mass
communication and non-mediated channels to the foreign countries’ mass audience in order to
create a positive image of the country and its society and in consequence to make the
achievement of international policy goals easier.” It is central to diplomatic human relations, and
its best practices involve promotion of more open dialogue and building mutual understanding in
international and intercultural communication (Snow & Cull, 2020). Its emphasis on the
audience or a targeted segment of an audience carries with it both democratic and authoritarian
elements (Bjola, Cassidy, & Manor, 2020; Zaharna & Uysal, 2016). If one is sending a targeted
message or meme (slogan, symbol), that communication may transcend diplomatic dialogue that
emphasizes trust-building and mutual understanding. It can be one-way and manipulative,
depending on the target’s ability to talk back, critique, or challenge the message and the
messenger.
Continuing Challenges
A number of challenges continue to affect public diplomacy scholarship. Because of the variety
of practices that states adopt for public diplomacy and the variety of scholarly approaches, there
is no scholarly consensus about the scope or definition of public diplomacy. Furthermore, there
is little coherence in how public diplomacy is taught or researched within the academy. In some
universities, public diplomacy is merely a concentration or a skill in schools of international
studies and schools of communication. Scholars and practitioners with varied disciplinary
training teach principles of public diplomacy in these settings. A review of offerings (Public
Diplomacy Council, 2016; Syracuse University, 2017) reveals instructors with backgrounds
ranging from public relations and political communication specialists to cultural historians,
retired diplomats, and military officials. The effect is often a failure to integrate for a true
interdisciplinary approach.
Undergraduate education in public diplomacy is limited compared to public relations, one of the
most popular concentrations and majors in communications departments and schools. Unlike
political science and communications that are stand-alone disciplines, public diplomacy in the
academy is more of an adjunct subject area in international relations and communication courses.
More commonly, offerings are limited to one or two semester courses in public relations,
communications, and international studies degree programs. At the graduate level, strong public
diplomacy profiles are found at institutions with the highest rankings in public relations,
specifically the University of Southern California Annenberg School and Syracuse University’s
Newhouse School, both of which offer master’s degrees in public diplomacy. At Syracuse,
master’s students of public diplomacy complete a dual degree: an M.S. in Public Relations at the
S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and an M.A. in International Affairs at the
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In addition, Washington, DC, the capital city
of the United States, hosts several universities with high public diplomacy profiles, including
George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
American University’s School of Communication and School of International Service have a
number of prominent public diplomacy scholars on their staff, including R. S. Zaharna, Robert
Kelley, and Sherry Mueller, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Public Diplomacy Council.
Globally, public diplomacy degree programs are limited, although the subject seems to be
expanding through its inclusion in international communication, journalism, and media studies
courses. The first courses in public diplomacy in China were taught in 2007 at Tsinghua
University’s School of Journalism and Communication in Beijing in the lead up to the 2008
Summer Olympics. International students with an interest in the field often end up in the United
Kingdom or the United States. In addition, historiography is underrepresented in the modern era,
as are studies in exchange of persons and international broadcasting, which were of stronger
interest for their influence impact during the 20th century world wars and Cold War eras. With a
few exceptions, such as Nicholas J. Cull at the University of Southern California, who published
The Cold War and the United States Information Agency (2008) and The Decline and the Fall of
the United States Information Agency (2012), historians thoroughly examining the subject are in
short supply. Further, public diplomacy does not have enough diversity in either representation
or subject area, although that is beginning to change. The 2020 edition of the Routledge
Handbook of Public Diplomacy includes a focus on LGBTI issues in public diplomacy and
several dozen case studies from non-U.S. and non-U.K. scholars and practitioners. Feminist and
critical perspectives in public diplomacy are largely absent, in keeping with mainstream
international relations, although recently Oxford digital diplomacy scholar addressed gender and
diplomacy (Cassidy, 2017) and the intersection of gender with diplomacy research vis-à-vis high
numbers of females participating in overseas study is developing in Japan (Nemoto, 2016; Snow,
2017). Public diplomacy has gone global for good, but will always have its parental address in
the United States.
Another limitation facing scholarship is the lack of data on public diplomacy. While there is an
increasingly urgent need to measure public diplomacy effects (Brown & Hensman, 2014; Custer
et al., 2018; Wilding, 2007), public diplomacy scholarship has not developed enough of its own
rigorous data sets that are actionable, that is, that can be applied to specific target audience
groups. Public diplomacy professionals still tend to evaluate the “goodness” of programs such as
sponsored exchanges through the anecdotal experience of participants. Participants in programs
sponsored by a foreign government who receive full support for their study can reasonably be
expected to rate the programs highly. Most larger data set evaluation metrics are compiled by
entrepreneurs and consultants who turn their proprietary research data into advising to
presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs (Anholt, 2020). Legacy research was supported by
governments and led by academics who published their data sets in journals. During the first two
decades after World War II, husband and wife team Jeanne and John Gullahorn (1963, 1966)
conducted surveys of thousands of study abroad participants, including government-sponsored
Fulbright students and professors, to evaluate and track their professional and personal
development outcomes. Their studies, along with others (Bennett et al., 1958; Coehlo, 1958;
Cormack, 1962; Goodwin, 1964) placed exchange of persons across national boundaries at the
heart of American public diplomacy. The majority of these surveys were sponsored by the
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. With the rise of
international broadcasting in the 1980s and the World Wide Web in the 1990s, the sojourner
abroad lost some of its mystique, at least in public diplomacy scholarship, although exchanges in
general are still given high marks in the global public diplomacy toolkit. Sevin et al. (2019, p.
4832) note in their analysis of the scholarship of public diplomacy that international exchanges
and international broadcasting are the least studied subject areas, despite both serving as central
components in setting the parameters of the field.
It is still unknown if public diplomacy will continue to be a discrete topic of study. It may
become absorbed by the most popular, overused, and frequently misunderstood term soft power
(Nye, 2004), or it may evolve into an entirely new term that emerges from the combination of a
decline in trust in social institutions, including media (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2020), and a
downturn in morale in diplomatic circles (Harris, 2017). It is becoming the norm to hear more
about different types of public diplomacy as not only a propaganda replacement term but also as
a subset of public diplomacy, most recently related to China’s growth and influence in research
and application of the subject in other areas such as financial diplomacy, exchange diplomacy,
cultural diplomacy, elite-to-elite diplomacy, and informational diplomacy (Custer et al., 2018) or
in military circles (Rumbaugh & Leatherman, 2012). China’s rise in public diplomacy is on pace
to equal the level of interest and output related to public diplomacy and soft power of the United
States (d’Hooghe, 2015; Wang, 2011). Among 30 journals that have published the most public
diplomacy scholarship, three of the ten highest-ranking journals are focused on China: Chinese
Journal of International Politics, Journal of Contemporary China, and the Chinese Journal of
Communication (Lee & Hao, 2018; Sevin et al., 2019, p. 4822; Wang & Shoemaker, 2011; Zhao,
2015). China has also established a prominent Rhodes Scholar-modeled educational exchange
program (2016–) called the Schwarzman Scholars at Schwarzman College on the campus of
Tsinghua University. With an initial investment of over half a billion dollars (Moyer, 2017), it is
the largest private philanthropic initiative in China’s history, funded in large part by its American
financier namesake, Stephen A. Schwarzman, founder of the Blackstone Group. The
Schwarzman Scholars’ cross-town “rivals” are the Yenching Scholars and Yenching Academy at
Peking University (2015–). Peking and Tsinghua are commonly referred to respectively as the
Harvard and MIT of China (Flannery, 2002; Potier, 2004). Along with the global Confucius
Institutes (2004–) and the Voice of China international broadcasting network (2019–), no other
country outside the United States has embraced public diplomacy initiatives and scholarship so
readily as the People’s Republic of China (Custer et al., 2019; Sevin et al., 2019; Zhai, 2018). As
Chen (2020) notes, on the cusp of China’s becoming the world’s second-largest economy in
2009 and Xi Jinping’s plea in 2020 to “tell China’s stories well,” public diplomacy and nation
branding are taking on greater weight. Think tanks in China were almost unheard of ten years
ago, but as of 2019, Chen states that there were over 2000 think tanks. China-led collaborative-
style public diplomacy approaches have coincided with the Belt and Road Initiative (2013–).
Despite challenges, scholarship on public diplomacy continues to expand. An important
institutional support for this is the prominence in academic organizations that host annual
conferences. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)
International Communication and Public Relations divisions frequently host public diplomacy
panels. Since 2015 the International Communication Association (ICA), publisher of six popular
peer-reviewed journals and an official NGO associated with the United Nations, has hosted a
Public Diplomacy Interest Group. Since 2013, the International Studies Association (ISA) has
hosted public diplomacy pre- and post-conferences. Increasingly, conference papers in
diplomacy studies, foreign policy analysis, international communication, science, technology,
and the arts have included public diplomacy themes (Sevin et al., 2019). Universities beyond the
two dominant graduate programs at the University of Southern California and Syracuse
University are expanding their public diplomacy offerings, including Tsinghua and Beijing
Foreign Studies University (Beiwai in Mandarin, BFSU in English) in China. In 2016, Kyoto
University of Foreign Studies became the first academic institution in Japan to appoint a full-
time public diplomacy professor to direct a concentration in its global studies program. It is clear
that the tragic events of 9/11 in 2001 gave rise to public diplomacy scholarship (Djerejian, 2003;
Melissen, 2005; Zaharna, 2010) as first the United States and then other countries re-evaluated
influencing the global audience and how they told their national story to the world. In the present
era of pandemic, public diplomacy research may rise up again, as it is often the case that utility
values of social research grow “out of actual social needs, tensions, and troubles” (Dewey, 1938,
p. 499). With the addition of the social networking and social media platforms of the 21st
century, younger scholars and graduate students are likely to see the value of adding a public
diplomacy angle to their research, leading to more collaborative and cross-border approaches
that will take the field of study from beyond its dominant shores of the Pacific and the Atlantic to
the Nile, Mediterranean, and the Old Silk Road.
Links to Digital Materials
Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century. Council on Foreign Relations. Washington DC. July 2,
2008. An overview of American elite thinking about public diplomacy five years after Operation
Iraqi Freedom and its beginning known as Operation Shock and Awe. It illustrates the co-
mingling of public diplomacy with the Global War on Terror (GWOT).
Bruce Gregory’s Resources on Diplomacy’s Public Dimension.
accessed January 19, 2019. This site is a comprehensive online resource for all things public
diplomacy and diplomacy to publics. Gregory, Professorial Lecturer at George Washington
University, is a 34-year veteran of federal government service. His scholarship in public
diplomacy is some of the most thought-provoking and philosophical in this genre. Gregory
served as coordinator for the Department of State’s Response to Terrorism Coalition Working
Group on Public Diplomacy and as the State Department’s executive secretary on the Defense
Science Board’s 2001 Task Force on Managed Information Dissemination. He taught public
diplomacy at Georgetown University and the National War College. From 1985–1998, he was
executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and from 2005–2008
he served as director of the Institute of Public Diplomacy at George Washington University.
University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy
The CPD at USC is a comprehensive portal for global public diplomacy scholars and
practitioners with an archive that dates back to 2004. It is regularly updated with PDiN (Public
Diplomacy in the News), CPD Perspectives, an online magazine, and announcements of
meetings and conferences. Its PD Hub offers a fully searchable online library of PD scholarship
and resources. A useful definition of the field that embraces the lack of definitional consensus is
available at What is public diplomacy?
Phil Taylor’s Website. Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds, United
Kingdom
Philip M. Taylor (1954–2010), was co-editor of the first edition of the Routledge Handbook of
Public Diplomacy and author, among other books, of the propaganda history classic book,
Munitions of the Mind. He is a pioneer scholar in international communication and public
diplomacy and served as the founding director of the Institute of Communication Studies. From
1995–2010, he maintained a very useful database of hundreds of sources in public diplomacy,
international and strategic communications, propaganda, military-media relations, psychological
operations, information warfare and information operations. After his death in 2010, the School
of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds archived his website online. A
Facebook group page, Prof. Phil Taylor’s Intellectual Offspring, is dedicated to Dr. Taylor’s
legacy.
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Nancy Snow
Public Diplomacy, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies
Subscriber: OUP-Reference Gratis Access; date: 03 August 2020
... Diplomasi devletlerin, uluslararası alanda varlığını göstermek, çıkarlarını korumak ve devletler arası ilişkilerini savaşa başvurmaksızın barışçıl yollarla sürdürebilmek amacıyla başvurduğu çeşitli araç ve yöntemlerdir (Yıldırım, 2015, s.90). Geleneksel diplomasinin ötesinde, devletler ve diğer uluslararası aktörlerin ulusal çıkarlarını desteklemek adına küresel kamuoyunu bilgilendirmek ve üzerlerinde olumlu yönde etki yaratmak için tasarlanmış, kültürel ve bilgilendirici faaliyetler bütünü ise kamu diplomasisi olarak tanımlanmaktadır (Snow, 2020). Diplomasi, devlet liderleri, devlet temsilcileri veya diğer uluslararası aktörler arasında kurulan ilişkilerle ilgilidir. ...
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