Week 7 — Nation Branding

This week’s readings about nation branding were particularly striking after working with our small group to research and write about Chile’s public diplomacy programs. My portion of the research focused on Fundacion Imagen de Chile, an autonomous organization the Chilean federal government created to coordinate and drive the country’s nation branding campaign.

Much of the discussion in academic articles about the organization focused around a similar question: was the Fundacion a public diplomacy program, or did its focus on nation-branding eliminate it from being classified as that type of diplomacy? As Gyorgi Szondi touches on in his article, “Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences,” the boundaries between the two areas are growing less rigid by the day.

Szondi explains that there are some differences between the two areas: public diplomacy focuses on engaging foreign publics in an ongoing dialogue, while nation-branding tends to be almost like a monologue — the image of one country speaking to another’s population. However, as is regularly pointed out in this field, nation branding has much in common with PR and marketing. While those industries may have been more one-sided in the past, with brand marketers creating content based on their concepts of what will persuade targeted populations, any layman remotely familiar with company brands on Twitter can tell you that marketing is quickly becoming centered around an ongoing dialogue with its client base.

I see the future of nation branding going in a similar direction. As countries begin, particularly those with more democratic societies, it can be difficult enough to ensure that all participating parties (companies, government agencies, etc.) are all on the same page regarding the type of brand the country will promote. It must be even more challenging for a country with a new nation branding campaign to determine what types of concepts, methods, and language will communicate to foreign publics the first country wishes to convey. I see countries engaging more with foreign publics — not just to increase visibility for their own country, but to also determine how their foreign policies are viewed by the foreign populations they imact.

Increased dialogue will hopefully lead to a more thorough understanding of countries’ varying priorities.

–CM

Week 7 — Nation Branding

Week7-Comment Group 1 South Korea PD Analysis

by Chenwu(Violet) Jiang

Group 1’s presentation on south Korea is very proper overview of SK’s public diplomacy. I do like the background and historical trace part. The last point reflects on contemporary SK and international view provided me with a new angle to see the country’s PD issue. From there I can see an actually much modernized country being underestimated by the globe because its historic background, and more importantly by its divided neighbor, North Korea. I also like the government and private sector division. As far as I know, SK and its entirely society and its economy is closely tied to the major players(Samsung, Hyundai, etc). Contrary to list a lists of PD programs held in the private sector, it may add more insights to articulate the big players role there and their relation with the government. In addition, the Pop culture should be a highlight of the PD analytics, however, maybe because it’s slides. The role of pop culture was not developed enough to verify its impacts on public diplomacy. And besides the pop culture initiative, are we missing an impact analysis to stress out its relation to PD?

I think if taken out separately, South Korea’s interaction with North Korea and its impacts on SK’s PD will be a very interesting field to explore. They are historically in union and geographically so closed, in the international realm, they are like brothers who are destined to produce chemicals when being put together.

Switching from contents, I would like to see more variations of design from the slides. Tough clean and simple, in terms of visual presentation, Group 1’s slides lack kind stylish design. The plain black and white layout with bulletin point sentence only to match very excellent articulation that can get very involved presentation feedbacks. I suggest a bit of reedits on the design, perhaps adding images and change another color plan.

Week7-Comment Group 1 South Korea PD Analysis

Comments on Group 1’s Presentation on South Korea’s Public Diplomacy

For our last week’s blog, I decided to comment on Group 1’s PowerPoint file on South Korea’s public diplomacy (PD)–especially, having covered this topic for my final paper last semester in Professor Hayden’s “Global Perspectives on Public Diplomacy.” Unfortunately, both files uploaded on our Blackboard was only PPT files, hence, my response might not cover much in depth.

Overall, I thought the group’s historical overview and assessment of South Korea (Republic of Korea/ROK) was comprehensive and appropriate as a policy recommendation/presentation piece. Formatting and other technicalities appeared to be well-trimmed and straightforward–which is always important for PPT pieces. Content-wise, it was refreshing to see a focus on both government AND private-sector PD initiatives, rather than just the former.

However, I was hoping to see more specific cases spelled out in private-sector PD section. While the file pointed out some major brand players (i.e., Samsung, Hyundai, etc.), I wasn’t completely sure if the private sector was initiating any diverse approach to the overall national PD strategy. One crucial element the private sector has spearheaded (although still needs much improvement and support) is in the form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or educational and training exchanges. Should this topic been explored, I think the project could have been a bit stronger. Also, it would’ve been helpful if the group specified what kind/s of “transparent coordination” or government-private sector-civil society cooperation could work. Again, I understand space is limited on PPT slides, but I think the conclusion and recommendations for a policy recommendation project need to be strong and bottom-line, meaning clearly indicate exactly what policy recommendations one is pitching.

Regardless, I would have loved to see and listen in on this presentation in-person! Also, with the strengths the group PPT possess, I’m sure the actual report was much more distinct and elaborate!

Comments on Group 1’s Presentation on South Korea’s Public Diplomacy

Week 6 Q1-Limitations or Problems with the Turn To New and Social Media for US Public Diplomacy

by Chenwu(Violet) Jiang

During my frequent trips between United States and China, one huge deep impression I have is the different online environment. In China, a lot of US-originated online outlets and social media are blocked, instead, local technology and information giants have developed equivalent complete social media environment to meet citizens’ online social needs. My feeling, to a certain degree, expresses the feeling of US public diplomacy practitioners. Meanwhile, that is also one huge limitation or problem for US public diplomacy.

Censorship and blocking are just one problematic aspect of the use of new media. Since the prerequisite of active social media life is cyberspace, inaccessibility of cyberspace is a top challenge for the use of social media. Inaccessibility here first indicates lacks of infrastructure. Social media won’t make any sense in third world countries which have very few Internet coverage and penetration. Second, shortage of Internet knowledge and social media users also make social media much less powerful than traditional media. PD use of social media can’t be streamed to local target audiences. The third one comes blocking and online censorship. They transfer the should-be worldwide accessible online network to regional. Information givers like US embassy can only present the public with the selective favored message, which conflicts with US’s pursuits of Internet freedom and media freedom.

Social media, as an interactive dialogue space, is born with one social attribute – communication. Users will exert anticipations on PD in their dialogue with them just like they have on dialogue partners. Any sort of misbehavior will give rise to negative feedbacks. For example, lack of response, late response, misuse of word, all of those failed expression will cause troubles, and a lot of them are unnecessary or avoidable by using traditional media.

Tough the magic of new media are highly expected by a lot of practitioners and fields workers and there are equivalent social monitoring technology, measurement of impacts(or effects) of social media use is still in infancy. PD practitioners are lacking eligible measurement tool to prove the effects of social media despite mere counting of likes, subscribers and followers. Furthermore, dummy fan is another factor in the traditional fan club evaluation. Sophisticated methods of measurement must be in development to catch up the use of new and social media.

Regional characteristics count a lot when pondering if PD should turn to full application of social media. However, in any circumstances, the critiques stated above will be challenges for all PD officers whenever and wherever they are going to use social media to do their job.

Week 6 Q1-Limitations or Problems with the Turn To New and Social Media for US Public Diplomacy

Week 7- Wells

Nation-Branding aka “Competitive Identity” refers to the act of enhancing the image of nation via public diplomacy and brand management.  Nation branding is concerned with a country’s whole image on the international stage, covering political, economic and cultural dimensions.  The word “brand” refers to a “complex bundle of images”, meanings, associations, and experiences in the minds of people. This idea is both theoretical and conceptual, and very much effects the relations between nations. A nations brand exists with or without its consent, and without proactively working to improve it, it is easy to be seen in a negative light– i.e. insignificant, outdated, selfish, imperialistic, power-hungry, corrupt, etc. Nations can easily brand themselves by using symbols and visual depictions of the country and on the opposite end of the spectrum, being very difficult to brand, are a nation’s identity, soft power, etc. For this reason, many nations attempt to host events that are seen positively by many countries, for example, China has hosted the Beijing Olympics 2008, EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, the Miss World contest 2012 in Ordos, and the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing 2014. Moreover every year, the People’s Republic plays hosts to somewhat lesser events, such as the Formula-1 Grand Prix, Beijing Auto Salon or WTA-China Open to bring positive publicity. There interesting thing about nation branding is, that even those who critique the idea of nation branding completely, cannot deny that it does and will continue to exist. Like I previously mentioned, a country has a reputation whether or not it means to create one.  Obviously larger, or more politically active countries are more likely to have developed brands, because they are in the lime-light and more susceptible to scrutiny and critique.  It is more common for these nations to feel the need to develop and promote their brand, as a means to counteract criticism and provide a more dynamic image of what their country represents.

Week 7- Wells

Social Media and All for New Public Diplomacy?

In the past few years, we have seen extensive use of social media in hopes to improve the effectiveness of public diplomacy in this extremely globalized, net-interconnected world. From embassies to diverse international organizations (IOs), hashtags, video uploads, and 140 character catchy, memorable phrases have transformed the world of public diplomacy and global governance in an unconventional way. However, this does not mean such creative utilization of social media is without problems–matter of fact, different PD practitioners and scholars continue to analyze and debate the actual “purpose” and positive end goal of this specific medium or “digital diplomacy.” With this in mind, I would like to examine if “social media resolves the tension in public diplomacy between advocacy and relation-building.”

While the Internet and social media create a virtual open space for anyone to access and participate, this particular advantage, is often seen to be a crippling characteristic to “digital diplomacy” as well. As PD pundits and scholars such as Edward Connor, Hamilton Bean, and Matthew Wallin have echoed, social media alone cannot be a concrete and solo-standing public diplomacy strategy. Advocacy and relation-building can’t be assumed to be promoted or solidified just because one ambassador “liked” or retweeted some other government official’s post or picture. Wallin presents a well-planned out paper which states “information v. influence… and awareness does not imply action.” Meaning, as much information or data the online platform is able to spread or expand, does not necessarily translate that these will automatically bear positive or progressive action or influence. As Connor and Bean highlight in their piece, the actuality of “engagement” must be more than just empty promises, missions, and goals. Rather than focusing on just another follow or “like” to measure a certain country’s PD program, it is advisable that governments utilize diverse participatory PD tactics as complementary methods. Rather than focusing on and being carried away by social media and its exceptional power of immediacy, omnidirectional, and rapid expansion, PD officers and practitioners must realize that actual human contact, genuineness, trust, accountability, and open communication must exist along with active digital diplomacy.

Social Media and All for New Public Diplomacy?

Week 6- Wells

3) What does the term “engagement” in the context of public diplomacy? Does it clarify the purpose of PD, or, add to its ambiguity?

 

According to Edward Comor and Hamilton Bean the Obama administration has embraced “engagement” as the “dominant concept informing US public diplomacy”. Engagement strives to “leverage social media and related technologies” which helps convince cynical onlookers to commiserate with American policies. This article largely critiques the notion of engagement, but states that it is “rooted in long-standing public relations and corporate marketing discourses”. They find it fundamentally flawed because of similarly deeply rooted foundations of anti-Americanism. Obama and many of his officials have called for a foreign policy that “uses tools and approaches to match a changing global landscape”—this means connecting with, listening to, and building upon “long-term relationships with key stakeholders”. This notion is what the administration refers to as “engagement”. It is more simply explained as the “process of interaction and dialogue with foreign publics”, although this is not a new notion, the Obama administration specifically took more of a “mutual understanding” approach, as oppose to the older more direct approaches. At first I thought engagement just described what public diplomacy officials are doing everyday, but this article argues that the meaning of engagement itself can change. It implies different approaches to public diplomacy in general, depending on the administration/ time (in this article comparing the current with former administrations). Currently, various forms of engagement, such as: social media, exchange programs, wikis, and other digital communication “collectively” refer to the term “public diplomacy”. While it used to simply be an aspect of the greater notion of public diplomacy, this article states that it is quickly becoming the guiding concept. This engagement can be government-to-government, government-to-citizen, or even citizen-to-citizen. The term “engagement” doesn’t so much clarify the purpose of public diplomacy as provide a huge definition for means by which communication can occur within the sphere of PD.

Week 6- Wells