Digital Diplomacy – The Public Diplomat a dialogue about public diplomacy Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:11:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 [LISTEN] U.S. Public Diplomacy in a Digital Context Thu, 01 May 2014 19:21:09 +0000 The US Department of State is transitioning into a digital context and public diplomacy is evolving in the process.


Michael Ardaiolo discusses the U.S. public diplomacy’s shift toward a digital world with Dr. Craig Hayden.

Dr. Craig Hayden is an assistant professor in the International Communication Program at American University’s School of International Service. His current research focuses on the discourse of public diplomacy, the rhetoric of foreign policy related to media technologies, as well as the impact of global media and media convergence on international relations. His current book project, “Diplomatic Convergence: Information Technologies and US Public Diplomacy” explores the transformative potential of digital media technology on the practices and discourses of public diplomacy. He is also the author of “The Rhetoric of Soft Power: Public Diplomacy in Global Contexts.”


photo credit: Mashable

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[LISTEN] The BBG’s Role in U.S. Public Diplomacy Fri, 28 Mar 2014 20:05:50 +0000 What differentiates U.S. international broadcasters from parallel outlets sponsored by other governments? The BBG.


Michael Ardaiolo and Dr. Guy Golan discuss the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ role in U.S. public diplomacy with Lynne Weil.

Lynne Weil is the director of communications and external affairs for the BBG. She is a senior strategist on communications and outreach activities as well as the Board’s chief advisor for Congressional and external affairs. She joined the BBG in 2012, after spending the past two years working for the U.S. State Department, first as the Press Director and Spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development and then as a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

A Look Back at KONY2012: A Divisive Game-Changer Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:36:24 +0000 While the KONY2012 campaign is now remembered for controversy, it was also a crucial public diplomacy game-changer.

This is a summary of a more in-depth article that was published in 2013 edition of The Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy. Read the full article here.

In March 2012, the non-governmental organization Invisible Children (IC) launched the most viral video campaign in history: KONY2012. It was the fourteenth campaign IC had undertaken to advocate for the capture of Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa. Although the success of this campaign continues to be divided along the lines of Kony’s continued freedom and the “slacktivist” movement that followed the film, IC and this campaign stand as examples of the new actors and campaigns emerging to reshape the realm of public diplomacy.

Public diplomacy cultivates the power of the people through strategic communication between the state, the non-state actors, and the people. It is a form of diplomacy that recognizes the power of public voice and uses it to achieve a policy change that can cross borders as well as arbitrary divisions. There are three essential aspects to all public diplomacy efforts: interaction with a foreign public, foreign policy aims in the foreign country, and influence over the foreign public to pressure their government toward the foreign policy aims. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, the power of the people has begun to unfold on the world stage giving rise to what has become known as ‘new public diplomacy’ where the actors are increasingly non-state effectively wielding soft power.

Cover-page-001-231x300“KONY2012: The New Face of Citizen Engagement” focuses on the evolving concept of this new public diplomacy and uses the KONY2012 campaign as an illustrative example of what is possible when people are effectively activated towards a foreign policy aim. The article breaks down the nongovernmental components of public diplomacy and examines the evolution of new public diplomacy as a field of practice. It explores the rising prominence of both soft power and public relations on the global stage, highlighting the importance of strategic relationships and effective communications. The article discusses some of the public diplomacy tools that were used in the campaign to harness successfully the power of people around the world, most notably American’s, to influence governmental foreign policy. Tools such as social media, action and education, and strategic planning enabled IC to engage, activate, and mobilize public opinion around the issue of the war in Central Africa and the need to capture warlord and International Criminal Court indictee Joseph Kony.

Examining KONY2012 as it relates to other advocacy campaigns, this article systematically walks through six important elements that made this campaign more successful than any before: listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy, exchange diplomacy, international broadcasting, and psychological warfare. Combining these different elements of the public relations campaign produced outstanding results in the areas of media coverage and monetary contributions as well as bringing Joseph Kony more international notoriety and enhancing the progress in capturing him through increased foreign policy support.

Through an analysis of many of the critiques of the campaign, this article essentially shows how no public diplomacy or public relations campaign can guarantee the capture of a warlord; but it can activate the public toward the issue, which in turn puts pressure on their governments to catch him. As with any public diplomacy effort, change takes time and constant pursuit. Continually listening to audience feedback and measuring programming is essential to achieving sustainable relationships with any audience.

The increasing interconnectedness of the world and the ability to harness the power of the public is enabling new players to be given a seat at the international diplomatic table. This change is both a symbol of the world’s rising global consciousness and the ability of people to decide what matters and what the government should be working on. Finally, IC and its novel use of public diplomacy shows a change in attention game: elites are forced to compete with nonprofits for power over policy as the public is increasingly finding its own voice. It shows that people, even those of the younger generations, now have the power to influence government in a way never seen before.

PDcast #15: Political Ambassadorships & Twiplomacy Fri, 21 Feb 2014 17:50:35 +0000 Should we be concerned about the buying of political ambassadorships?  And, is Twiplomacy public diplomacy at all?

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Jennifer OsiasJulia WatsonAdam Cyr, and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: Buying politically-appointed ambassadorships

To Read/Watch:

Who Scores the Best Embassies? | Slate, Eric Posner

Are Political Appointees the Only U.S. Diplomats Who Haven’t Been to the Country to Which They Are Assigned? | Huffington Post, John Brown


Topic 2: @BarackObama and the troubling facade of Twitter diplomacy

To Read/Watch:

Basically, @BarackObama Is a Parody Twitter Account | The Wire, Philip Bump




Adam: Coffee to Soybeans Surge as Brazil Drought Damages Crops | Bloomberg News

Ukraine peace deal signed, opens way for early election | Reuters

Julia: Council on Foreign Relation’s Interactives

Jennifer: Defense One

Michael: Propaganda and American Democracy by Nancy Snow

China in ‘House of Cards’ | ChinaFile

[LISTEN] Ukraine’s Cold War in the Social Media Age Tue, 04 Feb 2014 15:00:09 +0000 The tug-of-war for Ukraine’s public is classic Cold War, but today’s landscape for communication is very different.


Dr. Guy Golan and Michael Ardaiolo discuss the role of social media and international broadcasting in the ongoing protests in Ukraine with Dr. Milana Nikolko and Andrea Chalupa.

Dr. Milana Nikolko is an adjunct research professor at Carleton University’s Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. She is also the director of the Institute for Social Anthropology in Ukraine, an NGO that promotes local scientific discourse with the aim of improving research on matters of social importance in the post-Soviet region.

Andrea Chalupa is a writer, journalist and producer based in New York. She helped launch online video for Condé Nast Portfolio and AOL Money & Finance, and is the author of Orwell and the Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm. Andrea is a co-founder of Digital Maidan, an online movement that made the Ukranian protest the number 1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide.


photo credit: Flickr/mac_ivan

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PDcast #11: Diplomacy 3.0 & Modern Art Diplomacy Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:00:08 +0000 Carl Bildt is pushing for diplomacy’s digital evolution; and Hyundai sponsors the Tate Modern to promote S. Korea.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Julia WatsonAdam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic 1: Carl Bildt‘s Diplohacks and the possible coming of diplomacy 3.0

To read:

Sweden’s early adopter foreign minister on crafting digital diplomacy | Wired UK, by Liat Clark

Diplohack: where diplomats admit they’re sick of talking and want a digital revolution | Wired UK, by Liat Clark

Diplomacy 3.0 Starts in Stockholm | Huffington Post, by Andreas Sandre


Topic 2: Corporations and cultural diplomacy

To read:

Cultural diplomacy in the Turbine Hall? | BBC, by Will Gompertz



Adam: Australian great white shark hunting

Australia to Launch Great White Shark Hunt | Wall Street Journal

Julia: Tunisian rappers

Check out El Général, Lak3y, BaltiArmada Bizerte

Michael: gay U.S. ambassadors & political scandal swapping

The Changing Face of Diplomacy | The Advocate

La Maison Blanche | The Economist


photo credit: Utrikesdepartementet / Swedish MFA

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[LISTEN] The State of Canadian Public Diplomacy Tue, 21 Jan 2014 15:00:54 +0000 In Canada, internal public diplomacy agenda-setting is being overshadowed by economic and social media diplomacies.


Michael Ardaiolo discusses the state of Canadian public diplomacy and its shift toward social media engagement with David Carment.

David Carment is a full Professor of International Affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University and Fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI). He is also a NATO Fellow and listed in Who’s Who in International Affairs. In addition Professor Carment serves as the principal investigator for the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy project (CIFP).

photo credit: Declan McCullagh

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#Euromaidan-2013: A Civil Society Converged Online Wed, 08 Jan 2014 16:04:23 +0000 Euromaidan was the convergence of civil society demands in Kiev, and it was sparked by a single social media post.

Throughout the last decade, information communication technologies have fundamentally reshaped our social interactions. In addition to obvious benefits brought to us by technological innovations, intrinsically there is more than just catering to individual needs. On the macro level, by providing citizens with abundant opportunities to exercise freedom of speech and expression, the Internet becomes an asset for democracy, hence a major political game-changer. This fall, amidst the relentless fight defending its civilizational choice, Ukraine took benefit of one of the above-mentioned civilizational advancements, namely the social networks.

The phenomenon of social networks’ proliferation has added an additional dimension to Internet usage worldwide, making it possible to create and exchange user-generated content with global audiences online. The U.S. presidential elections of 2008 clearly demonstrated the impact social media have on politics. Incidentally, social media turned out to be a double-edged sword: five years ago, one used it to get to power; on present day, it has been used by millions to overthrow the authorities. In all seriousness, the entire Euromaidan initiative in Ukraine began with a single Facebook post: immediately following the news of President Yanukovych’s decision to repudiate the Association Agreement with the EU, Mustafa Nayem (a popular blogger and journalist) wrote a status update inciting people to gather on the Independence Square in Kiev for a protest. The message went viral, got 1600 reposts, and gathered over 300 protesters in less than an hour. Before the dawn broke, thousands of peaceful demonstrators were rallying in downtown Kiev while other cities kicked in: from Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk to Hamburg, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Ukrainians all over the world have taken a stand against the corrupt government, their efforts united and catalyzed by social media.

Social networks provide outstanding opportunities for multilateral interactions, wherefore they are oftentimes embedded in various e-governance systems. In the context of Euromaidan, it would be fair to give credit to social media for serving as a platform for civil self-organization and governance, by the agency of which a spontaneous civil unrest has evolved into a sustainable and effective military encampment. Some bloggers audaciously proclaim Euromaidan to be a reincarnation of the legendary Zaporizhzhya Sichreinstating the long-forgotten Cossacks’ democratic legacy and national self-determination through the three centuries of subjugation. Ideology aside, Euromaidan has displayed a remarkable online-coordinated division of labor: defense squads, field cuisines, first aid, cleanup, accommodation, transportation, and logistics, all volunteer-based.

According to Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, over half of Internet users (the rate of adult population with internet access being 50%) admit to social networking. It might be plausibly concluded that, by providing over a quarter of a country’s population with a multitude of opportunities to express their opinion, social media gave a boost to citizen journalism in Ukraine. Likewise, due to the abundance of petition tools available online, citizens have been petitioning foreign governments for a variety of sanctions: banning President Yanukovych and his cabinet members from entry into other countries (gathered 100,000 signatures in 4 days); reinforcing corporate social responsibility policies on Ukrainian oligarchs worldwide; and even some ambiguous ones, such as requests for a military intervention. In addition to petitioning, many internet users have effectively engaged social media to offer free legal advice or gather evidence to exonerate activists, beaten and imprisoned during police crackdowns. Social networks have largely contributed to successful locating of persons missing after the riots (all 30 individuals found and reunited with families).There has also been a tremendously efficient fundraising campaign to start an independent online channel, ‘Hromadske (Public) TV’: a startup venture that had been raising an average of 70,000 UAH (approx. $8,500) daily, mainly owing to social networks.

“Democracy only works when ordinary people claim it as their own.” This arguable statement by Bill Moyers coheres with Ukrainian reality, where civil society took a defiant stance against the establishment through massive grassroots activism. Social media had not only let Ukraine acknowledge the affinity and ongoing support from the outside world, but also spread inspiration for the world’s oppressed. Now that the fourth estate has emerged as the fifth column, regardless of disinformation and chauvinistic propaganda from Kremlin, a 45-million person nation has been given a valid chance to win their struggle for democracy.

photo credit: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Yeni Diplomasi’s Review of Digital Diplomacy in 2013 Mon, 30 Dec 2013 18:55:19 +0000 Yeni Diplomasi, a Turkish website that covers all things digital diplomacy, released their review of 2013 last week. Gökhan Yücel and his crew compiled an impressive list of awards in this presentation:

While it is correct to read this as a slight self-pat on the back (we were awarded the “Best Digital Diplomacy Blog” award!!!), there are just too many quality resources here to not compile a list of links. So, as you look forward to 2014, here are many of the most noteworthy actors and issues of which you should be paying attention:


State of the Year: #Iran


Cartoon of the Year: iran-facebook-cartoon (This is actually a few years old though. Kudos to the prescient cartoonist.)


Head of State of the Year: Hassan Rouhani (Iran)


Digital Diplomacy Strategy of the YearForeign Office (FCO) (UK)


Foreign Ministers of the Year: Carl Bildt (Sweden) & Javad Zarif (Iran)


Portal of the Year (Ministry): Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Digital Diplomacy (UK)


Digital Diplomacy Team of the Year: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden


Digital Diplomacy Team Leaders of the Year: Adam Bye (UK) & Petrit Selimi (Kosovo)


Social Media Team of the Year: UN Media Team


Social Network of the Year: Twitter


Ambassador of the Year: Tom Fletcher (British Ambassador to Lebanon)


Digital Engagement of the Year (Embassy): UK in Lebanon


Digital Engagement of the Year (Portal): (Kosovo) & (US)


Twitter Engagement of the Year (State): @Sweden


Tweet of the Year:


Conversation of the Year:


Video of the Year:


Instagram Activation of the Year: Once in a Lifetime (Israel)


Facebook Engagement of the Year (State): Kosovo


Facebook Engagement of the Year (Embassy): US Embassy in Jakarta


YouTube Engagement of the Year (Ministry): Germany


YouTube Engagement of the Year (Embassy): UK in Lebanon


Digital Diplomacy Advocate of the Year: Andreas Sandre


Special Profiles of the Year: Matthias Lüfkens & E-Diplomacy


Minister’s Blog Article of the Year: “Digital Diplomacy: Adapting Our Diplomatic Engagement” by John Kerry


Diplomat’s Blog of the Year (Bilingual): Leigh Turner (UK)


#Selfie Diplomacy of the Year: Barack Obama, David Cameron & Helle Thorning-Schmidt

photo credit: Roberto Schmidt, AFPGetty Images

photo credit: Roberto Schmidt, AFPGetty Images


Digital Agenda of the Year: European Union


Global Study of the Year: Twiplomacy


Non-Global Study of the Year: “The Gezi Park Incident” Evaluation Report by Siege Arts


Book of the YearThe New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen


Suggested Reading in 2014: Cyberspace & International Relations edited by Jan-Frederick Kremer & Benedikt Müller


Think-Tank Publication of the Year: The Digital Diplomacy Revolution: Why Is Canada Lagging Behind? by Roland Paris


Private Sector Publication of the Year: Digital Diplomacy and the #G8 by Portland


Digital Diplomacy Blog of the Year (Analysis): The Public Diplomat (Yeah!!) Journal Article of the Year: “Rethinking popular geopolitics in the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty dispute: Creative diplomacy and citizen statecraft” by Alasdair Pinkerton & Matt Benwell


Student Work of the Year: “Social Media in Public Diplomacy: Twitter and DC Embassies: Part 1 / Part 2” by Jeanette Gaida


B.A. Dissertation of the Year: “British Senior Diplomats’ use of Twitter: A content analysis” by David Folley


M.A. Dissertation of the Year: “Twitter as an Instrument of Public Diplomacy: A Case Study of Sweden and Germany” by Helen Hoffman


Ph.D. Dissertation of he Year: “American Statecraft for a Global Digital Age: Warfare, Diplomacy and Culture in a Segregated World” by Omar A. El-Khairy


Regional Focus of the Year: “The Arab World Online: Trends in Internet Usage in the Arab Region” by the Dubai School of Government


e-Book of the Year: Twitter for Diplomats by Andreas Sandre


Scholars of the Year (Digital Sociology & Anthropology): Marc Smith, Michael Wesch, Leon WattsZeynep Tufekci


Media Outlet of the Year: The Huffington Post


Op-Eds of the Year:

“Digital diplomacy: facing a future without borders” by Jimmy Leach

“4 Years of Digital Diplomacy and Change” by Alan W. Silberberg

“The New Golden Age of Diplomacy” by Gergely Polner

“A Revolution in Digital Diplomacy” by Brett Daniel Shehadey

“Digital diplomacy: here to stay and worth the risk?” by Stuart Hughes

“‘Fast Diplomacy’: The Future of Foreign Policy?” by Andreas Sandre

“Diplomacy and the Digital Age” by Arturo Sarukhan


Interviews of the Year: Alec Ross

“Alec Ross: Diplomacy in the Digital Age” by Maysam Ali

“The Future of Digital Diplomacy: An Interview With Alec Ross” by Alex Fitzpatrick

“Exit Interview: Alec Ross on Internet Freedom, Innovation and Digital Diplomacy” by Alexander Howard


Newspaper/Magazine Reports of the Year:

“Prime Minister’s Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles” by Barak Ravid

“Kosovo Attains Status (on Facebook) It Has Sought for Years: Nation” by Dan Bilefsky

“Kosovo’s Digital Diplomats” by Philip Boyes


Think-Tank of the Year: The Brookings Institute


Research Centers of the Year: Oxford Internet Institute & MIT Media Lab


Digital Firm of the Year: Burson Marsteller


Cultural Diplomacy Project of the Year: #Turkayfe


Digital Diaspora Accounts of the Year: World Uyghur Congress & No Sochi 2014


Digital Diaspora Study of the Year: E-Diasporas


Digital Diaspora Book of the Year: Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan contact zones at the BBC World Service (1932-2012) edited by Marie Gillespie & Alban Webb


Digital City Diplomacy of the Year: Dubai (@DXBMediaOffice, @SmartGov_Dubai, @DubaiExcellence)


Digital Corporate Diplomacy of the Year: Turkish Airlines


Digital Country Branding of the Year: Sweden


Digital Diplomacy Quote of the Year:

As a prime minister of Kosovo, I found it difficult to accept that I have to declare myself as being from Serbia. Being listed by Facebook was like being recognized by a global economic superpower. It has enormous impact. — Hashim Tachi


Most Popular TweetQuote of the Year:


International Organization of the Year: UN Refugee Agency 


Visualization of the Year: Mapping @DFATDCanada


Visualization of the Year (Corporate): Coordinated Migration by Facebook Data Science Team


Data Journalism of the Year: The Guardian’s DataBlog


Big Data Project of the Year: GDELT Events Database


Dataset of the Year: World Leader Twitter Directory by @VITweeple


Travel Portal & App of the Year: Peru


Travel Advisory App of the Year (Ministry): Conseils aux Voyageurs (France)


Innovation of the Year: World’s First Digitally Signed International Agreement (Finland & Estonia)


Public-Private Partnership of the Year: U.S. State Department MOOC Camps


Start-Up of the Year: Diplomatify


Digital Game of the Year: Trace Effects


Search Engine of the Year: Hshtags


Academic Program of the Year: Bahcesehir University’s Digital Diplomacy Program (Turkey)


Netizens of the Year: Iranians


Professional Event of the Year: Digital Diplomacy Open House by the Digital Diplomacy Coalition


Conference of the Year: Digital Diplomacy + Social Good Forum by the Digital Diplomacy Coalition


Professional Group of the Year: The Digital Diplomacy Coalition


Pioneer of the Year: 10th Anniversary of Tech@State


Newcomer of the Year: by Andra Alexandru


Disappointment of the Year: The e-Diplomacy Hub


Failure of the Year: Syria


Job Vacancy of the Year: Part Time Digital Diplomacy Officer (UK)

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PDcast #9: Looking Forward to 2014 Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:00:28 +0000 We look toward 2014 and discuss our predictions, fears and hopes for the public diplomacy field in the year ahead.

The PDcast is a weekly podcast featuring Julia WatsonAdam Cyr and Michael Ardaiolo discussing the trending public diplomacy topics. Subscribe now in iTunes.

The conversation continues using @Public_Diplomat and #PDcast. Send us your questions, comments and suggestions throughout the week, and we will use them for the next show.


Topic: Our hopes and predictions for public diplomacy in 2014.