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Matt Armstrong's blog on public diplomacy, international journalism, and the struggle against propaganda

Thank you, Mom

If you have not seen the Proctor & Gamble marketing campaign entitled “Thank you, Mom“, you really should. An Olympic Partner for London 2012, the campaign will run for these last 100 days before the start of the summer games.  It is the largest campaign in P&G’s 174-year history.

The campaign launched with the digital release of the short film “Best Job,” a moving celebration of mom’s raising great kids and Olympians, according to a press release. The video was shot on four continents with local actors and athletes from each location — London, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles and Beijing — and will be found online, across social media, TV, and print.*

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“Policy is about people”

This week, Tara Sonenshine was formally sworn-in as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs by Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton’s introductory remarks were personal, insightful, and deeply supportive of public diplomacy and of Tara. While the Secretary’s comments are not available online, she began by emphasizing the importance of public diplomacy when she said the Constitution begins “with We the People, not We the Government.”

Tara’s theme was the same: policy is about people. It may seem obvious to some, but it has yet to be internalized by all, whether in the Department or across the other agencies.

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The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Under Secretaries

By Brian Carlson

The following originally appeared at the Public Diplomacy Council and is republished here with permission.  

Tara Sonenshine was confirmed Thursday night by the Senate, and she will probably take office officially early this week.  (She can be sworn in privately by some current official and begin work, even as a more formal ceremony is planned for a few weeks hence.)

It is a new beginning down at Foggy Bottom.  Tara becomes only the seventh Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs since the job was created upon the merger of USIA into the Department in 1999.

It is a propitious time to consider what habits lead to  success at the State Department, as well as what experience teaches about being the nation’s Olympic spear-catcher when they think we’re being out-communicated by some guy in a cave.  Here are a few suggestions for how to succeed at this job, all gathered from my time working directly with five of the six previous Under Secretaries.  (I had no contact with Margaret Tutwiler.)

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Winning Hearts and Minds in the Information Age at ISA

There will be a healthy (and impressive) number of panels and roundtables at next week’s Annual Convention for the International Studies Association (ISA) in San Diego.  These include: Understanding Public Diplomacy in Different Contexts: Issues of Culture, Science and Power;  Public Diplomacy 2.0; Public Diplomacy and New Media in the Information Age; and others.

I’ll be at ISA Sunday through Tuesday.  Besides attending various panels, I will be the discussant for one, “Winning Hearts an Minds in the Information Age.”  This panel starts at 8:15a Tuesday, April 3, in the Hospitality Suite #1501.  About the panel:

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American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination


One of the most important public diplomacy books you have never heard of is American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination by Barry Sanders.  An adjunct professor of Communications Studies at UCLA, an international corporate lawyer, President of the Board of Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Barry provides a unique, fascinating, and worthwhile exploration of the opportunities and risks of American global engagement.

In American Avatar, Barry looks at narratives, their foundations and  trajectories.  “Now more than ever,” Barry writes, “foreign views of the United States also affects its national security.”

As a panelist at the November 2011 meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Barry explained that stories at the heart of everything: the study and practice of law, movies, group membership, and more.

Barry was in DC to discuss his book earlier this month.  Watch this meeting and read a discussion here.

I recommend Barry’s book for students and practitioners of strategic communication and public diplomacy.

Freedom of and to information and public confidence

On March 28, 2012, Gallup and the BBG will discuss how the world’s populations perceive media freedom within their countries and citizens’ confidence in their media.

The one-hour public meeting starts at 10:00am at the Gallup building at 901 F Street, NW, Washington, DC.  RSVP at this link.

Featured will be BBG Governor Michael Meehan, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, BBG Director of Strategy and Director Bruce Sherman, and Gallup Research Consultant Cynthia English.

See also:

 

SAGE: independent strategic communication for America

Public opinion has always had a major role in foreign policy, national security, and a strong economy.  And yet, there is little argument that the United States lags in its ability to effectively understand, inform, engage, and empower people in the conduct of foreign affairs.  The notable exception is domestic politics, but success in the global arena has typically been the product of a few smart people often working around the system.  Call it public diplomacy or strategic communication, the ability to communicate and empower is essential to diplomacy, development, and defense, all of which are the foundation for any country’s, or organization’s, physical and economic security.

Strengthening America’s Global Engagement, or SAGE, is intended to provide America a “flexible, entrepreneurial, and tech-savvy partner” that can work in situations and other partners that the U.S. Government cannot or should not to “collaborate, support, and enhance initiatives” of engagement.

Yesterday, the business plan for SAGE was publicly released at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  Speaking were Jane Harmon, Paula Dobriansky, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Brad Minnick, and Goli Ameri.

Download the final plan at MountainRunner: SAGE: creating an independent strategic communication organization for America (PDF, 1.3mb).
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A Call to Action on Public Diplomacy

By Morris “Bud” Jacobs

The mission of public diplomacy is generally described as seeking to “understand, engage, inform and influence” foreign publics and elites in support of national policy objectives. Public diplomacy has been practiced, in one form or another, for a long time – think Benjamin Franklin in France, charming the nobility to garner support for the American colonies in their struggle for independence. Its modern origins include the first broadcast of the Voice of America in February 1942 (VOA celebrates its 70th anniversary this spring) and the establishment of the Office of War Information in June of that year.

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The President’s National Framework for Strategic Communication (and Public Diplomacy) for 2012

It should be common knowledge that the “information consequences of policy ought always be taken into account, and the information man ought always to be consulted. This statement, from 1951, is reflected in Eisenhower’s dictum of the next year that “everything we say, everything we do, and everything we fail to say or do will have its impact in other lands.” It was understood then that words and deeds needed more than just synchronization: public opinion could be leveraged to support and further the execution of foreign policy.

What was true then is more so in a modern communication environment of empowerment. The interconnected systems of Now Media, spanning offline and online mediums, democratizes influence, and undermines traditional models of identity and allegiance as demands on assimilation fade as “hyphens” become commas. What emerges is a new marketplace for loyalty that bypasses traditional barriers of time, geography, authority, hierarchy, culture, and language. Information flows much faster; at times it is instantaneous, decreasing the time allowed to digest and comprehend the information, let alone respond to it. Further, information is now persistent, allowing for time-shifted consumption and reuse, for ill or for good. People too can travel the globe with greater ease and increased speed.

It is in this evolving environment that the President issued an updated “National Framework for Strategic Communication” for 2012 (3.8mb PDF, note: the PDF has been fixed and should be once again visible to all). This report updates the 2010 report issued last March that was little more than a narrative on how the Government was organized for strategic communication. The report is required under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009.

Some highlights from the 2012 Framework:
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