Conference Report: Strategic Communication in Countries Emerging from Violent Conflict

A report worth reviewing from a June 2009 conference in England. Some interesting (good and bad) highlights:

[The] “new despotism of bureaucracy”, in which no-one is held properly accountable, must be replaced by “a common doctrine” if success is to be achieved.

Phillip Breeden, of the US Embassy in London, suggested that public diplomacy can be divided into two parts. The first is communication: the use of old and new forms of media to disseminate messages to target audiences. The second is engagement: the promotion of greater mutual understanding through exchange and cultural outreach programmes.

the Taliban are very media-savvy in communicating their message to an international audience, using YouTube, camera phones and readily available spokespeople. Moreover, they have a good knowledge of which local media are best placed to reach the population, and which issues are most important to local communities. This is demonstrated with current Taliban media operations in Pakistan.

… CNN opened [a] discussion by describing how CNN is adapting to the new media landscape. … bloggers and citizen journalists help to tip-off the larger networks to new developments as they happen.

My read of the report indicates many of the panelists did not grasp the utility and function of “new media” and similarly failed to grasp the convergence of “new” and “old” into “now media”. It also appeared that some of the those who did seem to “get it” were out of step with the communicative power of policy itself.

The report is worth a skim. Nothing significant jumped out of the report to me, although it was reaffirming that many senior leaders and actor require more education on the modern information environment.


  • Understanding and Engaging ‘Now Media’ professional development course – a professional development course examining the convergence of "new media" and "old media" into "now media" with the purpose of educating and empowering the student to be a more effective information actor.
  • Smith-Mundt Symposium Report (PDF, 387kb) – The January 13, 2009, symposium, subtitled “A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse”, was a frank and open discussion included a diverse group of stakeholders, practitioners, and observers from Congress, the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and outside of government, many of whom never had a reason to be in the same room with one another before, to discuss public diplomacy, strategic communication, or whatever their particular "tribe" calls information and perception warfare.