Many use “strategic communication” (the singular form is most common) and “public diplomacy” as synonyms. While I have done the same, they are actually different. In the enduring debate over the definitions of “strategic communication” and “public diplomacy”, one thing is certain: strategic communication is global and public diplomacy is non-US (or external the geographic territory of the 50 United States but possibly not the territories and possessions).
It is then ironic and mildly amusing to find a job opening for a “Strategic Communications Officer” at State in USAJobs:
This position is located in the Office of Policy, Programs, and Resources supporting the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and serves as Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications. The incumbent plays an important leadership role in proposing and developing programmatic public diplomacy initiatives within the Department and throughout the federal government.
The irony is that the Under Secretary does not to global engagement, specifically the Under Secretary does not do US engagement. That is the job of Public Affairs which she “owns” in title only. US (public affairs) and non-US (public diplomacy) engagement operations by the Under Secretary’s office is so bifurcated that the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs is operationally equal to rather than a subordinate under the Under Secretary. Unless the “Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications” is going to bridge the PA/PD gap in State, specifically within “R”, the title serves little purpose but to dilute and confuse the definition of “public diplomacy.” Is OPPR a step behind and adopting “strategic communication” at a time when the chief user of the title – DOD – backing away? Why is this position not the “Senior Advisor for Public Diplomacy”?