Congratulations Melanie Ciolek!

imageCongratulations to Melanie Ciolek on winning the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s Prize for Best Student Paper for 2010. Melanie’s paper, How Social Media Contributes to Public Diplomacy: Why Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook Outreach Improves Understanding of the Limitations and Potential for the State Department’s Use of Social Media, was published on this blog back in June.

Melanie wrote “How Social Media Contributes to Public Diplomacy” as a student in my Public Diplomacy and Technology (PUBD510) last semester. (See and comment on the draft syllabus for Spring 2011.)

In the interest of informed debate on Public Diplomacy

By Craig Hayden

I am curious to hear the following statement, made by one of America’s preeminent critics of public diplomacy thinking, clarified a bit more:

All too many academic theories about PD are incomprehensible, pompously-expressed “concepts” from persons — among them rightfully esteemed tenured professors whose intelligence is all too often joined with a tactless inability to handle the last three feet of person-to-person contact — who have never actually worked as diplomats in the field of “public diplomacy,” which they pontificate about, often too assuredly, from their ivory towers on comfortable campuses so distant from what some call the “real world.”

The quote appeared in a recent article on the Huffington Post. Truth be told, I am admittedly a fan of John Brown and his frequent skewerings of pretension (unless, of course, such barbs are leveled at my alma mater, then I’m shamelessly hypocritical). But it made me pause. Perhaps Dr. Brown was being polite, but I think we need to put some sort of name to the real troublemakers that Brown is alluding to.

Continue reading “In the interest of informed debate on Public Diplomacy”

A (Digital) Revolution in Latin America

By James Davis

If Barack Obama’s campaign introduced American voters to the raw power of the web to win elections, the come-from-behind victory of Juan Manuel Santos as President of Colombia showed that e-democracy works even in places where democracy itself is fragile.

Santos, a conservative-leaning Defense Minister under popular incumbent President Àlvaro Uribe, ultimately won election on June 20 in a 2-to-1 blowout, racking up 69 percent of the vote. But on the day 38 -ear-old Ravi Singh from Washington-based Electionmall.com arrived in Colombia, Santos’ campaign was clearly in trouble, with polls showing Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus’ reformist Green Party within striking distance of victory in the first round of voting on May 30.

"We were being crushed by the ‘Green Wave,’" explains Luis German Lopez, who was Singh’s liaison with local campaign operatives.

Mockus had captured the imaginations of an increasingly tech-savvy Colombian population utilizing innovative social media techniques: by the time Singh and his team came on board, the Greens had accumulated nearly 700,000 Facebook friends and a big Twitter following. Santos, the establishment candidate, had virtually no online presence at all.

Continue reading “A (Digital) Revolution in Latin America”

Engaging in a Now Media Continuum

By Chris Dufour

image This post is based on Chris Dufour’s presentation at the MountainRunner Institute’s Now Media 6 July 2010 seminar. This seminar will be held again in 2010, so stay tuned.

This past Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, I got the opportunity to speak as part of the MountainRunner Institute‘s “Now Media” seminar at the National Press Club. For the less sharp-eyed out there, I’ve been proud to call Matt Armstrong (MRi President and a highly AWESOME blogger) a friend for some time… even before he provided the first forum for Must. Be. AWESOME!!! in its proto-stage. A few months ago, Matt asked me to help him transform his blog, MountainRunner, into a full-fledged nonprofit institute devoted to the study of and conversations about public diplomacy and strategic communication.

One of MRi’s key offerings is a seminar Matt honchos about “Now Media,” his concept of understanding the existing and emerging media environment as it relates to influence and engagement. These seminars give us an opportunity to wrap up everything we learn into something useful for communication practitioners. At this particular event, we had attendees from the U.S. Marine Corps public affairs team, the State Department, and even a contingent of Indonesian bloggers visiting the States on a State Department exchange.

Continue reading “Engaging in a Now Media Continuum”

Al Qaeda publishes an English language magazine

cover.PNGMarc Ambinder reports at The Atlantic Al Qaeda is now publishing an English-language magazine.

As the U.S. struggles to manage its efforts to influence opinion about Al Qaeda abroad, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has produced its first English-language propaganda magazine.

The table of contents teases an interview with the leader of AQAP who promises to "answer various questions pertaining to the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula."  It includes a feature about how to "make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
AQAP’s first effort to post the magazine to jihadist websites failed Wednesday, as many of the pages were contaminated with a virus. (I half seriously believe that U.S. cyber warriors might have had a hand in that little surprise.)
The US is quite worried about Al Qaeda’s new publishing ambitions, which mark a more sophisticated effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause.

This is a logical – and surprisingly overdue – next step by the largely information-savvy Al Qaeda. It will be interesting to see how the magazine is received, if and how Al Qaeda adapts to feedback, and ultimately if Al Qaeda can adhere to a regular publishing schedule.

USA Lost and other depressing news

Team USA lost to Ghana in the World Cup in a contest that went into extra time. The referring was not quite the factor it was in previous games, but the referee yesterday should have warned and even penalized Ghana for delay of game and pretending to be fouled. He did neither but in the end, that did not change the fact Team USA could not put the ball in the net, despite several good opportunities to do so.

South Korea, another team I hoped would make it to the next round, was also defeated.

Also depressing is the nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors have yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Senator Lugar’s report and Huffington Post article on the BBG has apparently had no effect on the primary opposition, which is still apparently Senator Tom Coburn. Hopefully the nominees will be confirmed immediately when the Senate returns.

Finally, my vacation in Hawaii is sadly coming to an end. However, on the brighter side, within hours of my return to the mainland, I’ll be on a plane to the 9th Annual Information Operations Europe Conference in London where I will speak on Tuesday about the convergence of old and new media. My presentation will focus on Wikileaks as an online propagandist whose products and influence transcend mediums as well as the timely if unfortunate example of the General McChrystal / Rolling Stone story.

Lastly, the upcoming seminar Now Media: Engagement Based on Information not Platforms takes place July 6 in Washington, DC. There is still space so sign up now. I will extend the “Early Bird” pricing to Wednesday, June 30. On July 1, the price goes up $100.

Lastly, you may have heard that the US military has renamed Psychological Operations (PSYOP) to Military Information Support Operations (MISO). Soup (and other) jokes aside, here is the memo from the Department of the Army that describes the change with the “direction and consensus of our most senior military leadership.”

MountainRunner in the UK for a public diplomacy conference

MountainRunner is in the United Kingdom for the Wilton Park conference “Public Diplomacy: Moving from Policy to Practice?” As the event is under Chatham House Rule, I will not tweet or blog about it. I’m looking forward to the next several days, which will include presentations and discussions with: Jeremy Browne, Minister of State, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Judith McHale, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Stefanie Babst, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO; Jimmy Leach, Head, Digital Diplomacy, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC Global News; Jan Melissen, Head, Clingendael Diplomatic Studies Programme (CDSP), Netherlands Institute of International Relations; Simon Anholt, and others. See the program here.

I considered renaming the blog “Fell Runner” while in the UK, but no…

Related:

The Catholic Church and Online Media

This is the first of an ongoing series of journal-style peer-reviewed articles that will begin appearing at www.MountainRunner.us (and soon at www.MountainRunnerInstitute.org) on subjects and issues related to public diplomacy and strategic communication, U.S. or otherwise.

The Catholic Church and Online Media
by Mariana González Insua

View the article or download the article (160kb PDF).

The recent explosion of Catholic sex abuse scandals around the world was the motor that propelled the Vatican to get a foothold on the last social media space that had, until a few weeks ago, remained unconquered by the Catholic Church: Twitter. Given the growing online competition for soul-share, the Church’s negative image in relation to the ongoing scandals and the loss of adherents to Catholicism in the US, the Holy See’s online platforms are valuable tools for broadcasting its message worldwide and, in particular, in the US.

The Vatican’s online presence is certainly not new. The Holy See has had its own website in place for fourteen years and a year ago it created Pope2You, a new site with interactive features such as a Facebook application that allows users to send e-postcards with the Pope’s picture and message to their friends, and the possibility of downloading the Pope’s speeches and messages to iPhones or iPods. The Vatican also has its own YouTube channel, available in a number of languages, which is updated daily with “holy” news.

Earlier this year, the Pope surprised the world when he decided to take a further step into the virtual realm by telling priests to blog. In his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s 44th World Communication Day, Pope Benedict XVI urged priests to make use of all digital tools at their disposal to spread the word: “Priests are […] challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources-images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites- which, alongside traditional means, can open up brand new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.” The Papal message further encouraged priests to engage with peoples from other religions and cultures: “A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute […] Can we not see the web as also offering a space for those who have not yet come to know God?”

Mariana González Insua just finished her first year as a student in USC’s Masters of Public Diplomacy program. She is originally from Argentina and recently completed a Masters in Latin American Studies at Stanford University.