International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy

Communication and Engagement

by Guy J. Golan (Volume editor) Sung-Un Yang (Volume editor) Dennis F. Kinsey (Volume editor)
©2015 Textbook VIII, 458 Pages


This book provides an important discussion of the conceptual and practical interconnections between international public relations and public diplomacy. Written by some of the leading thinkers in both disciplines, the volume provides key lessons regarding global relationship-building and stakeholder engagement. Written from a government, corporate, and not-for-profit perspective, the book deals with such topics as mediated public diplomacy and information subsidies, international broadcasting, nation-branding, diaspora relationships, international exchanges, and soft power. A variety of international conceptual pieces and real-life case studies present an in-depth analysis of the strategic application of public relations tactics in governmental and organizational global relationship management efforts. The book is recommended for students, scholars, and practitioners in the fields of international public relations, public diplomacy, and international relations.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • 1. Introduction: The Integrated Public Diplomacy Perspective
  • Introduction
  • Mediated Public Diplomacy
  • National Branding and Country Reputation
  • Relational Public Diplomacy
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Foundations
  • 2. U.S. Public Diplomacy Since 9–11: The Challenges of Integration
  • Post-9/11 PD Realities
  • State’s Public Communication Response
  • The Department of Defense Response: The Rise of “Strategic Communication”
  • State’s Vision: The QDDR and the PD Strategic Framework at State
  • The State PD Strategic Framework: A Road Map to Innovation
  • PD Initiatives: Achievements and Challenges
  • The CSCC: The Challenge of Moving Youth Away from Extremism
  • Academic Exchanges: The Challenge of Planning and Prioritization
  • American Spaces: The Challenge of Accessibility
  • New Technologies: The Challenge of Finding an Effective Mix
  • The Advisory Role of Public Diplomacy: The Challenge of Integrating PD into Decision Making
  • Unfinished Business for Public Diplomacy
  • The Need to Update Broadcasting
  • The Need for Additional Support for the Field
  • Looking Ahead
  • Green vs. Red Lines in the Whole of Government Approach
  • Short- Versus Long-Term Needs: The Urgent Versus the Important
  • Educational Exchange: A Benefit or a Necessity?
  • American Understanding of a Changing World: Region to Region
  • Messaging Versus Dialogue: Tactics Versus Strategy
  • Prospects for Integration: Closing the Concept-Practice Gap
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • 3. Public Diplomacy in NGOs
  • NGOs in International Relations and Non-State Public Diplomacy
  • Conceptual and Operational Definitions of a U.S. NGO
  • Overview of the Case Studies
  • Country-of-Origin Is Intrinsic to NGOs’ Corporate Identities
  • Quality, Stakeholder Empowerment, and Issues Management
  • NGOs’ Autonomy and Pluralism as U.S. Reputational Assets
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • 4. The Evolving Links Between International Public Relations and Corporate Diplomacy
  • Dimensions of Public Diplomacy
  • The Shift of Power: From Country Power to Corporate Power
  • Who Really Matters? Addressing Stakeholders in Corporate Diplomacy
  • The Emerging Definitions of Global Success: Authenticity and Localization
  • Handling a Crisis in a Transnational Environment
  • CSR and Partnerships for Global Development
  • Putting the Pieces Together: Propositions for Corporate Diplomacy
  • Bibliography
  • 5. Public Diplomacy and Public Relations: Will the Twain Ever Meet?
  • Bibliography
  • The Functions of International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy
  • 6. Application of Relationship Management to Public Diplomacy
  • Theoretical Background
  • Definitions of Public Diplomacy and Public Relations
  • Nexus of Public Relations and Public Diplomacy
  • A Theoretical Framework of Relationship Management for Public Diplomacy
  • Relationship Perspective
  • Linking Relationship, Attitude and Behavior
  • Attitude
  • Behavior
  • Discussion and Research Agenda
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • 7. Application of Issues and Crisis Management to Public Diplomacy
  • Issue Management and Public Diplomacy
  • Conceptualization
  • Crisis Management and Public Diplomacy
  • Conceptualization
  • Research on Crisis Response Strategies
  • Conclusion
  • Suggestions for Future Research
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • 8. Diplomacy in a Globalized World: Focussing Internally to Build Relationships Externally
  • The International Public Inside the Border
  • Advocates vs. Adversaries: Positive and Negative Megaphoning of Hosted Publics
  • Impetus for Communicative Activism
  • Framing the Relationship: Major Contextual Factors of Perceived Relationships Among Foreign Publics
  • The Process and Outcomes of Migrants’ Communicative Activism
  • Strategic Public Diplomacy: The Opportunities and Threats of Communicative Activism by Behavioral, Relationship Holding Foreign Publics
  • Bibliography
  • 9. Stewardship and the Political Process: Improving the Political Party-Constituent Relationship Through Public Relations
  • Introduction
  • Voter Confidence Down
  • Stewardship
  • Soft Power
  • Literature Review
  • Dimensions of Organizational-Public Relationships
  • Stewardship and the Organization-Public Relationship
  • Dimensions of Soft Power in Public Diplomacy
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussions
  • Stewardship Strategies Can Be Successful
  • Promises Broken/Credibility
  • Responsibility and Reporting
  • Long-Term Involvement
  • Conclusion, Limitations, Future Research
  • Bibliography
  • 10. Ethical Visions for Public Diplomacy as International Public Relations
  • Conceptualizations of Public Diplomacy
  • Major Approaches/Perspectives in Conceptualizing Public Diplomacy
  • A Broader Definition of Public Diplomacy
  • Public Diplomacy and International Public Relations: Similarities and Convergences
  • A Review of Ethical Visions for Public Diplomacy as International Public Relations
  • Key Values, Philosophies, and Models of Ethics for Public Diplomacy
  • (Un)ethical Cases of Public Diplomacy in International Public Relations
  • Conclusions and Future Research
  • Bibliography
  • Nation Brands and Country Reputation
  • 11. Public Diplomacy and Competitive Identity: Where’s the Link?
  • Public Diplomacy and National Image
  • Public Diplomacy, Power and Perception
  • How Competitive Identity Works
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • 12. Repairing the “Made-in-China” Image in the U.S. and U.K.: Effects of Government-supported Advertising
  • Salience of Nation Branding and Its Consequences
  • Relevant Theories
  • Country-of-Origin Effects
  • Paid Government Advertising Campaign
  • Current Theory on Stereotyping: Reflective and Impulsive Model (RIM)
  • An Illustrative Study on Changing “Made-in-China” Stereotype
  • Impulsive Component: Consumer Ethnocentrism
  • Impulsive Component: Ad Elicited Emotions
  • Reflective Component: Reflective Thoughts
  • Reflective Component: Openness to Cultural Diversity
  • Research Methods
  • Results
  • Country Differences
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Implications for Nation Branding
  • Bibliography
  • 13. Taking It to the Streets: The Evolving Use of VNRs as a Public Diplomacy Tool in the Digital Age
  • Video News Releases: Concept and Controversy
  • Public Diplomacy: Evolution of Goals and Tactics
  • Public Diplomacy Tools in the Digital Age
  • A Pseudo-Event Defines Coverage of a “Real” Event
  • YouTube and Facebook Build Foreign “Friendships”—and Sometimes Enemies as Well
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 14. Conceptualizing International Broadcasting as Information Intervention
  • International Broadcasting in the Market for Loyalties
  • Sellers
  • Buyers
  • Case Studies
  • The Al-Jazeera Network
  • U.S.-International Broadcasting in the Middle East
  • Implications
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Engaging Domestic and Foreign Publics
  • 15. Contextual Meaning
  • Public Relations in Public Diplomacy
  • An Example: Contextual Meaning of Democracy
  • Methodology
  • Procedure
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Areas of Consensus
  • Areas of Cleavage
  • Next Steps: Further Evaluation of Democracy and Impacts of the Leaders for Democracy Project
  • Bibliography
  • 16. The Importance of Diaspora Communities as Key Publics for National Governments Around the World
  • Diaspora and Transnational Communities
  • Domestic Politics Abroad
  • Contextual Factors at Home
  • The “Governmentality” Perspective and the Diaspora
  • Redefining Migrants as Heroes, Agents of Development and Ambassadors
  • Diasporas as Foreign Publics at Home
  • Final Remarks: Understand Your Audience
  • Mexico: An Exemplary Case of State-Diaspora Relations
  • Ministerial or Consular Reforms
  • Investment Policies to Attract or Channel Migrant Remittances
  • Extension of Political Rights
  • Extension of State Protections or Services
  • Symbolic Policies to Reinforce the Diasporic Identity
  • Other Cases
  • Bibliography
  • 17. Soft Power, NGOs and Virtual Communication Networks: New Strategies and Directions for Public Diplomacy
  • Public Diplomacy: Tradition and New Development
  • Traditional Approach to Public Diplomacy
  • New Development in Public Diplomacy
  • Hyperlink Network Analysis
  • Methods
  • Sampling
  • Data Collection
  • Results
  • INGO Websites’ Global Reach
  • Structural Features of INGOs’ Global Virtual Network
  • Discussion
  • INGOs’ Capacity to Reach Global Publics
  • INGOs’ Websites as Credible Information Sources
  • INGOs’ Transnational Network
  • Existing Issues
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 18. Live Tweeting at Work: The Use of Social Media in Public Diplomacy
  • Literature Review
  • Social Media and Public Relations
  • Social Media and Public Diplomacy
  • Public Diplomacy, Credibility and Internet
  • Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT)
  • Method
  • Defining Social Media
  • The Survey Instrument
  • Data Collection
  • Measures
  • Results
  • Respondents’ Characteristics
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Global Issues & Challenges
  • 19. The Public Relations of Populism: An International Perspective of Public Diplomacy Trends
  • Populists as Contending Non-State Actors
  • Double Differentiation and Accredited Representation
  • From Media Populism to Media Politik
  • Something Old, Something New
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 20. Presidents, Approval Ratings, and Standing: Assessing Leaders’ Reputations
  • Approval Ratings—Here and Abroad
  • Using Foreign Policy to Change Approval Ratings
  • How Presidents View Approval Ratings and Whose Count
  • In Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 21. A Contextualized Interpretation of PD Evaluation
  • The Story So Far: Evaluation as Convergence
  • Output Analysis
  • Outcome Analysis
  • Perception Analysis
  • Network Analysis
  • Conclusion: Evaluation Within Cultures of Accountability
  • Bibliography
  • 22. Tenets of Diversity: Building a Strategy for Social Justice in Public Diplomacy
  • Concepts for the Framework
  • Diversity
  • Diversity and Gender
  • Public Relations as Relationship Building and Relationship Management
  • Individual and Social Identity & Intersectionality
  • Trust in Relationship
  • Organizational Justice
  • Perception and Co-orientation
  • Diversity Strategies
  • Culture
  • Cultural Competency
  • Summary: Diversity and Social Justice as an Ethical Imperative
  • Appendix A
  • Bibliography
  • 23. Public Diplomacy, Public Relations, and the Middle East: A Culture-Centered Approach to Power in Global Contexts
  • Culture-Centered Approach to Public Diplomacy
  • Critically interrogating language: Strategic inversion
  • Top-down interventions couched in language of democracy
  • The economic question
  • Strategies of co-optation
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Conclusion
  • 24. An Integrated Approach to Public Diplomacy
  • Mediated Public Diplomacy
  • Nation Brands / Reputation Level
  • The Relational Level
  • Soft Power Programs
  • Soft Power and Public Opinion
  • Anti-Americanism on the Rise
  • Losing the Media War
  • America’s Media Strategy
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index


1.  Introduction: The Integrated Public Diplomacy Perspective


Research on public diplomacy serves as the intellectual meeting point of various academic disciplines, including international public relations, mass communication, international relations, strategic studies, and diplomatic studies (Gilboa, 2008). Since Edmund Gullion, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, coined the term public diplomacy in 1965 (Cull, 2009), the field of public diplomacy has increasingly attracted attention from international professionals and scholars alike. Despite the growing body of scholarship on public diplomacy, there is still much confusion about what the term actually means and how it differs from international public relations. The current book aims to clear some of the confusion regarding the perceptual intersection between the two fields. Based on Golan (2013)’s integrated public diplomacy model, our book aims to provide a comprehensive perspective on what often seems like a complex and multilayered area of scholarship and practice.

Public relations is most commonly referred to as management of communication between an organization and its publics (e.g., J. E. Grunig & Hunt, 1984). To be more specific, public relations has been defined as “the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends” (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2000, p. 6). As such, international public relations can be understood as the relationship management function in its global sense.

In the past, communication scholars and researchers, especially those studying international public relations, have tried to identify the convergence between public relations and public diplomacy (e.g., Gilboa, 2008; Manheim, 1994; Signitzer & Coombs, 1992; Signitzer & Wasmer, 2006; ← 1 | 2 → Wang & Chang, 2004). Among them, Signitzer and Wasmer (2006) viewed public diplomacy as a specific governmental function of public relations, and explained that a matrix of goals in public diplomacy can be intertwined with those in public relations. Signitzer and Wasmer (2006) maintained that these key objectives of public relations can be applied to communication management between a sovereign nation and its strategic foreign publics in an international or diplomatic situation.

Public diplomacy essentially deals with the management of communication among diplomatic actors, including nations and non-state actors, which have specific informational or motivational objectives toward reaching the foreign publics through various channels of communication to promote national interest. Above all, in contemporary public diplomacy, the focus has shifted from conventional diplomatic means and goals for promotion to relationship cultivation with key foreign publics (e.g., Kruckeberg & Vujnovic, 2005; Snow, 2009).

The focus of earlier development within public diplomacy was on media diplomacy or political information for advocacy, including international broadcasting: i.e., one-way transmission of information to foreign publics to “influence the behavior of a foreign government by influencing the attitudes of its citizens” (Malone, 1988, p. 3). In recent years, key changes in conceptualizing contemporary public diplomacy have shifted the focus to the roles of non-state actors and the nature of their global relationships (Yun, 2012; Yun & Toth, 2009) in their cultivation of substantial relationships or genuine contact. Also, The New Public Diplomacy (Melissen, 2005) emphasizes the relational role of non-state diplomatic actors, the inter-connectedness of foreign/domestic publics on multiple layers, and the two-way engagement of publics through the use of “soft power” (Nye, 2008) as the key leverage to attract foreign publics.

Consequently, rather than a one-way transmission of information for one-sided persuasion from a nation to foreign publics, contemporary public diplomacy now emphasizes ways to establish and foster mutual understanding and two-way exchanges of information on the basis of the soft power of a nation. Examples of these changes are the emergence of cultural and educational exchange in terms of cultural diplomacy (e.g., Melissen, 2005; Schneider, 2003; Snow, 2008). Along the same line, Snow (2009) called for the need for “rethinking public diplomacy” (pp. 3–11) in order to conceptualize a relationship-centered public diplomacy, calling for the adoption of public relations’ two-way symmetrical communication1 (J. E. Grunig, 2001) in public diplomacy (p. 10). ← 2 | 3 →

A key area of differentiation between international public relations and public diplomacy can be identified in its ultimate goal. While international public relations between any organization and foreign publics may focus on mutual beneficial relationship for the sake of long term ends of consumerism or philanthropy, public diplomacy’s ultimate aim is to gather international support for a nation’s foreign policy.


Figure 1.1. The Integrated Public Diplomacy Model.


International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy provides a collection of chapters that integrate research on public diplomacy with research on public relations. Unlike traditional public diplomacy research largely focused on soft power programs such as educational or cultural exchanges, our volume accepts the argument presented by many scholars for the/regarding the appropriateness of studying public diplomacy from a public relations perspective (Fitzpatrick, 2007; Signitzer and Coombs, 1992; L’Etang, 2009). We posit that public diplomacy should be examined as a strategic management approach (Grunig and Repper, 1992) and therefore should apply key lessons from public relations literature. This book includes chapters by scholars who synthesize and argue for the suitability of such public relations functions as relationship management (Ki), crisis communication (Kim), advocacy (Vibber and Kim), stewardship (Gilmore and Waters) and campaign evaluation (Pamment) to the field of public diplomacy. In addition, the chapters discuss how governments (Schneider), corporations (Kochhar and Molleda) and NGOs ← 3 | 4 → (Zatepilina-Monacell; Yang) apply various public relations tactics to build and maintain relationships with foreign publics.

When viewed holistically, the current book presents an integrated approach to public diplomacy scholarship (in this chapter, I will refer to this approach as integrated public diplomacy) that combines both the short, medium and long termed perspectives on public diplomacy. The relational perspective focuses on the long term relationship management efforts of government, corporations and NGOs to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with foreign publics. Such efforts traditionally focus on such soft power programs as aid, development and exchange programs. The mediated public diplomacy approach (Entman, 2008) is focused on government attempts to shape and influence its framing in the global news media and, therefore, constitutes a short term perspective. As global governments compete to shape international debate regarding global conflict and salient international relations issues (Sheafer and Gabay, 2009; Sheafer and Shenhav, 2009), the success or failure of mediated public diplomacy efforts can have direct consequences regarding global public opinion (Manheim, 1994; Wanta, Golan, Lee, 2004). Mediated public diplomacy is under-invested by scholars but is likely to gain much attention from both scholars and public diplomacy practitioners considering the powerful impact of such satellite broadcast channels as Al Jazeera and Al Arabyia on political events around the world (Powers and Samuel-Azran, in this book). Representing a more tactical approach that is meant to produce long term results, government nation branding efforts extend the attempt to link issues and attributes to nations through public relations and marketing tactics (Wang, 2006; Kaneva, 2011; Rasmussen and Merkelsen, 2012). However, it is these efforts that may ultimately shape long term relational outcomes and therefore play an important element bridging between the short term mediated public diplomacy and the longer term relational public diplomacy.

It is important to note that a full understanding of public diplomacy cannot be attained through either the relational, nation branding or mediated perspectives alone. The long term success of relationship building and stewardship is often contingent on the success or failure of organizations to communicate their values, culture or policies to their target audiences. As such only the integrated public diplomacy approach to public diplomacy (as illustrated in Figure 1.1) can provide a meaningful understanding of the field that can guide both academics and professionals.

The current chapter will outline the soft power approach as the theoretic framework of previous public diplomacy scholarship. Next, it will discuss the mediated public diplomacy approach and its centrality to the success ← 4 | 5 → of American public diplomacy efforts abroad. Finally, the chapter will argue for the integrated public diplomacy concept and argue for a new approach to the practice of public diplomacy that draws upon the political campaign model as the most appropriate operational perspective for achieving both the short, medium and long term public diplomacy outcomes.

In this introductory chapter, the authors will explain the convergence between public diplomacy and public relations, followed by a brief overview of two key public relations perspectives, relational public diplomacy and mediated public diplomacy.

Regarding the convergence between public diplomacy and public relations, there have been at least two distinctive perspectives. One is the view of public diplomacy as a field of relational public diplomacy, involving key foreign publics by means of cultural exchange or other forms of public engagement and utilizing two-way communication, which can bring out mutual benefits between a nation and its publics (e.g., Yun, 2006, 2012; Yun & Toth, 2009).

The other is the view of public diplomacy’s primary role in the context of mediated public diplomacy (e.g., Entman, 2003; Sheafer & Gabay, 2009; Sheafer & Shenhav, 2009) by which a nation attempts to strategically promote its agenda and frames, through strategically selected mass media efforts, in order to impact opinions held by targeted foreign audiences (Manheim, 1994; Wang & Chang, 2004; Wanta, Golan & Lee, 2004). Whereas the first perspective has emerged from the field of public relations, particularly influenced by relationship management (e.g., Ledingham & Bruning, 2000), the later has stemmed from researchers in the field of public opinion and political communication.

Recognizing the importance of both the mediated and relational public diplomacy perspectives, the current book provides a comprehensive approach to what Golan (2013) referred to as the integrated public diplomacy perspective. Key to this perspective is the understanding that the focus of public diplomacy is contingent upon the context in which governments and or non-state actors operate. As explained by Golan, the mediated public diplomacy approach may be best suited for short to medium term public diplomacy objectives. On the other hand, reputation management and relational diplomacy may be best suited for medium to long term objectives.

Recognizing that no model provides a one size fits all solution to public diplomacy, we contend that different nations and non-state actors will focus on either or both the mediated or the relational approaches to public diplomacy, depending on the internal and external factors that may impact their stakeholder relationships. The purpose of the current edited book is to ← 5 | 6 → provide an intellectual bridge that connects public relations and public diplomacy scholarship with the hopes of clarifying the conceptual overlaps and academic commonalities between the disciplines.

Mediated Public Diplomacy

The perspective of mediated public diplomacy has considered public diplomacy as the field of strategic management of communication content that is able to effectively pursue favorable image cultivation through media coverage on international affairs (Sheafer & Gabay, 2009). Typically, this field of public diplomacy touches upon governmental attempts to issue-manage through mass communication outlets in times of crisis or international competition over issue framing. Entman (2008) defines mediated public diplomacy as a government’s strategic attempts to exert control over the framing of the country’s policy in foreign media (p. 89). Foreign publics often have limited global awareness of and direct experience with foreign nations; therefore, mass media have become suitable in shaping foreign publics’ images of foreign countries (Entman, 2004; Kunczik, 1997; Leonard, Stead & Smewing, 2002). For such reasons, some countries have garnered and enhanced favorable national images through strategic implementation of public relations campaigns to influence international media coverage (Manheim, 1994).

Wanta, Golan, and Lee (2004) tested the extent to which international media coverage influences public perceptions of foreign nations. They argued that the study found supportive first-level and second-level agenda-setting effects (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Wang and Chang (2004) analyzed the relationship between Chinese public diplomacy efforts and American news coverage of China during the Chinese president’s visit to the United States in 1997. Wang and Chang found that, despite the significant public relations efforts for strategic communication of head-of-state visits, the image of China in the local press coverage had not improved. Additionally, Sheafer and Gabay (2009) recently analyzed agenda and frame building in foreign media on Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and the general elections in the Palestinian Authority. Accordingly, Sheafer and Gabay considered mediated public diplomacy efforts as strategic contests over international agenda building and frame building where various public diplomacy actors need to compete to promote their own agenda and frames to influence foreign policy. In the current book Powers and Samuel-Azran discuss the global significance of international broadcasting in the realm of public diplomacy. They contend that actors use international broadcasting to promote an ideological perspective that the audience is hopefully willing to “buy” with attention. Over time, as ← 6 | 7 → an individual consumes more information, that individual becomes increasingly loyal to both the medium and that actor’s ideological perspective.

National Branding and Country Reputation

Unlike the media-centered mediated public diplomacy, governmental and/or organizational attempts to shape and define their reputation or brand has been an area of great interest to both scholars of international public relations and public diplomacy. While definitions of nation branding and country reputation may depend on the intellectual perspective of the researchers, there are many lessons from the area of public relations that are applicable to this area of inquiry. Several of the chapters in the current book deal with these topics from a variety of perspectives. For example, Hung’s chapter builds upon the topic of how countries utilize information subsidies, such as speeches, to establish and promote a nation brand. Their research finds that information subsidies were often used as part of a one-way communication approach but can be applied to new media that lend themselves to a more relationship-based communication approach. This shift would ultimately better engage the global audience and would more effectively help a nation in their nation branding and perception management. Hung’s chapter further builds upon the topic of nation branding by examining China’s use of advertisements in their global engagement efforts. Looking at the success of China’s “Made with China” ad campaign, Hung argues that countries can re-brand themselves more effectively if they are able to build their credibility through advertising.

Discussing the problematic nature of the nation branding area of scholarship, Anholt presents his concept of competitive identity. The author defines competitive identity as the way in which a nation holistically presents itself to other nations, taking into account all aspects of how a country develops its image. This image, or “brand,” is then applied to public diplomacy, which is said to “wield” the soft power created by a nation’s competitive identity.

Relational Public Diplomacy

Recently, especially with the influence of the field of public relations, there has been a notable shift to relationship-centered endeavors in the study of public diplomacy (e.g., Fitzpatrick, 2007; Yun, 2006; Yun & Toth, 2009). To advance issues facing contemporary public diplomacy, Fitzpatrick (2007), for example, suggested that the relationship management theories from the public relations field can be a useful framework in public diplomacy: ← 7 | 8 →

[by] defining public diplomacy’s central purpose as relationship management, unifying the functions under one overarching concept, adopting a management (rather than communication) mindset, and recognizing the importance of diplomatic deeds that support communication practices, practitioners will be better equipped to conduct public diplomacy effectively. (p. 187)

The quality of first-hand, substantial relationships management will be the key basis of excellence in public diplomacy. This can be enhanced by effective two-way communication and public engagement that connect governments and various non-state actors with key foreign publics through an exchange of information, ideas, education, and culture. Emphasizing inter-organizational relationships, Zatepilina-Monacell, one of our contributors, also suggested that public diplomacy can enhance its effectiveness through the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) by creating a quality relationship between state and non-state actors with similar values.

Despite such increasing connection to public diplomacy, public relations has been sometimes criticized as a mere tool to “sell democracy.” For example, “In many op-eds and addresses before Congress, the public relations industry is singled out as the main culprit in why U.S. public diplomacy efforts have failed” (Snow, 2009, p. 9). Those critiques often relegate public relations to being propaganda or unilateral persuasion to manipulate public opinion; Grunig has called this asymmetrical communication. Regarding this ethical dilemma facing public relations, Grunig (1993) explained:

As noted earlier, the asymmetrical models can be ethical if their practitioners can be certain they know what is best for the publics they try to influence. In contrast, the two-way symmetrical model is inherently ethical because it opens the question of right and wrong to dialogue, collaboration, and compromise. In practice, the asymmetrical models almost always present ethical problems. (p. 160)

The book chapter by Jiang on public diplomacy ethics, calls for the direction of public diplomacy to reflect the theories of public relations, including two-way symmetrical communication (J. E. Grunig, 2001) and community-building (Kruckeberg & Vujnovic, 2005). The latter theory recognizes overseas audiences as publics with whom public diplomatic actors cultivate quality relationships for mutually beneficial outcomes rather than as “markets” to sell foreign policies (Kruckeberg & Vujnovic, 2005, p. 303). In a recent book, Excellent Public Relations and Effective Organizations, L. Grunig et al. (2002) concluded that effective organizations build quality relationships with key publics by management of symmetrical communication, which allow those organizations to sustain ethical practice. ← 8 | 9 →

Therefore, public relations should not be considered as the manipulation of the image or reputation that foreign publics hold of a nation. Rather, favorable images or country reputations must be conceptualized as a byproduct of quality actions and related information, which includes foreign policies and exchange of values and cultures to cultivate quality relationships with foreign publics. To accomplish this, effective management of communication is essential to signal the quality of diplomacy actions to key foreign publics.

A relevant example of relational diplomacy addresses growing diaspora communities. Citing Salter and Teger’s (1975) differentiation of people contact to genuine contact and superficial contact, Yun and Toth (2009) called for relational public diplomacy to enhance quality genuine contact among global migrants. Accordingly, “a country’s soft power resources are nakedly exposed to migrants’ living experiences” (p. 500); through (diplomatic) actions to sustain the quality of relationships, migrants themselves can be a more conducive channel of communication to overseas publics than “messages and information abroad on the attractiveness of its soft power resources” (p. 500). Likewise, in terms of relational public diplomacy efforts to emphasize the role of transnational communities (Yun, 2012), Bravo, in her chapter, suggests that diaspora communities should be considered strategic publics for public diplomacy actors. Diaspora communities, as permanent migrants, are unique and important as strategically intervening publics that connect home and host countries.

The chapter by Ki, introduces the relationship management theory in the context of public diplomacy. She contends that nation-states employ public diplomacy to create and maintain the relationship between a nation-state and foreign publics. The shift of public diplomacy’s focus from one-way communication to managing networks of relationships (Riordan, 2003) is largely attributed to new communication technologies, such as the Internet, which have placed heavier emphasis on developing relationships.


To summarize, this edited book aims to demonstrate aspects of both relational public diplomacy and mediated public diplomacy in conceptualizing contemporary public diplomacy through the integrated public diplomacy perspective. The collection of chapters collectively aim to bridge between research on international public relations and public diplomacy. Goals of public diplomacy can range widely, from short-term to long-term, between the various vehicles that exist to influence foreign publics’ perceptions of, attitudes toward, and behaviors towards a nation, corporation or any other non-state ← 9 | 10 → actor. These vehicles include personal/relational experience, interpersonal influence, strategic communication delivered through traditional mass communication or social media platforms. Therefore, rather than focusing on each perspective separately, our edited book intends to provide readers with those competing perspectives to understand the study and practice of contemporary public diplomacy. While the diplomacy fields have many differences between them, we posit that they also share many commonalities. Based on the strategic communication functions of the mediated public diplomacy perspective and the organizational-stakeholder functions of reputation management and relational diplomacy, we believe the integrated public diplomacy perspective fits well into the political public relations approach (Strömbäck and Kiousis, 2011) with the requirement of global organization-public engagement.


  1. Symmetrical communication is a model of public relations/communication management between organization and publics, in which the outcomes of communication process is mutually beneficial between organizations and their key publics, rather than unilateral/asymmetrical persuasion to change publics’ opinions and behaviors for the interests of organizations.


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Entman, R. M. (2003). Cascading activation: Contesting the White House’s frame after 9/11. Political Communication, 20, 425–432.

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VIII, 458
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (December)
relationship-building information subsidies international broadcasting diaspora nation-branding International relations Diplomacy Soft power Nation-branding Diaspora
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 458 pp., num. fig. and tables

Biographical notes

Guy J. Golan (Volume editor) Sung-Un Yang (Volume editor) Dennis F. Kinsey (Volume editor)

Guy J. Golan (PhD, University of Florida) is an associate professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Sung-Un Yang (PhD, University of Maryland) is an associate professor and Director of Research and Grants in the School of Journalism at Indiana University. Dennis F. Kinsey (PhD, Stanford University) is a full professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.


Title: International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy