The Peril of Ignoring Domestic Audiences

Whilst scouring the web for intriguing articles concerning public diplomacy, I came across this blog, which is run by the U.N. In this article, the author synthesizes material learned from a conference titled “Digital Diplomacy + Social Good”, which was jointly led by the United Nations Foundation and the Digital Diplomacy Coalition, into eight salient tips for practitioners to better engage their audiences in this new age of technology.

I found that this article addressed several of the major themes of this class, with the first illustrating the evolution that public diplomacy is currently experiencing. Gone are the days where there existed a wide chasm between practitioner and audience as well as the monopolization of the entire process of public diplomacy by political elites. In its stead we observe a more inclusive definition of who a public diplomat is (we all are! All of the suggestions from the blog author can be used by top diplomats as well as common lay people to help influence others) while also recognizing the need for a stronger, more active engagement between practitioner and audience.

Furthermore, I thought this piece, when viewed from a domestic lens, dovetailed quite well with Huijgh’s article about the domestic dimension of public diplomacy. I feel we sometimes can get caught up with how we project ourselves to an international audience to the point we take for granted our domestic audience. This can lead to issues later on, especially since domestic members are potential diplomats in their own right. One need not look far to recognize that the U.S. government, with its series of major missteps including WikiLeaks, the Snowden Incident, and increasingly bitter, unproductive political catfights i.e. 2013 shutdown, is in very much need of damage control with its own citizens. All of the suggestions detailed in the article can be very much utilized by the government to help repair its image with its own citizens. Failure to do so will lead to issues within the international scene, which is best encapsulated by Huijgh’s prescient declaration that “internal legitimacy remains a precondition for international respect.”

4 thoughts on “The Peril of Ignoring Domestic Audiences”

  1. Great post. Legitimacy is key to PD, so I’d argue that if the US is going to do damage control, it aight to do it through self-criticism, as Joseph Nye has also argued in lectures on soft power and public diplomacy. Gone are the days when the US can get away with devotion, manipulation, coercion, and distraction. Future professionals in the USG should take some time to watch some lectures by Nye on YouTube and pay close attention to what he says about self-criticism and diminishing power. China May with the PD game with their “Benevolance Policy” because they understand the importance of credibility and “humane authority”. However, China has a long way to go on that front so USG PD pro’d have time to influences institutional change from within.

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