Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Objectives Matter

The use of social media technologies signals a great transformation in improving the work of public diplomacy, but should not alter its objectives. Social media should only be used as a tool to enhance and amplify core values that already exist.  Developing tools and strategies to better communicate with all demographics is not only important, but is increasingly necessary. The State Department must be more relevant now than ever before in order to effectively respond to the demands and challenges posed by the global landscape. The only thing that is constant is change and institutions must evolve or die.

Public Diplomacy is an integral component of communicating foreign policy. Therefore public diplomacy must reflect foreign policy objectives, but the medium should never overshadow the message. Mobile technology and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a source of power, but should not alter national objectives and priorities. Traditional public diplomacy greatly relied on face- to- face communication and personal exchange. However, a more networked and digital society has afforded diplomats and other state actors the opportunity to communicate with publics via virtual exchange.  The key objectives of U.S. public diplomacy is to inform, engage and influence foreign audiences. We must make sure that our social media outreach is used strategically so that our information is both accurate and trustworthy. There is a clear difference between being effective and efficient. Efficiency means doing things in the right manner and effective means doing the right things. The use of social media for the purpose of public diplomacy requires finding a perfect balance between the two, so that the message does not get lost in trying to navigating the medium. Framing a national narrative cannot be accomplished through a tweet, and advancing a national objective will not be met through posting a Facebook status, however the medium does help to cultivate an image and create a conversation. Social media has definitely altered our approach to public diplomacy, but should not change our core objectives.

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