Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 308–324 | Cite as

America’s selfie – Three years later

  • Ilan ManorEmail author
Original Article


Recent years have seen the emergence of relational approaches to public diplomacy and public relations. The adoption of approaches that emphasize the creation of relationships between organizations and stakeholders have also been advocated by nation branding scholars. Thus, relational approaches can serve as a link between all three fields. An additional link is lack of clarity when using the terms “dialogue” and “engagement”. This study attempted to further to investigate the association between nation branding, public diplomacy and public relations by evaluating the manner in which the US State Department branded America on its Facebook channel during January of 2016, and by conceptualizing and measuring the State Department’s use of “dialogic engagement”. A comparison between America’s 2016 Selfie, and that evaluated in 2013, demonstrates that the State Department is narrating a consistent and coherent national brand and is adept at integrating everyday events into that national brand. By so doing, the State Department maintains a consistent voice and matches words for deeds thus facilitating the creation of relationships with Facebook followers. However, results also suggest that the State Department fails to provide any opportunities for dialogic engagement. Thus, it is lack of dialogic engagement that links all three fields.


public diplomacy public relations nation branding digital diplomacy MBRs 


  1. Anholt, S. and Hildreth, J. (2005) Let freedom and cash registers ring: America as a brand1. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 1(2): 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aronczyk, M. (2013) Branding the nation: The global business of national identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (2015) Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Bortree, D.S. and Seltzer, T. (2009) Dialogic strategies and outcomes: An analysis of environmental advocacy groups’ Facebook profiles. Public Relations Review 35(3): 317–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2): 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cha, H., Yeo, S. and Kim, B. (2014) Social media’s dialogic communication of foreign embassies in Korea and public diplomacy: Based on dialogic communication theory. Advanced Science and Technology Letters 63: 175–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke, V. and Braun, V. (2014) Thematic analysis. In: Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. New York: Springer, pp. 1947–1952.Google Scholar
  8. Comor, E. and Bean, H. (2012) America’s ‘engagement’delusion Critiquing a public diplomacy consensus. International Communication Gazette 74(3): 203–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Copeland, D. (2013) Taking diplomacy public. In: Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 56–69.Google Scholar
  10. Cull, N.J. (2008) Public diplomacy: Taxonomies and histories. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616(1): 31–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cutlip, S.M., Center, A.H., and Broom, G.M. (2006). Effective Public Relations. London: Pearson.Google Scholar
  12. Fan, Y. (2010) Branding the nation: Towards a better understanding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 6(2): 97–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gilboa, E. (1998) Media diplomacy conceptual divergence and applications. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 3(3): 56–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gregory, A. (2007) Involving stakeholders in developing corporate brands: The communication dimension. Journal of Marketing Management 23(1–2): 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gregory, B. (2011) American public diplomacy: Enduring characteristics, elusive transformation. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 6(3–4): 351–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grunig, J.E. and Hunt, T. (1984) Managing public relations (Vol. 343). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  17. Hayden, C. (2012) Social media at state: Power, practice, and conceptual limits for US public diplomacy. Global Media Journal 12(21): 1–21.Google Scholar
  18. Haynal, G. (2011) Corporate diplomacy in the information age: Catching up to the dispersal of power. Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Essays in Honour of Ambassador Allan Gotlieb. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, pp. 209–224.Google Scholar
  19. Heath, R.L. and Coombs, W.T. (2005) Today’s Public Relations: An Introduction. Tousand oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Hocking, B.L. and Melissen, J. (2015) Diplomacy in the Digital Age. Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations.Google Scholar
  21. Hughes, D.J., Rowe, M., Batey, M. and Lee, A. (2012) A tale of two sites: Twitter vs. Facebook and the personality predictors of social media usage. Computers in Human Behavior 28(2): 561–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kampf, R., Manor, I. and Segev, E. (2015) Digital diplomacy 2.0? A cross-national comparison of public engagement in Facebook and Twitter. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 10(4): 331–362.Google Scholar
  23. Kaneva, N. (2011) Nation branding: Toward an agenda for critical research. International journal of communication 5: 25.Google Scholar
  24. Kent, M.L. and Taylor, M. (1998) Building dialogic relationships through the World Wide Web. Public relations Review 24(3): 321–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kwak, H., Lee, C., Park, H. and Moon, S. (2010) April. what is Twitter, a social network or a news media? In: Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web (pp. 591–600). ACM.Google Scholar
  26. Ledingham, J.A. and Bruning, S.D. (1998) Relationship management in public relations: Dimensions of an organization-public relationship. Public Relations Review, 24(1): 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Manheim, J.B. (1994) Strategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy: The Evolution of Influence. Oxford: Oxford University Press on Demand.Google Scholar
  28. Manor, I. (2016) Are we there yet: Have MFAs realized the potential of digital diplomacy? Brill Research Perspectives in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy 1(2): 1–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Manor, I. and Segev, E. (2015) ‘America’s selfie: How the US portrays itself on its social media accounts’. In: C. Bjola, and M. Holmes (eds.) Digital Diplomacy Theory and Practice. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 89–108.Google Scholar
  30. McNutt, K. (2014) Public engagement in the Web 2.0 era: Social collaborative technologies in a public sector context. Canadian Public Administration 57(1): 49–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Metzgar, E.T. (2012) Is it the medium or the message social media american public diplomacy. Global Media Journal 12: 1–16.Google Scholar
  32. Melissen, J. (2005) ‘The new public diplomacy: Between theory and practice’. In: J. Melissen (ed.) The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 3–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ociepka, B. (2012) The impact of new technologies on international communication: The case of public diplomacy. Informacijos Mokslai/Information Sciences 59: 24–36.Google Scholar
  34. Pamment, J. (2016) Intersections between public diplomacy & international development: Case studies in converging fields. CPD Perspectives.Google Scholar
  35. Pamment, J. (2015) Digital diplomacy as transmedia engagement: Aligning theories of participatory culture with international advocacy campaigns. New Media & Society 23(1): 1–17.Google Scholar
  36. Pamment, J. (2012) New public diplomacy in the 21st century: A comparative study of policy and practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Papadopoulos, N. and Heslop, L. (2002) Country equity and country branding: Problems and prospects. Journal of Brand Management 9(4): 294–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Quelch, J.A. and Jocz, K.E. (2009). Can brand Obama rescue brand America? The Brown Journal of World Affairs 16(1): 163–178.Google Scholar
  39. Rawson, E.A.G. (2007) Perceptions of the United States of America: Exploring the political brand of a nation. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 3(3): 213–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roberts, W.R. (2007) What is public diplomacy? Past practices, present conduct, possible future. Mediterranean Quarterly 18(4): 36–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Seo, H. (2013). The ‘Virtual last three feet.’ In: R.S. Zaharna, A. Arsenault and A. Fisher (eds.), Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 157–169.Google Scholar
  42. Silver, S. and Hill, S. (2002) Marketing: Selling brand America. Journal of Business Strategy 23(4): 10–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Skuba, C. (2002) Branding America. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 3: 105–114.Google Scholar
  44. Sommerfeldt, E.J., Kent, M.L. and Taylor, M. (2012) Activist practitioner perspectives of website public relations: Why aren’t activist websites fulfilling the dialogic promise? Public Relations Review 38(2): 303–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sweetser, K.D. and Lariscy, R.W. (2008) Candidates make good friends: An analysis of candidates’ uses of Facebook. International Journal of Strategic Communication 2(3): 175–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Szondi, G. (2008) Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences. Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations.Google Scholar
  47. Szondi, G. (2010) From image management to relationship building: A public relations approach to nation branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 6(4): 333–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Taylor, M. and Kent, M.L. (2014). Dialogic engagement: Clarifying foundational concepts. Journal of Public Relations Research 26(5): 384–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Uzunoğlu, E. and Kip, S.M. (2014) Building relationships through websites: A content analysis of Turkish environmental non-profit organizations’(NPO) websites. Public Relations Review  40(1): 113–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Van Ham, P. (2001) The rise of the brand state: The postmodern politics of image and reputation. Foreign affairs 80: 2–6.Google Scholar
  51. Van Ham, P. (2008) Place branding: The state of the art. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616(1): 126–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang, J. (2006) Managing national reputation and international relations in the global era: Public diplomacy revisited. Public Relations Review 32(2): 91–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Waters, R.D., Burnett, E., Lamm, A. and Lucas, J. (2009) Engaging stakeholders through social networking: How nonprofit organizations are using Facebook. Public Relations Review 35(2): 102–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zaharna, R.S. and Rugh, W.A. (2012). Issue theme: The use of social media in US public diplomacy. Global Media JournalAmerican Edition 11: 21.Google Scholar
  55. Zaharna, R.S., Arsenault, A. and Fisher, A. (2013) Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations