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America’s selfie – Three years later

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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.

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Correspondence to Ilan Manor.



Categories, sub-categories and themes identified in thematic analysis




America’s moral leadership—leading by example

Prevention of human slavery and modern day slavery

Anti-slavery task force meetings

Anti-slavery coalition (civil society, governments, private sector survivors)

Comments by national leaders on Anti-Slavery and slavery prevention

The American Story and American values

The American Story—promotion of religious tolerance

The American Story—promotion of multi-culturalism

The American Story—US values strengthen US diplomacy

The American Story—US has always been a safe haven for refuges like Syrian refugees

The American Story- US to seek further aid from other countries to help Syrian refugees


US facilitation of democratic processes

US condemnation of arrest of opposition leaders, journalists

US promotes journalist safety around the world, US aid developing free media around the world

Human rights

Human Rights—OS condemns violations around the world

Human Rights—US collaborative efforts with UN to safeguard human rights

Engagement with the world

Diplomatic engagement

Diplomatic Engagement—comments by State Department officials using the term Engagement

Diplomatic engagement—US facilitates direct engagement between nations, leaders

Diplomatic engagement—success stories (Iran, Cuba, Russia)

Diplomatic Engagement—coordinating response to regional issues (North Korea nuclear testing)

Diplomatic Engagement- US officials meet counterparts around the world

American leadership in the twenty-first century

American Leadership—rallying nations behind causes that are good

American Leadership—creating coalitions to tackle global challenges

Adversaries turned Allies—coordination with Iran on tackling Daesh, coordination with Russia on Syrian civil war and Ukraine


A climate oriented economy

Environmentally conscious economic expansion

Trade agreements that promote clean economic growth (TTP, US- Philippines)

Coalitions to address climate change


US aid- infrastructure, Internet connections


A common War on terror

Addressing terror attacks

Addressing terror attacks—condemnation of terror

Addressing terror attacks—strengthening allies

Global coalition against Daesh

Press briefings

Building capacity of allies (Jordan)

Progress reports (Iraq)

Diplomatic efforts

Work at multi-lateral organizations (UN)

Meetings of coalition leaders

Referencing specific coalition members (Arab states)

Additional coalitions

Preventing Daesh funding, Syria donor group

Partnerships with civil society, private sector (extremism)

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Manor, I. America’s selfie – Three years later. Place Brand Public Dipl 13, 308–324 (2017).

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