Professional Practice

Public diplomacy is a professional practice within foreign affairs, just as the practice of medicine is part of health care. Too frequently people mistake public diplomacy for one or another of its tangible products, such as television production, cultural presentations, academic exchanges, public speaking or press and publications work. It’s like mistaking the aspirin pills for the practice of medicine.

The Council believes that professional standards are necessary for the practice (see Our Approach.)  To foster professionalism, it organizes and conducts training and mentoring of current practitioners.  We invite you to contact the Council to learn more. Write us at


Junior Diplomats Training: Since 2010 the Council has joined Meridian International Center to train junior diplomats from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our first program was for Iraqi foreign service officers. 

Since 2011, the U.S.-China Program for Junior Afghan Diplomats has provided expertise to a total of 45 Afghan diplomats under the age of 35.  During each group’s two weeks in Washington, D.C., Public Diplomacy Council members lead training sessions on public diplomacy, strategic planning, diplomatic communications and other skills.

Illustration: State Department spokesman John Kirby chats with the 2015 class of Afghan diplomats after a noon briefing.

The Kathryn W. Davis Fellowship: Our collaboration with the American Council of Ambassadors enriches their program for the Kathryn W. Davis Fellows.  Council members meet with each Fellow for several mentoring meetings where they share their experience in public diplomacy and career management.

Illustration: Two 2015-16 Davis Fellows, Monica Sledjeski and Angie Smith, pose with Jean Manes, a senior FSO who serves as Principal Deputy Coordinator of the International Information Programs Bureau.  Manes spoke at their inaugural luncheon.


Forums for U.S. Public Diplomacy Officers: Many Foreign Service Officers have joined the Council as associate members.  Lia Miller, who represents associate members on our board of directors, organized the roundtable discussion “Beyond PD,” where serving officers exchanged views and advice with Council members about career prospects for those in the public diplomacy cone (or career track). To see excerpts, go to our YouTube channel.


Illustration: Ambassador Linda Jewell, a Council board member and former PD officer, counsels participants at the round-table discussion “Beyond PD.”  Moderator Lia Miller is shown at her right. 


Our Approach:

Public diplomacy is a tool in the diplomat’s briefcase, a process in the foreign policy community and a tangible and measurable product. The ability to weave public diplomacy into strategy is a characteristic of successful foreign affairs professionals.

As an instrument of national power (like military, economic or other instruments), public diplomacy can be a means to achieve a national goal or objective. Equally important, public diplomacy offers a set of principles to shape our own thinking and actions.

As a process, public diplomacy impels diplomats and other practitioners to listen, to understand and to engage before acting.  It causes leaders to develop plans and synchronize their communication with other instruments of national power (DIMES—diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and social/cultural). Therefore, the process of public diplomacy obliges everyone in government to coordinate actions and messages.

As a function, public diplomacy takes the form of actions (programs, activities, products and deeds) and messages (ideas, themes, words and values). Generally speaking, public diplomacy activities can be measured and evaluated. They are tangible and visible.

As a leadership characteristic, public diplomacy reflects a willingness to listen, to understand, to engage in two-way or multilateral dialogue before deciding what to say or do.


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For more public diplomacy events, check out PDAA's website.