Joe B. Johnson consults on government communication and technology after a career in the United States Foreign Service and seven years in the private sector.  He is an instructor for the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he teaches strategic planning for public diplomacy. Read More

Folded newspaper section "China Watch"

Sharp Power Focus on China

Dr. Michael Schneider, the director of Syracuse University’s D.C. Public Diplomacy program, calls our attention to an update on the topic of China’s “sharp power” thrust. The Journal of Democracy carries a set of eight articles on “China in Xi’s new era” examining the country’s internal changes in the wake of the 19th Party Congress, its expanding global ambitions, and its…

Soft Power and Hard Targets

Occasionally I co-lead a strategy workshop for State Department practitioners of public diplomacy.  Each participant brings a topic and develops it into a public diplomacy campaign over five days; it’s learning by doing. The hardest thing for our students – both Foreign Service Officers and locally-hired staffers – is to define a clear objective and…

Labels and sharp power

Last week I spoke to a Great Decisions discussion group in Arlington, Virginia.  Great Decisions is a program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association to encourage citizen awareness of foreign relations. The topic, “The Media and Foreign Policy,” gave me the chance to highlight the work of public diplomacy.  As so much diplomacy is carried…

Folded newspaper section "China Watch"

A New Challenge for Public Diplomacy

Did public diplomacy just get a new job? Sharp power is the latest buzzword in international affairs.  Last week The Economist magazine featured a study by the National Endowment for Democracy by that name.  The new National Security Strategy dwells on how China and Russia are using traditional “soft power” instruments in new ways to advance their…

Venus Meets Mars

This week’s Lunch and Learn session for public diplomacy staffers presented a panel of public affairs experts from the world of politics and corporate crisis communications. Public diplomacy and public relations are cousins, but with clear differences — nowhere more pronounced than in the area of crisis and political communication.  This sparked a fascinating compare-and-contrast…

Council Hosts Media Professionals from Dubai

The Council hosted a delegation of public communications executives from Dubai Monday morning as part of their International Media Diplomacy Program in Washington.  The Protocol School of Washington and the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO) co-sponsored the event. Several Council members and Shawn Powers, staff director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy,…

Public Diplomacy Candidate at Foreign Relations Committee

Irwin Steven Goldstein told the Foreign Relations Committee, “If confirmed, I look forward to working with the Department’s very talented career officials to ensure that we are speaking with one clear, consistent, and compelling voice.” The veteran public relations executive’s official statement is attached to this blog post.  He appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee…