Welcome to the blog about
Consular and Public Diplomacies
Consular and Public Diplomacies
The main objective of Public Diplomacy is to influence foreign citizens to achieve a country´s foreign policy goal. Therefore, an essential element to be considered is the nation´s image and reputation. People are more likely to accept other country´s actions if they have a good reputation, or at least it does not have a negative image.
The concepts Soft Power and Nation Branding have been discussed and debated in the last decades, creating an enormous amount of bibliography. From the rejection of the term from his creator[i] to the millions of dollars invested in many countries´ efforts to improve their image and reputation, both expressions are still being debated, and there is no consensus on their definitions and accomplishments.
I believe that debates are great for the development of a field of study, but one has to be careful about what you read. As both ideas come from many different academic areas, from strategic communications and marketing to psychology and sociology and from international affairs to nationalism, there are multiple, often opposing, perspectives on these subjects.
Interestingly enough, several world ranking systems have been created for both topics, such as the old Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brand Index, Country Brand Index by Future Brand; Country Brand Ranking by Bloom Consulting; Elcano Global Presence Index by Real Instituto Elcano; Nations Brand Report and Global Soft Power Index by Brand Finance; Soft Power30 by Portland Communications; and Soft Power Survey by Monocle magazine.
I think these issues are particularly complicated as both delve into the core of the idea of the nation, the identity of its people, and the generation and use of power in the international arena.
In the area of Soft Power and Nation Branding, the ministry of foreign affairs has a small role, as other government and non-government actors come in to play, from Tourism, Investment and Trade Promotion boards, all the way to the office of the executive branch. And all have their agendas and speak “different” languages.
Another issue is that both deal with perceptions that is difficult as could be, particularly when talking about countries and millions of citizens.
A particular development in the topic is that Nation Branding, Soft Power, and Public Diplomacy are concepts that even if they are different, they are intertwined and feed into each other, augmenting the confusion.
For example, in The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, different authors discuss the three terms in various ways, as it can be seen in the titles of some of the book's chapters:
-Making a National Brand by Wally Olins,
-The EU as Soft Power: the Force of Persuasion by Anna Michalksi
-Rethinking the “New” Public Diplomacy by Brian Hocking
-Power, Public Diplomacy and the Pax Americana by Peter van Ham.
Another example is the analysis made by Gyorgy Szonzi in Public Diplomacy and National Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences of five different ways on how Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding interrelate, depending on how both terms are conceptualized.
In table 1 there is a schematic view of the three concepts. It could be useful for a more precise idea of the differences between these terms, even if all are talking about the same
After this long warning, now let´s talk about these two concepts.
Regarding Nation Branding, I recommend these three readings: a) the Council on Foreign Relations´ backgrounder Nation Branding Explained; b) “Place Branding: The State of Art” by Peter van Ham and Melissa Aronczyk´s Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity, which I enjoyed immensely.
And let´s not forget the copious writings of two British Nation Branding eminences: Simon Anholt[ii] and the late Wally Olins.[iii] For a comprehensive bibliography on the subject, including texts in German, I suggest you visit Oliver Zöllner´s Reading List.[iv]
Nation Branding derives from the corporate world, specifically from marketing and consumer behavior disciplines. A Nation Branding effort involves not only the participation of the ministry of foreign affairs but is a whole-country approach. It has a similar premise of Soft Power: the force or strength of attraction and also includes culture and foreign and domestic policy as sources of the nation´s brand, therefore its reputation and influence abroad.
And for Soft Power, Joseph Nye explains in the article “Think Again: Soft Power”, what it is and not is Soft Power, giving very concrete examples. He complains that many analysts have confusion about power resources vs. behavior and states that “whether power resources produce a favorable outcome depends on the context.”[v] So, it is not all black (Hard Power) or white (Soft Power), but many shades of gray, depending mostly on behavior and context.
Nye describes that a country´s soft power derives from “three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).”[vi] Therefore, it seems to me that Soft Power is more than just public diplomacy or nation branding.
As we have seen, Soft Power and Nation Branding are challenging concepts to grasp. Both are intertwined, and they are always cited in Public Diplomacy studies. I hope this was useful.
Now that I have revised the basic concepts discussed in this blog, in the next three postings, I will focus on a topic that is not well-known outside Mexico: its Consular Diplomacy.
I will review most chapters of the book La Diplomacia Consular Mexicana en los tiempos de Trump, (Mexican Consular Diplomacy in Trump´s Era) coordinated by Rafael Fernández de Castro, a well-known Mexican foreign policy analyst and currently the director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies of the University of California, San Diego.
[i] Simon Anholt is credited to have created the term Nation Branding in 1996. Notwithstanding, later on Anholt rejected the term instead using Competitive Identity. For more information see Anholt, Simon, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, New York, 2007.
[ii] See for example Anholt, Simon, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, New York, 2007; and Places: Identity, Images and Reputation, New York, 2010.
[iii] See Olins, Wally, “Branding the Nation – the Historical Context” in Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 9, No. 4-5, p 241-248; “Making a National Brand” in Jan Melissen (ed), The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, New York, 2005; and Wally Olins and Jeremy Hildreth, “National Branding: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” in Nigel Morgan, Annette Pritchard and Roger Pride (eds.), Destination Brands: Managing Place Reputation, 3er edition, Oxford, 55-66.
[iv] Although I noticed that there is not a single article specifically about Mexico.
[v] Nye, Joseph, “Think again: Soft Power” in Foreign Policy, February 23, 2006
[vi] Nye, Joseph, “Think again: Soft Power
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.