Social Media's Role in Shaping Public Diplomacy

Social Media's Role in Shaping Public Diplomacy

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Maha Neouchy
February 25, 2013

TWC would like to extend a special thanks to the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), the Department of State's Public Diplomacy (PD) Communications Bureau. IIP hosted the International Affairs Program participants for a special session at the George Marshall Center, located in the East Auditorium of the Washington, D.C. office.


In today's day and age, it has become increasingly important to develop a strong online web presence, especially with emerging trends in social media. Coordinator Dawn McCall, who introduced the work of IIP, shared that the State Department has searched for methods to comfortably adjust their "communications programs so that they inform and engage international audiences abroad." Coordinator McCall addressed different initiatives of the bureau, which have been implemented and developed in over 200 embassies around the world.


In the last 18 months, the 225 year-old agency has "supported the achievement of U.S. policy goals and has advanced national interests" through new initiatives implemented by social media, including 8 Facebook pages and 12 Twitter handles, reaching over 1.4 billion people worldwide. In addition, IIP has launched a number of online campaigns, in support of issues like Gay Rights and Disabilities. The work of the Bureau advances the mission of Public Diplomacy, working to "find new and innovative ways to promote national discussion of fundamental values and breaking down barriers in order to discard misconceptions."


In addition to hearing from Coordinator McCall, the International Affairs program had the opportunity to hear from a series of PD Foreign and Civil Service officers as well as contractors and academics, who work and support the achievement of U.S. policy goals and advance national interests through various Communications initiatives. They included:


  • David Shelby, Acting Director IIP, Office of Regional Coordination
  • Laura Gritz, Deputy Director, Office of Innovative Engagement
  • Victoria Mangam, Social Media Specialist, Office of Web Engagement
  • Jose G.Power, Social Media Specialist, Office of Web Engagement
  • Jason Katz, Division Chief, Office of Video Production
  • Mark Betka, Program Manager, Office of CO.NX
  • Christopher Toppe, Ph.D., Senior Social Scientist, Office of Audience Research and Evaluation

Justin Loza, student from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and social media intern at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, found "the visit to the State Department invaluable to the professional development" at his internship. He recommends a visit with IIP to "anyone interning at similar internship sites," since he was able to apply everything he learned during the session.


[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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