The Daily Demarche
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Of indictments and Public Diplomacy
First-Tom DeLay has done the honorable thing and stepped down while this indictment is investigated- Michelle Malkin has covered so thoroughly there is nothing really for me to say except this: if he is guilty, he should pay. If not there had better be a long, loud apology from those who brought the charges. What are the odds of that, though (an apology, not a "not-guilty")? I imagine this will take a while- first someone will have to explain the concept of honor to those making the accusations, it might take a while for that concept to sink in.

Now, onto new business. I recently discovered a blog about Public Diplomacy called Eccentric Star: A Public Diplomacy Weblog. Not sure how I missed this one for such a long time, but here is an excerpt from the "about me" page:

I'm a former USIA Foreign Service Officer. I was with USIA from late 1984 until mid-1998. My posts were Rome, Amman, Algiers, Colombo, and Ulaanbaatar.

I resigned from the Foreign Service in 1998, before USIA was absorbed into the State Department. I should do a post sometime on why I quit the Foreign Service. I'll stick to a short version here, which is that I loved working in public diplomacy but that my last embassy proved beyond a doubt that PD was not valued at State; and that, in any case, I was increasingly unhappy living with the cultures of embassies and expat 'bubbles.'

Check out the site when you have a chance- it shows a lot of promise.

Tying into the Public Diplomacy theme, I found an interesting report on the web last night- The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index. You'll have to register (it's free) to download the report- but here is how the folks at Anholt-GMI describe the report:

The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index is the first analytical ranking of the world's nation brands. Each quarter, the Index, led by nation brands expert Simon Anholt, polls consumers from the GMI worldwide five million-strong market research panel on their perceptions of the cultural, political, commercial and human assets, investment potential and tourist appeal of several countries. This adds up to a clear measurement of national brand power, and a unique barometer of global opinion.

Nation brand is an important concept in today's world. Globalization means that countries compete with each other for the attention, respect and trust of investors, tourists, consumers, donors, immigrants, the governments of other nations and the media: so a powerful and positive nation brand provides a crucial competitive advantage. it is essential for countries both rich and poor to understand how they are seen by the publics around the world; how their achievements and failures, their assets and liabilities, and their people and products are reflected in their brand image.

I find the idea of a poll designed to measure the "brand power" of nations to be very interesting. Of course, like all such polls, the design of the questions can skew the results, and of course they don't reveal exactly what all of the questions are, in fact they give precious few clues about what they ask. I was able to find a few sample questions on the web site. Would anyone be surprised to learn that the few they all go something like this:

- Do you think the severity of Hurricane Katrina is a direct result of global warming?
- Do you think the Bush administration should do more to acknowledge the impact of global warming?
- Do you think the Bush administration should do more to help persons impacted by Hurricane Katrina?
- Do you think the Bush administration should release America's strategic oil reserves to stabilize the price of gasoline and other products?

You get the idea. Other than that they do go so far as to reveal that the questions are designed to elicit opinions about the following six areas: tourism, exports, governance, investment and immigration, culture and heritage, and people.

I am sure by now you might be interested in the results of this poll, so here are the top 25 "Nation Brands" as determined by Anholt-GMI:

1. Australia
2. Canada
3. Switzerland
4. United Kingdom
5. Sweden
6. Italy
7. Germany
8. The Netherlands
9. France
10. New Zealand
11. The United States
12. Spain
13. Ireland
14. Japan
15. Brazil
16. Mexico
17. Egypt
18. India
19. Poland
20. South Korea
21. China
22. South Africa
23. Czech Republic
24. Russia
25. Turkey

The designers of this poll say that:

The implications of the NBI finding are genuinely significant for governments and their foreign services, tourist boards, investment promotion agencies, cultural institutes and exporters. It means that the individual successes and failures of each agency, ministry, company and organisation, and the content and quality of their actions and communications, are inextricably linked with those of all the other stakeholders and with the image of the country as a whole. This means that the nation brand should be measured and managed as a whole, and that treating the management or promotion of any one sector in isolation is likely to be less effective than a coordinated approach. (Emphasis added.)

Now, I am not certain if I agree with them that this poll is useful in a practical way, after all I am slightly skeptical about the questions they have asked. I'd like to see all of the questions and the demographics of those polled, but I doubt that is a possibility. For all I know the poll and the release of it's data is nothing more than a stroke of marketing genius on the behalf of Simon Anholdt, who is author of Brand America : The Mother of All Brands (Great Brand Stories series).

I am still digesting the report, I hope some of you will download it and read it as well- I plan to post more on this in the next day or so, especially on the data they share about "Brand America." I look forward to your comment and thoughts on this report.
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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