Thoughts on Public Diplomacy

Group 2 of Applied Public Diplomacy

My Last Hurrah

One last blog post with which to end the semester… Am I ready to become a public diplomat? Tory is—and maybe when I finally finish off a PD masters I will be too. This course was educational and eye-opening for a number of reasons, not the least of which was being surrounded by so many knowledgeable individuals willing to share their work and life experiences with this poor, undergraduate student. (Thanks guys!)

These blog posts have been an…interesting way of thinking through the topics brought up in readings and in class. I won’t pretend to love them, but I will write one last post as a personal semester finale, if you will.

This week’s main topic was strategic communication, which, as Tory pointed out, is a term recently out of use by the U.S. Department of Defense. And this just seems to be the week for banning phrases (if you haven’t heard about the Associated Press banning the term “homophobia” in its new style book, check it out here) and redefinitions. But I have my doubts that changing the title of a job is really going to change the job itself. As leaders in the Pentagon finally realized, strategic communication personnel simply duplicate work already being done by public affairs offices, and the added layer of bureaucracy was simply confusing for everyone involved. However, now that the terms are all cleared up, what are those employees going to do? The slow speed of change within government agencies is a topic the class has discusses a few times this semester, with no easy solution on how to fix the speed of change without leaving the government open to fund-draining ideas. But this is one case in which that slow movement could be a big problem. What will the DoD do with these former strategic communications personnel? Is the government going to fire them? Doubtful. It would look pretty bad for the government to start firing employees over job titles and descriptions while the unemployment rate is still so high. Will they continue to do their old jobs? Also doubtful, since their job duties contributed to the overall confusion. They will more than likely not be shuffled around to other departments either. Perhaps the department should have considered this problem before discontinuing the use of the term, and perhaps it did, and we will all have to wait and see what action this slow moving government takes. On the other hand, this could be a prime example of Bryan’s point about military action: the initial action of getting rid of the confusing phrase was a highly valued step. The follow-up and actual implementation of that plan to remove the phrase are more time consuming and less interesting.

There’s a bit of a ramble for you. Have a good break y’all!

~Shaina

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