Kristina Plavšak Krajnc, M.I.A, (Master of International Relations, Columbia University) a member of the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, published her article »Public Diplomacy: basic Concepts and Trends« in a Slovene scholarly journal Teorija in praksa – Theory and Practice in March 2004 - 2004 (41), 3-4: 643-658. Hereby the article is brought to you in full, with an updated introduction (2005).

Abstract: While opening current debates on public diplomacy in Slovenia - like in many countries around the world - focusing in particular on its relevance, aims and functioning modes, one should initially find a basic definition or rather a common denominator on the concept. Fundamental understanding about what public diplomacy stands for, should further lead to answering questions on public diplomacy's potentials and expectations. Such answers can build firm grounds for relevant recommendations and strategies for contemporary functioning of public diplomacy, nationally and internationally. Therefore, the article first defines the concept of public diplomacy in its diverse, often contradictory conceptions, then it brings together different approaches to public diplomacy's understanding and finally, points to contemporary trends of r/evolution in public diplomacy.

Key words: public diplomacy, secret diplomacy, persuasion, propaganda, public relations, media, branding states, foreign cultural policy.


In the period just before entering the European Union it has been also the Slovenian professional and political space that has been recognizing the need for the so-called public diplomacy. Thus respectable participants of the first set of discussions about the future of Slovenia with the President of the Republic on the subject of »Globally Active and Recognizable Slovenia« (2003) recommended that »now more than ever the economic and public diplomacy should become integral parts of foreign policy implementation«. In their recommendations for the future Slovenian foreign policy they emphasized: »It is of utmost importance to thoughtfully plan and lead the foreign policy of relations with foreign publics with a goal of strengthening the reputation and recognizability of Slovenia, Slovenian companies, our values and possibilities of specific state or civil initiatives in the international environment.« Similar were the thoughts of former Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop and the Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel at the Consultations of the Slovenian diplomacy by saying that with the membership in the European Union it was necessary to pay more attention to public and parliamentary diplomacy, foreign politics, economic diplomacy and scientific cooperation (STA, 2004). Public diplomacy was also a central theme of the professional debate in the Slovenian Association for International Relations (2004), where joint conclusions and recommendations about the future activities of Slovenia in this area were presented.
Furthermore, the new Slovene government, formed in December 2004, stated in its Coalition agreement under special title on public diplomacy (Chapter 9, Paragraph 16) that »informing of publics on international questions and Slovene foreign policy tasks would improve« and that »the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would strengthen its »public diplomacy«. In this sense Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel pointed to the responsibility of ambassadors to show how the image of Slovenia improved around the world. In his opinion Slovene diplomats should be active, proving their efficiency also on the basis of numerous published articles in foreign media and diverse mentioning of Slovenia by foreign publics (2005).
These debates and various statements have brought certain confusion about the meaning of public diplomacy, its goals and ways of activity. Therefore, it is first of all necessary to establish a minimal definition or joint denominator on the concept of public diplomacy. Understanding what public diplomacy basically is or isn't can bring to answers on the questions what it in the existing conditions can do and what can we reasonably expect from it. Only answers of such kind can represent an appropriate foundation for suitable recommendations and strategies for modern operation of Slovenian public diplomacy. The purpose of this article is to define the concept of public diplomacy in their diverse, often paradoxical comprehensions, to at least slightly introduce approaches to understanding of public diplomacy, while at the same time indicating modern trends in the r/evolution of public diplomacy. With this we would like to draw a fundamental framework for the analysis and recognition of the potentials of Slovenian public diplomacy and its future directions.


»Public diplomacy is a public face of a traditional diplomacy.« (Ross, 2002 in Leonard, 2002: 1).

Diplomacy in its multilayered meaning represents a formulation and implementation of foreign politics, technique of foreign politics, international negotiations and professional activity, which is being performed by the diplomats (Benk, 1997: 255-262; Nicolson, 1988/1939: 3-5). Diplomacy can be simply defined as a primary method with which foreign politics is realized and as normal means of communication in international relations (Vukadinovic, 1994: 109). In representation of one of the authors »the (foreign) politics is a formulation and a direction; and the diplomacy a communication and realization. It is a lubricant for the machinery of foreign politics« (Olson, 1991: 60). Diplomacy is responsible for managing the relations between countries and countries and other actors through the assistance of advice, design and realization of foreign politics, coordinating and ensuring specific and wide interests (Barston, 1988: 1). A diplomatic activity is meant for advancement of national interests with practices of persuasion (Smith, 1999).
Within such understanding we can locate also the concept of public diplomacy. In the two most commonly used definitions Signitzer and Coombs (1992: 138) understand the public diplomacy as: »... a way, with which the government and the private individuals and groups can directly or indirectly influence those public opinions and positions, which directly influence the foreign politics decisions of another government.« In their understanding the public diplomacy is widening its field of traditional diplomatic activities: from the sphere of »high politics« on the diverse issues and aspects of daily life and from the »closed« sphere of governments and diplomats on new actors and target groups, i.e. different individuals, groups and institutions, which are joining international and intercultural communication activities and have influence on the political relations between countries (Signitzer and Coombs 1992: 139). Similarly Manheim (1994: 4) comes to the conclusion that the purpose of public diplomacy is explanation and speaking in favor of governmental policy and representing a nation to foreign publics. He defines the strategic public diplomacy as »government to people« (government – public) diplomatic activity, which includes government efforts to influence the public and elite opinion in another country and through this also the foreign policy activities of a target country.
Public diplomacy should distinguish itself from the traditional diplomacy in the fact that it includes interaction not only with the governments, but especially with nongovernmental individuals and organizations (Murrow, 1963 in Leonard, 2002: 1). As said by Tuch (1990: 3), public diplomacy presupposes an open communication process, which is based on the principle of publicity and is trying to speak to the public, as opposed to the traditional diplomacy, the characteristics of which are secrecy and exclusivity. Gilboa (2001: 1) describes the public diplomacy in the sense of content as activities in the field of informing, education and culture, which are directed to foreign countries with a purpose of influencing foreign governments through influencing their citizens. Most of the authors in this field (in Leonard, 2002) agree upon the desired effects of diverse activities of public diplomacy: to make the transmitted messages being »heard«, accepted and understood, to create and strengthen within the target public a positive relation towards the communicated policies and with this to consolidate recognizability, positive image, reputation and the international position of the home country.
To summarize, public policy can be simply defined as a form of convincing communication with foreign publics in the context of fulfilling the goals of the foreign politics. Basically, we are talking about convincing communication, with which governments are trying through information and persuasion to influence the opinions and positions of the public abroad or rather in foreign countries, in order to create a proper pressure on the policy makers and with this influencing the decisions and activities of their governments in accordance with their goals and interests (Gruban, 2002: 10).


»Call it public diplomacy or public relations or psychological warfare or – if you really want to be frank – propaganda.« (Holbrooke, 2001 in Brown, 2002: 3).

In professional debates and publicist texts we can often find laic or even wrong understanding of the concept of public diplomacy. It is true that the concept in its different forms of appearance, i.e. activities, is conditioned with historical and international circumstances, but it has despite different approaches consolidated in its basic pre-assumptions. A special focus shall be given to them in continuation with an assistance of the most commonly asked general, as well as paradoxical claims, around which nowadays the understandings of modern public diplomacy are »moving freely«.

Public diplomacy is the opposite of secret diplomacy

The secret diplomacy was actually overgrown by the so-called open, democratic diplomacy, which was introduced by the American president Woodrow Wilson into the international system after the World War I: »Open peace negotiations with open participation, after which there will be no more secret international agreements and the diplomacy will always operate sincerely and in front of the eyes of the general public.« (Morgenthau, 1995: 669). The foundation of such a concept represented a basic model of a democratic diplomacy, which was deriving from a fact that a diplomat (as a public servant) was subordinated to the foreign minister, foreign minister (as a member of the government) is responsible to and depends on the parliamentary majority, while the parliament represents the will of the sovereign people (Nicolson, 1963: 42). In fact, the demand for an open diplomacy first meant a demand for letting the public know that the negotiations are being held (except in rare cases) and that the international agreements as a result of those are publicized (Rangajaran, 1998: 21).
With this, we have on one side the allowed secrecy or discretion in negotiations, needed for their functionality, while on the other side we receive the openness of diplomatic activity or rather availability of information about the diplomatic activity (publishing the results of negotiations, following the negotiations, press conferences, etc.) as a condition for democratic supervision of the public over the foreign policy and its verification in sense of parliamentary debate and ratification of the international treaties. Therefore, in principle, the basic framework for the diverse diplomatic activities, including the public one, is nowadays represented by parliamentary-democratic political systems and therefore we can talk neither of secret nor of »transparent« diplomacy, but rather of diplomacy, which balances the discretion and the publicity of its activities with a proper measure.

Public diplomacy is essentially propaganda

It is a fact that public diplomacy does not consist only of informing in the sense of transmitting objective, »neutral« information, but is rather fundamentally defined exactly by its »intentionality«, or its intent to persuade. Therefore we shall compare the most basic definitions of persuasion and propaganda. Persuasion is »a complex continuing interactive process, in which the communicator is trying to influence the communication partner, to accept the proposed positions and behavioral patterns (the persuaded one has to expand or change his/her perceptions of the events in the world).« (Vreg, 2000: 92) As opposed to that propaganda »uses and abuses the model of persuasive communication of interdependent dependency and reciprocity to create an appearance of equal, bilateral communication and satisfaction of the needs and interests of the public.« (Vreg, 2000: 116) Propaganda can be understood also as »single-meaning, usually half-true communication, designed to convince the public opinion.« (Grunig, 1993: 147). Despite this many authors warn of the interconnectedness of the actual processes. Kunczik (2003: 400) speaks of a semantic game between the terms of public diplomacy, propaganda, public relations and advertising. Tuch (1990: 9) is arguing that propaganda would be a most satisfactory term if it would be used in its original meaning and not burdened with numerous historically conditioned negative connotations. Similarly Vreg (2000: 103) concludes that each communicative persuasion contains elements of political propaganda, which has a pejorative meaning, therefore a connotation of manipulation and false argumentation.
Therefore in our opinion we can talk of public diplomacy also within the context of the so-called international propaganda, as is understood by Vreg (2000: 109): »... is a communication of national states to influence the politically relevant behavior of people of other nations and countries.« In our understanding of this persuasion-propaganda model, though, hard power is in principle excluded, while the public diplomacy is using predominately the so-called soft power, i.e. the ability to achieve desired foreign policy goals through creation o the attractiveness of the politics, persuasion, determining media-public agenda with an intent of trans-forming the preferences of other countries, their following and agreeing with the desired activity (Nye and Owens, 1996: 9).

Public diplomacy contains relations with domestic as well as with international publics

In principle, the pubic diplomacy remains a (diplomatic) means of (implementing) the foreign politics, with which the state is in accordance with its goals trying to effect or influence the international environment and is therefore by definition directed primarily towards the foreign publics. Therefore in its basic concept the pubic diplomacy cannot be an alternative term for classical government relations with the public (such as for example »public diplomacy within the government«) or communication of the foreign ministry within the mother state, where it is more or less in a function of internal political persuasion and democratic legitimization of the representatives of the people. In USA for example, the Smith-Mundt act from 1948, which prohibits the activities of public diplomacy on domestic soil, is still in force. In the modern times of communication-information interconnectedness and interdependency, which is also expressed through trends of converging of domestic and foreign politics and internationalization of modern life, such strict distinction between the communication activities for domestic and foreign publics is factually almost not any more possible.
Crossroads between the public diplomacy and public relations represents an area of the so-called international (global, transnational) public relations, which mark »the efforts to improve the reputation of one country in another one (or more countries) with an assistance of spreading interesting information, where building of a hostile image of a third country can serve as nourishing of their own reputation.« (Kunczik, 1997: 165). With this it is often hard to distinguish between activities of this kind that are being performed by countries, international political and economic organizations or transnational corporations, and can be therefore talked about a general definition of international relations with publics as any »planned and organized efforts of a company, institution or government, to establish mutually useful relations with publics of other countries and nations.« (Wilcox, Ault and Agee, 1992: 409-410) Different authors (Signitzer and Coombs, 1992; Grunig, 1993) are finding parallels between both concepts: in similar goals, i.e. to influence foreign publics in favor of the own organization/government, in similar target (foreign) publics, in similar strategies and use of tools.
In our opinion the most important common point of the public diplomacy and international public relations concepts is in the fact that we are talking about long-term, complex processes of interaction, in which versatile, but symmetrical relations with foreign publics are constructed. Public relations are understood as holistic management of relations of a certain organization with its publics, where communicating presents itself as one of possible, but not only way of acting, while in the process of interaction organization and its publics are acting and influencing together (Verčič, 2000).

Public diplomacy is public lobbying

The basic tasks of diplomacy, as they are defined by the international law are representation, negotiation and observation (Benko, 1997: 258). The third article of the Vienna Convention (1961) on the Diplomatic relations, defines the functions of diplomatic missions as such: representing the sender state within the host state; protection of the interests of the sender state and its citizens within the receptive state; negotiations with the government of the host state, getting acquainted through all legitimate means with the conditions and course of events within the host state and reporting on it to the government of the sender state; advancement and development of friendly relations. Public diplomacy is also in modern times remaining within the defined tasks and functions, taking into the consideration the specific dimension of the public domain: so for instance a modern diplomat is publicly representing and interpreting the positions of his/her own country (media and public appearances), is reporting and commenting the atmosphere of the public opinion and the media in the host state, is cooperating with the media and opinion leaders, is making contact with important representatives of the economy, interest groups, sciences, academic institutions and more.
We think that some of these (usual) diplomatic activities could be characterized as lobbying activities. Lobbying in the proper sense of the word, i.e. as a separate set of professional tasks and activities, with the assistance of which they should in the informal institutional networks influence the decision-making process in the name of special general benefits or benefits of specific groups of people (Mack, 1989 in Kovač, 2000), cannot become the central and the determining segment of public diplomacy. In this context it would be more sensible to undertake a special treatment of the role of the so-called economic diplomacy, which works in the function of promoting the economic interests and actors of the mother state abroad.

Public diplomacy is enactment of events for the media

We can claim that the media have finally entered the traditionally exclusive sphere of diplomacy: not only that they are responding to the international political events, but are actively entering the processes of communication between the governments and the publics about the international politics and have even themselves become means of foreign politics through calming and mediating but also straining the relations and conflicts (Kunczik, 2003: 409). With the expansion of global communication the world politics has become in great measure transmitted through media and is especially through the international television networks, with the so-called CNN effect, as if real-time happening in front of the eyes of the »global« public (Gilboa, 2002; Robinson 2001). The dynamics and the way of work are irreversibly changing in the modern diplomacy, which often enough operates in conditions, when »valuable information, observations and recommendations from far-away diplomatic and intelligence sources stopped arriving at the right time to influence the decisions and even when such information arrive on time they cannot compete with the dramatic television footage and live reports of crises and foreign affairs.« (Gilboa, 2002: 737).
To the »media reality« and its laws are up to a certain measure adapting also global politicians and foreign policy actors with formulation and implementation of their policies, where they are trying with different techniques and skills of public relations to improve not only the contents, but rather to create events, worth of media coverage, to strengthen the convincability of public image and the likeability of their foreign policies. So, also those that are involved into this process admit that »it is too often important how well certain policy will be 'played out', how the images will appear, if the right signals will be sent and if the public will be impressed over the flexibility of the government's response – and not if the policy advances the long-term national interests.« (Gergen, 1991: 48-49). Therefore some authors (Ammon, 2001; Gilboa, 2001) speak of diplomacy, which in its instrumentalization systematically and meticulously follows the media laws and formats and is transforming into the forms of so-called media diplomacy, tele(di)plomacy, photoplomacy, soundbite-, instant- and real-time diplomacy. Even more radical are those claims that in the are of media wars, »the western diplomacies have become so sophisticated in turning the public information on a visually cunning manner and television networks, that operate in symbiotic relation with the government and strive towards the conformation of geo-political agendas, determined by the strong governments.« (Thussu, 2000: 5)
Despite these trends media activity cannot completely substitute the activities of public diplomacy: even though they are coming together on the field of communication and media representation, diplomatic and journalist professions remain distinguishable in preserving their own special and separate functions. Daily news and media reports cannot satisfy the needs of decision making processes in foreign policy and international issues in such a measure as more profound diplomatic reports, rich with information, sources, analyses and recommendations (Vukadinović, 1994: 248-249). Also we cannot underestimate the role of traditional diplomatic channels and the meaning of inter-personal (diplomatic) communication. Nonetheless, there is a general rule, which is approved by rich experience, that the media with a lack of clear policy and convincing governmental strategy usually cause devastating results (Robinson, 2001: 532; Hoge, 1994: 138).

Public diplomacy is promotion and branding states abroad

We agree with the finding that states in the process of globalization loose control, but can also gain in influence (Brown and Studemeister, 2001: 3). Ham (2002) even speaks of a move from geopolitics and power in times of postmodern, for which influence and image are typical. Since also in the global politics are »today the shows/imagination the staging space for action, not only for flight« (Appadurai, 1996 in Rosenau 1999: 7). Therefore in the modern world the states, and the international organizations as well, are striving for the best possible holistic presentation, the so-called promotion, in order to increase their reputation/image, which we understand as a sum of all cognitive, affective and value perceptions and positions about a particular state and nation, which is up to a certain measure founded on trust (Kunczik, 2003: 412).
In this context Kline and Berginc (2004: 1045) argue that the traditional diplomacy is disappearing and that the politicians in the future will have to find a niche for their own country, i.e. its market brand. According to his words, it means »entering into competitive marketing of the country, ensuring the loyalty and satisfaction of its and foreign citizens and especially creating an added value of its own market brand in the eyes of different groups of its receivers» (Ibid.). The same is argued also by other authors (Ham, 2001; Kunczik, 1997), that countries in this case are representing themselves according to the advertising of commercial products and are competing for the affection of the public like market brands (so-called »brand state«). »States as brands are still 'warring' (and were created - i.e. formed and constituted - in 'war') even though this time through a non-violent race for market shares and recognizability.« (Ham, 2002: 265). At the same time they emphasize that the state as trade brand can not be artificially designed, and it must first of all be based on the identity of the country, which is on its self-perception, vision and national culture. For greater recognizability of the state, consequential strengthening of its image/reputation and finally, for the establishment of a trade mark it is necessary to invest greatly into the planned communication and state as a brand must be confirmed also by its citizens (Kline, 2004).
In the area of state branding undoubtedly the national tourist organizations are leading, that are effectively performing concrete strategic and creative international public relations, which in a synergetic manner contribute to the all of the effects of the public diplomacy of a particular state (Kunczik, 2003: 415-416). But such advertising and PR campaigns cannot be equalized with the public diplomacy, since we are often talking about different dimensions of a product, i.e. state, which is being marketed in such a manner for different target publics. It is important to note that public diplomacy is not merely a collection of techniques of state promotion (advertising, public relations, publicity), but is fundamentally determined by content and quality of formulizing and implementing the foreign policy – in the sense of »deeds are stronger than words«. With this according to our opinion also two maxims are valid: »If the image is bad and our deeds good, it is our fault for not knowing to communicate. If the image is a realistic picture of our shortcomings, the fault is still ours for not knowing to manage well.« (Bernstein, 1986 in Jančič, 1998: 1039).

Public diplomacy is in function of foreign cultural policy

Already the »fathers« of public diplomacy Signitzer and Coombs (1992) recognize in addition to the so-called tough-minded line, which is using propaganda and persuasion also the so-called tender-minded line of public diplomacy. This one is standing on a principle that information and cultural programs must circumvent the momentary goals of foreign politics and focus on highest, long-term national goals. In this light comes the thinking that public diplomacy does not only stand in the function of foreign policy, but rather as the so-called cultural diplomacy takes over the role of performing the so-called foreign cultural policy, developing international cultural relations, intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation.
Complications arrive already in the content vantage point of such understanding of public diplomacy: the basic navigation for the activity of public diplomacy is national interests and foreign policy goals, which are in principle founded on internal consensus on the national identity and values. How can therefore public diplomacy in its communication adjust »the diversity inwards and the universality outwards«, without entering cultural imperialism and with actual encouragement of the patterns of intercultural tolerance? There also rises a question of who are the actors of cultural diplomacy: are these the national ministries of culture or rather independent, public institutions, known in Europe (for instance British Council, Goethe Institute, cultural centers abroad) or independent cultural institutions and artists themselves, international organizations, professional associations etc.
Our understanding of the international cultural streams goes more in the direction of breaking institutional and state frameworks, where foreign politics and diplomacy are mostly standing at its side and taking care of not being an obstacle. In this sense for instance can young artists become the best cultural ambassadors, since it is their creativity and specific life-style that represent a recognizable element of modern-day identity, it breaks stereotypical patterns and as such operates outwards effectively, if not even contagiously.


»A modern diplomat can be anyone that identifies himself/herself with the values of a certain country within the international community and the humanitarian models of solving the open dilemmas of globalization.« (Guček, 2003: 3)

Treating the basic assumption can assist also in understanding of public diplomacy in modern times amd the directions of its future development. With conceptualization of the so-called modern public diplomacy it is essential to take into account that the environment from which today the functional need for public diplomacy is deriving, is irreversibly changing, especially with the revolutionary development of communication channels and information technologies and as such dictates modern (conventional and alternative) methods of public diplomacy activities.
The international community of the 21st century is defined by many paradoxes and oppositions, such as processes of fragmentation and integration (so-called fragmegration). The international relations and diplomacy, while at the same time present-day wars, are occurring today in interdependent global networks of actors, information and ideas, where media, information-technology and ideal spaces are overgrowing the state territory and with this also the traditional concepts of sovereignty and power (Rosenau, 1999). The present-day international community is »a bowl for whisking eggs, which contains shells of sovereignty, while the omelet of the global community is being made.« (Booth, 1991 in Rosenau, 1999: 6). In post-Newton metaphor, which is representing the present-day global politics, on the (global) pool table count not only the additional balls (new actors), but also and foremost game dynamics and interaction between the balls, a new key factor being goods/basis, on which the game is played (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 1999: 8). Important issue here is of course communication or even imagination, where things that are presented through media, especially through global television networks, such as CNN, as real and is also perceived as real, which is today factually represented in the so-called 'wag-the-dog' foreign policy or rather in medialization or even virtualization of the present-day armed conflicts.
According to our opinion the concept of public diplomacy is in such an environment becoming a dominant concept of present-day diplomacy for the 21st century. Despite numerous predictions of the end of diplomacy the new context of international relations is dictating even more diplomacy, which is in its basic communication function remaining central. The present-day (public) diplomacy as such already in its core contains communication activities, where communication is not a purpose in itself, but is joined with concrete foreign policy content, effects, values and norms and is despite this strategically planned as silence (Plavšak, 2004). With this new conceptual questions are being raised on different levels, that are showing the trends of a future r/evolution of public diplomacy and its activity.

  1. On the level of actors (so-called communicators and addressees): in the field of public diplomacy there in addition to traditional diplomatic agents (governments, authorized representatives) others are also active – media, nongovernmental organizations, economic subjects, individuals, etc.

  2. On the level of channels and work methods: the traditional diplomatic channels and work methods are importantly complemented by the use of modern media.

  3. On the level of content and »mission«: public diplomacy is not only acting out its national foreign politics, but is in the modern international relations dealing also with the actual global questions, while partially also in a function of advancing the economy, encouraging cultural understanding, development of cooperation with the civil society, etc.

The present-day operation methods of the public diplomacy can be understood as complementary and to some measure convergent: on one side the role of the traditional diplomacy is preserved as defined by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations (1961), while on the other side it is complemented and enlarged (in the sense of an added value) by network, communication and market ways of operating. Modern diplomats are coping with new challenges and tasks: on one side with their professional activity they are more and more depending on the mass media and the contents transmitted by these, while on the other side they have to preserve the support of different publics for their foreign policy and to nurture its pleasant image, with which they are becoming a sort of public relations and media representatives, communication managers and coordinators (Plavšak, 2002: 116-117). At the same time they have to remain in their primary role pro-active and profound: timely and holistically recognizing and responding to the development of international relations, determining agendas, opening questions, forming coalitions, international regimes or order, catalyzing collective action etc. (Sharp, 1999: 41). We can speak of modern public diplomacy as network, moderator and catalyst diplomacy (Hocking, 2002; Livingston, 2002), which communicates in the networks of actors, including media, translations, mediations, filtering, analysis and interpretation of international and foreign policy matters with an added value. Therefore in the field of foreign politics and international relations a public partnership will have to gain importance, where the state will redirect itself into the moderating role on the basis of cooperation and coordination with the interested, relevant actors, while public diplomacy will be representing the intermediate part between the regulation and self-regulation (Guček, 2003: 2).


In this article we defined the concept of public diplomacy in its basic pre-assumptions. We have warned of the most commonly stated, generalized, paradoxical and even wrong statements, which are showing a »free« understanding of public diplomacy. We have also treated the present-day public diplomacy in the dynamical context of international relations and showed further directions of its development. In this way, we showed that the present-day public diplomacy is understood as integral, network concept that is fundamentally operating mostly in cross-section with other dimensions of foreign policy and international processes (economical, cultural, communication-media, scientific, educational, etc.).
By treating the basic concept and trends of public diplomacy we desired to draw a framework for the analysis and recognition of the potential of Slovenian public diplomacy and its future directions. The main key for founded and concrete recommendations on needed reforms in the existing structures and practices can, according to our opinion, present only an exact overview of the momentary situation in Slovenia and a comparative analysis with other comparable diplomacies. On this spot can be located our most fundamental and concluding recommendation that the Slovenian public diplomacy has to adopt a perspective to become a true European diplomacy, to strive for the non-statism and non-conventional, open, integrative and synergetic, transparent, communicative and creative way of operation. »It is possible and probable that Slovenia will have a famous future. The mission of the diplomacy, the state representation – the work of the ambassadors or representatives – is the effort for such a famous future,« as was said by the Slovenian foreign minister (Rupel, 2004).


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  1. Nicolson (1963: 46-53) has already at the beginning of a discussion about democratic diplomacy also warned of its traps: »sovereign people« are irresponsible or are not aware of their responsibilities, do not possess sufficient knowledge about the foreign affairs and specific questions: they are mostly interested in internal affairs. Therefore according to the opinion of the author the democratic diplomacy can be limited by superficiality in formulations and delays in their implementation, in addition to constant coping with the traps of publicity and propaganda.

  2. Thus Gilboa (1998) in its primary analytical framework distinguishes between secret diplomacy, which is totally isolated from the media and the public; diplomacy of the closed doors, where media and the public are given a limited access, only through information of technical nature; and open diplomacy, which is exposed to wide and direct media reporting.

  3. We can often encounter criticism that the term public diplomacy is just a beautifying term for the American propaganda. The term was first used in 1965 by the dean of Fletcher School of Diplomacy Edmond Gullion. Otherwise the term received negative and propagandist meanings especially with the activity of the so-called United States Information Agency – USIA) in the times of Cold War and in the present-day American struggle against international terrorism, for example with unsuccessful preposition to form the so-called Office for Disinformation. With this it is important to emphasize that public diplomacy is in theory as well as in practice equally and successfully established term in other models as well – for instance among the German authors as »offentliche Diplomatie« (Signitzer and Coombs, 1993; Kunczik, 1997; Zeller and Bernet, 2003; Defago, 2003).

  4. Grunig (1993) concluded that modern governments and other international actors use strategies of public relations, when running public diplomacy. Thus he transplanted his conceptualization of public relations into the international area and has the so-called international public relations classified into four models – model of press representation, model of public informing, two-way asymmetric model and two-way symmetric model. This concept was further developed by L'Etang (1996) with an assistance of Wight theoretical thinking of diplomacy, with which she argues that all the three positions (Machiavelli's, Grotius' and Kant's), which are often passing one into the other, can be found also in the literature on public relations.

  5. Economic diplomacy is not a subject of our research and of this paper on public diplomacy, but the issue was thoroughly argued by Prof. Dr. Franjo Štiblar. According to his words in normal developed countries the economic interest represents the basic guiding principle of the foreign policy and diplomatic activities; therefore the diplomatic support to the economy is intermediary. »Even the most liberal countries (USA) in greatest measure through lobbying in international relations actively interfere with the international economic relations.« (Štiblar, 2004) The fact that a discussion on economic diplomacy was organized at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce at the last conference of the Slovenian diplomacy in February 2004 also witnesses to the importance of the issue.

  6. Gilboa (2001) is developing three conceptual models of diplomacy in the era of media: the model of public diplomacy, the model of media diplomacy and the model, in which the media take over the role of diplomatic mediator, i.e. media-broker diplomacy. In the model of public diplomacy state and non-state actors use media and other channels of communication to favorably influence the public opinion in foreign societies or to improve the reputation of a country abroad. Media diplomacy means that the clerks are using media in order to communicate through them with other actors to solve conflicts. In the last model of media-broker diplomacy the journalists are temporarily taking the role of diplomats and are becoming mediators in international negotiations.

  7. The fact that the statecraft – the ability to rule - is measured by stagecraft – the proficiency of staging – is not an invention of modern time, and the most famous example from the history being the rule of the French king Louis XIV, the so-called Sun King, who rulled from 1661-1715 (Kunczik, 2003: 400-403). In the recent time the most noticeable are definitely cases of »staging« by the American president george Bush Jr. (for instance the thanksgiving dinner among the American troops in Baghdad in November 2003), with which he is assisted among others by a trained team of television producers and cameramen.

  8. Jančič (1998: 1029) alternatively uses the terms reputation and image, with a nuance where image is more neutral. Reputation is defined as a good name and respect ascribed to or earned by people, places, activities, events, books, newspapers, etc., while image (»brand image«, »corporate image«) is most of all connected to business organizations and their products, which are for the enlargement and increase of their respectability using mass communications, especially services from the area of public relations. The term image should also be used in case, where people, places, states, etc., are expanding their image in an »artificial and media« manner See also Kline (2004).

  9. With the so-called branding we ascribe to the products an emotional value, with which the people can identify. How this is transferred also to the sphere of politics and international relations is shown for instance by the moves of the American administration after 9/11 2001. For the leading position of the communication campaign for the struggle against the international terrorism they hired top expert from the advertisement world Charlotte Beers, who has beforehand successfully led the advertisement campaign for rice of Uncle Ben's. The foreign secretary Collin Powell has with that described the American diplomacy: »We are selling products. And this product that we are selling is democracy.« (cf. Ham, 2002: 250).

  10. This is probably confirmed also by the Slovenian Tourist Organization with promotions and slogans such as – Slovenia. Next Exit. Slovenia, Eden of Europe and with the newest Slovenia invigorates, with which Slovenia should be marketed with foreign publics as the youngest member of the European Union.

  11. As ironically presented by the two following quotations: »Oh, my god, this is the end of diplomacy«, as exclaimed by the British foreign minister Palmerston in 1840's when he received his first telegram (cf. Catto, 2002) and through the words of present-day American diplomat: »If the diplomacy is setting down, why am I so busy then?« (cf. Sharp, 1999: 42). Neumann (2001: 616) is thinking for instance that in the post-diplomatic era of »Star trek« , the diplomacy is no longer necessary. Other authors (Burt and Olin, 1998; Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 1999; Peterson et al., 2002) are mostly dealing with the question whether we need a »Revolution« in modern diplomatic practice.