Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014b

Nation Branding – It Is Possible

Simon Anholt, the person who allegedly came up with the phrase ‘nation branding’, recently launched another index besides the Nation Brand Index, to list countries based on their actions in international arena, the Good Country Index[1]. Moreover, Anholt had said that the reason for this was that it is actually impossible to brand a nation, and therefore it is not right to list them based on this. Yet one has to wonder, is it really impossible to brand a nation, or is it impossible just in the case big countries that are known around the world. There are examples when nation branding has actually worked and changed the idea that people have about certain countries. Estonia might be a good example of that.

Estonia was often seen as a post-communist country in Eastern Europe that does not really have anything to offer to citizens and governments from developed, Western countries. This view is quite outdated though, because by many people, today Estonia is seen as highly developed country that provides some of the most advanced ideas and ways for online governance and IT services in the digital era.

For example, European Agency for the Operational Management and large-scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) headquarters are located in Estonia[2] because of the country’s advanced info technological knowledge and background. The decision by the EU member states to set eu-LISA headquarters up in Estonia shows that the country is seen by other member states as capable of providing secure IT services for different European Union institutions.

The real surprise is that more countries have yet to build similar systems of their own. – Leonid Bershidsky

Moreover, as Estonia has been using online-voting during elections since 2005[3], today it is “the only country in the world that relies on Internet voting in a significant way for legally-binding national elections – up to 25% of voters cast their ballots online”[4]. Estonia has made the system quite secure, with different procedures and resources needed, such as national ID-cards, digital ID or mobile ID, in order to cast a vote[5]. The system has been so successful that the country has been brought up as an example for others to follow by The Telegraph and BBC. Furthermore, not only are Estonians known for voting online, but they also file taxes, use banking systems or receive a medical prescription online.

Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon, Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia

In addition to this, in 2014 Estonia launched its e-residency programme that provides “state-issued secure digital identity for non-residents that allows digital authentication and the digital signing of documents”[6]. The programme has many benefits, including signing documents online and providing digital authentication which means that it is possible for e-residents to run businesses or every-day errands from anywhere in the world[7]. The programme has already prove to be a success, with the first e-resident being journalist Edward Lucas, and the highest ranking e-resident so far being Japanese Prime Minister. Moreover, many different news outlets, such as The Guardian, The Register, and ZDNet, have described the programme and mentioned its many benefits and future outlook that will possibly benefit the country and set yet another example for others on how to improve their digital services.

Edward Lucas’ Estonian e-residency ID card.

That being said, it is important to keep in mind that nation branding does not happen overnight. But to say that it is absolutely impossible is, in my opinion, wrong. There are other examples of this being possible and Estonia is yet another one. While previously having been seen as a developing post-communist country, it now has a reputation of one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. And all this because of the work Estonian public and private sector have done together in order to prove the country’s image. As a nation-branding case, Estonia is an example for others, both in proving that it is possible to brand a nation and its advanced ways of doing so.

Ask an Estonian about e-government, and almost anyone will proudly pull out their chip ID-card and offer a demonstration. That should be every government’s dream. – Leonid Bershidsky

[1] The Good County Index,

[2] eu-LISA, „Who We Are“,

[3] E-Estonia, „i-Voting“,

[4] Independent Report on E-voting in Estonia,

[5] Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon, „Internet Voting in Estonia“,

[6] E-Estonia, „Estonian E-Residency: What is e-Residency?“,

[7] E-Estonia, „Estonian E-Residency: Benefits“,


Putin’s weapon

Despite economic sanctions and an increasing isolation from the world due to its involvement in Ukraine, the Kremlin maintains strong control over Russia and the popular opinion. The opposition is shut down, sometimes subtly through various laws and investigations (Dougherty, 2015), or in a more obvious and bloody way, as with the assassination of well-known Putin critic Boris Nemtsov last February, within walking distance of the Red Square. The current situation is becoming more and more reminiscent of the Soviet era: state-controlled media, political assassinations, a personality cult around the leader, a very tense stand-off with the United States and an involvement in a sort of proxy war against Western influence and NATO.

Nonetheless, there are some differences that go along with our modern world and make this modern Russia different from the USSR. In the words of Svetlana Mironyuk, ex-editor of a liberal news agency, “in the Soviet Union, […] at least there were rules. Now in Russia, there are no rules. You never know where you step and what can happen and what, yesterday, was not a mistake or breaking the rules, it can be tomorrow” (Dougherty, 2015). Svetlana Mironyuk was fired in December 2013 and her agency was shut down outright, “then reorganized as part of a new agency headed by a Kremlin-friendly broadcaster known for his high-voltage on-air presence and frequent rants against the West”. This is just one instance of a direct order from the Kremlin preventing a fair coverage of the news. Undoubtedly, Russia has been presented in a negative light in the Western media since Vladimir Putin became president in 2000. However, this can never justify censorship and intimidation in the journalistic world. People in Russia should at least have access to different points of view within their own country.

This is what Putin himself told reporters at a news conference in 2013: “There should be patriotically minded people at the head of state information resources, people who uphold the interests of the Russian Federation. These are state resources. That is the way it is going to be” (Dougherty, 2015). This is about state media, but sadly Putin has also put privately owned broadcast media under his influence (Dougherty, 2015). Putin has different strategies at home than abroad. In Russia, he is shamelessly dominating the media with subtle, and not so subtle methods. The Russian government tends to flood the internet with pro-state messages. Recently “professional trolls” have revealed a lot about their work in Russia. They work 12 hour days, and get paid 40,000 rubles per month (£522) under very strict control from their bosses (Volchek and Sindelar, 2015). They form fake teams of two good guys and one “villain”. They go on various forums and the villain post negative things about the government while the other trolls defend and praise Putin. They do this all day long, writing thousands of comments to influence Russians’ opinions, for them to always see Putin in a positive light. This is a blatant example of how Putin manipulates the Internet and social media for his own benefit.

According to NATO’s top commander General Philip Breedlove, “Russia is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare” (Pomerantsev, 2014). Indeed, Russia is boosting patriotism by fabricating stories, hiring Internet trolls to praise the Kremlin, and it also has an international presence. With the RT (Russia Today) news agency, Putin tries to counter what he sees as the prevailing Western media. He does have a point, the Western media has been dominating for years in news coverage. However, RT is so unashamedly biased and pro-Kremlin that it would be ridiculous to think of it as a credible alternative for news. Putin is playing a game, by enforcing conformity of news at home (the truth comes from the state), and criticizing that same conformity abroad, with what he sees as the mainstream media. By placing Russia as a victim of negative and unfair coverage, he actually uses old American Cold War strategies of manipulation of public opinion (Hooper, 2015). He is attempting to portray a U.S. spin on the news, when he is doing the same thing at home. “To the international audience, the Kremlin advertises pro-Russian coverage as an “alternative point of view” that any truly “free” press should acknowledge” (Hooper, 2015). At least Putin is lucky that no one can really shut down his media empire… It must be acknowledged that RT has found success in criticizing the American establishment, and that is in no way a bad thing. In fact it is necessary. However, it is hard to see RT as a valuable source of news when we know that it is operated by and takes orders from the Kremlin. It is an interesting example of modern state diplomacy and propaganda, but not an unbiased source of news.

This a Cold War for the 21st century and with its growing control of information, so far Vladimir Putin may be winning it.


Crowley, C. “Tit-for-tat: Putin’s Maddening Propaganda Trick”. Time, 1 May 2014. Available at:

Dougherty, J. “How the Media Became One of Putin’s Most Powerful Weapons” The Atlantic, 21 April 2015. Available at:

Hooper, C. “Putin’s ‘Fair and Balanced’ Propaganda Coup” Newsweek, 3 April 2015. Available at:

Pomerantsev, P. “How Russia is Revolutionizing Information Warfare” Defense One, 9 September 2014. Available at:

Volcheck, D. and Sindelar, D. “One Professional Russian Troll Tells All”. Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. 23 April 2015. Available at:

The Americanisation of British Politics

The Americanisation of British culture, music, food and everything else has long been present and ever more far reaching not only in Britain, but also parts of central Europe and the Middle East in particular.  It is only until recently that we are starting to see real change in our politics and in the way our elections are constructed and conducted. For example increased social media participation, televised election debates where image appears to be of late, a defining factor in ones opinion of who should head the government and of course, eloquent question dodging that appears to be a natural talent for politicians these days. We are also seeing change in the way politicians are branding themselves and also in how elections are won. Since Tony Blair’s election win, when he first employed American campaign specialists, we have seen an ever increasing move towards an American style of election campaign.  Ask yourself this question, if Obama did not have access to the social and other media outlets would he have won in 2012? Remove his image and message of hope that many Americans “compared… the 1960 campaign of America’s beloved slain president, John F. Kennedy” (Okoli, 2014) and it becomes clear that they played the defining role in who won the election instead of differences in policy. The astronomical amount of funding spent for online adverts and social media also was a major factor, which far surpasses anything we have seen in Britain to date. As a Huffington post writer explains “Obama’s victories were just as much attributable to the candidate himself and the way he connected with voters.” (Okoli, 2014)


The Americanisation of British politics can also be identified, as mentioned earlier, with the introduction of American campaign managers and advisers. The “Conservatives have hired Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, to advise them ahead of the 2015 general election.” (Post, 2013) Introducing American social media strategies and slick media productions. Moreover, Obama’s latest victory was achieved with a price tag of just “$2 billion ….including congressional races, topped $7 billion” (JF, 2014) is this model we really want to, or can afford to replicate?

Another trend being introduced is mayoral primaries, where “Londoners will be able to vote in American presidential-style primaries to choose Labour’s next candidate for mayor” (News, 2013) and most noticeable, our televised debates, which are considered the bread and butter of American politics. One member of the public explains to a BBC reporter on the topic of the televised debates, to “stop trying to convince us of anything other than your genuine integrity and selfless wish to bring this country up off its knees. The hiring of these presentation experts to gain one over the opponents reeks of more spin to come.” (Wheeler, 2010) He’s right, we are following the lead of the American machine when our own system of government is completely different.

The Celebrity and media that puts figures like David Cameron and Ed Miliband under the spotlight and ultimately leads to the blame game has of recently been a factor in why so many are turned off by politics and can be attributed to low voter turnout. If you’re a fan of question time or have even seen five minutes of it, you’ll know personal attacks and petty comments are the foundation for the programme 90% of the time. It’s the move towards the individual being the centre of attraction rather than their party.  Do we want to see presidential candidates or a cabinet government? When MP’s are more interested with popular culture and the latest trends in attempts to boost their ratings, what chance is there for the country? One last example that sums up this change towards the American way is with Gordon Brown. “Who found time to appear on television to discuss the progress of X Factor, but was unavailable for comment in the days that followed the release of the Lockerbie bomber?” (Rifkind)


(2014, Feburary 9th ). Why American elections cost so much. Retrieved April 3rd, 2015, from The Economist :

News, I. (2013, July 8th). Mayoral selection change. Retrieved April 3rd, 2015, from ITV News:

Okoli, I. E. (2014, September 27). The Americanisation of British Politics. Retrieved from Huffingtonpost :

Post, H. (2013, February 8th). Jim Messina, Obama Campaign Manager, Hired By David Cameron For 2015. Retrieved April 3rd , 2015, from Huffington Post :

Rifkind, S. M. (n.d.). Does the media focus too much on personality? Retrieved April 05th , 2015, from Total Politics :

Wheeler, B. (2010, April 14th). How are the leaders preparing for the election debates? Retrieved April 3rd, 2015, from BBC News :

Global Competitve and Identity Branding

Today, the world is one business sector. The fast progress of globalization implies that each nation, each city and each area must rival each other for its impart of the world’s customers, travellers, financial specialists, understudies, ambitious people, universal wearing and social occasions, and for the consideration and admiration of the worldwide media, of different governments, and the populace of different nations. (Sicco Van Gelder 2005)

Image result for Chinese identity food     Image result for disney vacation

In such an occupied and gathered commercial centre, the majority of those individuals and associations don’t have room schedule-wise to look into what different spots are truly like. We all explore through the many-sided quality of the cutting edge world equipped with a couple of basic buzzwords, and they structure the foundation of our assumptions, regardless of the possibility that we are not completely mindful of this and don’t generally let it be known to ourselves: Paris is about style, Japan about innovation, Switzerland about riches and exactness, Rio de Janeiro about fair and football, Tuscany about the great life, and most African countries about neediness, debasement, war, starvation and infection, thus you have the middle east “BRINGING YOU THE NEWS AS IT IS” from Aljazeera.  The majority of us are much excessively caught up with agonizing over ourselves and our own particular nations to spend too much time attempting to structure finish, adjusted, and educated perspectives around six billion other individuals and almost two hundred different nations. (Simon Anholt 2007)

Image result for Global Identity
Today, most nations advance their items and administrations and cow their notoriety for being best they can, however they occasional destroy it a composed way:

Schools, universities and colleges elevate their courses to understudies and scientists at home and abroad.

The vacation-er board elevates the nation to holidaymakers and business voyagers.

The venture advancement office elevates the nation to outside organizations and speculators.

The social foundation manufactures social relations with different nations and advances the nation’s social and instructive items and administrations .

The nation’s exporters advance their items and administrations abroad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs exhibits its strategies to the public in the best conceivable light, and in some cases endeavours to deal with the national notoriety overall.… and in many nations, there are numerous different bodies, orgs, services, particular vested parties, non-administrative associations (NGOs) and organizations all advancing their adaptation of the nation as well.
Since the majority of these bodies, official and informal, national and territorial, political and business, are normally living up to expectations in separation, they convey clashing and even conflicting messages about the nation. Subsequently, no reliable picture of the nation rises, and its general notoriety stands still or moves regressively.
Much progressively can be attained to if the work of these stakeholders is facilitated, of reliably fantastic, and orchestrated to a general national method that sets clear objectives for the nation’s economy, its general public and its political and social relations with different nations. This is a part that none of the ordinary orders of open strategy or sectoral advancement have the capacity perform alone. (R.S. Zaharna, Amelia Arsenault, Ali Fisher 2013)

Then again, the assignment of advancement, situating and notoriety administration on a worldwide scale is a commonplace one in the realm of trade. Companies have been confronting it for more than a century, and this is the means by which the strategies of brand administration have developed. Image result for Global Competitive Identity

Gastrodiplomacy: Food for thought

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard

Food throughout history has been a key ingredient in shaping the world in which we see today, from the creation of trade routes that would supply states across Europe to proving to be a source of power and great wealth. So when we ask the question ‘how important is food in a diplomatic sense’, we must first understand that food has had a fundamental role in laying the footings for modern trading between nations and being a driver for the cultural spread of customs and traditions we see today. Pham explains “these pathways encouraged discovery, weaving the cultural fabric of contemporary societies, tempering countless palates and ultimately making way for the globalization of taste and food culture.” (Pham, 2013) Ultimately, foods role in global economics and politics is vast and fundamental, but adapting it to serve as a diplomatic tool in today’s age is something new we are witnessing. As Pham puts it: “how food facilities international communication… (and) what roles does food have in the conduct of diplomacy?” (Pham, 2013)

A man who can dominate a London dinner table can dominate the world” – (Wilde, 1908)

I think it’s also important to make clear that food diplomacy or gastrodiplomacy as it is known serves two roles in public diplomacy, or at least has emerged as so doing. Culinary diplomacy or gastrodiplomacy appear to be frequently used terms, one strand is the use of food to aid in diplomatic talks, or as Sam Chapple-Sokol explains “the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation.” (Chapple-Sokol, 2014) Then there is gastrodiplomacy in reference to nation branding, which Pham sums up best as “(gastrodiplomacy is) the practice of exporting a country’s culinary heritage in an effort to raise national brand awareness, encourage economic investment through tourism and trade and engage on a cultural and personal level.” (Pham, 2013) I think that while Chapple-Sokol’s interpretation of gastrodiplomacy is interesting, states have taken up Pham’s definition of using it to build their nation brand and to reward participants in economic gains and increased foreign trade more effectively since its birth in the public diplomacy world.

(Gastrodiplomacy) is the act of winning hearts and minds through stomachs” – (Rockower, 2010)

Sam Chapple-Sokol has developed gastrodiplomacy to now be considered as a conflict resolution tool, via track three diplomacy, or people to people. He puts forward Gordon Allport’s theory, who is an American psychologist among the first to focus his work on the personality, that when “barriers to effective communication … are removed the result is the reduction of fallacious stereotypes, and the substitution of a realistic view for one of fear and autistic hostility.” (Allport, 1954) Chapple-Sokol explains that food can remove such barrier as “sharing food … brings people into contact in an intimate and pleasurable setting, encouraging people to seek mutual understanding and appreciation.” (Chapple-Sokol, 2014) While it isn’t a means of resolution in my opinion, it is a tool for dialog, and often that is the first step towards a resolution. Although as El-Haddad tweeted, who is an author and public speaker from Gaza City, “breaking bread can never foster coexistence if inequities go unaddressed.” (Chapple-Sokol, 2014) Chapple-Sokol goes onto to say “though there can be positive movement through food, conflict resolution action should be done at a higher level.” (Chapple-Sokol, 2014) I agree, but as a means of dialog in respect to the above mentioned criteria it could be an effective tool, as historically it has served as one before.

Overall, gastrodiplomacy is effective as a nation branding tool, it’s soft power influence is undoubtedly useful, and we have seen states gain from the rebranding of themselves through the use of food. Rachel Wilson sums up why gastrodiplomacy in terms of a nation branding tool has been and continues to be relevant, she explains “The senses create a strong link between place and memory, and food serves as the material representation of the experience.” (Wilson, 2011)


Allport, G. (1954). The Nature of Prejudice. Cambridge MA : Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

Chapple-Sokol, S. (2014, March 2nd ). War and Peas: Culinary Conflict Resolution as Citizen Diplomacy. Retrieved March 31st, 2015, from University of Southern California :

Pham, M. J. (2013). Food as Communication: A Case Study of South Korea’s Gastrodiplomacy . Journal of International Service , 11.

Rockower, P. (2010). Korean Tacos and Kimchi Diplomacy. USC Public Diplomacy.

Wilde, O. (1908). A Woman of No Importance . London : Methuen & Company .

Wilson, R. (2011). Cocina Peruana Para El Mundo: Gastrodiplomacy, the Culinary Nation Brand, and the Context of National Cuisine in Peru. Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, 2.2.

ISIS and it’s PR War

Social media websites have now been around for several years, and have been used to great success from political wins to aiding the overthrow of regimes. Looking at Obama’s first victory, it was seen as a renaissance in political campaigning as he made use of social media strategies and employed serval experts in the field in efforts to gain the majority states he needed to win. Social media was one asset he used, being “a perfect medium for genuine grass-roots political movements, transforming the power dynamics of politics, there are no barriers to entry on sites like Facebook and YouTube. Power is diffused because everybody can participate” (Fraser, 2008) and it’s this horizontal shift in power that has benefited Obama. It’s this same level playing field that is responsible for such fringe groups and previously unknown figures to now enjoy such support as there is little or no control on the ease of access and anonymity the web offers to such groups. Gone are the days of VHS tapes with lengthy demands from terrorists, these days we see propaganda movies that could rival budget Hollywood films and media strategies being employed by ISIS. They have gone so far as having a dedicated media department, rivaling some political parties in their amount of output and its quality.

ISIS releases Hollywood-style trailer threatening war on US 

ISIS and it’s now global brand have built a sizable online presence, one example of its efforts in doing so is by using product placement of all things in efforts to appeal to a western audience I assume.  They have also taken up to adopting Jihadi John, a western media construct they themselves probably couldn’t have dreamt up. ISIS also are very careful in how they portray themselves, they have  well-polished, edited videos depicting how ‘glorious’ life is under ISIS rule in efforts to fund raise while videos circulate online of their actual brutality and underground actions. It’s interesting to think such a brutal group care about their public image and perception, it’s a new wave of terrorists summed up by the term jihad 3.0, in reference to web 3.0.

Different from your average terrorist group, ISIS seem to be intent on displaying bureaucratic know how, from annual reports keeping statistics on for example: “cities taken over…knife murders committed by ISIS forces to checkpoints set up  and even apostates repented” (HUBBARD, 2014) to an online magazine resembling almost a manifesto style layout. In the ten page magazine, they state such claims as to be “conducting direct medical supervision” (Ajbaili, 2014) and issuing legal information in regards to law enforcement in efforts to appear as a credible state.

As I mentioned earlier, their adoption of Jihadi John, who’s real is name Mohammed Emwazi is probably the most well-known face of ISIS and has helped to attract other young Muslims into singing up to fight on the frontlines. An ex ISIS member said the following in a recent interview: “Isis play him like a piano (Jihadi John), a celebrity to attract our Muslim brothers in Europe.” (Sheffield, 2015) Just as the US army has advertising for recruitment with a reportedly $1.35 billion (Elliott, 2006) budget, Chief marketing officer Bruce Jasurda for the US Army accessions command said “we are taking steps to connect our potential recruits with current Soldiers, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube.” (Command, 2011) It’s a similar strategy with ISIS, their fighters to some degree have been directly engaging with potential recruits online. They play on the idea of belonging as Horgan, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts explains “There’s an urgency: ‘Be part of something that’s bigger than yourself and be part of it now.” (HUBBARD, 2014)

Al-Hayat, their own media centre is responsible for the majority of videos, magazines, word press blogs, reports and pictures that ISIS produce. They themselves don’t publicly post the material but rely on their supporters to post and share its content. Whereas terrorist organizations before and even rogue states have released poorly made propaganda, ISIS have set themselves apart and because of this they are perceived as a credible group. One such example of the type of footage they are producing is this recruitment video of militants giving candy to children with HD footage, sophisticated graphics and logos they have built up a high quality brand almost. It’s also interesting to note that most of the content is in English or subtitled suggesting that they are specifically aiming for a western audience.

Social media in my opinion has played the biggest role in the success of ISIS in recruiting fighters and in having such a large online presence. With “45,000 social media accounts  …being used to spread messages” (SHEFFIELD, 2015) and an estimated “90,000” (SHEFFIELD, 2015) social media messages being posted a day, it’s clear that ISIS have indeed got a strong and influential online presence, more over their development of an android phone application called ‘The Dawn of Glad Tidings’ enables ISIS to post tweets via the individuals twitter account using the app. The app also keeps the user updated with information and news from the frontlines. This is one way ISIS are able to directly link to their audience and supply a constant stream of propaganda.

Overall, ISIS have an extremely well thought out media strategy, with the capability to reach their intended audience directly without much effort, and it’s easy to see why so many young western individuals are joining up. Peter Singer, the director for the centre of the 21st century security and intelligence said that “small governments trying to control all the content on the Internet is like them trying to build sand castles in the desert in the midst of a wind storm.” (Ajbaili, 2014) A clear indication of just how difficult a problem this has become for western governments and intelligence services. So the question remains on how best to tackle ISIS and its online presence, but its model of outreach and propaganda is set to grow further in influence and attract more young individuals to the front lines.


Ajbaili, M. (2014, June 24th ). How ISIS conquered social media. Retrieved March 28th, 2015, from Al Arabiya News :

Command, U. A. (2011, May 24th ). U.S. Army builds on ‘Army Strong’ campaign with new advertising. Retrieved from US Army :

Elliott, S. (2006, November 9th ). Army’s New Battle Cry Aims at Potential Recruits. Retrieved from NY Times :

Fraser, S. D. (2008, November 19). Barack Obama and the Facebook Election. Retrieved March 2015, 22, from US News:

HUBBARD, S. S. (2014, August 30th). ISIS Displaying a Deft Command of Varied Media. Retrieved March 28th , 2015, from NY Times:

Sheffield, H. (2015, March 09). Isis has built a global brand using Nutella, celebrity and social media. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from The Independent :

SHEFFIELD, H. (2015, March 09th). Isis has built a global brand using Nutella, celebrity and social media. Retrieved March 28th , 2015, from The Independent :

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

There has been a lot of controversy over the subject of leaking government documents. Some think that people who leak those documents should be prosecuted and go to jail; others think that those leakers are doing the right thing. Many government officials and security experts believe that leaking government documents is unacceptable and those people who do it should face a long punishment in prison, because these acts might severely damage the national security of a specific state. In this work it is looked at one of the most recent acts of leaking government documents – Edward Snowden and the NSA files. What was the reason behind this act, how the public, media and the government of the United States and the UK responded, and what has changed ever since?

“Surveilling populations is one of the steps that oppressive regimes take, and the chilling effect of that is that you fundamentally violate basic freedoms.” – Laura Poitras

The reason Edward Snowden himself has said to many journalists that he leaked the NSA documents because he did not have another choice. In an interview with James Bamford from Wired, Snowden says that as he learned about the mass surveillance the NSA carried out, he brought this problem to his superiors’ attention. Unfortunately, this did not change anything, so Snowden decided that whistle-blowing and, therefore, public attention would be a way to, hopefully, change the situation. The copies of the documents Snowden took from the NSA files are now in the hands of several news organizations, including The Guardian, First Look Media – media organization set up by journalist Glenn Greenwald and US documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, The New York Times, and The Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman. These journalists and news organizations have revealed parts of the documents to bring public attention to the issue of mass-surveillance and information gathering of US citizens as well as people abroad. Moreover, from the documents it has been revealed that the US security agencies have worked together with foreign intelligence agencies, such as UKs GCHQ, to gain access to peoples’ personal data, phone logs and information, internet usage, etc. To do all this, many different programmes, such as Prism, Tempora, MonsterMind, etc. have been developed.

Public, media, and government response The wider response to Snowden’s leaking scandal went into different directions. According to the national survey conducted in the US in June 2013 by the Pew Research Centre and USA Today, there were a lot of people who said that Snowden did the right thing and his revelation of the NSA documents serves the public interest. On the other hand, there were also people who said that Snowden’s leaks harmed public interest and that he should be prosecuted. Yet, at the same time, more often than not, people also said that if they had known that the US government was collecting their data, they would have felt that their privacy had been violated. Moreover, it were younger people who were divided over whether Snowden should be prosecuted, whereas older people favour criminal prosecution. Media’s response over the leaks was somewhat different. After publishing the stories about the files and government officials’ response to the stories, quite a few journalists drifted away from the main point of the leaks, which was to inform the public about the illegal surveillance and information collection, and started questioning and accusing the journalists who had the files, about how they intend to keep the files safe. Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian journalist, for example, had to remind to many other news anchors, like in this video, that “there is only one group of people who have lost control of huge amounts of what they claim are important documents, and those people are called the GCHQ and the NSA.” Moreover, many mainstream media outlets, such as Reuters, CNN, The Times and BBC, claimed that publishing these documents has made it easier for terrorists to avoid surveillance and harder for the US and UK intelligence communities to track them. At the same time, as reported by The Intercept, there have been researches made by different independent analysts, who claim that Snowden revelations do not help terrorists. The report made by Flashpoint Global Partners, a private security firm, states that “well prior to Edward Snowden, online jihadists were already aware that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were attempting to monitor them.”

 “The underlying public encryption methods employed by online jihadists do not appear to have significantly changed since the emergence of Edward Snowden.” – Report by Flashpoint Global Partners

The US and UK governments reacted to these revelations like one would expect – widespread denial about any illegal surveillance and intelligence gathering was the main answer to the journalists and to the public. The UK government representatives asked The Guardian to hand over or destroy all the documents the newspaper had acquired from Snowden, and, according to Alan Rusbridger, that request led to destroying computers and hard drives in The Guardian offices in London. To the UK government, that seemed to be accomplishment enough at the time, and hopes that the Guardian won’t publish another story of the matter were high.

“Given the history of abuse by governments, it’s right to ask questions about surveillance. Particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives.” – President Obama

The US government response was quite different. As the revealing stories about illegal surveillance and information gathering gained more interest, government and intelligence community officials made statements to protect its actions. For example, former NSA Director Keith Alexander defended the NSA’s actions of surveillance in an interview with ABC News, saying it is vital for defending national interest and “to defend this nation,” while regarding Snowden as someone who had “betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him”. Besides Alexander there were others, such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who seemed to forget the NSA’s actions and considered Snowden’s actions as something that has profound effect on US national security and is “the greatest damage to our combined nations’ intelligence system that we have ever suffered”. Even President Obama defended the NSA’s surveillance programmes, saying that they are there to “protect our [US] security” and “to keep our people safe,” while criticizing Snowden for bringing up this issue in public. Obama went on saying that these programmes are secured against government abuse and that “if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to you telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your e-mails… they cannot and they have not, by law and by rule, unless… they go to a court and obtain a warrant,” leaving the rest of the world citizens conveniently aside. What has changed ever since?

“We live in a free society. You don’t target everyone because you’re interested in certain people.” – Laura Poitras

This whole leaking scandal has brought about some changes, but almost two years after the first stories about the documents were published, the change has not been as great as one would have expected. After setting up an independent panel – which still included many members of the intelligence community, the same community they had to review, including James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, who lied to the Congress about the surveillance – to review the NSA surveillance, and meeting with the biggest technology companies representatives, Obama announced a set of reforms that would scale back the NSA surveillance programmes – reforms that are not as far reaching as they could be. In other words, Obama finally admitted that the NSA surveillance and data collection was illegal and needed changes, but the only change is that now it is the telecom companies collecting the data and the NSA needs a court order to access this data. Yet at the same time, many technology companies have made more efforts in protecting users’ privacy – for example, Yahoo adds encryptions to all its services, and similar moves to add encryption and other security measures are being taken by Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Despite all this, Snowden revelations have influenced foreign relations between the US and other countries – mostly with Brazil and Germany but also with other European and South-American countries. Despite all this, it could be said that the biggest change is that now there is a debate about the issue. People are more informed about the US (and UK) government actions and the illegal surveillance, they demand their rights for privacy to be protected. Moreover, people have more knowledge about the privacy issues and possible alternatives while using Iternet.

“I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can’t allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal. I’m not going to be part of that.” – Edward Snowden

But all in all, is anything changed fundamentally? The companies still collect data; the government still stores it and even collects it if people are believed to be related to terrorism or threat to national security. The whistle-blower – in this case Edward Snowden – is still being charged with felonies, even though he revealed the illegal and unconstitutional acts of the US that undermine privacy, at the same time, the state do not see almost any wrongdoing in its own actions. Lastly, it is important to ask ourselves, is this all worth it? Are we ready to give up our privacy to ensure security – and if so, then to what extent?

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserv neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin


Terrorism and Public Relations – ISIS and its path to us.

‘Understand your audience and you will understand the impact of your message on each follower in your social media networks.’


Headlines have been filled up with stories about ISIS and its progress across Iraq and Syria in past few months. The systematic cruelty they operate with, fearless development of their strategies and support they gained in eyes of many citizens across the world have all contributed to the media attention they gained. Nonetheless, what has fascinated and surprised me personally, have been their rather methodical approach to public relations, moreover, and an innovative, modern and progressive strategy to address wider publics worldwide. For instance, according to The New York Times, ISIS and their followers tweet almost hundred thousand times a day. The internet has become a borderless platform to explore. As many times compared, ISIS seems to be miles ahead from ideologically similar terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda, their high-definition video shows, weekly magazine in several languages and a smart phone application bombard the global public on daily basis. Yet the question to ask is, what has made particularly ISIS images and information so powerful that they gain attention and many times the support of the public.

Firstly, while Al-Qaeda has been active in media for many years, on the internet is has always chosen anonymous, respectively  indirect approach to propaganda. On the contrary, ISIS seems to strategically present itself as highly organised, hi-tech and modern organisation behind the same traditional values. In many ways, it seems that ‘going fearlessly public’ and drawing controversy and attention to its activities has paid off. Not only that mass media compete to publish on the hot topic, but also choosing the communication channels of youth, many young people see ISIS as an attractive phenomenon.

One does not need to look deeply into their strategy to see their understanding of the audiences. The mobile application for latest updates (despite the fact it has been banned, its popularity was unexpectedly high); regular videos published on various platforms – many in English to appeal Western publics etc.

Secondly, if the ISIS seemed to be systematic in its public relations in its beginnings, one should not be surprised by founding Al-Hayat Media Center, a new media producer organisation, which since last May has brought their media campaign to professional level. “The new media branch follows ISIS’s general media strategy of distributin

Capture1g diverse materials in several languages, including new videos and subtitles for existing videos, and also articles, news reports, and translated jihadi materials,” reported MEMRI.

In recent years, ICT technologies have massively progressed and have brought radio, TV, magazines and newspapers as well as social media to our day-to-day lives, into every computer and phone we possess. Hence, one could argue that usage of these outlets by organisations like ISIS has been rather inevitable and natural progress in their quest to win hearts and minds of the public. Yet, that has become the greatest danger posed by them. Governments’ inability to control the flow of information as well as internet itself has given them a great opportunity to exploit these platforms and pursue their own goals particularly through them. And so the fight against such as ISIS is, has become a war on two fronts – not only a conventional one but also in the cyberspace. Numerous attempts to ban various social accounts owned by ISIS, identify ISIS supporters online or rage anti-ISIS hash tag war (#no2ISIS) have earned some support, yet they have not toppled sophisticated public campaign by ISIS PR Team and their supporters.


Becker, O. (2014). ISIS Has a Really Slick and Sophisticated Media Department. Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

Gibbons-Neff, T. (2014). Iraq and ISIS: Waging war with hashtags.Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

ITV. (2014). Isis official app available to download on Google Play.Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

Knowlton, B. (2014). Digital War Takes Shape on Websites Over ISIS.Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

MEMRI. (2014). New ISIS Media Company Addresses English, German And French-Speaking Westerners. Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

Reuter, C et al. . (2014). Digital Jihad: Inside Islamic State’s Savvy PR War. Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

The Telegraph . (2014). How terrorists are using social media.Available: Last accessed 15th March 2015.

Media and the CNN Effect – The powerful images

‘The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses’.


Since the Gulf war of 1990-1991 and the birth of the 24/7 news network, the role of mass media in world affairs has expanded rapidly. Not only that technology progress allowed to report on developments from any part of the world live, but also it brought the reality of war and violence to the homes of public. This direct communication channel, before granted much narrower sense, has created a vital link between the individual and the mass media. This relationship has overcome before ever present government’s influence and shifted the decision-making and opinion-shaping power into hands of mass media. So called ‘CNN effect’, respectively the ability of global news networks to exert influence on foreign policies of countries has grown on importance.

Moreover, there are supportive examples of the media affecting policy maker focus –  such as media coverage on savage dragging of US soldier dead body across the streets in Somalia and outrage it caused in the eyes of American public. The pressure put on Clinton’s administration then resulted in the withdrawal of the troops. Additionally, crises across the globe which would in CNN-free diplomatic conduct would be talked about for weeks, with rather little presence of the media, yet nowadays one can see diplomats being scrutinised for not bringing results to the table right away, such as in Geneva talks on Syrian Crises and are quickly doomed to be failure.

The powerful images they show make us decide on what we believe in, and the public tends to put a great deal of trust in what they see – well it’s a live report, it has to be true, or not? Well, that’s where the question of power comes in. The CNN effect notion has not remained uncontested. There are many arguing that due to the power structures within society, media have become yet another outlet for governments to pursue their interests. Manufacturing consent thesis, as well as Robinson’s argument proposing governments interests in justifying their steps through media outlets, have strongly leant seemingly independent media back to doubt. Parisian march after Charlie Hebdo attacks in early 2015 firstly appeared to be attended by many world leaders; nonetheless coverage exposing them marching alone, off the crowds shows just how much misperception media coverage can cause. Moreover, since the coverage of the Gulf War and until the revival of more controversial Al-Jazeera concept,  media went through a process of making war seem cleaner, less shocking, more acceptable. As Damazer, the executive reporter from the BBC service pointed out:’For reasons that are laudable and honourable, we have got to a situation where our coverage has become sanitised. We are running the risk of double standards, and it is not a service to democracy. British television viewers have not seen images of dead or injured British soldiers since the Falklands war’.

The power of media has arguably grown, with increasing scope and pace of their work. Yet the images and messages via which they address publics may be misinterpreted moreover, manipulated. Nonetheless, whether the ability to create content has remained  in the hands of mass media, to what extent, respectively how much of what we see has been altered by the state filters in order to fit its interests becomes a decision to make in the minds and hearts of the audiences themselves. However, in the world constantly fed by breaking news, live videos and 24/7 coverage deception may become acceptable. As Morrison concludes: ‘Whoever controls the media, controls the minds too.’


Gilboa, E. (2003). ‘The CNN Effect: The Origins and Development of a Misguided Concept’, Conference Paper – International Communication Association, p. 1-30, EBSCOhost, Last accessed 26 February 2015

Levinson, A. (1994). Dead Soldier Dragged Through Somali Streets a Modern-Day Unknown : Mogadishu: Pentagon says naming the mob’s victim serves no purpose and would only pain those who loved and lost him.. Available: Last accessed 15th February 2015.

Livingston, S. (1997). Clarifying The CNN Effect: An Examination of media Effects According to Type of Military Intervention. Available: Last accessed 26 February 2015.

Robinson, P. (2002). The CNN effect: the myth of news, foreign policy, and intervention. London, Routledge

Sam Ma, Y. (2014). The role of global media in public diplomacy. Available: Last accessed 15th February 2015.

Wells, M. (2003). Embedded reporters ‘sanitised’ Iraq war. Available: Last accessed 15th February 2015.

Withnall, A. (2015). Paris march: TV wide shots reveal a different perspective on world leaders at largest demonstration in France’s history. Available: Last accessed 26th February 2015.

Public Diplomacy & Nation Branding

Image result for public diplomacy and nation branding

American researchers and experts cleared the routes for “the” hypothesis and practice of public diplomacy which was depicted as an ‘unconventionally American abnormality’ (Laqueur, 1994:20) while nation branding has a more European root and advance, with an acceptable British predominance. Simon Anholt and Wally Olins, the two “masters” and solid promoters of nation branding who have generally helped its advancement and practice are both British. English advertising and marking offices are prime suppliers of country marking administrations to nations and their legislatures. The British ‘know-how’ of country marking has been exhibit on account of a few Eastern European nations’ marking battles, including Estonia (Interbrand), Poland (Saffron), Latvia (Said Business School, Simon Anholt), Croatia (Simon Anholt) or Bulgaria (British Council).while there are a couple of dozen of books that arrangement with the history, practice or hypothesis of public diplomacy, just a couple of books are only given to the idea of nation branding, basically created by Simon Anholt, the “father” of nation branding and (Keith Dinnie 2008).

Image result for public diplomacy and nation branding

In the mid 1960s the term gained another importance when Edmund Gullion authored public diplomacy to depict the impact of open demeanor on the arrangement and execution of outside strategies. Gullion’s idea was compressed by a Murrow Center leaflet, as per which open discretion ‘incorporates measurements of international relations past conventional tact; the development by administrations of general feeling in different nations; the connection of private gatherings and investments in one nation with an alternate; the reporting of remote issues and its effect on approach; correspondence between those whose occupation is correspondence, as negotiators and outside journalists; and the procedure of intercultural correspondences’.

Open strategy is established in clashes and identified with distinctive levels of strain in the middle of states and different performing artists; a tranquil political environment is not an essential condition for taking part in broad daylight discretion, which is not the situation with nation branding. The practice and hypothesis of nation branding is in its early stages with just 10 years of experience, albeit a few experts contend (e.g. Olins, 2002) that nations have constantly marked and re-marked themselves over the span of history, and consequently country marking is not a novel idea, basically another term for picture administration. Countries in fact have since quite a while ago occupied with picture development and picture administration (Kunczik, 1997) subsequently if nation branding is conceptualized as picture advancement it is hard to follow its roots. Bolin (2006) inspected the World’s Fairs as a long-standing instrument of country promoting from the center of the nineteenth century where countries awe the world with their innovative developments and social items. 3early cases would likewise incorporate Lithuania when the nation looked to turn into an autonomous country in 1919. The Lithuanian National Council approached the American Edward Bernays, the father of advertising, to produce help for the nation in the United States and to attain to authority distinguishing from the US.

 Image result for public diplomacy and nation branding

As the accompanying definition shows nation branding regularly alludes to the negligible application of marking methods and devices for nation states: ‘Nation Branding concerns applying marking and advertising correspondences strategies to advance a country’s picture’ (Fan, 2006: 6). ” This definition makes reference to a country’s society and to target gatherings of people in the personalities of whom nation brands are ‘arranged’. Nation branding, on the other hand, can be conceptualized autonomously from marking. It can be characterized as the key presentation toward oneself of a nation with the point of making reputational capital through financial, political and social investment advancement at home and abroad.Nation branding is fruitful when the brand is existed by the subjects, who are considered by Anholt as both the mouthpiece and the beneficiary of the message: Country marking happens when open addresses open; when a considerable extent of the number of inhabitants in the nation – not simply common servants and paid nonentities – gets behind the technique and lives it out in their ordinary dealings with the outside world (2003, 123).

Image result for nation branding

Public diplomacy customarily implies government correspondence went for remote groups of onlookers to attain to changes in the ‘hearts or minds’ of the individuals. Open strategy however can likewise allude to local public(s) in two courses: either as the household info from subjects for outside approach definition (captivating approach), or clarifying remote arrangement objectives and discretion to residential open (clarifying methodology). Melissen (2005b: 13) alludes to the residential socialization of tact as open issues, likewise to the US approach where open undertakings include the capacity of American authorities who clarify and shield American outside arrangement to the American open, by means of the American press. Open undertakings’ capacity is along these lines to legitimize or an “offer” outside approach choices locally, after strategies have been defined and acknowledged. The destinations of prior meanings of public diplomacy were two-fold: to impact the “general” open of the target country, and thusly, to get them to weight their own particular government to change remote or local arrangement. Late meanings of, and methodologies to, open discretion scarcely make any reference to the focus on nations’ administrations; impacting the popular feeling to make a responsive environment for outside approach objectives and advance national diversions have turned into a definitive objective. Customarily, open tact was nearly connected to clashes and strains between nations. Frederick (1993) positions public diplomacy as one of the method for low power clash determinate.

Post Navigation