From Perception to Partnership: Shifting UK Definitions of Public Diplomacy

September 21, 2010

Last week I posted the definition of public diplomacy that is currently on the FCO website it’s interesting to compare with the definitions used in two relatively recent British official reviews of PD

From the Wilton Review of March 2002

that work which aims at influencing in a positive way the perceptions of individuals and organisations overseas about the UK, and their engagement with the UK’. In consequence, impact (or outcome) is the positive difference which the work makes to those perceptions and engagement.

From the Carter Review of December 2005

work aiming to inform and engage individuals and organisations overseas, in order to improve understanding of and influence for the United Kingdom in a manner consistent with governmental medium and long term goals.

The current definition

Public Diplomacy is a process of achieving the UK’s international strategic priorities through engaging and forming partnerships with like-minded organisations and individuals in the public arena.

The definition evolves from a broad effort to influence perceptions of the UK to a narrower focus on achieving strategic priorities.   The intended level of engagement develops from perception to partnership.

It’s worth pointing out that the British Council defines what it does as ‘cultural relations’ and wouldn’t subscribe to this definition – this is how the FCO labels its own activities.


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