Last update: 27-Nov-2003 16:30 NATO Update

21 Nov. 2003

Workshop examines strategies
for effective public diplomacy

20/11/2003 - NATO
Photos and audio file from the event

Experts, diplomats and NATO public diplomacy staff discussed ways of effectively communicating the Alliance's policies to the public at a NATO workshop in Brussels on 20 November.

The event brought together communication professionals from governments, the private sector and NATO to debate issues such as the need for public diplomacy, how public opinion has changed after September 11, running successful campaigns and crisis communication.

The need for effective public diplomacy is particularly important today, as NATO takes on new missions and reaches out to new audiences, like in Afghanistan, stressed Deputy NATO Secretary General, Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, opening the workshop.

In [today's] environment, no organization can afford to be bad at communicating , said Simon Walker, Director of Corporate Communications at Reuters and the keynote speaker, adding that public institutions exist only by public consent and you need to take with you the hearts and minds of the people who consent to your existence .

The discussion touched upon a wide range of issues, beginning with the importance of credibility, the dangers of spin' and general strategies for good communication, the need to invest in long-term public diplomacy, reaching out not just to media, but to the general public, think tanks, academics and youth, and the importance of national authorities working at home to promote the Alliance.

Practical issues, such as using opinion polls, differing views on certain issues in the United States and Europe and promoting major events were also discussed, as well as the challenges of communicating in a time of 24-hour news and rapid information flow.

The event was organized by NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, which was created this year, as part of an effort by the Alliance to strengthen its public diplomacy and better communicate the current transformation of NATO.