Is place branding a real discipline?

In my second post on the Place Brand Observer, I looked at place branding as an academic discipline. I was quite glad to see that the post already generated some discussion on the Observer’s Facebook Page. In the post, I also present my views on what it means to be (or not to be) a discipline. You can access the full blog post here.

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Measurement Post in PlaceBrandObserver.com

As of last month, I started contributing to the Place Brand Observer as an Academic Observer. Basically, this is a sixth month journey during which I will blog about current research trends in the field of place branding.

My first post was on my favorite topic: measurement. I am amazed by how little we know about place brand measurement (-actually any kind of strategic communication measurement). More often than not, our ignorance is caused by the fact that we are not sure what we should be measuring.

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Yes, I am using a clipart on a blog post. I think it is okay.

Technically social sciences present us a multitude (myriad?) of tools to measure anything we want from public opinion to policy performance. Yet, within the complex structure of social life and communication – in this specific example place branding – it is difficult to isolate the impacts of what we are intentionally doing. Let me present a basic example. Even if we decide place brands mean the associations that come to people’s minds when a place is named, how can we be sure that these associations are the results of our communication (branding) campaigns? These perceptions might be caused by personal experiences, influenced by friends, or completely changed by news.

I wrote about my views on how we can create a better measurement system in my post. You can find the full-text of the post at this link (redirects you to PlaceBrandObserver.com, a free website).

Turkish Public Diplomacy: Study and Practice

Recently, I was invited to be a panelist at a public diplomacy panel at Galatasaray University. Together with Phil Seib of USC, Asli Sancar and Dilruba Catalbas Urper of Galatarasay University, we discussed the state of Turkish public diplomacy. My talk focused on the gap between the study and practice of public diplomacy in the country. Below you can find a summary of my talk.

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Traditional Meets Digital (Diplomacy)

Currently, I am working on a research project on “digital” diplomacy. I will keep using my beloved quotation marks until I find a better concept to describe what I am doing without resorting to another instance of neologism.

Basically, I am still arguing that any kind of hyphenated diplomacy is still diplomacy. Let it be public diplomacy or nation branding or digital diplomacy, at the end of the day, we are looking at the same old traditional diplomatic processes such as recognition and signaling. In Traditional Meets Digital, I am exploring how these processes might take place within the digital media landscape. In more concrete things, I am trying to find the equivalents of diplomatic practices – such as alliance formation and power projection – on Twitter. Why Twitter? Well, because (i) everybody is on Twitter, (ii) Twitter is a ‘directed’ social network (i.e. I can follow you without you following me, whereas in most other social networks, we need to mutually be “friends”), and (iii) Twitter gives us great data!

Here are some preliminary visuals and a dynamic graph from the research:

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Passport Power – Take 2

As I argued in my previous post, I have a problem with the way Passport Index ranks the ‘power’ of passports. Passport Index practically counts each and every country as equal and ranks the passports based on how many visa-free travel opportunities they provide. However, I believe a better measurement of passport power requires two more dimensions:

  • Desirability: Do I really want to go to a country that does not require a visa?
  • Exclusivity: Do I get a visa-free travel because my passport is powerful or because the receiving country has very ‘relaxed’  visa regulations?

Finally, I found a dataset that has 189 countries (dataset belongs to Lawson & Lemke) and combined it with World Bank’s international tourism arrival numbers. Guess who has the most powerful passport?

Who has the most powerful passport? Hint- not me. Photo: iStock

Who has the most powerful passport? Hint- not me. Photo: iStock

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Passport, Power, and Measurement: Perfect Trio

If you have been on any kind of social media platform during the last couple of weeks, you must have seen the new “Passport Index” that ranks each and every passport in the world according to their power – or according to how many visa-free travel opportunities they provide to their holder. But my own travel experience (and obsession with proper measurement techniques) make me wonder whether “visa-free travel opportunity” is a suitable way to assess the power of a passport. Is there a better way to capture the power of a passport? (Hint: The answer is yes. This is why I am writing this blog post.)

It is visa free, but do you really want to go?

It is visa free, but do you really want to go?

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Measuring the Unmeasurable: Bloom Consulting Tourism Edition

Measurement of place brands is an issue very dear to my heart. Well, at least very dear to my academic schedule. I recently tried to come up with a solution using semantic and social networks (paywall link, free access link). I took another take on the issue, together with my colleagues from Stockholm Programme of Place Branding. We approached from a brand equity understanding to understand the brand of Stockholm (paywall link, free access link). This is why I am quite excited when I see new approaches to measurement practices. Bloom Consulting seems to be developing an intriguing methodology in their measurement practices.

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