My book on Nation Branding!

Finally, my book on nation branding is published and is for sale. The book is practically based on my thesis research. Controlling the Message: A Strategic Approach to Nation Branding (ISBN: 3838389409) or Controlling the Message ,for short, is an attempt to describe the actual role of communication strategies, tools, and techniques in nation branding processes. As you might know, Simon Anholt has underestimated the role of communication in these processes several times. In fact, if I am not mistaken, in his book Competitive Identity, he even said communication had a 2% impact in nation/place branding. As the title of my book suggests, I do not agree with his views and evaluate the communication strategies of eight different campaigns.

The book has five chapters. During the first chapter, two main theories (Lippmann’s Public Opinion and Benoit’s Image Restoration), as well as several auxiliary theories and models are introduced. The main research method is a cross-case analysis between Japan (Japan Brand – Country of Origin Effect), USA (Mutual understanding through exchanges – Soft power/influence), Greece (A Masterpiece You Can Afford – Tourism), Poland (Polish Plumber – Repositioning), Kosovo (The Young Europeans – Nation Building), Israel (Israel Beyond Conflict – Conflict Resolution), Switzerland (Swissnex – Repositioning), and Iceland (Iceland Naturally – FDI/Business).

The following chapter focuses on current literature on nation branding, public opinion, corporate branding, nation branding models, and political communication. What makes this work different from other studies in nation branding is the fact that it introduces the concept of nation branding as a political communication understanding which is derived from corporate branding.

Chapter 3 aims to define the concept of nation branding through case analysis and analogy with corporate branding concepts. A robust is necessary in order to discuss the communication aspect of the term. This chapter also looks at the relation between national identity and nation brand identity.

Chapter 4, on the other hand, introduces a more practical side of nation branding. Political communication in nation branding is examined in three different parts. Firstly, rhetorical aspects, in other words how messages are formulated, are discussed. This discussion is followed by how messages are coded (i.e. coded through a public diplomacy project, coded through lobbying). Last part looks at the communication platforms (media) that are used to transmit the messages to target audiences.

Chapter 5 introduces how these 8 case studies have strategized their communication campaign. The conclusion part draws lessons from all these case studies and comes up with a new strategic communication framework that can be used both to evaluate current campaigns and to be used in new campaigns.

Here is my table of contents:
-Purpose of Research
-Structure of the Thesis
Chapter 1: Theoretical Framework and Methodology
-Guiding Theories
-Ancillary Theories
Chapter 2: Literature Review
-Nation Branding and Public Opinion
-Nation Branding and Corporate Branding
-Prominent Models in Nation Branding
-Political Communication in Nation Branding
Chapter 3: Definition of Nation Branding
-Conceptual Discussions
-Components of Nation Branding
-Nation Branding vs. Corporate Branding
Chapter 4: Tools and Media in Nation Branding
-Rhetorical Aspects
-Political Communication Tools
Chapter 5: A Strategic Model for Nation Branding Campaigns
-Visions and Missions of Nation Branding Campaigns
-Strategic Models
-Comparative Case Analysis
Conclusion: Lessons Learned from Case Studies
-Policy Recommendations
-Limitations of the Study

I enjoyed working on my thesis and this publication. I believe there is a gap in nation branding research. Scholars and practitioners still continue to overlook the importance of strategic political communication in branding. If you have any questions about the book, do not hesitate to contact me! I hope you will enjoy reading this work!

PS: Here is the link, once again:

PS 2: If you want to write a review of the book, please contact me at I can put you in contact with my publisher.


The Story of Turkey and Public Diplomacy

According to some sources, Turkish government has been on a public diplomacy offense since 2008. There have been some changes in Turkish understanding of diplomacy, and some attempts to launch public diplomacy efforts. Public Diplomacy Agency, likely to be directed by Ibrahim Kalin – Erdogan’s chief foreign affairs advisor, a Georgetown alum – is being established. MFA and the President have their Twitter/Facebook accounts (in Turkish and no, they don’t reply to anything)…This is a promising start but we need to overcome several obstacles to be succeed in our public diplomacy efforts.

So, please let me tell you the story of Turkey and Public Diplomacy, especially the story of the obstacles.

The first and biggest obstacle, from my point of view, is AKP’s recent foreign policy understanding. When AKP came to power in 2002, Ahmet Davutoglu, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, introduced the understanding of Strategic Depth. Basically speaking, the idea was having ‘zero problems’ with the neighbors, becoming a regional and global power by using Turkey’s unique geopolitical and geostrategic position. However, the implications of this understanding seem to take Turkey closer to the Middle East, closer to being an ‘Islamic’ country. Even though AKP, including Ibrahim Kalin, keeps telling us that Turkey is a bridge between the East and the West, the recent developments (and my most recent experiences in Turkey) make this claim very difficult to believe. Long story short, there is a belief that Turkey has been moving towards becoming a more Islamic state. In other words, recent political developments shake the fundamentals of Turkish Republic, and Turkish identity. For several individuals, it is very very difficult to believe AKP’s claims.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey leaves the session, while David Ignatius (FLTR), Associate Editor and Columnist, The Washington Post, USA, Shimon Peres, President of Israel, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York, Amre Moussa, Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Cairo, look on, during the session 'Gaza: The Case for Middle East Peace' at the Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 29, 2009. Copyright by World Economic Forum.

Especially demonstrated by Israeli-Turkish relations, AKP seems to be eager to defend the rights of Muslims everywhere. Erdogan’s one-minute tirade in Davos, or the Mavi Marmara disaster and the following events could easily be interpreted as moving away from the Western culture. In other words, AKP does not have credibility for certain audiences, moreover, they are aggressively defending the East (vs. the West). It is not easy to promote Turkey’s role as a cultural bridge through PD when AKP seems to be openly taking sides.

Another problem is the current Turkish foundations and immigrants in Europe. I already discussed the negative role of Turkish immigrants. During the recent years, Turkish foundations contributed to this negative identity. Deniz Feneri and IHH had several problems with local authorities. Deniz Feneri was charged with fraud, whereas IHH was found to have links with Hamas. Fethullah Gulen Foundation, on the other hand, has been actively working in several countries for decades. The foundation owns ‘Turkish’ schools in many countries and organizes Turkish Olympics – yet the Turkish image promoted by Gulen foundation is again not in line with the cultural bridge role.

Moving away from identity politics, it is important to point out that Turkey has several communication obstacles, too. For starters, open communication is a revolutionary understanding for us. As MFA’s and the President’s online social media accounts show, state officials are not willing to engage in a dialogue. Turkey seems to have a one-way communication understanding of public diplomacy.

Lastly, we still lack the necessary knowledge, skills, monetary resources, and political stability to execute long-term public diplomacy projects. As I discussed above, AKP has a different understanding of Turkey, so do other political parties. This is why I cannot foresee a project carried out by several governments, prime ministers, and presidents.

In short, it is very difficult and problematic to promote Turkey, to launch Turkish PD project, and to brand Turkey. Our history includes several conflicts with our neighbors. Recent political developments exacerbated the situation. If Turkey wants to use soft power, we need to define Turkey’s role/identity, establish credibility in the eyes of the audience, and create long-term non-partisan PD strategies.