That is not how soft power works: A rant and an ad

With the proposed budget cuts for the U.S. State Department – and USAID -, we once again started seeing soft power discussions on mainstream news outlets. For a scholar, seeing his/her research topic on news outlets is an interesting experience. On one hand, it is a validation of one’s research and academic expertise. If people are talking about your research topic, you are not irrelevant. On the other hand, after hearing the arguments made, all you want to do is to yell “YOU ARE ALL WRONG”. Well, thanks to internet, it is a lot easier to yell that!

You are all wrong, your understanding of soft power is incomplete and flawed. Here is why:

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<advertisement> There is an edited book, available here, on the topic. I have a chapter on soft power and public diplomacy </advertisement>.

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Who Cites Whom in Place Branding?

In my quest to blog regularly for the Place Brand Observer, I published my fourth post where I pose a structural question within the field of place branding. Who do we cite? Which are some of the more important works? Are there any groupings based on co-citation similarities?

For this purpose, I went to the Web of Science database and downloaded bibliographic information on all articles that had “place branding”, “city branding”, “country branding” or “nation branding” as their topic.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read the full blog post on the Place Brand Observer.

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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).

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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Measuring Nation/Place Branding: Country Brand Ranking

As you might already know, the question of measurement is yet to be answered in the field of nation/place branding. There are a couple of commercial measurement scales such as The Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, and FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index. There are also several academic studies (examples can be found here and here) that work on conceptualizing place brand measurement scales. I have a long-term research project I still work on entitled “Define-Measure-Visualize“.

Your place has six ounces of brand.

Recently, I was introduced to the Country Brand Ranking created by Bloom Consulting. Unlike the other commercial products, CBR focuses on facts and figures through international agencies, and look at the branding messages to rank countries.

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