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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What is nation branding?

Recently I figured out nation branding was not a self explaining concept.

I was introducing myself to someone last week and told him that my research area was nation branding. He looked at me, all dazzled, and said “Nation branding, like branding the nations?”. Then I told this story to a friend, expecting her to be surprised that someone heard nation branding concept for the first time. She frankly said: “Efe, I really don’t know what you mean when you say nation branding” .

So here is just a quick note on my take on the concept of Nation Branding: The perception of a country’s image by the foreign public opinion. In other words, how do people see your country? It is more than just a logo, more than promoting your country as a great place to live/visit/study/invest. It is about managing the perception of people, it is definitely about how you tell your story, with words and actions, to the people living all around the world.

Nation Branding: Turkey

Currently, I am working on my thesis proposal, I spend hours and hours on the internet, trying to find branding theories and case studies. To my surprise, I ran into a case study from Turkey (link is in Turkish). I have gone through the website, there are many prominent social figures involved in the project. Basing my claims on the presentation they have, many talented work on the project for two years and came up with a highly structured branding plan for Turkey…

The Association for Public Relations was supporting this project, I believe this is why at the end of the day, the project produced four main branding “slogans” for Turkey (to be delivered to EU audience):

  • Turkey is a young power for you
  • Be fresh, be cool
  • It is time to get together
  • It is time to make business

Although, these are acceptable messages; if we are going for a national brand – we need more than just an image of a “good” business partner.

Eventually, an esteemed Turkish national brand will indirectly affect the business. However, if the brand is defined on business, it will be extremely difficult to expand the effects of a good brand to political and social areas.

Perfect recipe for me:

There is a need for branding in Turkey. I am a strong advocate of grass-roots public diplomacy attempts. I believe individuals can create a “change”. All my research is focused on nation branding, implementing marketing principles to political communication and public diplomacy. I am enthusiastic about these subject and I can take risks! For the first time in my life, I will do my best to start a project by myself without an institutional sponsor!


For a similar project for Israel, please take a look at this link.

I will keep posting about my progress!

If Only I Could Meet Nancy Snow! Vol 3.

We need to continue to tell our stories….What this means is….a ten-fold increase in programs such as the Fulbright… (p.238).

Exchange programs are really important in Public Diplomacy. I hope to be presenting a paper on the effectiveness of scholar exchanges in April!

However, there is only one point that I don’t understand in her arguments. She claims that US has been preferring to talk instead of listening for a long time. So will these exchange programs help US to listen? If you want to listen to someone, why don’t you go and listen? Isn’t it obvious that if you invite the scholars to your country, you will be “telling” your story constantly? – In fact, this is why I believe the scholar exchanges are effective communication ways. The scholars will be exposed to several different messages from various resources and at the end of the day leave with an accurate image of the country…

The good news is I am leaving for a Fulbright conference in 3 hours. I will interview some fellow scholars! Let’s see what they think!

If Only I Could Meet Nancy Snow! Vol.2

Over the long term, we need to build a global public diplomacy for peace. ( p.238 )

Well, what Dr.Snow argues that as people are going to choose sides in the age of propaganda and manipulation, we should make peace a side and tries to support her argument by really optimistic rhetoric questions.

PD attempts aims to create a better understanding, a more accurate image of the countries… which does not necessarily lead to peace…

More on Peace and Understanding later…

If Only I Could Meet Nancy Snow!

As I continue my studies, I feel like the day I meet Dr. Nancy Snow is coming closer! So I have to prepared. I have to know what I will say when I see her! (Maybe I should take a print out of this post and keep it in my pocket at all times)

00097586_medium1There are only a few scholars that I deeply respect even though don’t agree with them at all. Nancy Snow is one of them. (And I recently saw that she co-edited a book with another scholar that I deeply respect and don’t agree at all, Philip Taylor. For those interested, the book is called Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy). Anyhow, ever since I became interested in propaganda, public opinion and public diplomacy; I have gone through majority of Snow’s (and Taylor’s) works. So, here you go Dr.Snow:

– The hybrid nature of public diplomacy and propaganda outcomes and definitions makes it difficult in some circles to separate the two. (p.229)

No! Unacceptable. Let me go through a business example.  Is marketing the same thing with public relations? Of course, not. Propaganda and public diplomacy can be said to be the political counterparts of these terms respectively.

The following definitions are taken from Wikipedia.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Propaganda the dissemination of information aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people.In marketing you have an “offering” which is targeted at the society, and in propaganda you have an “information”. Marketing tries to make people buy “goods and services” and propaganda “ideas”. The four P’s of marketing can be applied to Propaganda attempts. Let’s see our case of WWII.

jaxmuseumunclesamProduct: The “idea” that the propagandist is trying to sell. Here, Uncle Sam is selling “patriotism” during WWII.

Pricing: Nothing is free! When you choose to become a patriot, you are expected to invest your savings in war bonds.

Placement: In the WWII idea market, products were available everywhere. All you need to do is to pay the “price” adolf_hitler_hideki_tojo_propaganda_posterand start believing.

Promotion: The idea is promoted through posters, TV shows, movies, newspapers, political speeches even on the streets.

On the other hand, Public relations is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. Public diplomacy focuses on the ways in which a country (or multi-lateral organization such as the United Nations) communicates with citizens in other societies. In other words PR specialists have the role of the communication bridge between an organizatinon and its publics while PD specialists between a country/an international organization and its publics. At the end of the day, both stand for the information flow between an establishment and individuals.

PS: All the quotations from Nancy Snow are taken from

Snow, N. (2006). U.S. Public Diplomacy: Its History, Problems, and Promise. In Jowett, G. & O’Donnell, V. (2006). Readings in Propaganda and Persuasion. (pp. 225-241) London: Sage