"Flush with foreign reserves from oil and natural gas sales, the Kremlin is pumping tens of millions of dollars into various forms of public diplomacy," reports Peter Finn. The Russian government "has hired the giant U.S. public relations firm Ketchum Inc. 'to help the government tell its story of economic growth and opportunity for its citizens,' said Randy DeCleene, an executive at the firm." As part of the PR push, "the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta is ... fund[ing] monthly supplements in newspapers in India, Britain, Bulgaria and the United States," including a paid supplement in the Washington Post. "Russiaprofile.org, a news and analysis site funded by [the government news agency] RIA Novosti" features "a range of opinions, including some quite hostile to the Kremlin." RIA Novosti also hosts an annual "Valdai Discussion Club," where "30 to 40 Russia experts and prominent journalists, mostly from the United States and Western Europe ... are wined and dined in the company of Russian policymakers and political analysts." The Hoover Institute's Michael McFaul (an adviser to Barack Obama's campaign) called the Valdai events, which featured sessions with then-President Vladimir Putin, "really smart PR." A previous Spin noted Russia's new think tank, the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.
For one thing, he'll only have 11 months in the post. For another -- as his predecessor Karen Hughes proved -- putting shinier lipstick on the pig of U.S. foreign policy doesn't do much to assuage widespread anti-American sentiment. Still, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's January 30 hearing on Glassman's nomination provided some insight into Washington's evolving view of public diplomacy.
As China prepares to host the Olympic Games, President Hu Jintao is urging Communist Party officials to "perform well the task of outward propaganda, further exhibit and raise up the nation's good image." At a recent Communist Party gathering, Jintao stressed the need for "cultural soft power," or public diplomacy, and said Chinese propaganda must "advance the building of the body of socialist core value and further boost unity a
James K. Glassman will soon be nominated as the next U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, reports Associated Press.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes is leaving the Bush administration. Hughes, a long-time confidant of President Bush's, served as a counselor during Bush's first term, then officially left the White House in 2002, only to return as the nation's PR czar in 2005. Her last day will be in December. In announcing her resignation, Hughes stressed that improving the U.S.'s image around the world is a "long-term challenge." At the State Department, Hughes increased the number of "interviews with Arabic media," and "set up three rapid public relations response centers overseas to monitor and respond to the news. She nearly doubled the public diplomacy budget, to nearly $900m annually, and sent U.S. sports stars Michelle Kwan and Cal Ripken abroad as unofficial diplomats. But polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since she took over. A Pew Research survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of America in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75% in 2000 to 30% last year." Hughes' key deputy, Dina Habib Powell, left the State Department earlier this year, "to become director of global corporate engagement for Goldman Sachs Group," notes PR Week.