Public Relations Review 32 (2006) 91–96
Managing national reputation and international relations
in the global era: Public diplomacy revisited
Department of Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Received 12 June 2005; received in revised form 19 December 2005; accepted 23 December 2005
The purpose of this paper is to review and re-examine the concept and practice of public diplomacy in light of the incredible pace
of change in global politics and communication, and to discuss implications for future research. It ﬁrst explains the signiﬁcance of
national reputation and its linkage to public diplomacy. It then surveys and assesses a broad range of literature on public diplomacy,
characterized by three basic discourses: public diplomacy as policy-driven rather than relationship-based, the primacy of nation-state
governments in the structure and process of public diplomacy, and an emphasis on mass media communication. The paper ﬁnally
suggests and outlines further research efforts based on the existing literature and the evolving contexts.
© 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Public diplomacy; International public relations; National reputation; Image management
Just as personal reputation and corporate reputation, national reputation also matters. As a form of public goods,
it creates “either an enabling or a disabling environment” (Foreign Policy Centre, 2002, p. 9) in which nation-states
pursue political goals and policies in the global arena. National reputation is unquestionably an instrument of power.
Managing national reputation and nation-states’ relationship with stakeholders overseas has been an integral part of
foreign-policy making and public diplomacy.
National reputation is all about having a good name in the world of nations. It refers to collective judgments of a
foreign country’s image and character that are then used to predict or explain its future behavior (Mercer, 1996,p.6).
It is, simply put, others’ summary construct of one nation’s culture, policy, and conduct. One of the reliable indicators
of a nation’s reputation is the opinion of the given nation as expressed by foreign publics. Historically, as part of a
nation’s “soft power” (Nye, 2004), national reputation, along with military and economic resources, has been a pivotal
force in international relations. These days, foreign public opinion is gaining ever more signiﬁcance in forming an
emerging globalized public and inﬂuencing international political process and outcome. As Leonard (2002, p. 48)
observed, “[t]he last decade is rife with examples of popular perceptions, rather than governments, setting the pace for
Cultivating and managing a favorable international/world opinion toward a nation-state has been the mandate of
public diplomacy, the so-called “public face” of traditional diplomacy. As an extension of traditional diplomacy, public
diplomacy generally refers to “a government’s process of communicating with foreign publics in an attempt to bring
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