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Text 5. Advertising and PR in Foreign Affairs

Within the life of the generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government. - Walter Lippmann

The foreign policy of any countryis the way the state interacts with foreign nations and sets the standards of interaction for its organisations, corporations and individual citizens.

A country's foreign affairsor foreign relations policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations environment. As for the public relations, it is a communicative process and is largely about creating and recreating ideas as well as building relationships with audiences. Advertising,asform of communication is used to encourage or persuade the audience. Effective public relations require knowledge, based on analysis and understanding of all the factors that influence perception of and attitudes toward a country.

Countries around the world use a variety of hard power and soft power toolsto either command or co-opt others into supporting their goals. Hard power tools include coercion and inducement, while soft power methods emphasise agenda-setting and attracting the audience through positive values, culture, media, and overall effectiveness. Public relations and advertising techniques in all their various forms contribute a useful addition to this tool box. One of the prominent figures in modern PR - Edward Bernays, provided the original foundation for all public relations practice in politics. He observed: "The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people".

Political advocacy is also one of the PR methods. Practically, PR specialists try to get the message across any way they can, telling their side of the story as many ways as they can. Historically, there is a clear link between public relations and the political sphere. Governments always played a key role in the development of public relations throughout the 20th century.

Nowadays PR tools play a major role in the foreign policy of any country. Creating the foreign policy is the usual work of the Head of the Government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has several departments applying PR methods. Among them there are such formations as the Department of International Organisations, the Department of Information and Press, the Department of Diplomatic Mail and Messenger Service. As for the Press-officeofthe Ministry, it provides considerable information support in creation, development and conducting the foreign policy of a country. It also informs domestic and international media about developments in the foreign policy, maintains contacts with foreign journalists and organises briefings and press-conferences for domestic and foreign media.

Political PR-technique is essentially persuasive as it represents an interest, and requires representative democracy where different competing interests can be heard. Political PR methods encourage a rich interaction at different levels between those who are active and interested and those who are passive or even uninterested in political processes and political discourses. PR approach is also used as a defensive strategy designed to hide information. Therefore, most of a political PR specialist's time is spent blocking and reacting to negative coverage, not providing information. Thus, the practice of public relations in politics is often referred to as ‘spin’.

Mass media and communication processes have become significant elements of the foreign policy. Today the fight for attention is very intense and more more sophisticated social media tactics such as Facebook or Twitter are used in the politics of foreign affairs .

In the area of foreign affairs, national media rely overwhelmingly on the prominent government and ex-government officials as the main sources of information.

* Walter Lippmann (23 September 1889 – 14 December 1974)- an American writer, journalist and political commentator


Answer the questions:

1. What does the term “foreign policymeans?

2. What hard power tools are used by governments to manipulate the public opinion?

3. What soft power tools can you name?

4. What is the aim of PR and advertisement in foreign affairs?

5. What arethe main elements of public relations according to Edward Bernays?

6. What is political advocacy?

7. Who played a key role in the development of public relations throughout the 20th century ?

8. What departments widely apply PR methods?

8. What role does the Press-officeof the Foreign Affairs Ministry play?

10. What media tactics are used in the politics of foreign affairs?


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