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Online challenge: Bureau uses web to help develop PD tenets.

When Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine joined the Department in April 2012, she made it a top priority to strengthen the profession of public diplomacy (PD) at the Department. Thirteen years after the consolidation of the former USIA into the State Department, Sonenshine wanted to draw upon the experiences of PD practitioners who have worked under both USIA and State, and integrate the strategies of PD professionals hired in the post-consolidation period.

She focused on improving the PD community's esprit de corps and fostering innovation, and issued a call for teamwork and integration of effort. In doing so, she echoed the QDDR's call for a highly professional, cohesive public diplomacy corps.

For Sonenshine, advancing the PD profession is key to a U.S. foreign policy that robustly engages the world's people. "Public diplomacy is not only an honorable profession, it is a craft; one essential to U.S. interests and security," she said. "But to get the best results the profession must have a shared identity and purpose among PD practitioners."

To make PD a place where successful careers can be built, she set about developing a set of core values for all PD practitioners. Several years ago, some mid-level PD officers had volunteered to craft a set of PD leadership tenets, principles shared by all members of an organization. Supported by Sonenshine, that effort gained new life, and in 2012 the PD Leadership Tenets were launched.

PD used the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) leadership and professional development program as a model. CA's 10 leadership tenets describe the climate needed in consular operations and guide consular officers as they become more effective leaders. Another influence on the PD tenets was the Leadership Tenets for Economic Officers developed by the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.

To ensure that the PD community had a voice in the process, the Office of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R) used crowd-sourcing to produce the preliminary tenets. All PD practitioners--whether assigned domestically or abroad, whether Foreign Service, Civil Service or Locally Employed Staff--were encouraged to contribute ideas and suggestions. When the Sounding Board held an online challenge to gather ideas in August and September 2012, more than 1,200 visitors to the PD Leadership Tenets Challenge website posted close to 140 comments and suggestions.

At the close of the challenge, R's Office of Policy and Resources (R/PPR) led a team editing process to incorporate the input into the new tenets. The process resulted in discarding some old ideas and replacing them with new tenets championed by the community. For example, PD practitioners suggested recognizing the importance of language skills in PD work, and several emphasized the need to promote credibility in communication. The tenet "Communicate Effectively" was the result. It reads:


  We are communications professionals. Through mastery of many
  languages and diverse platforms, we inform, influence, and engage
  foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy. We are honest brokers
  who communicate credibly and transparently and listen actively to
  promote two-way dialogue.


PD practitioners were pleased to see their contributions come to life. Julianne Paunescu, an office director in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, weighed in on a new tenet that reflected PD's unique role in interpreting foreign public opinion.

"I've always believed that really understanding your audience is key to developing good PD strategies as well as the conceptualization and delivery of messages and programs," she said. "So I was particularly pleased to have the tenet on understanding your audience included."

The "Know the Public" tenant reads as follows:


  We study and value foreign cultures, media, and political and
  social environments, and exchange viewpoints with diverse
  audiences to strengthen people-to-people relationships and to
  ensure that our policymaking incorporates a nuanced understanding
  of public perceptions.


Bruce Wharton, a PD-coned officer who is now ambassador to Zimbabwe and who advised the drafters, said "PD's central idea is that regular people, citizens, are powerful.

"The tenets help PD professionals remember that power and our responsibility to use it ethically in promotion of human rights, peace, opportunity and prosperity for Americans and all other people," said Wharton.

The final tenets were launched via an ALDAC in October. Visit the PD Leadership Toolbox, on R's SharePoint site at r.state.sbu, to view the tenets and supporting material.

RELATED ARTICLE: Public Diplomacy Leadership Tenets

* Be Visionary

We create and implement a strategic vision that advances U.S. foreign policy and promotes mutual understanding between American and foreign publics. In pursuing this vision, we connect public diplomacy programs to policy through outreach strategies that are creative, focused, and results-oriented.

* Communicate Effectively

We are communications professionals. Through mastery of many languages and diverse platforms, we inform, influence, and engage foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy. We are honest brokers who communicate credibly and transparently and listen actively to promote two-way dialogue.

* Know the Public

We study and value foreign cultures, media, and political and social environments, and exchange viewpoints with diverse udiences to strengthen people-to-people relationships and to ensure that our policymaking incorporates a nuanced understanding of public perceptions.

* Innovate

We encourage fresh approaches to public diplomacy and reward adaptability, critical thinking, and risk-taking. We adopt new technologies and outreach platforms that make our work more effective. We strive for excellence through continuous enrichment of our unique expertise in U.S. policy, values, history, and culture.

* Model Integrity

We hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and professional conduct, both internally and in our external engagement work. We are reliable and effective stewards of the manifold personnel and financial resources entrusted to us.

* Build Great Teams

Our ability to unite disparate groups and find common purpose grounds our work and represents the best of American values. We build diverse teams and value the input of each person on our team, including non-PD colleagues.

* Strengthen the Community

We create a robust esprit de corps within our community to shape the future of public diplomacy. We recruit high-caliber candidates for PD positions and hone our professional skills through career-long learning. We believe that mentoring and professional development are priorities and responsibilities for all members of the PD community. We are advocates for PD within the Department of State and across government and the private sector

By Liza Davis, senior public diplomacy officer, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Office of Policy and Resources
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Author:Davis, Liza
Publication:State Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:1069
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