EDITORIAL: The US must first win over its own citizenry if it hopes to find diplomatic success globally

The fact that the nascent Task Force to Mobilize American Business for Public Diplomacy is not exclusively an advertising undertaking, but one that also includes PR, is encouraging news. But let's hope that the "working title" (reported by The New York Times' Stuart Elliott) for a planned global satellite town meeting at the NYSE changes. Somehow, "The Day American Listens" sounds a painfully ironic note.

The fact that the nascent Task Force to Mobilize American Business for Public Diplomacy is not exclusively an advertising undertaking, but one that also includes PR, is encouraging news. But let's hope that the "working title" (reported by The New York Times' Stuart Elliott) for a planned global satellite town meeting at the NYSE changes. Somehow, "The Day American Listens" sounds a painfully ironic note.

Obviously, it was not their intention to imply that only one day would be dedicated to listening to the concerns of international interests. But the misnomer is a reminder of one of the biggest problems with America's image abroad, namely our reputation as quick-fix merchants. The perception is also a problem for us here at home, where many have been surprised that the triumphant "ending" of the war did not mean an end to the challenge. Now the government concedes that Iraq is a long-term project, and the White House has been forced to recalibrate the expectations of Americans. But it is still a hard sell. Knowing as we do that the best external corporate campaigns are the ones where the employees have been the first to be won over, it seems obvious that more attention should be paid to how our domestic stakeholders are communicating global responsibility. More should be done to not only convince Americans that we were right to go into Iraq, but what impact a negative global reputation has on the country. Good marketers will tell you employees have to live the brand. Similarly, Americans must live the new Brand America, one that is not only interested in its own economic gain, but in being a good global citizen. A more sophisticated effort to enlist Americans as brand ambassadors, at home and abroad, could be surprisingly effective. The search is on for Student of the Year 2004 As PRWeek begins its search for Student of the Year, we are conscious that today's students and recent graduates are anxiously facing a challenging job market. Even now, with signs that more hiring is taking place, there are no guarantees that industry newcomers will land at a good company or firm. The discipline it takes to prepare and enter these awards, and to pitch to a tough panel for those shortlisted few, is a great way to hone skills for the job hunt. Those who are entering, or encouraging students to enter, should bear in mind a few simple points. First, there is nothing more detrimental to an entry than poor writing. Good writing is the fundamental that can make or break a solid pitch. Another deceptively simple rule of thumb is to follow the entry requirements to the letter. No point in being disqualified over a technicality. Finally, though the competition is fierce, no student should talk him or herself out of entering, especially if they are passionate about getting into PR. As last year's winner, Daren Kwok, put it, "It seemed almost out of my league to enter. I didn't expect to win, but I knew I would get a lot out of just putting it together." The 2004 Student of the Year Award is sponsored by Weber Shandwick. For more information, click here.

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