WASHINGTON: Charlotte Beers, Karen Hughes, Thomas Friedman, Richard Armitage, and Tucker Eskew - who is tipped to rise to a greater role in overseas diplomacy - were among the Masters of Communication to address the unprecedented gathering of embassy PIOs at the State Department conference earlier this month.According to a State Department official who attended the conference (which was closed to reporters), discussion focused on how to better approach and understand international audiences. Heavy emphasis was placed on the Middle East, particularly with the inclusion of New York Times columnist Friedman, who appeared the day after winning a Pulitzer for his commentary on the region.
"Many came away with a sense of mission and some new information about presenting America's case,
said Stuart Holliday, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs.
Beers spoke at the opening and closing of the three-day gathering. She focused on ways she and her staff could serve as resources for international PIOs. She also promised to push for greater training and funding from the federal government.
Eskew, currently director of media affairs at the White House, spoke upon his return from London, where he was helping organize the Coalition Information Center (PRWeek Dec. 3, 2001). The White House was unable to confirm by press time the possibility that he may be reassigned to an international communications role alongside Presidential advisor Hughes.
The next big event for US diplomacy comes later this week, when the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy meets to discuss Beers' efforts thus far. The meeting will be open to the public, who are urged to offer opinions.