WASHINGTON: The US State Department on January 9-10 is hosting a summit with PR professionals to examine problems in US public diplomacy and to devise "best practices" for redressing such problems, including actions the private sector can take to help.
Co-sponsored by State Department under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs Karen Hughes, assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs Dina Habib Powell, and the 50,000-member Public Relations Coalition, the summit will bring together about 200 communications executives and senior State Department leaders, according to a State Department representative who spoke on background.
One goal of the summit is the identification of 10 "action steps" that companies can take to support US public diplomacy, which has been criticized in recent years for failing to stem negative perceptions of the US abroad. A worldwide study earlier this year by the Pew Research Center found general unfavorable views of the US by most countries in the Middle East and Asia, though the popularity of the US and Americans has actually improved in recent years in India, France, and other countries.
The US private sector has already begun collective efforts to address growing anti-Americanism, include creation in September of the multimillion-dollar Discover America Partnership, which includes a number of top hotel and travel executives and is promoting ways to increase foreign visitors to the US as a means, the groups said, of improving the image of the US overseas.