Developing a 360-degree Integrated Public Diplomacy Evaluation Approach: Analyzing Country Images from Stakeholder and Media Perspectives

Principal Investigator:
Diana Ingenhoff, CPD Research Fellow 2017-19

As research has demonstrated, the perceptions of foreign publics build attitudes and opinions towards a country, and have a behavioral impact not only on economic and political indicators, but also on word-of-mouth communication. The key factor in shaping perceptions of country image is a concise and validated knowledge about the composition and structure of country images, to be analyzed both as people’s perceptions of a country, and, as the basis of this process, the country image that is portrayed in the media of different countries abroad.

Measuring and evaluating (M&E) PD efforts has become a central topic in PD. Research has shown the first tools, measures and models in M&E and critically discussed current challenges, such as the professionals’ lack of knowledge and skills in evaluation models and methods, paving the way for fruitful exchange between PD professionals and academics. Several state departments/foreign offices and PD practitioners already monitor their image abroad by analyzing media outlets, with some also periodically conducting public opinion surveys. However, neither the instruments nor their results are aligned, and they fail thereby to profit from the profound knowledge an integrated analysis could provide in order to develop strategic communication tailored to specific stakeholder groups in various countries.

Given the unprecedented importance of country images and the limitations and gaps in current research and practice, the goal of this project is therefore to conceptualize and validate an integrated country image measurement instrument that is applicable for survey design studies as well as for media content analysis. The project is based on a cooperation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs/Presence Switzerland, and aims at comparing and analyzing similarities and differences of the country image across varying countries and media outlets.

Image via iStock.