Top 10 Public Diplomacy Stories of 2014: CPD's Picks

1.    The Rise of Digital Warfare
Digital communication technologies were an increasingly potent weapon in global conflicts this year: supporters of both Israel and Hamas took to social media to galvanize their virtual troops, a Twitter-based hashtag battle arose between the U.S. and Russia after recent events in Ukraine, and ISIS employed social media for recruiting purposes while the U.S. waged social media campaigns against them.

2.    The Pope’s Progress
Pope Francis had a busy 2014. He continued to make headlines with his progressive speeches denouncing homophobia and racism, helped broker peace between the U.S. and Cuba, and attempted to mend relations between Israel and Palestine in his landmark trip to the Middle East.

3.    Cuba in the Spotlight
Cuba took the lead with its pioneering “Ebola diplomacy,” in which Cuban medical professionals hit the ground in West Africa before help arrived from any other nation. The Cuba-U.S. rapprochement in December was the cap to a remarkable year.

4.    China’s New Silk Road
More indication of China’s expanding global footprint: the unveiling of two ambitious economic diplomacy initiatives, known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Through these efforts the Xi administration envisions expanded ties with China’s neighbors.

5.    The Grand Games
2014’s FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics offered opportunities for host countries (Brazil and Russia, respectively) to raise their global profiles. Both countries faced significant domestic and international challenges in their efforts to host the games; the resulting media attention appeared to be mixed, or fleeting at best.

6.    The First U.S.-Africa Summit
The inaugural gathering of U.S. and African leaders took place in Washington over the course of three days this past summer, sending a strong signal of deepening diplomatic and economic engagement between the U.S. and African nations.

7.    Revival of Russia’s Media Machine
Russia launched Sputnik–not a space satellite, but a multimedia news outlet with a global reach. Alongside RT (Russia Today), Sputnik represents Russian efforts to provide international audiences with a counterpoint to Western media narratives.

8.    Malaysia’s Crisis Management
The two Malaysian Airlines disasters offered case studies in the public handling (or mishandling) of international tragedy, highlighting the need to manage crises through multinational collaboration in an increasingly global context.

9.    Germany, More Popular Than Ever
With a growing role in European and global affairs, Germany’s public appeal led it to a new ranking at the top of the 2014 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index. Victory at the FIFA World Cup added to the nation’s soft power appeal.

10.    Modi's Savvy Global Outreach
Since Narendra Modi came into office, his public diplomacy efforts have been tireless and exemplary. Dubbed India’s “Fast Track Diplomacy,” Modi’s international visits and use of social media have raised India’s profile on the world stage.

In February, CPD will publish its Annual Review of Public Diplomacy, a full report and analysis of PD trends in 2014.

On a daily basis, CPD aggregates English-language public diplomacy (PD News) stories from around the world. This year, we collected more than 2,433 stories which were subsequently used to identify the major public diplomacy events of 2014. To select the top ten, we convened a panel of international experts and asked each to choose the most significant PD stories of 2014 from a list of 50. From the panelists’ choices, we ranked the top 10 stories based on the number of votes, comments, and global PD significance.

To narrow our list of 2,433 stories to 50, we took into account the following factors: the frequency of the story’s coverage in various news sources, the implications of the public diplomacy event, the credibility of sources, and the frequency of an actor’s participation in public diplomacy activities (either as the initiator or receiver of public diplomacy). CPD staff then reviewed the stories to ensure that the full spectrum of PD content across the broadest geographical regions was represented and that they included various types of PD initiatives (cultural, governmental, non-state activities, etc.).


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