transfer 18(1) » Öffentliche Kommunikation

Brand Communities as a Concept of Public Diplomacy

Introducing a New Strategic Role Model for Relationship Management and Strategic Communication with Foreign Target Audiences

To advance the emerging academic concept of public diplomacy (PD) this paper pursued a three-tiered research approach. Due to the lack of an academic common ground in PD the first step was to establish a consistent theoretical framework that enables valid comparative research. Therefore leading theorists’ understandings and definitions of PD were revised and synthesised into one comprehensive framework. To accord to PD-related concepts like place branding and nation branding the new element ‘branding’ was added.
The second part deals with embracing the cross disciplinary ties between diplomacy and strategic marketing, which play essential roles for branding in the context of PD. Theoretical premises of branding in the context of PD were established and assigned to the branding technique ‘brand community management’. This technique is a promising tool to wield relationships with foreign interest groups and target audiences, based on relationship management and strategic communication.
In the third part three PD instruments – an NGO, a political party and a diaspora association – were examined regarding their potential to develop and maintain brand communities according to PD. To this, qualitative expert interviews were conducted and interpreted. Each instrument proved to obtain the necessary structures and internal mechanisms to build and maintain such communities. Hence, the associated management techniques are promising assets for the work through PD instruments.