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First, is increase recognition on the part of the State Department officials, and the importance of research in PD. Movement away from risk averse cultures at State, and BBG, which we felt were negatively impacting how research data and evaluations cd conceived, conducted, and reported. We felt there should be more consistent strategic approaches in Free casual dating in washington dc 20515, and evaluating public washingto, and international broadcasting activities. We should increase training, execute their planning, datint research and evaluation, and there should absolutely be more funding.
It's been Free casual dating in washington dc 20515 to see the changes that have been taking place at the State Department, and in the BBG in the last few years. I don't want the commission to get all the credit, because this work was already being done, and I like to think that we were able to shine some attention on these incredible casjal who were doing this work, and Fre help push for them to get more resources. So, watching their impact within state, and BBG grow, has been remarkable, and I'm really grateful washinvton their work, and their contributions to public diplomacy, which I don't think, get recognized enough. So, I'm also thrilled to see there's wasbington follow on work.
I am thrilled to read this report, to hear from you Dr. Power, unfortunately I have to leave early, but to hear from you for a while on what you've uncovered, and to hear the recommendations, and what they are four years later. Thank you Katherine for joining us, and putting us into your schedule, I know I divulged that you're at Facebook right now, and so you had a little bit of a crazy couple of days. So, we are also utterly delighted to have Dr. Gerry Power join us today. His international research career spans the not for profit academic and commercial sectors. Working in international development, technology, investment, and media and communications. I am delighted I got to talk to him a little bit before the meeting today, and I'm looking forward to hearing his remarks today.
Yes my name is Gerry Power, not with an S. I've been denying any association with Shawn since our engagement started about three months ago. I was the airport at Heathrow on Sunday, and my ticket said James Powers with an S, and I got stuck for 40 minutes, because that's not my name. We've got 31 offices across 26 countries. We work with a range of both multilateral and bilateral agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, foundations, and commercial [inaudible Core to our work, is helping our partners optimize their engagement with their various target audiences.
It was in the context of this portfolio of work that Shawn Powers approached me back in latewith the task of conducting a program of research that would answer three questions. The first question was to understand the range of research conducted by governmental, and non- governmental organizations to gain insight. So, how to best engage their perspective audiences. Second to establish the range of evidence and key metrics, being gathered to capture the impact of public diplomacy initiatives globally. Then thirdly, to examine how the insights and evidence are informing the target audience engagement strategy of key growth factors in public diplomacy. We shared the preliminary findings of this work, at the Research, Evaluation and Learning Summit earlier this month, but today my comments are informed by four different sources of evidence.
First of all, the findings of the research. My observations at the two day summit. Takeaways from the digital diplomacy conference, convened by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February. Finally, insights gathered from a range of in house, and external data, digital data research experts apart from the people we consulted from the research. First of all, some background on the research. We interviewed 28 experts, from 17 countries with significant experience over insights into measuring the impact of public diplomacy, and cultural relations initiatives. The experts we spoke to fell into four categories. First of all senior representatives from Ministries of foreign affairs, principals from cultural relations institutes, research experts and think tanks, and a range of other key actors including, digital data experts.
U.S. Department of State
In addition our team reviewed over 40 specialist reports, and project documents that were shared with us by the interviewees. My observations for you today fall into four broad categories, first of all, the patterns and trends in public diplomacy, research and evaluation community. Secondly, how key players in the community are drawing on research to inform their public diplomacy strategies. Third, the broad range of approaches to measuring the impact of public diplomacy activities. Finally, some best practice examples of approaches to organizational learning. First, in terms of the community more generally.
Unsurprisingly, the community is intrinsically competitive, yet collaboration between certain partners in securing advances in public diplomacy research practice. It is designed to integrate technological data, and social media expertise with the traditional skill sets of diplomats. To date, it has organized 14 events worldwide. These bring together diplomats, and entrepreneurs, tech developers and experts, and within non-governmental and societal organizations that have helped Sex chatline in union best in class public diplomacy campaigns such as the Swedish Midwives for all work, which I'll share a bit of detail on later on in my remarks.
There may be value in this, in exploring the benefits of diplomats focused on collaboration between Ministries of foreign affairs, as a way of building upon the fine work that the tech camp initiative has already done here at the state department. Secondly, we also learned that actors are delivering a range of programs with diverse objectives, and consequentially different measures of success. These objectives range from the more traditional, such as increasing the likelihood that foreign citizens will visit, come to study, and invest in a country. To more nuanced objectives, such as the Goethe-Institute's dedication to understanding optimal conditions for the local sustainability of an interventions effects.
And more targeted objectives such as the Danish efforts to build knowledge of and increase their presence, within technology and innovation sectors in key locations around the world. Third, however Free casual dating in washington dc 20515 was poignant acknowledgement that politically motivated short term goals have the potential to threaten investments in research and evaluation programs. The Swiss Federal Counsel Strategy for communication abroad, stands out as an integrated program involving multiple partners that is supported by a long term commitment and investment from the Swiss government. This results in a program that provides the optimum combination of robust data gathering on multiple activities, that are aligned with long term strategic objectives.
In addition to a long term commitment to research and evaluation, it affords the opportunity to monitor and recalibrate ongoing efforts to ensure they're aligned with the long term vision. Fourth, it's important to mention, the role of the various global indexes, the Nation Brand index, the Portland Women looking for man in nokesville va ranking, the creative cities index, these are referenced frequently throughout our interviews, and they're essential attempts to rank countries, in terms of their achievements, their assets, and other countries perceptions of them.
They are part of the arsenal of the public diplomacy community, of like many actors expressed reservations about their methodology. They'll essentially serve as proxy benchmark of global presence. Finally, we've observed a broad consensus among the experts we spoke to, that the data and evidence to inform and evaluate public diplomacy programs, were in greater precision and specificity. In addition, there's a strong appetite for greater standardization, and sharing of approaches and methods. With regard to good practice and research, three points of worthy of mention. First, countries are targeting an increasingly diverse range of audiences.
Traditionally, three audience groups dominated the PD space. Foreign general publics, the media, and emerging established opinion leaders, and decision makers. Emerging audiences, among the people we spoke to include, domestic general publics, more inclusive and refined categories of young people broadly defined from four years of age, to 30 years of age, with specific interests shown them. For example, women and girls, those likely to travel, those affected by violence, and young activists. The British Council's results and evidence framework exemplifies the increasing diversification of audiences. It identifies 25 audience clusters, across its eight key results areas.
This structure allows the counsel to exercise greater precision in program delivery, and evaluation efforts. Secondly, our research uncovered significant disharmony in the approaches to, and methods of gathering audience data. There is little standardization in how PD actors define what is most important to know about their audience. For example, many players are gathering basic demographic and reach data, however, organizations like the European Commission are developing methods to gather psychographic profiles of their target audiences as well. Finally, the capacity of the key actors to look beyond digital vanity metrics is extremely limited. However, the digital methods initiative ate the University of Amsterdam, the embryonic work by collaborative working on the digital index of global influence, and the Diplomacy Live program in Turkey, represent examples of cutting edge, and inclusive approaches to understand influence in the digital space.
In regard to our focus on metrics and measurement, we uncovered widespread and varied efforts to capture evidence of the relative success of PD activities. However, we believe that effective evaluation of public diplomacy is being hindered by four factors. First, despite the depth of knowledge around the theory and practice of public diplomacy, there is little evidence of theories of change, to inform how different metrics constitute key steps in the journey to impact. This is especially true of measures of digital reach and engagement. In other words, understanding of what constitutes thresholds of success in online reach and activity is underdeveloped.
As a result, actors are relying upon simplistic equations of success, with volume and frequency of interactions without knowing whether or how, that helps them achieve their goals. Secondly, short term and results driven agendas that fail to account for the long term nature of certain influence campaigns, and programs. As one of our Australian experts commented, governments want results. Economic diplomacy is king, and none of that lends to this sort of effort. An exception to this pattern, the Swiss federal counsel stands out for its commitment to long term research, and evaluation.
Third, actors are using different measures to evaluate the same interventions. This is particularly pronounced with the evaluation of exchange and scholarship programs. Evaluation of the Australia works program meanwhile, considers all the above, and more. It includes measures of the reach and quality outputs, and Free casual dating in washington dc 20515 a wide range of indicators for measuring continuing engagement with Australia, as well as their transference of skills and perspectives. Finally, with few exceptions, the trend is not to include common strategic measures across different types of activities.
Despite operating in countries across a wide range of sectors, and with many partners simultaneously, all evaluations collect data on the same age results areas. Those areas in turn are lined with the council's five overarching strategic objectives. The most challenging objective within our research project, was to identify group practice examples, where public diplomacy, and cultural relations organizations were deploying effective strategies for learning, from their research and evaluation work. The few examples we did identify however, constitute we believe robust, and integrated case studies, of evidence based, organizational learning. First, the Swiss Federal Administration has established an inclusive, interdepartmental working group, the IDWG, for communications abroad.
This group is made up of a range of governmental department stakeholders, as well as interest representatives from across the business, travel, and culture sectors. SGE, the Swiss organization responsible for the promotion of private sector interest, Switzerland Tourism, the national marketing and sales organization, and the organization responsible for the promotion of Swiss art and culture. The IDWG is led by the secretary general of the federal department of foreign affairs, and the federal Chancellery, the staff organization of the elected federal counsel.
Outside the FA and the Chancellery, IDWG comprises representatives from the federal department of home affairs, and justice and politics, of defense, of finance for economic affairs, education and research, environment, transport, energy, and communications. Objectives, priorities, and target groups from communications abroad are chosen to reflect the shared interests of the IDWG. At the operational level, present Switzerland acts as a hub, connecting the different spokes collaborating bi, and multilaterally with different actors as required.
This approach is exemplary for three reasons. First, it recognizes the need for the inclusive participation of a variety of stakeholders. Second, it provides effective oversight of stakeholder activities, and third, it creates a platform for ongoing communication between the stakeholders. Second, the Goethe-Institute in Germany, have embedded within their organization, an impact cycle outlining the iterative development of their projects. When you first start dating meme impact cycle consists of four stages.
The planning and implementing impact stage, the recording and analyzing impact stage, the improving impact stage, and the communicating impact to the outside world stage. Consulting with various stakeholders, local communities, partners, target groups, policy makers, experts is emphasized at each stage. At the improving impact stage, the dialogue is with project managers, and staff, partners, and target groups. This approach is exemplary because one, it encourages the building of networks for communication with diverse stakeholders, local professional, and governmental.
Second, it emphasizes a need to work collaboratively with target groups to improve projects, and it provides a common understanding within the organization of the steps for improvement. The third example of good practice and learning, comes from the Swedish Ministry of foreign affairs, that have built a digital dashboard for optimizing the delivery, and performance of diplomatic missions digital communications. This dashboard provides an overview of individual and collective performance of diplomatic missions. It is exemplary because first, it uses a set of common metrics to rank and benchmark the performance of all actors.
Secondly it enables quick identification of potential sources of best practice within the organization. Third, it enables the agile delivery of targeted support and solutions to where they are most needed. The final example of good practice and learning, from the field was the Swedish MFA led midwives for all campaign. The development of this campaign allowed a set of principals advocation procreation with both expert and local groups. The core theme of the campaign was sexual and reproductive health and rights, for communities living in several of the target countries, however, this constituted a potentially sensitive topic. The focus on midwifery provided a way of talking about these issues indirectly.
In addition, local Swedish missions were instructed to engage in a range of co creation activities, with local communities to develop ways of promoting, and celebrating midwifery, that were culturally sensitive, and locally adopted. The result was seven, very different, local campaigns which ran in parallel to a central, global, digital campaign. This approach is exemplary because first, over and above the fact that this demonstrates a strong project design, in terms of encouraging real time audience participation in the design of public diplomacy activities.
Secondly, it successfully integrates a global, online campaign, with tailored delivery locally. Second, the data gathered from the local consultations impacted the design, and delivery of the global strategy, as well as customizing the delivery of the campaign at the local level. I conclude my remarks with a series of considerations or recommendations, drawing directly on primary research, but also on the consultations and meetings attended over the last three months. From a strategic perspective, I have four recommendations. First, to create a central hub, for insights and assessment, within the US Department of State, to pool resources in optimizing investment in data gathering, analytics, insight, and learning.
Second to design a research, evaluation, and learning practice for the US Department of State, that is future proofed, dynamic, nimble, and incorporated in multiple feedback groups. For example, Defense monitoring evaluation framework for the Australia awards program, which monitors out both short and middle term outcomes, to identify and address barriers to long term goals. Third, to design a strategy, not only to engage with the private sector, and technology companies, but to ally with those that specialize in quantitative, and qualitative data optimization.
The foundations for this approach are exemplified by the Danish innovation centers. Finally, consider a convening role for the US Department of State, to leverage the public diplomacy community's collaborative spirit, and appetite for knowledge sharing. This could provide the USG, with a long term competitive advantage in the influence space, by ensuring that it is actively informed by the development of the most effective insight and assessment tools and tactics. From an implementation perspective, I also have four recommendations.
First of all, it's imperative to invest in capacity building US research teams, in technology enabled, and digital research approaches and methods. There are some existing resources that could be easily drawn on, including the digital methods initiative, DG, and diplomacy live. Second, to design platforms that enable real time audience participation in research and co creation activities. For example, the midwives for all program. In addition a best in class example from the private sector is the customer or citizen in the room methodology, which enables real time feedback from target audiences, on communications and messaging, building on opportunities to engage directly with audiences, there may be value in establishing research panels within disparate communities in the US, to monitor their perceptions of the US, in their home countries and to identify potential routes for engagement.
Third, recognizing the changing information ecosystem, there is great potential to invest in basic research to inform USG wide programs, aiming to intervene in global and regional issue agendas, commonly referred to as the ideational space. For example, again DNY across platform analysis and issue mapping would provide a basis for this research. Finally, with regard to practice, in order to leverage the benefits of data modeling, we advocate design and topology-based approach to PD, where PD programs, and tools are tailored, based on a variety of context specific criteria.
These criteria might include, optimal, suboptimal conditions for engagement, general support for USG policies, cultural traditions, historic relations with the USG and its people, access to western sources of information, and level of English language proficiency. Finally, in terms of the data themselves. I have four recommendations. First of all, to build theories of change that formalize digital engagement in processes of influence in order to interpret digital data in a more meaningful way. There are multiple examples from the private and social sectors, that have built in digital metrics targets into their campaigns, and communications strategies, in order to track issue residents brand equity and message traction.
Second, create a data audit that maps out a hierarchy of different metrics of success. This will facilitate a common nomenclature across US Department of State research teams, regarding output, outcome, and impact measures. This has already been created by the Goethe Institute, and the British Council. Third, recognizing the dominance of visual content in popular culture, and in social media in particular, we strongly advise in investing, in building the capacity of US Department data research teams, in methods that gather visual data to capture the power of imagery, and video content. The practice of analyzing visual data is commonly employed in the private sector, to map out the variety of cultural references familiar and favorable to target audiences.
Finally, and this is finally, all of this data can only be capitalized on, when supported by a robust knowledge management system, that allows for data to be gathered, sorted, and accessed in real time, across platforms. Thank you Gerry, for the wonderful summary of the study, it's really a magnificent piece of work that the Commission is thrilled to be a part of. We're looking forward to publishing it, making it widely accessible in the near future, the exact timing will be determined probably later today.
I would say no longer than maybe two months from now, so hopefully it will be interesting and relevant to you all. Just a few remarks before I talk about how Gerry's recommendations really fit into some top line commission recommendations, on continuing to improve our research and evaluation efforts. I also want to actually go a bit farther back than Katherine did, and just mention just how important the question of research, and impact evaluation has been to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a long time. If, you go on our website, you'll find reports dating back to the s, some of which we have by the way, because of a wonderful previous executive director, Bruce Gregory, who's in the room, and has been very generous in making sure that we had a strong archive.
But reports back to the s also emphasize this exact question, in fact one fromwas our annual report to Congress, which concluded with the following statement: Information Agency, work remains uneven. The commission urges that greater emphasis be placed on the task of measuring the effectiveness and impact of a total USIA effort. A beginning has been made, the use of research and public opinion polls are steps in the right direction, but the commission urges that special attention be given to this crucial area. I mention this, because it's not something that's new, and we're not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Also, because it's important to note how much progress has been made, in the 61 years since that report was published. The public diplomacy family of the State Department, ECA pioneered the first evaluation office, within the public diplomacy cone, and continues to invest resources, and human resources as well, in pursuing evaluations, with their ongoing partners of the impact of their program. The office of Analytics within IIP, is increasingly seen as a team leader across the Department, if not across the interagency, on digital metrics and assessing the impact of our programs.
Of course the research and evaluation units housed within the Office of Policy Planning and Resources, of the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is a wonderful coordinating team of folks that are doing independent assessments of all types of public diplomacy programs, and also providing services to regional and functional bureaus. These efforts have come a tremendous way, not just sincebut of course dating way back, and I think it's important to note how much progress has been made, especially considering the constraints.
Both the physical constraints, and the hiring freeze constraints, that we have been facing in the past 18 months, and so it's worth just mentioning how incredible those efforts have been, and for those of you who were at the summit last month, you got to hear some of the detailed, innovative projects that are being pursued by those teams. So, I'm thrilled to be able to champion a lot of the work that has been done. With all of that said, of course there's a lot of work that can be done, and I want to highlight a few things Gerry mentioned. First is to encourage my colleagues at the State Department to consider the opportunity to take leadership in this space.
There is a global need for someone to stand up and play a leadership role in convening, and directing the agendas for research and evaluation of public diplomacy efforts. I think every time I've spoken to Gerry about his study, one of the first thing he says is Shawn, you don't have any idea how much energy, and enthusiasm there is around the world, but there's this question of why don't we have a way to get together and talk about this? Why is this the first time, we're doing a global assessment of the different practices that are going on? What is really exciting, I think, is that across the interviews that Gerry's conducted, there's a lot of excitement in having the Department of State lead that effort.
There is a broad impression that we are at the cutting edge of a lot of these research and evaluation techniques, and people want to learn from us. I think there's a lot that we can learn from them. The reason why I think this is a great opportunity, is if the State Department can take lead in this space, we can shape and form the agenda for research and evaluation around the world, that will help improve public diplomacy efforts of allied governments. The reason that that's so important is it becomes an impact amplifier of our efforts. Far too often we think about ourselves as having to be everything to everyone in every part of the world.
But, if we have a coalition of allied governments that are equally capable in their public diplomacy programs, with shared objectives, like open societies, free markets, democratic forms of governance, freedom of expression, we can lean on those allied governments to affect public policy programs, so we don't feel like we have to be everywhere at all times. It's really a unique opportunity that exists right now, that I hope we can take advantage of. As many of you know, just last month the Department of State issued, an updated Foreign Affairs Manual guidance titled, Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation, 18FAM, for those who are keen on looking it up.
Interestingly enough, it was published the day of our summit last month, so the timing is quite coincidental. The updated guidance, includes some detailed expectations and requirements for each bureau, in terms of research, and evaluation moving forward, and it coincides not only with our summit, but continued congressional interest, and interest from OMB, on improving our capacity to demonstrate that public diplomacy programs have an impact and help us restore our national interest. So, the following recommendations, which will be published along with Gerry's report in the coming months, are an effort to guide how public diplomacy bureaus, and leadership think about the new FAM language and the opportunity it creates for us to take research and evaluation even more seriously.
I'll just mention four big ideas, top line ideas. And again, you'll see some synergies between what Gerry's mentioned, and what the Commission is proposing. This consolidated effort would exist within the Office of Policy, Planning and Resources, and direct through the head of that unit to the Undersecretary, to be able to make sure the insights that are gained from the research and evaluations can directly shape how programs are designed, and how funding decisions are made in almost real time. This consolidated office would lead, and coordinate all research and assessment of Department of State public diplomacy programs and campaigns, including overseeing the establishment of testing of core metrics to assess program effectiveness vis-a-vi our foreign policy goals.
I should also mention that this recommendation goes along the lines of language that was already proposed in the State Department's authorization bill, from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in So, it has support in Congress as well, it's a recommendation that the commission has been working on for a long time. This office would also coordinate research conducted, and gathered throughout the U. Eventually, I want this office to do more than just play that coordinating role. I'd like to see them create a platform for real time sharing and presentation of data, potentially based on existing models tracking social media accounts in real time, but also focusing on tracking all data related to public diplomacy efforts so that if you're a public affairs officer in Zimbabwe, you can in real time open up this database and get a sense for as much information as we know about local audiences as possible.
So, you can consider those as you're putting together your program. This office would also establish, publicize, and manage a clear, simple, digital interface for public diplomacy professionals at post, to request assistance with a wide range of research and assessment efforts, one of the important takeaways from the summit, was that there's an incredible amount of talent and work being done, but if you're coming in from Nicaragua, for example, you have no clue, who you should actually reach out to, to get the support you need.
That is troubling given all the efforts that we're doing, but it also makes sense. A lot of us are focused on getting the job right, and not thinking about how we communicate the value of that work, and the opportunities it creates for folks throughout the state department. This office would also prioritize research on the value of particular metrics in order to better understand what metrics matter, and why. One metrics of importance to me in particular is the idea of research on the favorability of the United States. Studies that ask people do you support the United States, or do you support he leadership of the United States, or do you hold a favorable opinion of the United States?
The interesting thing about this is we presume it is of relevance to public diplomacy, but we actually don't know if it has any tangible impact on the specific public diplomacy goals that we're trying to achieve. Does favorability towards the United States mean more people will study in the United States? Does favorability mean that more people will spend money on tourism to the United States? So, there are some really important basic research that needs to be done to demonstrate the importance of a particular metrics, so we can get a lot more focused and strategic in thinking through, what we're trying to achieve, and the strategic significance of those programs.
This office should also prioritize establishing more flexible contracting mechanisms perhaps modeled on what we've seen at the office of transition initiatives within USAID, to allow for more nimble, and flexible, and tailored partnerships with the private sector. We need to be able to choose implementing partners for our research projects that we trust, that can verify the integrity of the data that's collected. Currently there are far too many constraints on that process. This office, also should embrace more technically based approaches to data collection, including mobile friendly applications, and allow for the casual accumulation of data.
We heard of a couple of examples at the summit that I wanted to highlight which are really interesting. First is the quick tap survey, pioneered by a group called the IMPL project, which allows for mobile collection of data, even if there's no connectivity, in order to gather information in conflict zones, or recently destabilized countries where it's difficult to have a strong wifi signal, or a 4G connection. Another good example was an application developed by USAID, and then implemented by the International Republican Institute, called Baldytak, which is a mobile surveying application that's very easy to use, and very easy to teach people how to use. It allows folks to gather a tremendous amounts of information more casually.
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