Skip to content

Simon Anholt on how to engage an indifferent public: the media and public diplomacy @ Communications Forum

December 7, 2010


Notes: Part I Climate change awareness is usually promoted through

 1. Diplomatic channel – Not media friendly – Boring (in his view): Impt to note because people won’t follow – Yet necessary to galvanize population

 2. Scientific Channel – Story of science usually more interesting However what’s lacking is the people. Neither scientists nor politicians caused climate change, WE caused it. (I feel that we youths cannot shirk responsibility. If we were in the shoes of our descendents, we would have done exactly the same thing and jump on the bandwagon in the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps we could accept it as sunk cost while still acknowledging responsibility and exploring how to move forward.) Currently, there is not enough focus on the 6 billion people. A new channel needs to be explored to leverage on the power of the 6 billion. Currently, what is lacking is integration amongst governments. There is a missing forum on the international arena.

Simon Anholt specializes in helping developing countries understand how other countries view them. He established the term ‘nation brand’ (note: not nation branding- Problem with this being nation branding usually involves market campaigning which is cheap propaganda which does not convince, wasting money because after all, countries are judged on what they do, not what they say)

People’s behaviours are dependent on nation brand. Their actions are driven by their perceptions of countries which in turn determines their selected destination for holidays, place for trade, etc. Governments are desperate for good reputations. With a good reputation like Sweden, everything is cheap and easily accessible. With a weak reputation, people have to keep justifying. For example, Africa is unable to sell its products on the global market despite them being of good or equal quality. Hence this shows an inextricable link between reputation and behaviour.

If a country is admired, it’s because it is doing good. If a country is admired, it does more trade and competes more effectively. In a way this is their Achilles heel. Therefore, we need to capitalize on this and make countries want to be admired, and in turn do good.

Part II

1. List down 25 challenges

2. Stand back, ask what they have in common

 – Irrespective of borders

 – Problems are getting worse

 – Problems are not problems per se but rather symptomatic of root problem: global governance (or lack thereof)

At Copenhagen, the public felt disillusioned because of the lack of consensus. This was due to the absence of a single entity which is in charge. The gaps of global governance have to be filled through the power of 6 billion.


This may superficial but I find the ideas rather interesting. The seeming superficiality is due to these ideas usually being fleshed out in 3 day workshops, but Simon Anholt having to elucidate them in half an hour.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: