Wired Public Diplomacy

"The US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) unveiled a series of new proposals last week to increase America's presence overseas, while recognizing 21st century dangers and federal budget restraints," PR Week writes. "Center-stage was the 'virtual consulate,' a web-based service that facilitates interaction between citizens of remote foreign regions and the US government. Already functioning in a handful of Russian cities, virtual consulates require no physical US presence and perform approximately half the work of a full-service consulate. ... The recommendations come on the heels of a department-wide reconsideration of US public diplomacy, particularly in the Muslim world. A $15 million post-September 11 ad and outreach campaign spearheaded by ex-secretary for public diplomacy Charlotte Beers met with near-universal criticism and is currently under review by a congressionally mandated advisory group that will recommend changes in the fall. [Consul general Tom] Niblock cited the need to update US interaction with overseas audiences, saying traditional methods such as building embassies were 'big, heavy, and expensive.'"