Karen Hughes Keeps Privatizing Public Diplomacy

Karen Hughes VNRIn an interview with PR Week, U.S. public diplomacy czar Karen Hughes explains how she began issuing talking points to State Department employees overseas: "I thought, 'What if I were the ambassador somewhere in the world? What's the big story driving news...?' The week I started [as Undersecretary of State], in August 2005, it was Israel's withdrawal from [the Gaza Strip]. I realized that if I were an ambassador, I wouldn't know what to say about that. I spent a day trying to figure out what I should say ... [and] wrote it up and sent it around the world. I was stunned by the reaction. We had probably 20 to 25 e-mails and phone calls saying, 'Can I have more of these?'" Hughes also encouraged PR professionals to support her office: "We've consulted broadly with the private sector. We had the summit with the PR Coalition. I personally have met with a number of public relations executives. We also received permission from a firm, Praxis Media, to use a PR planning tool in our new strategic communications plan."