Credibility and Public Diplomacy
This chapter examines the concept of source credibility as it relates to public diplomacy. By drawing upon both recent and historical examples of public diplomacy successes and failures, key constructs related to credibility are illustrated. In addition, the chapter presents an extended conceptualization of credibility that includes not only individuals, but also corporations, institutions, governments, social movements, and other organized collectivities. Because credibility is perceived, those seeking to project it must adopt an audience-centered approach. Because credibility is dynamic, diplomacy must be flexible and capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Because credibility is situation specific and culture bound, public diplomacy efforts that succeed in one part of the world may not succeed in another. Because credibility is a multidimensional construct, it is important to focus on expertise, trustworthiness, and goodwill. Finally, although efforts at establishing “hard power” may work in some situations, building trust and perceptions of goodwill by establishing relationships is also essential.