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Full Access Defining Strategic Publics in a Networked World: Public Diplomacy’s Challenge at Home and Abroad

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Defining Strategic Publics in a Networked World: Public Diplomacy’s Challenge at Home and Abroad

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SummaryThis article addresses the issue of how strategic publics should be defined in public diplomacy. The article first reviews widely accepted theories of stakeholders and publics in business and public relations that help to explain the role and value of publics to organizations and provide alternatives for the conceptualization of strategic publics. It applies these concepts to public diplomacy in an effort to demonstrate their potential usefulness in identifying and prioritizing strategic publics at home and abroad. The article then suggests that although stakeholder theory and situational theory are useful tools for conceptualizing strategic publics in public diplomacy, these theories must be expanded to capture fully the complex nature of the contemporary diplomatic environment. An expanded framework that is based on networks of influence is suggested as an alternative for defining public diplomacy publics in a networked world.

Affiliations: 1: School of Communications, Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 06518-1908 United States, Email:, URL:


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