Baruch Hosts Symposium:
The Role of Business in Public Diplomacy

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Audio: The Role of Business in Public Diplomacy
The Role of Business in Public Diplomacy

Baruch College's Weissman Center for International Business, in association with Business for Diplomatic Action and the Corporate Communication Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University, hosted a symposium on "The Role of Business in Public Diplomacy," Monday, June 19, in the Newman Conference Center.

Welcoming the panel of experts was Terrence Martell, director of the Weissman Center for International Business, and Michael Goodman, director of the Corporate Communication Institute. Moderated by Nanci Healy, editor of Journal of Business Strategy, the panel was comprised of Richard Martin, retired EVP of Public Relations, Employee Communications and Brand Management, AT&T; Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus, DDB Worldwide, and president, Business for Diplomatic Action; Greg Waldron, partner and chief talent officer, Porter Novelli; and Jian Wang, assistant professor, Department of Communications, Purdue University.

Keith Reinhard faulted foreign policy as contributing to America's falling reputation in the world. Citing Pew Research Center studies that indicate a decline in the favorability of Americans themselves, he observed that the former distinguishing line between foreign policy and private citizens has blurred. Steps he outlined to address the problem of anti-Americanism included teaching geography to students and amplifying America's perceived positive qualities, noting that "people who visit us like us more than people who haven't."

Richard Martin said there are different types of anti-Americanism, though "the common denominator is our consumer lifestyle," concluding that "they hate us for what we are, not just what we do." He added that corporate fraud and inflated CEO salaries were contributing to America's negative image abroad. "Jack Welch scares them a lot more than Britney Spears," he remarked. Pointing out that tourism was down in America, despite the low dollar, Martin said corporate leaders "need to persuade political leaders to take into consideration the effect of their actions."

Defining public diplomacy as "managing relations between nation states," Jian Wang presented the complex dynamics between nation states when communication between them "expands outside of government entities." Business involvement in public diplomacy was imperative, he said, because "a negative climate is not good for your brand."

Greg Waldron, who described himself as an "accidental globalist," highlighted client PricewaterhouseCoopers's "Ulysses" leadership development program, which sends teams of PwC partners on "8-week odysseys" to developing countries to help international assistance organizations. Graduates of the program, he said, were "perceived as better listeners" and learned how to "walk the talk" of a global company.

During the Q&A session, Reinhard stressed the need to develop more hospitable border and customs procedures. Martell agreed with the need to change VISA restrictions, particularly for international students, though questioned how America could project a more humble image to the world, given its military supremacy. "Nobody wants the U.S. to lose its leadership position so it won't be accused of unilateralism," assured Martin. In closing, Reinhard said: "It's not about being loved or liked. It's about being respected as a concerned, inspiring part of the world community."

Thomas Fugalli
Communications and Marketing
646-660-6091