Monday, December 28, 2009

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Defense Forces hold a joint training program

Last week, on December 20-24, Israel MFA and IDF hold a joint training seminar under the title: "Diplomatic aspects of Political-Military Cooperation".

The program was the first of its kind: the participants, as well as the lecturers, came from the two organizations. The goal of the program was to improve the mutual understanding of the ways the two bodies operate and to see how the cooperation between them could be facilitated on the wide range of issues. Among the issues discussed was the operation in emergency situations, working with the media, policy planning and others.

You could read more about the program here:

I was one of the coordinators of the program, and also had the chance to make a presentaion about the idea of Government 2.0. Never miss a chance to spread the gospel of Digital Government...

Happy Holidays to everybody!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is Gov 2.0 just another passing fad?

Very good article about the 2009 developments of Government 2.0 in US.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cours de formation aux Media Sociaux au Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres

La semaine derniere, le Departement de Formation du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres israelien a inaugure un nouveau cours : « Diplomatie a l’age des Media Sociaux »

Ouvrir un cours special centre sur les Media Sociaux est un tout premier pas, non seulement pour notre ministere mais aussi pour tout le secteur public israelien.
Le but principal de ce programme est la formation des diplomates a l’utilisation des outils propres aux media sociaux. Le cours comprend trois parties :
1. Connaissances de base est les outils fondamentaux propres aux Media Sociaux– reseaux sociaux, blogs, wikis, etc.
2. Revue d’ examples de Gouvernment 2.0 et Diplomatie 2.0 en Israel et dans le monde.
3. exercices pratiques sur l’usage des outils propres aux Media Sociaux dans le travail diplomatique.
Je vous tiendrai au courant quant aux prochaines rencontres sur mon blog et Twitter

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Social Media training in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Last week the training department of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened the new course: "Diplomacy in the age of Social Media".

It's the first time not just in our Ministry, but in the Israel public sector in general, that there is a special training program dealing with social media skills.

The major goal of this program is to train the diplomats to use the tools of social media in their work. The course includes three parts:
- basic knowledge and skills in social media, including social networks, blogging, wikis,
- review of the best practices of Government 2.0 and Diplomacy 2.0 in Israel and in the world
- practical exercices and sumulation of social media use in diplomatic work.

I'll update more on the meetings of the course (scheduled once a week), here and on twitter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

US embassy in China reaches out to citizens through social networks

Look here:

This is the essence of what the diplomats stationes on the host countries should when they plan public diploamcy through social media tools.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Diplomacy 2.0 - the Israel experience

Here is the PP presentation, about the use of Web 2.0 tools by Israeli diplomats, since 2004.

There are also some tips on how to work with social media.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

EuroMed Training of Public Administration - notes from Rome conference

Last week (October 27-28) I represented our Ministry's Training Bureau in the Second Meeting of the EMPTA Network - the network of representatives from Public Administration Instituitions in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The conference was held in the Scuola Superiore della Pubblica Amministrazione, Rome (below see a symbol of the school).

The conference was a real success. First of all, the fact that the representatives coming from countries which don't have diplomatic relations, sit around the table and talk to each other - is an achievement in itself. There were no discussions of political situation - just the dialogue about the issues important to all of us - in Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and of course our European neighbours.

We were discussing the skills and competencies that are necessary for all public servants in our area. Despite the differences in our cultures, in our backgrounds and our political systems - the conclusion was that we have many things in common, and we could share our knowledge to help each other to define best training practices for the public servants. The description of the conference is here,

and its program here:

The EMPTA network has been launched 5 years ago, and succeeded in creating commitment among its members to work towards defining contents of a common training pathway for civil servants. Moreover, the network members expressed their interest in creating training course for senior civil servants. The special Scientific Committee meeting was held at the end of the conference to discuss the program of the training seminar for public servants from EuroMed area.

The central point in the presentation I've made during the Roundtable "Common Elements for leadership training in the Euro-Mediterranean area" was the digital aspect of the public servant competencies. One of my proposals dealt with creating social network for the members of the EMPTA network. In the working group of the conference I reiterated this idea, stressing the importance of the Web 2.0 outreach by public administration to the young generation. It was nice to hear that other participants in the conference expressed their support of this idea.

No doubt, there is a lot of work ahead of the EMPTA network. The cultural, institutional and language difference make the dialogue more difficult. The political situation in the area is volatile, and as one of the european participants put it: "We must be very realistic about what we could and what we couldn't achieve. It's still unrealistic to see the exchange of public servants between Israel and many of its arab neighbours".

However, we must be optimistic and do what we can. We should show good examples of the regional cooperation: those that already accomplished thier goals, and those that are to be implemented. We should feature the positive examples, and there is nothing wrong about it. For too long time, too many people were focusing on bad experiences...

The conference was a success thanks to a wonderful organizational work done by SSPA and EIPA. The director of SSPA, Valeria Termini, director of International Relations Office, Stefano Pizzicannella, Sarlo Santoro and Dominique Bourdenet from SSPA, Javier Cano, Stephanie Horel and Monica Casares from EIPA - Thank you all!

And of course, last but not least, another reason for the conference success - the city of Rome itself... The weather, the food, the athmosphere...

Here are some pictures from the conference:

with Valeria Termini, Director of SSPA

with Hans Kunsmann, Director for European Affairs in BAKOV

Thursday, October 22, 2009

tips on social media outreach by governments

Here is a link to the wonderful post in GovLoop about using the social media tools in the right way:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Future Diplomats and the Future of Diplomacy

The following link leads to an intersting article by Ernst Sucharipa, Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

The article was written a couple of years ago, but many conclusions are even more relevant today.

There are two points that I'd like to bring to your attention - one talks about the transformation in information sharing between the diplomats and the institutional consequenses of this change, the other deals with the characteristics of a future diplomat/

1. Information sharing"

"The introduction of Intranet-systems has brought about most important changes for the diplomatic service. Among them:
- direct contacts between all officers, without the need for prior authorization, to get a message, an inquiry, an information note out or to get it received. The welcome results are higher motivation, no loss of time and greater sense of responsibility among younger colleagues;
- development of an informal reporting style;
- teamwork: officers can – independently from their geographic location – work together on a report to the minister, a draft statement, a position paper. The strict delineation between central authority and missions abroad is slowly vanishing;
- ministerial structures and lines of command at missions are being redefined, flatter authority, more delegation of responsibility are necessary by-products;
- introduction of task-oriented structures independent of the physical location of the diplomats involved: limited and geographically dispersed experience or academic background in particular areas (e.g. international law) can more easily be pooled together electronically, thus also creating incentives for the continuous upkeep of specialisation (particularly important for smaller services);
- the introduction of Intranet systems leads to flatter lines of authority and increased possibilities for team working. Task-oriented organisation will change the relationship between the ministry and missions abroad;
- missions ought to be better integrated into the overall structure of the ministry, including decision making;
- integrated resource management needs to preserve the standard functions of missions abroad in relation to their geographic location and combine these functions with new tasks relating to the available expertise in individual missions, which can be employed for specific projects."

2. Characteristics of diplomats:

"What then constitutes the ideal ”new age” diplomat? I think a thorough mixture of traditional and not so traditional characteristics:
· a pluridisciplinary education;
· linguistic skills;
· patience to listen and observe;
· proficiency in intercultural communication;
· sensitivity to socio-cultural differences;
· feeling comfortable with the latest communications technologies;
· ability to perform at ease in public;
· free of elitism;
· service orientation;
· a high level of tolerance;
· neither a ”softie” nor the ”elbow type”;
· readiness for life-long learning, mid career training;
· stress resistance, coolness in crises;
· management skills;
· ability to work in teams; collaborator instead of competitor;
· a keen interest in global issues."

How you do you like this definition: "Free of elitism"? I do...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New social network for public sector employees in Israel - Diary 1

One month ago me and my good friend Alex Gafni created the new social network for public sector employees in Israel. The example for us was the american government network GovLoop that was created one year ago.

After one month of activity we have 40 members and 10 groups, most of them created by two of us. So far this network's activities are based on our enthusiasm. It could be expected that not everybody will jump into active participation. So we will keep doing it, until we'll become a fashion first, and later - a tool for networking and inforamtio n sharing. And this will happen sooner than we think...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

public diplomacy in multi-ethnic environment

One of the important components of public diplomacy - in the past, in the future, and to even greater degree, in the future - is engagement with different ethnic groups in the host country/city. As public diplomacy strategy requires identification of groups and subgroups as target audiences, in order to try and influence them, the multuethnic environment provides good definition of such groups. The modern day communication, including social media, could serve as a tool for broa outreach effort as opposed to the limired outreach to formal heads of the ethnic groups if they exist.

For many years diplomats were aware of the importance of leveraging the influence of ethnic groups. The ethnic communities that originated in the country of a diplomat were obvious and central targets in an effort to improve the image the country they represent inthe host country. Thus, for example, Italian Americans wanted to help their country of origin on US soil, and of course Jewish Americans are involved in promoting Israel's interests. No doubt, the nationals of your country that live in the countries were you work as a diplomat, could be important facilitators in promoting interests of their home country.

However, the whole idea is to engage with other ethnic groups. This presents considerable challenge for diplomats as the language, the culture and codes of conduct of these groups could differ from those of the country they now live.

It is easier to bring examples from personal experience. During my post in LA, I saw first hand the importance of this dimension of public diplomacy. Our involvement with the communities from Latin American or Asian countries was always accepted as the right thing, and even gave some exposure in the media:

And why will we see more of that multi-ethnic environment, and not only in LA? Just look at the migration of people from country to country. Wherever you go in the West, you will find this phenomenon.

Two more things to mention - first, like everything in diplomacy, the engagement with ethnic groups requires higher level of sensitivity and deliberation. Not always it is possible to engage with the group if your country is in a state of animosity with the country of origin. Second, the real and effective engagement of the diplomat with the ethnic groups is possible in democracies. In authoritarian or limited democracies this kind og engagement is less effective and limited in scope, and even could be perceived by local authorities as subversive activity.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

how social networks help in recruiting young diplomats?

It is already common knowledge that social media became a tool in recruitment process in the private sector.
I would like to bring to oyur attention our experiment with social media (forum in one of the most popular israel's websites TAPUZ ("orange") whan dealing with the candidates to the new cadet course that will start next year.
The forum started without our previous knowledge or involvement. We found it accidentally, but immediately started to engage with the candidates sharing information about the diplomatic service in general, about the selection process and encouraging them to contact us directly when the questions were too specific or private.
It's not that all the participants respected the rules of civilized dialogue... it is not that we could just give the candidates all the questions and aswers in the written test... But the responces were very positive and encouraging and most of them mentioned that we helped them to understand better the whole process and even make decision. Most of the information we provided on the forum exists on the ministry's website, but on forum the very delivery of the information and the specification of it to the individual cases made the whole difference.
Those of you who read hebrew can visit the forum:

Our experiment evgen got praise from local media for the "successful e-government availablity to the public"...

The tool is hihgly recommended for all diplomatic recruitments.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How diplomats should use the social media - practical guide

Let's say you are assigned to a new diplomatic position abroad. Your responsibilities include public relations, or media, or both. What is even more important - you've decided to engage with the new world of social media which you see as a useful tool in your job.

I would like to suggest a few possible guidelines on how you can use social media. The tips Iprovide are based on my personal and work experience with the social networks. If you already have experimented with it, please see this post as an invitation for open discussion on the topic.

1. Social media is a useful tool, not an end in itself, for your proffesional puproses. Therefore, the first task is to decide who is your audience and what are its characteristics. It could be people of certain age group, it could be students, it could be your colleagues from local diplomatic corps, it could be an ethnic group, it could be anything you think is important for your country and your mission. You should be very specific when identifying the audience. At the same time, remember that the social media, because of its "internet nature", is an open sourse, and anybody can see your messages, so the potential scope of your outreach is far beyond your planning. So are the possibilities of backlash in case you add there some sensitive or incorrect materials.

2. Assign one of your local employees (or more than one - if you can afford!) who will be dealing with the social media.If you are serious about your engagement with social media, you should make sure it's updated and checked on the dayly and hourly basis. Social media is about your presense there. Keep inmind that if you are not there - somebody else's posts/blogs/pictures will be impacting the audience.

3. The next important task is to define the code of conduct in dealing with social networks. Some Ministries of Foreign Affairs already started to think on the issue, but if you don't have something written and approved, take as your pointf departure the code of conduct you apply in the real world and adopt it to the virtual one. You will see that it is all about common sense. It is obvious and goeswithout saying that as a diplomat or an employee in a diplomatic mission you should act in certain way and have some limitations - apply them accordingly in the social media environment.
Moshe Dayan, Israel's defense minister, was asked onceby a journalist what does he think on the possibility of another war. He said that as a defense minister he can answer the question. So the journalis asked what does he think as a private citizen. On that he replied: "As a private citizen I am a minister of defense". The lesson: nothing is private when you represent the government.

4. Local staff could and should be your facilitator in dealing with local audiences through the social networks. See if they are using social networks and try to engage them in spreading the word about the mission website, facebook page or blog. If you feel thay are not interested in this, at least give them the"red lines" based on code of conduct that was mentioned above. Even if at the first glanse this suggestion looks to you "non-democratic", think that there is something non-democratic in working in any organization. After all, many private companies defined policy on the use of the social media by the employees. They want employees to be there, but define rules and code of conduct. Examples: IBM, Sun Microsystems, and many others (see Larry Weber's "Marketing to the Social Web":

By the way, you can read more about this and other useful insights onusing the local staff here:

5. Facebook could be used in many ways. First of all, open your private page, and invite your friends from your own country to join. You will see that some of them could have interesting and helpful connections in a country of your mission. When you meet local counterparts ask them if they are on facebook. If yes - ask to be their freinds. In your profile you don't have to appear blacktie, casual dress will be good enough. However - no nude or beach style photos! May be one day the standards will change, but don't try to be the first who changes them...

Second of all, Facebook should be used for opening the page for your diplomatic mission. This page will look more officially than your private page. You can create your mission's community with the help of this page. Facebook is especially useful tool because of its global outreach - it has versions in 95 languages, and is very popular in non-English speaking countries. Facebook can be used as your official website, as your own news agency, as your message will be defined by you and not by the media outlets. In order to expand your community you have to spend time, but the effort pays you back.

6. LinkedIn, however, is better for opening personal page, even though many compaines have their pages there. I think that diplomats can find interesting professional information and ties through LinkedIn. It could also be a good tool for recruitment local staff, at least in US and Canada, since this network functions as a huge Human Resourses agreggator. There are also very good groups dealing with different aspects of Public Diplomacy which I find useful and insightful. Diplomats from different countries can create there own groups. As the trend of localization in social media becomes more dominant, diplomats based in certain city can comminucate through the group they can create on LinkedIn.

7. Twitter is something so new and the people are so involved with Facebook and LinkedIn, that many are not running to this new tool of social media. The greatest advantage of Twitter is that it could function as mission's news agency. It's the best way to connect to the young generation and to the most advance audiences. By the way, it's also a good way of being updated on-line and for free - while the sourse of information could be quite valuable. For diplomats, the twitter of Hillary Clinton could be very interesting, nottomentio all the interantional agencies that started opening their twitters.

Probably I'll stop here. There is much more to add and say - but next time...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

diplomacy and green politics - by Secretary of state

Insightful sppech about green diplomacy by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter and handling public relations

I'm bringing for your attention an article from LAT about Twitter and how big companies deal with its impact on PR and branding. There are some insights that could be applied in public diplomacy:,0,2701874.story

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Virtual worlds and international affairs

Dear friends,

I would like to introduce to you the virtual reality project that deals with journalism and international affairs. I had a priviledge to meet project's founders, Joshua Fouts and Rita King. And even to give short interview to the virtual world...

To say it briefly: this stuff is mind-opening and breath-taking. Simultaneously.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

personal branding by diplomats - is this part of a country branding?

Diplomats, like anybody else, create their Facebook and Linkedin pages. They even happen to like it...

Whenever diplomats participate in the social networking, they do it not just as private citizens. they are always seen as their countries' official representatives. However social networks are non-formal forums, where personal and public areas are interwoven. This condition allows soft influence, as opposed to imposing opinions and positions through the official statements, articles and interviews. On social networks you share your interests, your opinions, your ideas with others, creating your own brand. But because you are still perceived as a person related to the government of one's country everything you share there is relevant to the image of your country. Your own image adds to the image of your country.

In the next post you will find a couple of useful tips on upgrading your social networks pages.

tips on personal branding in Social Networks

Here are some tips by Randy Ingbritsen, from Workforce Solutions at Penn State University:

Social networking and Web 2.0 technologies can impact a job search in both positive and negative ways and, in today’s job market, it’s important to make sure Facebook and other tools are not working against you.

To tweak your social network:
Change the privacy settings on your Facebook profile. The default settings aren’t very private — anyone in your networks can see anything you do unless you make parts of your profile available to only your friends.

Review all photos and videos that others have tagged of you on Facebook and remove tags from any that you wouldn’t want a recruiter or potential employer to see.
Review comments that friends have left on your Facebook profile and remove anything that you feel is unprofessional.

If you don’t want a certain person or people (recruiters, co-workers, etc.) to see any part of your Facebook profile, you can exclude them completely.

You can also create two separate profiles, one with your personal information and one for professional use. LinkedIn is another option for creating a professional social networking presence.

Google your name with and without quotation marks. Work to remove any inappropriate content if possible by contacting the authors or Web site administrators.

If you have a blog, Twitter account, or any other public social media presence, be aware that employers and co-workers may be reading it.

To build your personal brand:
Harness your “essence” — Who are you? How do you want others to remember you? What do you want to be known as an expert in? How can you set yourself apart from others? All of these are important questions to ask yourself when determining your brand.

Once you have these ideas in place, work on packaging them in a clear, concise statement that will make you memorable when speaking with recruiters and potential employers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

the opening remark

Can diplomats blog? And if yes - why should they?

Five years after the social networks revolution - and nobody questions the success of the use of Web 2.0 for diplomatic purposes. Look at all the Facebook pages of the Israel's consulates and embassies, that emerged in US and spread out in Europe. Look at the Twitter press conference hold by NY Consulate, that even was mentioned in Wikipedia article on public diplomacy. The examples are many - yet, wneh we look at the blogoshpere the situation is different.

The nature of blogging is expressing the views - as different as they can only be. The nature of representing country's official position is exactly the opposite. Therefore, if as a diplomat you open a blog - what are you going to discuss? Are you going to ask the readers to express their views on this position? Are you going to allow all the views to be expressed without editing? or allow only "good" responses to be published. In both scenarios you are going to loose - either you will get all the hate language possible, or become just another official site, which is the opposite of blogging. As a diplomat you can react to the blogs of others - in the same you respond to newspapers and TV, but you can't really open a blog on the country's policies. You don't question it - you express it.

However, as we're searching the possibilities and limits of Web 2.0, we would like to try this medium of communication. Let's blog about the things that are common for all of us, the diplomats: the issues of dealing with the accomodation for us and our families, the ways of upgrading the learning and training practices in the diplomatic service, and of course the challenges and the very future of diplomacy. So many people tend to say something about the death of diplomacy as a profession, or some other "truths" about it. I think we can and should have a say in this discussion.

May be it would be easier for us to think about dipomatic blogging as a small talk through the internet. And who knows better than us the real value of a professional small talk?

You are welcome!