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Daniel Pruce

British Ambassador to the Philippines and to Palau

Part of UK in Spain

28th November 2013 Madrid, Spain

Why bother to blog?

I’m still a newcomer to the world of blogging. So I’m particularly grateful to those who have taken the time to read my early blog posts. And thanks also to those following me on Twitter. But one question that has been put to me a few times is:

“Why are you bothering? Wouldn’t your time be better spent doing “real diplomacy” rather than messing about on social media?”

Diplomacy has always been about connections. Good diplomats have to be “wired into” the countries where they work. Only through having good connections can they:

· really understand the environment they are working within;

· be able to explain it to their own government;

· and then, most importantly, try to influence things (in a way which quite often brings mutual benefits – in my experience countries get more of what they want when they work together).

To do these things diplomats have to be out and about – seeing things for themselves, talking to as many people as possible. Above all we have to go to where people are talking to each other. And increasingly people talk, argue and organise on social media. So we have to be there too. It is not an optional extra.

This is why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has developed its own digital strategy. Growing numbers of our diplomats posted overseas have active social media profiles. Our new Ambassador here in Spain, Simon Manley, has his own Twitter account. One of the first things he did on arriving here last month was to post a short video on YouTube to introduce himself to everyone (in Spain and beyond…).

Through social media we can reach people that we would not otherwise reach. Then we can have conversations which, hopefully, help us better understand them, and which help them to better understand us.

This instantaneous interaction with strangers, at distance, is a new and different way of working. It is a world away from the traditional channels used by Embassies. We are doing more and more of it here in Spain.

My blog and my Tweets (many thanks to my band of loyal followers!) are making their own contribution to our efforts. We have a range of digital channels including our pages on the British Government’s website (gov.uk), our YouTube and Flickr channels, our Facebook page, our LinkedIn Groups and our many Twitter accounts (you can find all the details here).

We are sharing experience as we go. Recently we hosted a “European Digital Network” conference in Madrid which brought together over 60 representatives of British Embassies all active in social media – and all keen to do more.

Through our social media channels we are reaching out to, and hearing back from, new audiences: 8,000 people follow us on Twitter; 17,000 have watched our YouTube video about the Benicassim music festival. We hosted a seminar in the Embassy on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) on Monday, 25 November. In addition to the people who actually attended we estimate we reached another 35,000 via this blog, our tweets, a YouTube video and our Facebook page.

All of these channels help us do what diplomats have always done: to understand, to explain and to influence. So, the answer to the question “why bother?” is simple and clear: we have to bother, if we want to do diplomacy properly in today’s world.

Do let me what you think of our social media work here in Spain – because our commitment for the future is to do much, much more.

7 comments on “Why bother to blog?

  1. Dear Daniel,

    Along your entry you name two essential aspects of social media: interaction – it is amazing that a regular individual like me can comment in your blog and give you feedback – and influence. Social media are excellent tools to acquire influence and change people’s behaviour. As a diplomat you can use it to inspire and drive citizens’ welfare, and it makes me happy to see how interesting social media can be when used for non commercial purposes.

    I’m proud to read your blog, and I wish you the best!


  2. Dear Daniel,
    pls. allow me to join the group of all these other (CONGRATULATIONS!), -to me- very interesting “bloggers” or comment writers.`though I ‘m also a new writer in re. of bloggs I do really appreciate yr. idea to do a little conversation with you a n d other people who have a special relation to the FCO ‘s website /link to Madrid/Spain.
    Hope, this connection will last- also during the next year.
    Best wishes, Ingo-Steven , Stuttgart

  3. Hello Daniel,

    As a communication professional and international relations student, I strongly agree with hour ideas.

    It is good to know that the FCO has identified the importance of being transparent to the society, as well as interacting with it.

    Here in Brazil, even though the foreign office (Itamaraty) intends to interact with the public opinion, this work is still so poor.

    Right now, this change begins due to the pression of some international relations academics.

    Maybe, onde day, our diplomats will be as conscious as the British ones.


  4. Hello Daniel – thank you for such a succinct description of the value of using social media. I wondered whether I could share you blog as a guest blog on our intranet at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand? Cheers

    1. Thank you Alexandra. Glad you liked it. Please feel free to use it on your intranet and do keep in touch.

  5. Hello Daniel,

    I particularly enjoyed this blog entry. Featuring in the social media is free and generally seen as trendy, which makes private companies and public organizations alike to be keen to get aboard these platforms. More often than not though social media users join these channels with no clear purpose at all. Your post helps to clearly understand the reasoning behind ‘diplomacy 2.0’. Thank you.


    David Fernandez

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