Avatar photo

Simona Prete

Head of Communications, British Embassy to the Holy See

Part of Digital Diplomacy

29th January 2014 London, UK

Digital at heart

Over 4,600 twitter followers, a blogging Ambassador, a gallery online telling UK-Holy See relations in pictures. These are part of the digital footprints of our small Embassy (five of us in total): the oldest UK diplomatic representation abroad, @UKinHolySee to name it in tune with the times.


Digital media have become an essential part of our work. In September 2011, our Ambassador, Nigel Baker, wrote about his Credentials Ceremony with Benedict XVI in the first ever blog from any Ambassador to the Holy See. Since then, he has published over 100 blog posts, registering 1,000 visits a month. Most recently, we ran a competition on twitter, for the winners to meet him in person and discuss a range of foreign policy questions of their choice. An “innovative digital diplomacy initiative”, “nice experiment in open diplomacy”, were some of the comments received, encouraging us to continue these experiments. So look out this year for a Google hangout with the Ambassador, twitter Q&As, “Photo of the Week”, and slideshows of UK-Holy See relations on “this day in history”!

Social media break barriers. Our blogs, twitter, and linkedin profiles are a direct window to explain the work we do, why there is an Embassy to the Holy See, and why the Holy See matters.  We put ourselves out there to listen, to connect with our audience, and to discover what attracts them. The online platform gives us the chance to engage directly with people’s ideas and concerns.

We work with digital in mind. Values like trust and empowerment underpin our digital thinking. This eases pressures on staff resources, time and deadlines. Forward planning is an essential part of our strategy, as well as the Ambassador’s direct and active engagement, and Deputy Head of Mission’s live tweets.

Our motto remains: “better to handle one social media channel well, rather than many poorly”. As digital communication is only a part of my work, I deliberately focus on the channels which work best with our audience. Showing that even a small Embassy can, by using digital diplomacy, make a difference to its reach. This is what we strive to reflect in our daily work.