Browsing by Author "Narva, Laura"

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  • Narva, Laura (2012)
    This Master's thesis examines the way in which a government creates and manages the international image of a national leader. In this study, the term national leader refers to those heads of government and heads of state that actively exercise executive power and are the main representatives of the country abroad. Two streams of theory are merged in this study: public relations and public diplomacy. Public diplomacy refers to the way a government communicates with foreign publics in an attempt to cultivate and manage its international reputation. Scholars have studied public diplomacy extensively and argued that it could benefit from public relations techniques. This study is a qualitative case study of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The empirical part of this study investigates the kind of communication strategy the German government has for creating and managing an international image for the Chancellor. The primary research data of this study is based on responses obtained from semi-structured interviews with nine communication practitioners working in the German government. In addition, the official website of the Chancellor serves as supplementary research material. Both the interviews and the Chancellor's website were analyzed with thematic analysis. The findings of the study show that a national leader can be presented internationally without any strategic planning. While German government communication officials concurred with the fact that the Chancellor affects the overall reputation of Germany, the officials did not have an explicit communication strategy for presenting Chancellor Merkel abroad. Rather than strategically creating a certain image for Chancellor Merkel, the focus of their international communication is on government policies and presenting the country as a whole. Despite this, an implicit code of conduct for the presentation of the Chancellor was visible from the research data. In other words, key messages, publics and communication activities were identifiable. Thus this thesis is a situation analysis of the way Chancellor Merkel is presented internationally. Perhaps this study will encourage future communication practitioners and researchers to discover new ways to create and manage the image of a national leader abroad. The most important references are the works of Ostrowski, D. (2010) Die Public Diplomacy der deutschen Auslandsvertretungen weltweit. Theorie und Praxis der deutschen Auslandsöffentlichkeitsarbeit; Nye, J. S. (2008) Public Diplomacy and Soft Power; Signitzer, B. & Coombs, T. (1992) Public Relations and Public Diplomacy: Conceptual Convergences; Heath, R. (ed.) (2001) Handbook of Public Relations, and Weintraub-Austin, E. & Pinkleton, B. (2001) Strategic Public Relations Management.