A Day in the Life of a Public Diplomacy Officer

(One article I found to be interesting)

Public diplomacy is a role that all Foreign Service Officers must undertake to a certain extent. At the same time, it is a separate career track of its own and the officers in that track play a crucial role in shaping international perceptions of the United States of America. Every post around the world is different, but here is an example of what a typical day may look like.

I haven’t personally had the chance to do a tour as a Public Diplomacy (PD) officer yet so this hypothetical day is based primarily on my impressions of what my PD colleagues do. If there are any veteran PD officers reading want to call me out or add to the conversation in the comments, I’m very open to that.

Typically in a larger embassy, PD officers will be divided between working on the press side of things or dealing with cultural affairs. In our example, we will play the role of a first tour officer in a medium-sized embassy in Europe where we are doing a little bit of everything. As with all of the Day in the Life posts, this is just a basic example of what your day may look like. Your experience may vary.

8:00am – You arrive at your desk and log on to the computer. As it boots up, you start looking over both the local and American newspapers to see what concern relations between the U.S. and your host country. You know that one of the senior locally engaged staff will also provide a round-up of the day’s news, but you like to check for yourself. Your grasp of the foreign language certainly isn’t as strong as a locals, but you did spend about 8 months studying it before starting so you might as well put it to good use.

9:00am – You have a meeting with your boss, the Public Affairs Officer (PAO). The PAO is senior PD officer at post and overseas both the press and cultural affairs sections. You work closely with her and have the great opportunity to learn a bit about both sides of the shop. You are also learning about grant management, another important part of PD. At today’s meeting, you are discussing the Ambassador’s upcoming holiday party. There will be a private party for embassy staff and family, but the Ambassador is also hosting an official event with local government officials, VIPs, and press in attendance. You are in charge of managing the press portion and also writing a draft speech for the Ambassador. You show your boss what you have so far and she suggests a few changes.

10:00am – You return to your desk to work some more on the Ambassador’s speech. You do a bit of research to compare American holiday traditions along with the host country. The Ambassador’s speech will be translated by one of the embassy interpreters so you meet with him to be certain everything seems clear. The event isn’t for another week, but you know the Ambassador often likes to add his own style to a speech so you want to get to him early.

11:00am – The embassy has a rather active Facebook and Twitter community. You monitor both to look for questions and references and answer them or direct the community to a more appropriate resource. Many of the questions are consular related and you direct them to the embassy website for more information on the visa process.

12:30pm – You join the other first and second tour officers for lunch with the DCM. As entry level FSOs, you’re all still learning the ropes and it is the role of the DCM to help guide your career.

2:00pm – The PD section manages a significant amount of money in the form of grants. Although you do not have a grants warrant, you are eager to learn more about this complicated process. You are helping out the embassy grants officer with some monitoring and agree to make a few calls to local universities to see how they have been using the grant money the embassy gave them. All of this is carefully recorded in their file.

4:00pm – It is crunch time for the people handling the Fulbright program at post. The embassy receives an enormous amount of applications for the program and often needs all the help it can get in reading them all and determining who should move forward in the process. You spent and hour going over the applications and making the tough call about who will get their dream trip to the U.S.

5:00pm – You leave work at an early hour today because you have a work event later in the evening.

6:30pm – You meet the Ambassador and the PAO at a local television station. The Ambassador is doing a live interview on a local news program. You are there primarily to assist as needed, and to watch and learn.

8:00pm – The interview was a success and the Ambassador is happy. You head home and get to bed early so you can go in early tomorrow. You want to see the news first thing to see if there is any reaction to the Ambassador’s television appearance.

– See more at: http://www.foreignservicetest.com/day-life-public-diplomacy-officer/#sthash.LQcWr31B.dpuf


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