Winning the Public Debate: Responding to Updates and Press Releases

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Diplomats can post responses to Updates & Press Releases, giving them a PUBLIC place to make their feelings known about events, and to directly engage with their political allies and opponents. Our hope is that the IN THE NEWS (summaries of published press releases) and NEWS FLASH (results of an approved action form) updates will generate some lively conversation. We encourage the diplomats to view these public discussions as opportunities to make political points and seek allies, just as you do with the Press Releases you write and publish.

Keep the following points in mind:

1) Responding to updates can be a way for you to control, or get out ahead of the story. Such work can do everything from saving you embarrassment to guiding how people interpret events.

2) Responding to updates can be a way for you to “spin” events, so that the outcomes are understood as meshing with your nation’s goals or beliefs, or showing the flaws of the actions of opponents.

3) Responding to updates allows you to put forth an image of who you are as a nation or a leader, implicitly (or explicitly) in contrast with others.

4) Responding to updates offers you a rare opportunity to publicly and directly contest the ideas of others.

In the update above, there were serious questions raised about who was responsible for several attack jets flying over Syrian and Lebanese airspace, with vague suggestions made that the Americans might be responsible. In his response, the American President was quick to deny American involvement:


President Obama indeed denies the accusation, but he also seizes the opportunity to convey the kind of national image he wants to convey, characterizing his nation as being opposed to violence (in implicit contrast to others).

However, leaders from both sides of the Lebanese political spectrum used the opportunity to assert their points-of-view, and to speak both to their domestic supporters, and to actual or potential regional allies:



As you see in the above examples, Mr. Siniora of the western-allied March 14th Coalition refuses to accuse the Americans of direct involvement, but he also demands that the Americans provide a list of recipients of their military aid so that the guilty can be uncovered, but also so that he is seen as being willing to stand up to his allies, even a powerful ally like the United States. General Aoun of the opposing Hezbollah coalition, whose organization has no alliances with the US or other western powers, does not have to proceed so cautiously, and demands that nations interested in protecting the region from western meddling diplomatically cut off the Americans.

Think about how your nation can use these public discussions to win friends and score political points.

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