By James Lambert,
Canada’s Ambassador to the Netherlands.
I really welcomed the creation of Diplomat Magazine when I was asked to write an article for its first edition. It reminded me of Embassy, Canada’s foreign affairs news source. The popularity of diplomatic focused publications such as Embassy and the great interest raised by the launch of the monthly Diplomat Magazine show the increasing importance of online tools in communicating foreign policy matters to the diplomatic community as well as to a wider public. The digital magazine fits in a broader communication mix used by the Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands, which also encompasses social media.
In addition to inform our publics using our website, we are also active on Twitter and Facebook. We publish content on Twitter that focuses on political and economic issues, especially the very significant commercial relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. What we publish on Facebook gives more prominence to the daily activities of the mission. Photos are a nice touch! Alongside these tools, we use the website to create awareness about bilateral relations, consular advices, Canada and official visits. We also started giving the website a more personal touch by publishing my own reflections on subjects of the moment.
While we communicate differently on all three platforms, they are a great opportunity to target various audiences and create synergy. An example of how we embedded all three platforms is the recent blog entry Canadian Reflections on a Royal Relation I wrote and published on the Embassy’s website, and promoted through our Twitter and Facebook accounts to mark the investiture of the new King. This text not only underlines the unique bilateral relation between Canada and the Netherlands, it also presents the meaning of a royal transition for a country. It is worth mentioning that this blog entry attracted the attention of a broader audience than only the diplomatic community.
The integration of social media to our digital presence has proven to be a useful addition to our public diplomacy toolkit by allowing us to increase the visibility of the Embassy’s activities. Followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook form a captive audience that receives information without having to search for it and the content sharing allows us to connect and exchange with previously non-reachable publics. We have also been keen to share the Embassy’s lessons-learned with diplomatic colleagues and The Hague’s thriving academic and think-thank communities. The arrival of a media specifically dedicated to diplomatic and political news, information and events in the Netherlands will surely be a valuable addition to our digital approach. Because media are not only used to communicate, they are also wonderful sources of information.