The Spectrum of Listening

Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (2nd edition), pp. 21-29, 2020.

Although there is a general consensus on the need for listening in public diplomacy, a clear definition of this activity and clear parameters defining how listening should be conducted and evaluated has largely been missing. In this chapter I describe the “spectrum of listening”, a framework which makes explicit public diplomacy listening approaches, ranging from the ideal type of apophatic listening to surreptitious listening activities. In between these two extremes, there are four approaches for listening in public diplomacy: active, tactical, listening in, and background/casual listening. The spectrum brings epistemological awareness in public diplomacy listening activities, in particular in relation to social media listening. I argue that the spectrum of listening can help practitioners to rethink listening as a range of methodological options and as a representational act, rather than as a mere tool shaped and driven only by technological advancements.

Online Pre-Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic

International Journal of Communication, 17 (2023).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mega-events such as the Olympics and expo were postponed, prolonging the build-up phase of the events and providing the opportunity to organize pre-events. COVID restrictions and limitations on movement forced these pre-events to be held online. Examining the case of pre-events leading up to Expo 2020 Dubai, we argue that, as an emerging and growing phenomenon, digital pre-events create spaces for experimenting and reengineering new communication approaches. The case study shows how pre-events provide opportunities to event-planners and organizations for communicating in diverse, rich ways with primary stakeholders before a physical event. Because of their small size, pre-events do not attract large publics and, therefore, are also key opportunities for dialogue and interactivity with primary stakeholders. This article not only contributes to our knowledge about this promotional phenomenon but also highlights the importance of pre-events for practitioners in providing spaces for experimentation and small-scale forms of dialogic engagement and cocreation with stakeholders without the pressure that comes from publics’ increasing expectations around large-scale events.

Fear and empathy in international relations: Diplomacy, cyber engagement and Australian foreign policy

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 2021

Emotions in international relations, as in human relations, are invisible but leave traces in the policy articulation. Such traces can reveal how emotional interpretations of the environment in which national states operate shape and frame certain policy and strategic choices. Drawing on the concept of the “institutionalisation of empathy and fear” developed by Crawford (Int Theory 6(3):535–557, 2014), I first operationalise and then apply this concept to the Australian foreign policy. This framework is applied to the analysis of the foreign policy documents and strategies published by the Australian government in the last decade. In particular, I focus on Australia’s foreign policy articulation and interpretation of the internet and digital technologies. New, pressing problems are emerging in the digital environment due to a range of cybersecurity threats, including an increase in the frequency of automated accounts and the dissemination of fake news and digital propaganda. From perceiving the internet as a communication platform that allows for listening to and dialogue with foreign publics, Australian foreign policy is increasingly framing the internet as strategic infrastructure that requires defending and guarding. The attention is, thus, moving towards short-term ‘defensive’ goals—as a result of a higher perceived fear of the latest evolution in the geopolitical context. The shift in Australian foreign policy indicates a form of institutionalisation of fear in response to the challenges emerging from the digital environment. I conclude by arguing that a more belligerent international environment highlights the tension between national interest—which evolves and changes due to political shifts and contextual elements—and the understanding of public diplomacy engagement as mutual understanding and mutual influence.

Conceptualising public diplomacy listening on social media

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 16, pp. 131–142, 2020.

Public diplomacy consists of the public and interactive dimensions of diplomacy. Although listening is one of its core activities, public diplomacy scholarship has not yet engaged with listening theory. This paper connects public diplomacy scholarship with a new wave of literature that has argued that listening is a critical and previously neglected component of dialogic engagement. By reviewing this literature, this paper develops a framework for the ‘spectrum of listening’ and categorises five types of public diplomacy listening on social media. The review is followed by a descriptive profile of each type of listening. Using this spectrum, this paper endorses active listening and the embedded concept of dialogic engagement as a concrete yardstick by which to assess successful public diplomacy listening on social media. Listening could be narrowly interpreted as a way to implement and readjust a national strategy, or more broadly and ambitiously as an activity that aims to advance international understanding. The paper considers listening to be a representational force: a public and active response to publics who are increasingly demanding not only to participate, but also to be listened to.


Towards a National Strategy for Media Literacy: National Consultation Report

Dezuanni, M., Notley. T., Di Martino, L. (2021) Australian Media Literacy Alliance.

The Australian Media Literacy Alliance (AMLA) developed this document to outline a direction for the development of a national strategy for Media Literacy in Australia. It draws on a national survey of 3510 Australian adults about media use, attitudes and abilities as well as a consultation process involving six workshops across Australia conducted in September 2021. This document provides a set of recommendations for further action towards the development of a national Media Literacy Strategy.

Blog posts

The Spectrum of Listening, 2019, published for the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy blog site.

As trust in social media crumbles, are these platforms still adequate for public diplomacy?, 2022, co-authored with Lisa Tam and Eriks Varpahovskis and published for the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy blog site.

Listening is a representational force: a public and active response to publics who are increasingly demanding not only to participate, but also to be listened to.