State Dept Introduces More New Ambassadors: Gaspard, Hackett, Ayalde, Costos, Yun, Berry

— By Domani Spero

The State Department’s foreign-facing bureau, the  Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) released a few more videos for its ambassador introduction series.  They obviously come from one script — say a greeting in the foreign language, include spouse, kids (or other relevant relatives) and/or pets, visit some Washington memorials, and say you look forward to meeting everyone in your host country.  We have to say that these videos are getting better, but they also come across as somewhat artificial at times, particularly when they get the ambassador and spouse do a duet in their greetings. Some of the ambassadors in this series, not just the ones below are naturally telegenic and excellent in delivery, of course, but others are less so.

One of our readers inquired who watches these videos.  These are  IIP products so the intended audience are presumably foreign publics.  Although, there doesn’t seem to be standard on how these videos are “push” to their intended audience abroad.  Some videos are posted across the missions’ multiple social media platforms with negligible results while others are posted only on the mission’s YouTube channels with better though uneven results. These videos are created by professionals (PR, video, digital?) at the IIP bureau, but just because you can, does it mean you should?  Does it make sense to make these videos for all chiefs of mission regardless of the Internet penetration rates in their host countries?  For instance, in Burkina Faso, the Internet penetration rate is only 3% of the population and in Chad that rate is 1.9%. Radio isn’t sexy, but wouldn’t it have more reach in those cases?  I supposed the answer whether it makes sense depends on what kind of return IIP is looking for in its investment of time and effort. For the chiefs of mission, it’s a question of whether they should get on this hot train because everybody’s doing it or if they should find an alternative outreach method more appropriate to their host countries’ infrastructures.

We have two previously related posts on this:

U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard

This video was posted by State/IIP on YouTube, and separately on US Embassy Pretoria’s website and Facebook page. The video was also plugged by the embassy’s Twitter account but the total eyeball count could not get above 400 views.

Ken Hackett, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
(with Italian subtitle)

This video was posted by State/IIP and linked to by US Embassy to the Holy See’s website and Facebook page.  Total views of about 1023 as of this writing.

U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde

Published in English and Portuguese by State/IIP on YouTube in mid September, we could not locate this video on the embassy’s website, Facebook page or a mention even on Twitter. It currently has 243 views.

James Costos, U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra
(Spanish subtitle)

This video was posted by State/IIP in English and with Spanish subtitle with a total views of about 3,000. We have not been able to find this video on the embassy’s website or Facebook page, however, it was reposted by the embassy’s YouTube channel where it registered approximately 6,300 eyeballs.

Joe Yun, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia
(Malay subtitle)

This video released by State/IIP in English and with Malay subtitle currently has about 320 views. It does not look like it’s posted on the embassy’s website but it was  reposted on the embassy’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel where it has about 755 views.

John Berry, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia

Posted by State/IIP in September, it has about 1030 views. Reposted by US Embassy Canberra on the embassy’s YouTube channel, it currently has 25,791 views

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US Embassy Islamabad: Centaurus Mall Complex Off Limits to American Staff

— By Domani Spero

On October 23, the US Embassy in Pakistan declared the Centaurus Mall Complex off limits to its American staff.  A security message was issued to inform U.S. citizens in the country of the official restriction:

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, informs U.S. citizens that the Embassy is currently prohibiting U.S. staff from visiting the Centaurus Mall Complex in Islamabad.  This restriction on Embassy personnel is consistent with existing security guidance encouraging avoidance of locations where large numbers of people tend to gather. 

Screen Shot 2013-10-24

Screen grab of the Centaurus Mall Complex

According to its Wikipedia page, the Centaurus Mall is located in central Islamabad with over four-storey, and has around 250 shops.  It opened to the public in February 2013:

The Centaurus is a mixed use real estate development in the most central location of Islamabad, Pakistan.[3] Designed by British architectural company WS Atkins, it comprises three skyscrapers, containing corporate offices, residential apartments and a 5-star hotel. The tallest skyscrapers in the city have 41 stories and all three are linked by a shopping mall. Interior Design of The Residence and Mall have been designed by ODEION-Turkey. Its estimated cost is $350 million USD.

The Centaurus Mall website says that it has “five floors of ultimate shopping experience.”  The mall features a five-screen cinema, a gold souk, designer and wedding lounge, food courts and fine dining, a supermarket and leisure and family entertainment.   It also has four levels of parking in the basement.

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