— 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
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
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