The role of public relations in foreign policy planning and execution

Baiba Pētersone (College of Communication and Media Sciences, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 11 November 2013



The purpose of this paper is to understand the role of public relations, conceptualized as a strategic management function, in foreign policy making, and implementation. This research study emphasizes the relational perspective and seeks to examine its applicability to the practice of public relations in foreign policy settings.


This qualitative research study was based on in-depth interviews with nine individuals who were in charge of public relations aspects of a particular foreign policy issue in Latvian government institutions. The examined foreign policy issue was development cooperation.


The research findings revealed that public relations contributed to the strategic management of the foreign policy process to a certain extent. Public relations built and cultivated relationships, researched and scanned environments, built communities around a foreign policy issue, facilitated dialogic encounters and socialized foreign policies. However, the public relations function was not involved in the entire strategic management process: analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Although the relational perspective may be applicable to foreign policy settings and relationships that are cultivated by public relations practitioners in these settings bring outcomes on three different levels – national, organizational, and personal – this study found that public relations is not the only function that deals with relationships between an organization and its key publics.


This research study investigated two areas that are little explored in the public relations research literature: the strategic management role of public relations in government institutions and public relations contributions to policy, especially foreign, making.



Pētersone, B. (2013), "The role of public relations in foreign policy planning and execution", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 308-323.

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