‘Teaching’ Place Branding

Guest Article by Efe Sevin

I was invited to a graduate level Public Diplomacy class at American University, School of International Service (SIS), to give a short lecture on place branding. I am used to talking with policy-makers, other practitioners, and scholars but trying to explain the concept to students from scratch was definitely a different experience. Let me write down a couple of short notes.

Image Courtesy of UPenn SAS

I spent over an hour talking about some of the scholars, their works, theories, and some case studies. Yet, I had four main issues:

  • Literature: Place management and branding indeed has been building a distinct literature for itself. There are several esteemed scholars in the field, prominent journals, and associations. Yet, students tend to think the literature is limited to Simon Anholt (and in this specific case to Peter van Ham). It is a challenge to give a sense of what is going on in the literature.
  • Concepts: It is incredibly easy to define place branding. It is establishing a place brand. Unfortunately, defining the latter concept is equally difficult.
  • Theory: Place branding literature uses several theoretical frameworks from different disciplines. I was talking to students of International Relations – a field with very limited contribution to place branding. I was in a situation to explaining theories (that students do not know) and their impact on place branding (a subject that students are not familiar).
  • Practice: SIS students seem to be practice-oriented – they are either already professionals working in government agencies or looking for federal jobs. I had to specifically talk about what kind of jobs they can get with ‘place branding’ in their skill set. How can you deliver a balanced (theory/practice, study/job) lecture?
    Long story short, good luck to all faculty members out there!

About Efe

I read and write about political communication stuff and I play with data to see what they have to say. I also love to cook.
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