The two core concepts of today’s era and politics are propaganda and public diplomacy; both have been used at their best and worst. Main question that is to be answered is that are these two terms interchangeable or public diplomacy is just a soft version of propaganda? It is observed that in research over the past several decades, concept of public diplomacy has become more visible and popular. Propaganda in its literal meaning is the manipulation of public opinion through the mass media for political ends. It includes three types, in which black propaganda is often used to attain vindicated and unjustified objectives.
Whereas, Public Diplomacy’s core instrument is soft power. It is based on foreign policies, culture and political values that then aim to influence the public opinion. In contemporary scenario, the terms that are associated with propaganda and that have gained popularity are termed as ‘spin’ and ‘news management’, that states to a coordinated strategy to minimize negative information and to present a favourable situation for parties that are involved. The word spin is often used with reference to the manipulation of political information. Despite the term propaganda is related with unethical, harmful, and unfair tactics, it is still defined as “organized persuasion”.
The word propaganda seems to have an association with the word ‘control’. Therefore, it is regarded as a deliberate attempt to amend the balance of power or maintain the status quo that eventually will be beneficial for the propagandist. Neither public diplomacy nor propaganda is philanthropical by nature. They both are used as state instruments; they serve the interests of a state. But the point of consideration here is that, they serve at their best and their worst and they do so in various conducts. At best, public diplomacy provides a truthful, factual exposition of a nation’s foreign policy, encourages international understanding, engages in dialogue and displays national achievements overseas. On the other hand, propaganda at its worst contains grey and black propaganda.