For a number of years now Social Media has been a prime component of our culture. It’s how we get our news, it’s a source of entertainment and a conduit for sharing our joys and concerns. It’s pervaded almost every area of modern day life, from the cereal we eat for breakfast to the books we read before bedtime. One of the last and longest holdouts, though, has been the diplomatic corps—a group of individuals who are responsible for maintaining strong lines of communications with other diplomats and private citizens while representing and protecting the interests of their home countries.
Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S. Kåre Aas has made social media a major component of his posting, having a very active Twitter account where he shares important messages from/about Norway as well as some behind-the-scenes info that gives followers an insight into the life of a career diplomat. Now, His Excellency has added a blog to his social media resume, called “The Y in Diplomacy.” Sons of Norway sat down with the Ambassador to learn more about it.
SofN: What made you decide to start blogging?
KA: After arriving in D.C. I quickly realized that using social media as a tool to connect with audiences across the U.S. was a fun and effective way to disseminate both political information and fun facts about Norway. So, I started using Twitter, which complimented the work I do as ambassador by being both convenient and great for LIVE posting. However, I felt limited by the 140 character posts and wanted more room to share the “y” (why) we do the work we do in foreign affairs and diplomacy. The next natural step was to start blogging.
SofN: How does having a blog fit into your role as ambassador?
KA: It’s a nice extension of what I already do. Daily, I attend meetings, give speeches or send reports back to Oslo. So writing about these happenings in the blog makes sense – it gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at my role. It also gives me the chance to reflect on current events and share my view of how Norway plays a role both in the U.S. and internationally
SofN: Have readers responded well to the posts thus far?
KA: I would like to get more feedback. The beauty of social media is that it opens up for a dialogue, not only a one-way communication. I am always eager to learn more about what people are thinking about important matters and events. My “cyber door” is open.
SofN: You are very active on social media–what do you feel has been the greatest benefit of this?
KA: Sharing information about what Norway does and why we do it is an important part of my work as ambassador. Through social media I can do this in an efficient way and reach a large crowd. It should, however, always be an addition and not a substitute to other ways of reaching out.
SofN: We know you are heavily involved with students via your live discussions of the arctic and NATO–what has been the response?
KA: My feeling is that students are genuinely interested in these issues, especially considering today’s political landscape and the Arctic being such a “hot topic” (no pun intended). Through Skype, I regularly reach out to students at various universities across the country and talk about these and other subjects. I always enjoy the Q&A session with the students after my presentation and encourage them to follow up with me on Twitter afterwards!
To read more from Ambassador Aas, be sure to visit his blog at http://the-y-indiplomacy.com/.