Public Diplomacy via Innovative Social Engagement

Since I left the National Defense Unversity, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do next. In between, I did some writing, speaking, and teaching, but now I’m moving to something more permanent. It’s leaked that I’m joining Microsoft’s U.S. Public Sector division as Director of Innovative Social Engagement. I thought I’d blog to the GovLoop community in advance of a larger blog post next week about what I’ll be doing and what this means.

So what does that long job title of mine mean? What’s the overall goal? I think of it as “public diplomacy” for a corporate unit. This role differs in many ways from traditional public relations or public affairs, which still mainly involves “providing information for the public” at its core. Corporate public diplomacy, on the other hand, involves actively shaping the communications environment within which corporate activities are performed, and reducing the degree to which misperceptions complicate relations between the company and its customers. In my view, this complex mission is conducted using what I call innovative social engagement.

I’ll be doing a lot of different things in this Microsoft position, which is a combination of many different ideas, skills, and roles. And I’ll be writing much, much more about that next week (look for it!). But suffice it to say that I think it’ll be interesting, useful, and a challenge. I will still be largely an independent voice, the “official taste tester of the Microsoft kool-aid,” as some have dubbed it. I’m happy that I’ll be primarily engaged in the public sector areas of government, education, and health care. And I also hope that the niche I’m creating within Microsoft becomes a model for other companies and also government agencies.

Finally, I’ll continue to write for Federal Computer Week on a regular basis, and also write for other publications as I see fit. I’ll also continue as program co-chair for the O’Reilly Media / TechWeb Gov 2.0 Expo in May, which I’m really excited about. My new position is a bit of an experiment – let’s see how it turns out.

Please don’t re-post this – it’s a private note to the terrific GovLoop community. Thanks.

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Adriel Hampton

Mark, thanks for sharing here about your new role. “Engagement officer” is a title I’m seeing pop up more in government agencies, and I guess it will slowly replace more traditional external communications roles in popularity. Good luck in defining and innovating in this new post.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Congratulations, Mark! I wondered what you were going to do next and I am excited to here that you’ve found an opportunity that will challenge you…and allow you to challenge the current state of affairs in both the private and public sectors. Let me know if you’d ever like to grab a brew or two and brainstorm about the revolution. 🙂


Congrats buddy! A born natural for the role and a new niche that you’ll shape. Will be interesting to see how others follow.

I see you a little like a 2.0 version of folks like Alan Balutis at Cisco and Lewis at Microsoft…

Thanks for giving GL the sneak peek!