See for Yourself: Rebranding Northern Baja Through Public Diplomacy

Written by H. Efe Sevin
American University, School of International Service

Author
Efe Sevin is a first-year PhD student at American University, School of International Service. He completed his undergraduate studies in Turkey and holds a B.Sc. degree in International Relations and a minor degree in Sociology from Middle East Technical University. He completed his MA degree as a Fulbright scholar at Emerson College. He has been involved in several public outreach, public diplomacy and civil society campaigns. Currently, his research focuses on political communication, public affairs, destination marketing, and nation branding.


Abstract

Baja Norte has been experiencing drastic drops in tourism and business volumes during the last few years due to the negative mediated reality among the American audience created by some events and media coverage. With an attempt to revive the tourism industry and to build a community spirit, the local administration asked for the support of communication scholars. “Baja, California: See for Yourself” is a project which aims to alter the mediated reality and to provide solutions to the local administration through creating a new regional brand. This case study introduces how the project makes use of public diplomacy and grassroots movements in order to raise awareness about the current situation and improvements in the region as well as to fight the negative stereotypes created by the media. See for Yourself targets mainly the American audience in Southern California because of the geographical proximity and tourism market structure. Rosarito en Positivo, RediscoveRosarito, Northern Baja Student Film Festival, and Southern California Campus Events constitute the project’s fundamental public diplomacy and public outreach attempts. The research demonstrates the importance of grassroots movements and two-way communication in place branding attempts after crisis situations.


Key words:
Rosarito, Mexico, crisis management, place branding, public diplomacy, grassroots communication

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