The concept of "public diplomacy" has been traditionally associated with the promotion of a country's image abroad. In Brazil, "public diplomacy" is seen not only in this traditional view, but also in the sense of greater openness of both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Brazilian foreign policy to civil society, in an effort to promote democratization and transparency of national public policies.
Foreign policy, conceived as public policy, must meet the needs of the population and target national interests, in addition to being inclusive, democratic and participatory. Experiences including the National Commission for Rio+20, the Dialogues on Sustainability, the Dialogues on Foreign Policy, and the role of Itamaraty in digital media have reinforced the efforts of public diplomacy in Brazil to promote accountability to society and to receive comments and suggestions that contribute to the formulation of public policies attentive to the evolution of national aspirations.
The presence of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in digital media is recognized as one of the most active in the world. The page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Facebook has already been "liked" more than 100,000 times, and the Twitter accounts – in Portuguese, English and Spanish – have reached more than 125,000 followers. The YouTube channel has drawn more than 1.2 million views, the account on Flickr has more than 5,500 photos, audio available on the Itamaraty SoundCloud account have been listened more than 5,000 times, and the Itamaraty blog has been accessed more than 100,000 times. According to a study by Twiplomacy, Itamaraty accounts on Twitter are among the four best connected in Latin America (the account in Portuguese ranks second, and the account in English, created in 2014, ranks fourth). In 2015, Itamaraty launched its Spanish-language Twitter account.
Transparency is a hallmark of Brazilian diplomacy. In the context of the growing commitment of the Government to engage with society and to provide the public with information on its activities, the Brazilian Access to Information Law has helped demystify the common understanding that the whole handling of diplomatic information is confidential. Itamaraty produces annually about 600,000 documents, including cables exchanged with its network of 227 posts abroad, memos, internal information and external communications with other government bodies, foreign missions in Brazil, civil society and businesses. Out of this total, less than 7%, on average, is classified (as reserved, secret or top secret), of which a little over 1% are marked as secret or top secret.
The positive outcomes of good public diplomacy work are varied. On the one hand, it enables Itamaraty to report its actions to society, in Brazil and abroad, instantly and worldwide. On the other hand, it establishes new channels of interaction and accountability, and makes its relationship with society more transparent. As public policy, foreign policy becomes democratic and, with the support of digital diplomacy, it contributes to a more efficient traditional diplomacy.