This excellent piece on the academic study of Public Diplomacy (PD) contributes much to the debate of theory vs. practice in PD. I hope it will be widely read.
My main quarrel with much of the "scholarship" re PD, which Pat Kushlis critiques so well, is that it often misses a key element in PD -- what PD officers (or whatever you want to call them) concretely do "in the field" and the day-to-day issues that they face. That is why, in the case of PD, I find memoirs, history and media-reporting often more enlightening than abstract treatises. We are not, after all, dealing with rocket science here, but with a down-to-earth, all-too-human activity. As the article points out, there's no PD "theory."
Also, I am concerned that people who want to "do PD" as a career might think that "a degree in PD" is sufficient to be an effective PD practitioner (I realize that is not what academic courses on PD "promise." Of course, nothing wrong with being a PD "scholar").
But, based on my twenty-year Foreign Service officer (FSO) experience, what is most helpful in preparing to be an effective "public diplomat," at least for the US government, is learning foreign languages in depth, familiarity with cultures overseas, and people-to-people skills that are not necessarily acquired in the classroom or by research in libraries/on the Internet. And, to cite additional skills noted to me in an e-mail from Pat Kushlis after I penned the above remarks, "speech writing and deliver[every], decent Internet skills plus the ability to write clear, organized and succinct English."