Capturing country images: a methodological approach

public diplomacy
country image
Google Trends
text analysis
AKS grant

Efe Sevin*, Diana Ingenhoff, and Kadir Jun Ayhan (2021), “Capturing country images: a methodological approach,” The Journal of International Communication: 27(2): 237-257, doi: 10.1080/13216597.2021.1903965


Towson University

Ewha Womans University Graduate School of International Studies

University of Fribourg


March 2021

Other details

Supported by Korean Studies Grant Program of the Academy of Korean Studies [grant number AKS-2019-R42].


Country images have been notoriously difficult to capture and measure effectively. In this article, we propose a methodological approach that combines designed and found data to capture public attitudes. We demonstrate how a mixed-method design with survey data and digital data – namely tweets and Google Trends – make it possible to better capture what target audiences think about a country. We make the case for such a combination by highlighting three aspects of country images. First, to understand what different types of public think about a country, we need to listen to different voices, and complement standardised public opinion survey data with open questions and digital data. Second, social media platforms are invaluable data resources as well as outlets that people on social media turn to for news and information. Last, digital data is unique and powerful, but difficult to analyse and interpret to create value for developing strategic communication policies. Public opinion survey data can help structure digital data and link both outcomes with each other. We support our methodological arguments through an illustrative study of the South Korean country image. We conclude our article by presenting a roadmap for multi-method analysis.

BibTeX citation

    title = {Capturing country images: a methodological approach},
    volume = {27},
    issn = {1321-6597},
    doi = {10.1080/13216597.2021.1903965},
    pages = {237--257},
    number = {2},
    journaltitle = {The Journal of International Communication},
    author = {Sevin, Efe and Ayhan, Kadir Jun and Ingenhoff, Diana},
    date = {2021},
    note = {Type: Journal Article},