The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Like many others, I spent a lot of time this past week agonizing about Israel’s public-relations battles and image problems. And I remain extremely worried.
I own one of the one of the nation’s 25 largest public-relations agencies and make my living building brands and enhancing images. I represent a number of major corporations, foreign governments and concerns worldwide and consult regularly with senior Israeli government officials, advocacy organizations and consulates, mainly on a pro-bono basis.
Last week I spent an entire day escorting a client, a very senior foreign government official from an embattled area (outside the Middle East) from media outlet to media outlet. He met with a reporter for a large weekly newsmagazine, and after the 45-minute interview the reporter spoke heart to heart with the official, advising him to do interviews even when there’s nothing going on, speak the same language as those doing the interviewing, and invite the media to events. Irrespective of the issues, it’s harder to write negative about my friends, the reporter laughed.
In other words, fostering relationships is a must.
After graduating from college I lived in Israel in the mid 1990’s and worked in public relations and politics. I soon realized that Israelis don’t pay attention to the human side of journalism, nor are they flexible with the business of PR. Israeli government officials don’t, and in fact can’t, spend time and money entertaining reporters. The almost unbelievable reason for this is that Israeli officials aren’t permitted to turn in regular expense-account bills for meals or entertaining. And in nearly all instances they pay their own cellular phone bills for calls to and from reporters.
I believe Israel’s PR problem is due primarily to the fact that Israeli officials view the practice of public relations not as a necessity but as a secondary thought. Similarities can be drawn to Israeli technology companies, which produce incredible products but utilize poor marketing programs.
Israelis are a tough people who believe that since their cause is just, they don’t need to spend time convincing others. Is it anything short of absurd that Israel’s entire public-relations budget for the U.S. is under $250,000 annually?
The State of Israel does not use a public-relations agency anywhere in the world and hasn’t for many years. How can Israel expect to win the war for hearts and minds when its emissaries, noble as they may be, come for a few years and then leave? While Israeli diplomats undoubtedly work hard, English is not their first language. No wonder Israel’s public-relations efforts always seem to be characterized by an all too palpable tentativeness and defensiveness.
Primary Arab spokespersons, by contrast, tend to be longtime residents of Western countries. They are individuals who were educated in the West or have lived here for a long time and communicate in fluent English. While Israel’s spokespeople may be coherent, the government doesn’t pay for outside professional media training. And coherent doesn’t necessarily mean compelling. What makes an army commander or a police chief suitable for worldwide media appearances? At a minimum, should they not undergo media training by outside PR agencies expert at helping people develop their messages?
Israel has planes and tanks but little media savvy. Israeli leaders don’t pay enough attention to the media, nor do they enlist the troops needed for today’s media war. While the Arabs brilliantly started Al Jazeera (created by a $150 million grant from the emir of Qatar), Israel counters with a few very smart Foreign Military representatives who engage on Twitter and dabble in creative YouTube campaigns. In other words, a David vs. Goliath battle in the world press.
I believe Israel’s lack of financial investment in PR is a major mistake. Israel needs to invest as much in the public-relations battle as it does on the ground for military battle. As the owner of a PR agency, I view public relations in terms of business rather than ideology, and this allows me to be the rare Zionist who says Israel’s foreign media problems aren’t strictly about anti-Semitism or inherent bias. Israel’s PR problem is primarily a business problem.
Public relations is neither a hobby nor a pastime, and funds must be invested to garner success. Last year the Pentagon admitted spending millions upon millions to shape media coverage of the Iraq war. Yes, PR is big business, and Israel doesn’t take it seriously.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is Founder and CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Firm in New York and one of the 20 largest independently owned agencies in the United States. Ronn is an active Jewish philanthropist through his charity organization, the Ronn Torossian Foundation.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Saudis, Bahrain & UAE recalled ambassadors from Qatar protesting its support of Hamas & terror orgs.
How can the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO support&serve as a leader of NIF, champions of BDS movement?
Weiderpass and his businesses’ are being boycotted by gay extremists for hosting an event with Cruz
Pollsters asked Palestinians “What is the #1 obstacle facing the Middle East?” Israel placed only #4
The Jewish vote won’t impact polls as much as it will the coffers of candidates and their Super PACs
Mon. May 11, 2015@5 PM, history’s largest Shofar blowing will occur outside the UJA-Fed. Building
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dont-blame-all-of-israels-pr-problems-on-anti-semitism/2009/01/07/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: