In God We Trust, Not the Media

January 7, 2012 7:23 pm 2 comments

An Israeli flag at the Western Wall. Photo: Caleb Zahnd.

The following excerpt is from the best-seller PR book, For Immediate Release, by Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR:

I lived in Israel for nearly two years after graduating from college. Along with two friends, I formed an organization called Yerushalayim Shelanu (Our Jerusalem). My two co-founders are today among the youngest members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) and rapidly rising political stars: Danny Danon (current Knesset Deputy Speaker) and Yoel Hasson. In 1997 one of the first activities we undertook was participating in an action where Jews moved into a home that had been purchased legally in an area of eastern Jerusalem.

The neighborhood’s construction provoked an international storm in September 1997, and the U.S. pressured Israel not to go ahead with the plan. The pressure was rebuffed by then (and current) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and backed by then Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. I conducted hundreds of worldwide media interviews at the homes of the new Jewish residents of the area. All of them were done as I held an Israeli flag, with the Temple Mount (where the recognizable Dome of the Rock is located) in the background. That way, no matter how reporters editorialized about this “disputed” area of Jerusalem, viewers could see just how close this territory was to the Jerusalem they recognized. No matter what the reporters said, the pictures didn’t lie. As of 2011, more than 70 Jewish families live there and conditions on the ground in that area of Jerusalem have changed, with Israeli schools, bus service to the Western Wall, and other benefits making the area connected to western Jerusalem.

This effort, while effective, was a drop in the bucket. Israel is a young country and it often learns things painfully. A justified cause is not enough to be right these days, either in politics or in business. Anyway, being right does not help you frame the debate nor does it keep you from being constantly on the defense. It’s not enough to simply convey a message—you need people to listen. Preparation for war includes a PR battle plan because PR is a crucial element of any war today. Having worked with and for the Likud Party, the mayors of Jerusalem and of Tel Aviv, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel Ministry of Tourism, and a slew of other Israeli government officials and offices for many years, I know that Israel has so much rich history and many incredible attractions, from the Bible to its beaches. It needs to put them to use actively and to employ a comprehensive, systematic “PR machine” that generates regular positive content.

Israel also needs to make its own case, because that case is not being made widely, often, or clearly enough. The advice I have for Israel stands for any organization or group with an “underdog” status or that is suffering the consequences of being misunderstood. The following points are useful for any brand or business:

  • Make your own case. Be proactive and passionate in educational PR efforts. In Israel’s case, for instance, there should be a concerted PR effort to continually refute “moral equivalency” myths that are perpetuated in many corners of the press. It shouldn’t be saved only for a crisis.
  • Argue on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Harmful framing by the media or others can be handled effectively only with counter-framing—presenting your narrative without debating the negative frame (thereby giving it credibility) or trying to justify yourself against it. Israel needs to talk about how it made “the desert bloom.” From its founding in 1948, it transformed a land that is 65 percent desert into a country rich in diversity and teeming with technology—Intel, Microsoft, and IBM have all developed robust, profitable, and innovative businesses in the country.
  • Consistent and united PR. There is nothing more counterproductive and irritating to a spokesperson than having to compete with a colleague who is operating with a different message. This is the case with Israel—spokespeople for the state often speak at cross-purposes with the press and contradict each other.
  • Act with rapidity. Israel is agile and dynamic. It can use this to its advantage. In PR terms, Israel can change key messages quickly and deftly when necessary. The ability to respond quickly has many benefits.
  • Use social media frequently. Social media shouldn’t be used only as an emergency channel or to impart pearls of wisdom a few times a year. Social media should be used on a daily basis, and in a positive way. In the long run, it is the daily actions of a brand that determine its overall image.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a Top 25 PR Agency and author of Amazon best-selling PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is available for purchase here. The book was referred to by Israeli MK Danny Danon as the “best book ever written regarding Israel’s PR.”

2 Comments

  • frania kryszpel block

    G-d made the mountains ,the valleys,the beaches ,all the beauty and splenfor that is Israel. The media only speaks when calamities happen. When quick explanations are needed . The beautiful forests of trees only spoken about when fire destroys them. Why is there no mention and pictures of the beautiful aspects of Israel. Show what those forests looked like BEFORE. We cab trust that what G-d created in his infinite wisdom will stand. We cannot trust the media to make a relationship between Israel and the rest of the world. All its parts, people from every nation, beautiful people of every color, forests of trees BEFORE they are burned down, the winding roads of Zefat, the bakery in Nazareth the new shopping malls, the sun going down over the hills and valleys after a day at the baths in Tiberias…..these all are G-d given. The media only plays to what is negative or dangerous. Why? It is hard to trust when it does not make a relationship with the world..

  • So… don’t trust the media unless of course they listen to a PR firm first?

    And what does a god have to do with any of it?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.