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February 23, 2012 10:48 am

Dumb and Dumber is Israel’s Public Relations

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber. Photo: ScriptShadow.

Owning one of the 25 largest public relations agencies in the US, I watch Israel’s PR machine and media reports with a close eye. Same random musings:

  • The French Supreme Court acquittal of Dr. Yehuda David, an Israeli physician who was accused of slandering a Palestinian man who claimed he was injured by the Israeli Defense Forces was largely ignored by the mainstream media – the same mainstream media who championed the claims of the Palestinian man, Jamal al-Dura, and his 12-year-old son Mohammed who were the symbol of the second intifada. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Dr. David’s victory in court is an Israeli victory over “Palestinian propaganda’s long tale of lies” – now wouldn’t it be great if mainstream media would actually recognize it? Netanyahu celebrated this PR hero at yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting and thanked him for what he said was his noble fight “on the public diplomacy battlefield in the great battle for the truth.” Netanyahu also called David, a French immigrant, an “Israeli hero.”
  • Media reports in Israel proudly had Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein proclaim that his Ministry plans to send 100 Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel Apartheid Week. The participants of the “Faces of Israel” mission have “undergone several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry.” WOW – a few whole weeks? Could one imagine Israel sending lawyers, doctors or IT experts who have a few weeks of training? Israel is in a war – and communications today is a part of that war, and Israel needs to do a much better job of managing crisis public relations to be effective.  A few weeks doesn’t make a PR expert who can defend, or speak for a country. Absurd.
  • Excellent commentary on Israel’s PR on a Christian blog – “there are few reasons why Israel or Israelis should have to apologize or be embarrassed for anything. Except their PR!” I agree.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading NY PR Agency, and author of PR book “For Immediate Release.”

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  • Mimi

    You are absolutely correct and I have been saying this for years. The Israelis need to hire the best biggest American PR firm in the US and give them tons of money and then they never need to say anything that has not been approved first. Sort of like, celebritys. The truth is that Israel is a good country full of many very good people and I support 100% Israels right to exist and to defend themselves. Keen in mind that Israelis also have as many opinions as they do people. As a people we do not have a tendency to follow the “rules” we are rebels and we do not like placating people. We are realists. This is the heart of the problem. Israel would win this debate on the facts alone if the presentation of the facts was pleasing enough to get people to listen.

  • Haim

    Without questioning your expertise, sometimes it is important to connect people with “normal” Israelis, not PR experts who uniformly come across as sleek and phony. Those young people are going on campuses, not into TV studios, and they need to be real, not scripted. Second-guessing is always easy. When you operate within the government, obviously you don’t have the same freedom of action or speed of reaction as in the private sector, but not everything Israel does in the PR area is dumb. Most of Israel’s PR problems come from the unrelenting bias of the world media and from the increasing hostility on behalf of the influential American Jewish liberals.

    • Shlomi A.

      Haim: Normal Israelis yes, very important>>but Mr. Ronn Torossian of 5WPR is right in that Israel PR is awful constantly. Absolutely true the media is biased but why cant Israel get spokespersons who dont say “eh eh” every 2nd word. Its shameful.