How Israel Can Win The PR War With Professionals and Money

I do not blame Israel’s woeful performance on the handful of TV people working in the F.O.’s Information Department. They surely do their best – but the task is beyond them. It’s like trying to mow a football field with a 12 inch hand mower when a battery of high speed power machines are needed.

It’s no wonder our petty cash expenditure has been unsuccessful in countering the Palestinian’s highly successful false propaganda. However, we must not underestimate the enormous help they receive from accomplished and willing media accomplices such as Robert Fisk, and hundreds of others who think as he does. (Jews have never exactly been popular in the Christian world – Evangelicals excepted.)

PR-wise, Israel Must Think and Act Big

“Wars are won, not only on the battlefield, but also with words,” said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. How absolutely right he is!

To be successful in winning more adherents to Israel’s side requires a revolutionary PR concept, compared to what it might cost to set up an entirely new military wing to ensure Israel’s security.

The government would have to budget at least $250 million now, and more in later years to develop the clout to win this continuing, almighty PR battle. Its mission will be to raise Israel’s standing in world opinion; to gain a greater level of international understanding and respect and to win more yes votes in the councils of the world.

New Strategies, New Tactics

I hate to tell you this but the Palestinians have a better history of success in winning PR battles by far. They have already won the verbal war over the use of “Palestinian”, “occupation”, “apartheid”, and Abbas’ claim to be ‘President’ while we feebly continue to call him ‘chairman’.

It could however, be different.

Consider if you will, an information organization with task oriented “desks” manned by top PR professionals, assigned to winning the chaotic battle for world opinion on specific issues rather than countries – with the obvious exception of Iran. Here are 22 specific issues that we have a chance to win if we stop arsing around:

  1. Iran’s intention to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

  2. Israel’s right to exist.

  3. Delegitimizing Israel.

  4. Apartheid.

  5. Rearming of Hezbollah and Hamas.

  6. The so called “Right of Return”.

  7. Holocaust denial.

  8. Muslim Ideology of Hatred, Contempt and Shariah law.

  9. BBC.

  10. Fox.

  11. CNN.

  12. Sky.

  13. Al Jazeera.

  14. Other international TV networks.

  15. Influential anti-Semitic press.

  16. False journalism in western media by anti-Semites and those personally inspired or encouraged by successful Palestinian propaganda.

  17. Church and commercial divestment.

  18. False charges of crimes against humanity.

  19. Anti-Semitic NGOs (Human Rights Watch etc.).

  20. Anti-Zionist Jewish organizations and NGOs.

  21. Amnesty International.

  22. Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (We should publish a book where every left hand page is the original and every right hand page is the forgery. And sell it at cost price. How about that?)

Israel’s PR mission should be based on these understandings:

Let us note that they won the PR war on calling themselves Palestinians where we wanted to continue calling them Arabs.

They beat us in the war of words for using Palestine as the name of their state to be. We wanted to continue calling them Arabs and give them autonomy only.

They won the war of words for the return of the West Bank. It was never our intention to return all that territory.

They hammered us in the war for using ‘occupied’ territories. We bleated they were not occupied but administered.

What they were never able to win by force they won by PR power.

We lost all these wars because we never properly understood the problem, seldom hired professionals, and never put aside enough money to execute a winning campaign.

Let us not blame the enemy for succeeding, rather ourselves for failing.

And let us also internalize that a fully financed, astute PR campaign is the only way to trounce a less astute one.

Israel’s PR needs to be both reactive and pro-active. We have some very smart professional PR agencies in Israel and abroad who can be hired to achieve specific objectives. Israel based executives of the caliber of Charley Levine (former Chairman of Ruder and Finn – the biggest PR company in the world) may well be available as consultants and practitioners.

Professionalism is the key. This is the key and will call for before and after polls to be constantly taken to check the effectiveness of each ongoing project.

Mastering TV Appearance Techniques

TV is the most important people-influencing medium there is. All-powerful, with extensive reach, here’s where one (moving) picture is definitely worth a 1,000 words. And where news anchors and their like thinking editors all too frequently do a job on us.

Take a look if you will, at BBC’s “Dateline London” when they’re dealing with the Middle East. As for equal time and balance, you won’t find it here. These articulate, well mannered anti-Semitic types earnestly and consistently smear us with bad smelling you know what.

BBC seldom gives Israel equal time for rebuttal. Moreover, they often invite our second and third graders to present Israel’s side. Their English is painful to the ear. They mumble and stumble while seeking to translate from Hebrew. So instead of winning some points on the scale of public opinion we usually lose some.

We must not give up on English TV. It looks as though this stupid decision is just around the corner. We need to understand that on the contrary English TV needs to be expanded to compete with Al Jazeera and to win our TV wars on the 22 issues listed.

It’s essential we understand that money spent on English TV is better than money spent on a new railroad. And if money can’t be found by cutting other budgets to compete with Al Jazeera, the solution is not to abandon the 23 minutes a day but to privatize English TV.

Besides this. . .

We must muster and master the techniques of successful appearances. So that when invited to appear before the camera to provide comment, our representatives come prepared to make the best use of the brief sound bytes we are permitted.

TV anchors and panel chairpersons are always well prepared for their appearances. We too must be properly prepared. For it can’t be all that hard to figure out the questions of the day which are likely to be asked. And have our smart people ready with smart answers.

Searchlight On Our Enemies’ PR

We need to use Google Alerts to gather current anti-Israel or anti-Semitic media articles/reports. We need to respond using top copywriters who know the words which influence people.

Let us organize desks for each issue and for one country – Iran.

Let us prepare Israel’s response in the applicable language and email our responses to the local Israeli Consul for signature and delivery to the newspaper, magazine or TV network. Or respond directly from Israel.

Those who walk the corridors of power are more likely to be influenced by publication in respected national media. So publication in the newspaper which published the offending item is best. Moreover official communications usually stand a better chance of being published.

Is the Internet a worthwhile medium for Israel’s propaganda?

I say no. Because this is not a mass medium for us – it does not permit any possibility of attracting the readers we want.

Making Friends and Influencing People

Israel hosts a large number of journalists. About 200 generally though we had over 800 during the Cast Lead spat. That’s an awful lot of worldwide media power focused on one mighty small area.

We must make friends with these folk. We need to build and maintain a database of the individuals in this group.

Individuals should be helped every which way to do their job more effectively. We should send them a stream of timely updates of useful, interesting information, especially in wartime. If we are unable talk to them directly let us at least provide videos and reading matter in their own language.

They should be invited to (regular?) lectures and seminars on the background to the Arab- Israeli conflict, followed by questions and answers.

Let’s be nice to them, cultivate them. Take them on day tours of little Israel. Entertain them, do them little favors the way friends do.

And when they leave our shores to other postings let’s keep in touch with them with friendly, informative newsletters. Right?

We have the brains. All it takes is money and not all that much either. If we claim we don’t have the resources let’s stop fooling ourselves and privatize our English TV. This is not a job for a government ministry. It is a job for an experienced PR agency which has the knowledge, the experience, the staff, the contacts etc., to succeed.

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One Response to “How Israel Can Win The PR War With Professionals and Money”

  1. Steven Cooper Says:

    Very well written post. If you need to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone – I strongly recommend BBC Radio iPhone Streams – it is easily the most convenient way to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and it’s free at BBCStreams.com.

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