The Jewish Agency And Why Does Israel PR Fail?

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel ---- December 17, 2010 ...... Just a few days ago I applied for the position of VP Marketing Communications for the Jewish Agency. Within 48 hours I was told that I that I was too late to apply. They were interviewing "finalists".

Is one ever too late to apply for a job? That is until someone is actually made an offer and signs a contract?
No. It was an excuse. Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I angry? Yes. But not for the obvious reasons.

I have been in the international public relations and public affairs business for over 20 years. In that time I was approached to create the first commercial Website back in 1995, the first Website for the Prime Minister's Office, the first English news site out of Israel and the first Website for the IDF. I successfully integrated classic PR, advertising and journalism into Web 2.0 - social media. And recently returned from Haiti assiting both the IDF and the MFA with badly needed onsite public relations.

So what credentials did I lack?

Well, I have team experience from serving in IDF combat units and the spokesperson's unit in the IDF. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs retains me to train their diplomats. And I was ready to give up far more money in a successful, private international business in digital PR, SEO, social networking and crisis communications.

So what was I missing?

I ask this question publicly to the Jewish Agency. Not because I need their money. Not because I love the Jewish Agency.

The reason is that Israel will not lose an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

I am calling out the Jewish Agency on the candidate who does secure this position and kindly ask the public to raise the following questions.

How many years experience in international marketing and branding does that Jewish Agency professional have?
How many years experience in international PR does that Jewish Agency professional have?
Can you show us how that professional controls the most important medium - the Internet?
What is their experience in crisis communications, reputation management, new media, social networking, SEO, online branding, journalism, media distribution, Google Adwords and Google Adsense?

Lastly, can you show us how they have made one, major issue pertaining to Israel sparkle and shine?

Will this PR and marketing professional for the Jewish Agency work with or work against the private and successful immigration organization Nefesh B'Nefesh?

Ya see, it's not the job. It's Israel's near total lack of professionalism in conducting it's PR activities.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made great strides in recent years in improving their professional public affairs operations with such stars as Amir Gissin, David Saranga, Noam Katz, Yaron Gamburg, Yigal Palmor, Jonathan Peled, Arye Mekel, Ronit Ben Dor, Joel Lion, Gil Lainer, Eliaz Luf and political appointees Michael Oren, Danny Ayalon, Tal Brody, Ashley Perry and Ron Prosor.

At the IDF Avital Leibovitz and Aliza Landes makes us proud. And spokesperson for the Israel Police Micky Rosenfeld has both the smile and the soundbytes.

And then we have superstar Mark Regev at Israel Prime Minister's Office. We had mega super star Daniel Seaman at the GPO - but opps - he's gone.

But this elite public affairs team still faces massive internal and external walls. The internal walls I will not go into detail as Israel has enough problems with strategic information getting to her enemies but some basic facts do remain and need to be addressed.

Israel PR suffers from a lack of money. Lack of budget. I would think that the brave firefighters received a greater annual budget than the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs gets for Hasbara or PR. And we saw what limited job the firefighters did with the recent Carmel Forest fire disaster.

Israel also suffers from a lack of professional manpower. Again, I will not go into logistics. But with more money budgeted for PR manpower and operations, Israel would be able to confront the professional efforts of pro Islamic Jihad organizations such as Fenton Communications which was paid almost $400,000 to make Israel look bad on behalf of Qatar and Turkey for their "Flotilla" operation.

Last, but not least, it's a numbers game.

There is more Arab oil money than Israeli scheckels and more Arabs than there are Israelis. More representatives of Arab states in the UN, EU and the US State Department than whatever Israel has.

Who's winning the PR war?

Well before we can answer that question, is it really a war?
According to the Palestinians, they are only throwing rocks at Israel tanks.

Their public relations machine is working. And working very effectively.
And most of the world public has bought it hook, line and sinker. As Palestinian terrorists attack Israeli tanks with missiles, rockets and automatic gunfire, the world witnesses Palestinian children throwing rocks!

As Palestinian terrorists pump bullets into pregnant Jewish mothers and execute Jewish babies we only see Reuters, AP and AFP images of injured Palestinian children.

Who's winning the public relations war? Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Hamas, Iran, Jihadists and the Palestinians.

We are engaged in two wars - a bloody, sweaty battle of bullets and a real-time digital media war of words.

We are losing both fronts because Israel's governmental public relations and public affairs machine is weak and ineffective.
The PR war defines public opinion, public opinion decides governmental policy and that policy decides who wins. Ultimately, public relations will decide Israel's future security. It's stature as a democracy, its economic health and its very borders.

One must take a very close, objective look at Israel's present PR efforts to understand why we have and continue to lose.
Many who lead Israel's PR war are more focused on domestic Israeli public opinion than world opinion or the opinion of our enemies. Just look at some who are in contact with the international media from Jerusalem.

Who are these people? How old are they? What experience do they have in crisis communications management? Who do they consult? How effective is their coordination with other ministries? How free are they to act in real-time? Do they have the backing and logistical, financial support of Israel's Prime Minister?

Yes, we do have a handful of professional public affairs people in Jerusalem, when what is urgently required during war is a well financed and professional army of media professionals. An army that integrates and transcends the valiant efforts of the Israel Project, CAMERA, Z Street, Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post columnist and Gaza Flotilla "We Con The World" video hero Caroline Glick and

Just ask yourself one question.
Is Israel's global image better today than it was a year ago?

Our enemies are smart. They don't need tanks and F-16s. All they need is a computer to upload images which will shock you. Images and soundbytes that will make you fear them more than they fear us. To create a consensus to retreat from Gaza for all of the wrong reasons.

We don't need to display the heads of Islamic terrorists to win this war.
What we do need is the immediate, urgent action of Benjamin Netanyahu who like Ariel Sharon has failed to deliver his promise of creating a professional, effective governmental PR apparatus which would be directly under his control with private, professional, crisis media logistical consultancy support.

To win this PR war we must play by the same rules as our enemy.

The Americans in 1776, who were greatly outnumbered, did not walk in open formation when they entered the battlefield. They took cover from behind trees and rocks, ambushed by night and changed the rules of warfare. They were called cowards by the Brits but in the end, the creative "cowards" won the war. The British, who out of collective pride could not adapt, lost.

We don't need to display the heads of Palestinians to win this war. What we do need is the immediate, urgent action of Netanyahu and his chief advisor Ron Dermer to deliver his promise of creating a professional, effective governmental PR apparatus which would be directly under his control with private, professional, crisis media logistical consultancy support.

It is time for Islamic terrorists and the populations which support them to fear us more than we fear them.
The time for Israel's "shock and awe" show has been long overdue.

So I ask the Jewish Agency, with the good money which is donated to you, who have you chosen to represent the Jewish people?
What is their professional PR experience? Or is this going to be just another political appointment?
Are they using Google News, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Yahoo groups and YouTube?

And finally, what kind of logistical and creative support will the Jewish Agency provide to this PR professional to get the job done?

Yes. I'm angry because my children live in Israel. I'm angry because my children are in real danger.

I'm angry because the problem is not the Jewish Agency.
The problem is with the Prime Minister's Office which for years has made great declarations for the need to establish a professional task force for Israel's PR. Something they never did. Something for which every Jew around the world suffers for.

Something which directly results in Jewish lives being murdered in that tiny, democratic land called Israel.



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