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Public Relations 101: Who's Coming Up With Straight 'A's?

June 17, 2010 By:
Gary Wexler
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Here is the bottom line on matters of Middle East public relations: Israel is now perceived as the pariah nation, and the Palestinians and their supporters are the cause of good.

This enormous international accomplishment is a marketing professional's dream. As one of those professionals, I want to know everything I can. I want to duplicate it for my clients. I want to hire its strategists.

More than anything, I want to know how their big brilliant ideas evolve, and understand the insights and capabilities of their implementation teams.

As a marketer for 30 years, I can recognize when there exists a marketing team of excellence behind any effort. I would bet my entire professional career that in this case, there is indeed such a team. They are of the same consistency and excellence, time after time. It is a clear mark of the same people or a rigid discipline being transferred from group to group.

The team is coordinated across the world. It pulls off each action with precision and prediction. And it is anonymous, not vying for recognition, credit or visibility for its members' own individual personas.

This team has its pulse on trends in the marketing field, and recognizes that marketing is no longer media driven, but idea-driven. The media follow the idea and the celebrated figures connected to the implementation. It is no longer a day of buying ads and other media, and then building your case through incessant verbiage.

It is an era of creating powerful, big ideas resulting in images, reactions and stories that move virally within hours across the globe. Just like the flotilla. Just like naming the next ship the Rachel Corrie. Just like Apartheid Week. The list of this team's brilliant media ideas and the products it pumps out is endless, and its output improves with each new invention.

These people see themselves as soldiers, and have their pulse on changes in warfare. The enemies of Israel and the Jewish people have switched their strategy of combat from terror to media ideas. By doing so, they are accomplishing what their old strategies never could. They appear as victims with growing global support, including the overwhelming support of a new generation.

And they are winning. Which means we are losing.

They have managed to take this great Jewish nation -- a place of dynamism, creativity, humanity, innovation, celebration, warmth, spirituality, miraculous history, mystery, culture, vibrancy and fun, albeit with many, many flaws, tensions and wrongdoings -- and have turned it on the world stage into a country and people wholly perceived as illegitimate, criminal, fanatic, rigid, frightening, hateful and unjust.

That is quite an accomplishment. And an even greater success on this team's behalf is that many of us Jews -- certainly, the next generation -- are now coloring the Zionist and Israeli enterprise with their hues.

This brilliant team also recognizes change, and acts upon it in a way we Jews, Israelis and Zionists do not. In an ever-evolving, technological world, the battlefront for Israel's security is as dependent upon its media war as it is upon its ground, air and sea strategies. If we lose the media battle for the hearts and minds of the world and a new generation, can Israel survive the political, military and economic manifestations of that loss?

Through its ideas, this team has created the public framework, and we follow. It leads, and we react. We are squabbling among ourselves after each of its successes. We play out our internal issues of "Do we act with democratic values or a victim's mentality? Do we believe in our legitimacy as a nation, or do we need to debunk Zionist mythology?"

Strictly from a marketing perspective, these are all strategies of failure.

As Israel is now on the losing side of a critical battle, each action Israel takes today must consider the media war and how it plays out. The days of saying "Who cares what the world thinks?" are over. What the world thinks matters for Israel's security and future.

There is no right or left here. The main consideration is what plays and what does not. Is recognizing that Israel's existence is threatened and its legitimacy under media attack -- and that Jews should not weaken the country's image by playing out their internal wars on the international front -- a right-wing strategy? Is recognizing that in order to battle against the winner that Israel may have to change some of its policies a left-wing strategy? Categorizing and boxing in our thinking -- and then defending our naive positions -- is part of what has led us to be the loser.

They are coordinated; we are not. They have someone or some team in charge; we do not. We're in a serious, life-threatening battle, and there is no coordination of troops. There is little communication and lots of egos.

Yet we have created the situation, not them. And until we find some recourse, the competitive spirit in me as a professional marketer -- combined with my Jewish and Zionist passions -- will not allow me to sleep nor slumber. So let's get down to the real work.

Gary Wexler is owner of Passion Marketing, consulting with some of the largest nonprofits in the world, including many in Jewish life.

 

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