Israel Launches PR Campaign; Seeks To Involve Citizens

Israel launched a PR campaign this week to boost the country’s image abroad. Consisting of a new Web site, an advertising campaign and direct grassroots outreach to Israelis, the campaign aims to have them spread the word themselves about “the beautiful Israel you know,” a spokesperson told the Associated Press.

Writes the AP’s Matti Friedman:

[The campaign] offers a puzzling take on what foreign attitudes toward the country really are, and appears to reflect a view that poor public relations, and not policies, lie at the root of Israel’s image problem.

Rather than focusing on the passions surrounding the Israeli-Arab conflict, the campaign suggests – with a touch of humor – that people abroad believe that camels are a leading form of transportation in Israel, or that Israelis like to barbecue outside because they have no gas or electricity at home.

“The state of Israel simply doesn’t view the practice of public relations as a necessity, but rather as a secondary thought,” 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian told PRNewser recently, in response to a Newsweek story that claimed Israel “fails at public relations.

Not everyone is impressed with the new campaign — some said it doesn’t address fundamental issues tied to Israel’s image problems.

“This country’s main challenges are the false comparison people make with an apartheid state and the questioning of its right to exist…And the pamphlets don’t deal with those,” Eytan Gilboa, director of the Center for International Communications at Bar-Ilan University told The New York Times.

At least Israelis seem open to supporting a campaign of some sort. In a poll conducted by the Israeli Ministry for Public Diplomacy, 85% said “yes,” when asked if they would want to help represent Israel when they were abroad.