Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: MEDIA MATTERS: The Start-Up Nation Can Twitter Better

The level of Israeli public relations is an embarrassment when it comes to the social media.
Published: Sunday, September 02, 2012 5:15 PM



It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Israel, the world renowned “start-up nation”, not only does awfully in the world’s “traditional” media, but also fails miserably in the digital media – which operates without filters, and allows anyone to communicate directly to the masses.

Review the Twitter account of Avital Leibovich, the "official Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson to the international press" at http://twitter.com/avitalleibovich

It is an embarrassment on so many fronts:

1) She uses a fuzzy, out-of-focus Twitter photo with some sort of a weird indecipherable background

2) Ms. Leibovich does not have a space after commas in her Twitter bio. She could shorten "I am" to "I'm" and have room for spaces, yet she hasn't done that.

3) To put it simply, her tweeting is terrible – With tweets like “finally, they return to school” and a picture of a group of kids, one imagines she is referring to her children, but who knows. Other tweets this week would include “Mazal Tov ya azizi on your birthday” – and she doesn’t use spaces after periods.

4) She barely tweets. She (or someone) on her behalf should be tweeting pro-Israel material, with the #Israel hashtag, a few times an hour, most hours of the day. She could be contributing tweets that reporters would quote in stories, like every single other "spokesperson" in the world does. Yet she doesn't do this.

The anti-Israel publicity machine tweets constant information – and the Israeli government fails miserably, on twitter and in other PR arenas.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was recorded in an interview earlier this year as saying the two main enemies of Israel are the New York Times and Ha’aretz. Netanyahu stated, “They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read these publications every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in the New York Times and Haaretz.”

He is right – but can’t Israel at least communicate better via social media which allows communications without a filter?

Like many other official Israeli Public Relations professionals, Ms. Leibovich doesn’t appear to be skilled at communicating. She certainly isn’t doing Israel any good on Twitter, a tremendously important communications tool.

One of the gravest dangers facing Israel is its inability to adequately communicate its message. While many, myself included, have rightfully lamented about anti-Israel media bias for years – Israel has to do a better job helping itself.

There can be no other way to say it than to say that Israel’s communications are lacking and poorly managed.

As a proud Zionist who owns one of the largest PR firms in the world, it wasn’t easy for me to criticize Ms. Leibovich so publicly – I don’t know her, and it’s not personal.

But I hope that by exposing this there will be positive change, as before I made the above public, I communicated about it with a half-dozen MK’s, 2 cabinet members and countless assistants – and nothing has been changed.

Perhaps now, for the good of the State of Israel, it will be.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a top 25 PR agency, and author of “For Immediate Release.”