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Op-Ed: Military & PR Success Means Knowing When to Keep Quiet

Knowing when to talk and when not to is a basic rule for pr and diplomacy.
Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 7:50 AM


As CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm, I counsel clients about the importance of public perception – when it makes sense to talk, and when it doesn’t.

Clearly, Israel a nation which understands the importance of military secrecy, must similarly understand the importance of not discussing things which don’t benefit the country from a publicity perspective.

So often, the Israeli military discusses things which can only cause Israel damage – and score the Jewish state no points at all. This week alone:

  • As many worldwide outlets reported, The Israeli Army said they planned to remove shells containing phosphorus from active use within about a year

  • "..Some three years ago, following the Operation Cast Lead war, the Israeli military vowed to investigate rules on the use of these shells as the result of human rights organizations complaints that white phosphorus munitions have been used improperly as they can burn flesh".

    • While Israel denies using it improperly, they still agree to stop using it. Quite a contradiction – why stop if it wasn’t wrong? And why announce it now if you aren’t stopping for a year? Wont Israel’s enemies now – whether true or false – concoct some incident and blame it on this white phosperous?

    • Or even better – why announce not using it at all? Does Israel believe that media will jump up and down and congratulate them? Announcing this can only cause Israel damage – and score them no points at all.

    • Mistake.

  • Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav "Polly" Mordechai announced that the IDF is making a movie of its own to counter the original Jenin movie

  • "Jenin, Jenin" which was produced in 2002 by Mohammed Bakri about what occurred in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. The original "Jenin, Jenin" was awarded Best Film at the Carthage International Film Festival and won many international awards.

    • 11 years too late in today’s era of rapid response to media. The film will reportedly be used only for internal usage – so why even bother telling the media if they won’t be allowed to see the movie? And 11 years later?

    • Whether the film is needed or not is irrelevant – telling the media about it isnt helpful.

Brig. Gen. Mordechai said "public opinion is the regulator influencing the sphere of law, international powers and human rights organizations. Hence, in an age when war is screened live, before the camera's lenses, spokespersons and Hasbara have an increasingly critical role and influence military operations' legitimacy."

And he is right, but an integral part of military operations is keeping quiet – the same holds true for public relations. Know when to talk and when not to.

More information is not always beneficial.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and author.