Tag Archives: Media

When You Can Make the News Your Story, You Master Public Relations

Starbuck’s cups say “Come Together”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz demonstrated marketing genius this week.  He took his common drink of choice for millions of Americans and turned it into the news of the day.

The biggest obstacle to generating consistent publicity for any brand is the often aggressive attack of current events that consumes the media. When war in Israel breaks out or a massacre at a shopping mall or school occurs, news channels develop heartfelt collages choreographed to a stirring musical theme to begin and end each commercial break and that item becomes the only news angle of the day, week or even month.  Take the fiscal cliff, and see how Starbucks made it their story.  (Read more here)

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The New York Times Plays Devil’s Advocate to God’s Messenger

Edge of Media Manipulation
The New York Times Plays Devil’s Advocate to God’s Messenger
By: Juda Engelmayer

Who is Greg Smith, and why do we care? He was an employee who quit Goldman Sachs in a public way and posted it in a New York Times op-ed. The better question is why should we care? After all, Goldman Sachs probably has had staff quit before for a whole host of reasons, from better opportunities to being disillusioned, to just not meeting the expectations or needs. Gee, I have had some really good people quit the firm where I work, and quit on me for that matter. Some wrote letters too.  It’s not news; it’s life.

Work is just that, work. Some love it, some hate it, and some find it a calling; others just work because they need to pay the bills. I work because I enjoy what I do, but also because I get bored doing nothing; and I can certainly use the money. So what is Greg Smith’s deal that so many are now paying attention?

He quit one of the biggest financial institutions and lambasted it in perhaps the single most influential media venue still in print. Yet, it’s not news. Goldman has some 30,000 people working for it, and what are the odds that Greg Smith was not the only employee to walk out that door this same week? It begs the question as to why the New York Times printed it in the first place.

(Read More)

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

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The Souls in the Land are the Only Reasons for the Land

Juda Engelmayer March 8th 2012
Salim Joubran
Salim Joubran

It was May 7, 2004, when Salim Joubran was given a position on Israel’s Supreme Court. The day that he became the first permanent member of the Court from the Israeli Arab community should have been the day the world realized that Israel was in fact a democracy like none other in its region. Justice Joubran knew that as well, and he also knew what Israel was why it was formed and how he managed to rise through its ranks as a Christian and not a Jew.

It would seem odd, or possibly some act of defiance, when the New York Times carried a story about Justice Joubran earlier this week, presumably refusing to sing the Israel national anthem because the words “Nefesh Yehudi homiyah,” which means “A Jewish soul still yearns,” do not apply to him.

The anthem was not new to him when he became a lawyer, nor when he became a Supreme Court judge. It may indeed be an uncomfortable concept to sing, let alone believe by one who is not Jewish. It highlights the delicate tightrope Israel walks in its pursuit of peace and prosperity through the promotion of democratic statehood.

For Jews, living in Israel ironically removes Jewish identity from the everyday life of the average Jew. Unlike most places, where for many, Jewish identity is worn on our sleeves so to speak; on our heads actually for some, but also with the often uncomfortable vacation requests at work, among the other unique aspects of Jewish life. In Israel, Jewish holidays are the State holidays and no one really feels out of place donning a skullcap. With Judaism all around, maybe the overtly Jewish words should, or maybe other ubiquitous Jewish symbolisms should be removed to make those not of one of the 12 Tribes feel as comfortable.

There is a movement among a growing group of secular Israelis, Jewish ones mostly, to eliminate the Jewishness from the State itself. The fights between the ultra orthodox and those less so have been growing to the point where they have made the front pages of some of the world’s most antagonistic-to-Israel media venues. These differences only enhance the calls by the secular Israelis, as they see the belligerence of the right toward Zionism, secularism and modernity growing, and an unyielding intransigence when it comes to economic or social contributions beyond their own communities.

In the efforts to highlight the extremist nature of Israel, as they print their political opposition to such issues as Judean and Samarian expansion and retaining defensible borders, leftist media take the truly offensive nature of the assaults on women and secular Jews by these pockets of Hareidim and promote them as the mainstream occurrences of the Jewish state.

That serves Israel’s detractors as it equates the Jewish state with the radicalized Islamic countries that purport to see her smothered. The fact is that when relatively small extremist activity perpetuated by Jews occurs it is often promoted to a grander degree and with more international disdain than the malignant fanaticism that everyday Arab men, women and children face each day in many of the countries that challenge Israel’s existence. Those nations often get a free pass from criticism, as Israel is held to a different standard. Yet, I digress into a whole other topic altogether.

Jewish identity is so prevalent in Israel through its population and character that the argument is made asserting Jewish identification markers built into its government and national themes, like the Hatikvah are not needed.

The debate rocks between Israel’s left and right. While some want to make it harder for non Jews and non-believing Jews to participate, some on the left urge making Israel more inclusive; essentially, making it nothing more than the United States on the Mediterranean.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” The irony, however, is that this issue was sparked over an Arab judge from Haifa who has a permanent seat on The Jewish state’s highest court. Some would argue that he has been treated as Israel declared it would. The judge, for his part, just stood quietly while others made the issue of his choice.

These are difficult considerations and the resulting answers are not clear, nor do they follow conventional logic. To be a true democracy, Israel would needs to cede its Jewish identity, but to do so, would make it impossible for Israel to remain a Jewish homeland, safe from future persecution and expulsion. As history keeps repeating, majority populations will at some point turn on its Jewish citizens.

Jews have been pushed in every location on earth, and treated as pariahs throughout history. They have been jailed, tortured, forced to renounce their religion and beliefs or just killed for being Jews. Yet, they endured as a people and have outlived their ancient enemies, and are poised to face their new ones, whoever they are.

Born from the Levant where the G-d Abram had worshiped offered to make him a great nation if he left his home and family, the Jewish religion and the specific land are unequivocally tied to one another. This makes the Jewish yearning for Israel not just a slogan, but a compulsion as strong as the belief in G-d itself. It is the main reason why when Theodore Herzl were searching for a land the Jews could emigrate to, escaping the Russian pogroms in 1905, the Seventh Zionist Congress rejected the Uganda Program, believing that only in Israel could Jews truly be free.

Israel is, therefore an anomaly and needs to be treated as one. It is not as any other country, because it is not merely about acreage and capricious borders, but an ancient calling said to be made by the G-d of the oldest monotheistic religion in the world.

Fanatical Hareidim aside, for secular Jews to feel that the religious nature of the country is too cumbersome, for non Jews to feel that the Hatikvah is too Jewish, or for both to want to make Israel a secular sanctuary, the only answer has to be no.

One can be irreligious in Israel and still be its prime minister. One can be an Arab in Israel and be a Supreme Court judge, weighing in on the most important matters affecting the internal working of the country. Yet, if the Judaism is taken out of Israel, Jews may as well be in Florida and not suffer, struggle, fight, and not remember those who died creating, defending and living in the land where Jews are destined to call home.

Israel devoid of the Soul of the Jew is nothing more than soil and sand, and certainly not worth the blood, sweat and tears of the countless who have poured all three into its building; creating the hope for the Jews and an oasis in the gloom of the Middle East.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR


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Filed under anti-Semitism, Choices, Crisis Management, Cutting Edge News, Israel, Juda Engelmayer, Judasim

New Footage Aboard Gaza Flotilla Show Preparations to Throw Israelis “Into the Sea”

The Hamas Flotilla

New Footage Aboard Gaza Flotilla Show Preparations to Throw Israeli “Into the Sea”

Gaza Topics - Gaza flotilla 2

To the cry “Takbīr,” the crowd shouts “Allahu Akbar” in harmony, as the leader of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and
Humanitarian Relief (IHH), Bulent Yildirim addresses a gathering of men aboard the ship Mavi Marmara on May 30, in a new video released by Israel’s Foreign Ministry last week. The images and dialogue, in Arabic with English subtitles, depict four men standing in front of the crowd; Yildirim, one man labeled as member of Egypt’s Parliament, and two others preparing the group for a planned confrontation with Israel. (More)

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Things I learned from the Fire

Reputations take a lifetime to build, yet only a mere second to tear down; and media is relentless in the pursuit of destruction. The way of the world is such, as excitement sells subscriptions and ad space. In public relations, happy stories are considered fluff, or “feel good” items, hawking tales of babies and puppies or photos of seniors taking dance classes and basket weaving rather than merely fitting the legs of the walkers with pierced tennis balls for traction.

On the other hand, crisis communications yields grand fees as a specialty. Protecting a reputation is as important as saving a life. It is a belief that gossip takes three lives – that of the speaker, the one being spoken about and the one listening. Yet, and most unfortunately, gossip and sensationalism is what inspires news today. In a world of useful news and important issues, we know more about celebrity affairs, undergarments and substance abuse than the plight of the dying on far away continents, the hungry in our own backyard or the real facts behind the pain in the Middle East.

Most media simply answer the call of a natural constituency yearning for superficiality; after all, it sells ad space and time, and commerce is essentially what makes TV networks and printing houses tick anyway. The daily grind of life may be too much for some, and for others, just mundane, so they seek out excitement and live vicariously through the characters in gossip rags and TV magazine shows. The more dangerous media, and the ones who truly epitomize the evils of gossip, are the ones who believe they are serving a greater good by exposing someone, true or not; seeking the bad, finding the scandalous and neglecting objectivity.

In a true account, a reporter was seeking drama for a story she was running, so she phoned a business contact of an individual who was the focus of her story and tried to find some lurid news to enhance her article. The business contact relayed only positive feedback and asked the young journalist if she planned on using that. Wryly she replied, “That’s not the angle of my story.” Sadly, had it run, it may have actual had some journalistic integrity; pros, cons – all sides. Alas, this is what we face today. If it isn’t mean, it isn’t usable; if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t get printed.

Today, we see journalists who fancy themselves idealists rather than objective writers, and their ideals often yield a belief that an exposé on an individual with whom they disagree is the appropriate means to vent. Now I am not talking about murderers, rapists or deadbeat dads, for they perhaps deserve the scrutiny; I am referring to people in the public eye who render strong opinions and ideas, practice and preach one religion over another – indeed, sometimes any religion at all – possess wealth or perhaps even advocate for pragmatism; people who use their Constitutional rights to talk, earn and pray. These are the people who find themselves not merely at the tip of writer’s pen opposite a different set of viewpoints, for that on its own would be fair and just. Instead, and often, they are at the ruthless edge of horror stories about lurid tales, speculative allegations, and cruel depictions of inhumanity or depravity of one kind or another.

I once heard a teacher comment on another teacher in an adjacent room who had a habit of raising his voice. After an outburst that stopped the class for the moment, the teacher sardonically commented, “When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When logic is in your favor, employ logic. When you’ve got nothing, yell as loud as you can.”

I suppose some of these “journalists” must have learned the very same, and resort to the yelling to get attention. There is never anything wrong with expressing an opposing view or questioning someone’s faith or reasoning with equal amounts of rhetoric and reason. Yet, I find it disingenuous to resort to defamation and character assassination. It is simply way too easy to destroy someone for the sake of challenging a view you loath, as the public at first falls easy prey to the maxim, “tell a story enough and it begins to take on an air of truth.”

Do I have an answer to this epidemic? No. Sadly I do not. Today, even more than ever, we have media that has become more relentless and even more irreverent. From the emergence of blogs to their proliferation today, bloggers need to become edgier and all they need is an opinion. Facts and reason are pushed down the requirement ladder, as anger, judgment and sheer frustration in the “system” (whichever system one disagrees with) take precedence in a writer’s rant. Worse now, true media, trying to stay “on top of the news and ahead of the times”, often reference these blog’s rants where it is believed they can drive eyes to their venue. So, we have chaos in an anything goes atmosphere, and the average reader or web/channel surfer, serves as the hungry bee to the gossip pollen. The bad news just spreads, excites and maims.

As money talks and viewers drive the quality of the headlines, the only real solution is for people to wise up. We need to help our children sift through the garbage for the jewels worth keeping.

In an encounter with one of my child’s eighth grade teachers, I believe I found wisdom. My daughter comes home every Tuesday asking for an actual newpaper section. When I missed bringing it home once or twice, in frustration I asked why she just could not get it online. My daughter conveyed that her teacher required it. Rolling my eyes at the frivolous embrace of ancient times, knowing of course that the future is the Internet, I just walked away perplexed.

When my wife met the teacher at the school a few days later, she conveyed my frustration to her. She said that when her high schooler was in eighth, she too asked the same question; yet when she began teaching the class and realized that the Internet is so prone to wayward “journalism” she wanted to teach the kids to first understand what a newspaper actually is.

Not to say that the papers are pure, but some still profess their aim to be so. The solution to the wayward new media is for us to learn to focus on what is real, meaningful and important. News that advance us as a people, news that make us think and learn, news that makes us laugh, cry and hope, is the news that we should want to seek out. Bloggers can do this too, they just have to try harder, but they have to want to do so. As unrealistic as it may sound, we need to learn and then teach how to tune out the mediocre. In doing so, anyone who wants to generate views will strive for truth and excellence.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR


Filed under Crisis Management, Media

Getting the kids back to Israel


Although I grew up in a very Jewish household, I was only connected to Israel through the work my father did as a Jewish newspaper journalist, associated with the AJPA, the Jewish Press and, in the Eighties, as the executive editor of the New York Jewish Week.

I knew the names, the events and the struggle, but it wasn’t something I internalized. Israel was 6,000 miles away, and I was a poor kid in a dysfunctional family on New York’s Lower East Side, something of a common combination. The issue of Israel’s fate wasn’t very high on my list of priorities, and certainly far below my own immediate need for satisfying personal aspirations and indulgences.

Opportunity knocked, though. It was 1988; I was 19 and headed to Israel for the first time. This wasn’t a high-minded trip to seek out Zion and the Holy Land, but a decidedly personal trek, to be with the woman I would marry a year-and-a-half later. My girlfriend’s father had developed into an uncompromisingly hawkish American Religious Zionist. Upon her graduation from high school, his daughter was promptly dispatched to an Israeli yeshiva, essentially for ideological guidance, but actually to keep her away from me.

While he happily failed in the pursuit of the latter, it isn’t as if he achieved wild success in the former. My wife cares for Israel, true, but she never developed that deeper sense of longing for the country that I would.

IT HAD been four months since we had seen each other last. Unbeknownst to her, I got a ticket on an El Al flight and landed the day after Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The ecstatic expression on her face made my efforts worthwhile. Yet it was soon chilled when we walked that night through Jerusalem and saw the remnants of a group of students from Syracuse University scheduled for that ill-fated flight. These students had been fortunate enough to choose to divert to Israel for a few days after their school trip to London. They were crying in the middle at Zion Square over what we learned was the death of their friends and classmates and the eerie sense that it just as easily could have been them.

The initial hints of connections to Abu Nidal, Islamic Jihad, Abdel Basset Ali and Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi made it clear that Israel was going to be blamed as the catalyst for this mass murder. Suddenly, being a Jew and being a Zionist hit me hard – it wasn’t just a moniker, it was a cause some view as worth killing for, while my own yearnings told me it was a cause worth fighting for; and one we would fight for a long time to come.

I took my girlfriend out of the yeshiva; she stayed with me at my stepmother’s flat in Jerusalem’s Nach’laot neighborhood, right across from the Pargod Jazz Club. We traveled the country and hung out at clubs and bars – not the Americanized ones, but real sabra hangouts. The true miracle here was that I fell in love with Israel; its breathtaking sunsets, its deep warmth, its glorious history and innumerable contributions to humankind, its troublesome narrative and its bizarre internal religious identity crisis; and, mostly, its people. My people!

I LONG for Israel, shed tears while I sing or hear Hatikva, and walked down my wedding aisle to Naomi Shemer’s evocative Al Kol Eleh (For All these Things). I have been there as many times as I can, and through my career and my personal activities have always been close to Israel, have fought for it and will defend it forever. A few years ago, on my children’s first trip to Israel, my son’s great joy was sitting alone with me at a small outdoor grill off Rehov Azza in Jerusalem, eating schnitzel in pita stuffed with pickles and humus. He didn’t need to do anything more but take in the city sun, absorb the tones of Jerusalem stone adorning every building and watch the cars and the people pass by. I felt proud and content, for the moment.

For the moment only – because I know there is so much to do. If it were so easy to create new Zionists and defenders of Israel through outdoor grills and Mediterranean air, I suspect Israel’s future would seem immutable, rendering the politics of whoever American Zionists choose as the 44th president immaterial. Yet my son’s attachment comes from what he sees in my heart and eyes as much as from the school he attends. His being there only brought it to the surface. For so many, attachment is lacking, and that is where the work needs to begin.

WHAT ISRAEL needs is a new approach. One that will keep it important – central – to the lives and hearts of people around the world, living in an ever more secularized and assimilated society. Many young Israelis themselves, tired of living in a perpetual state of war and with internal religious struggles, no longer feel the Zionism of their elders.

Daunting questions stemming from as far back as Sabra and Shatila haunt Israelis. They continue with failed terrorist assassination attempts, bad press in Jenin, as well as in Gaza and Amona, the Second Lebanon War fiasco, and then the countless, pointless and absolutely heartbreaking collection of corruption stories on every level of Israel’s government and of every variety, from money to sex. Israel was supposed to be the savior of the Jewish people and the return to Zion that God promised in the Bible. Yet Jews are debating whether Israel today is that redemption from Diaspora. How to improve Israel’s image? The simple solution for now is better public relations.

We’re all about cell phones and fancy cars, trendy clothes and American Idol, Facebook and JDate. What Israel can use is less talk about politics, less news about internal and external troubles and more about what Israel offers the world today. Just about all that we are today, from Asia to the Americas, developed, underdeveloped and undeveloped, stems from some iconic trend, personality or technology; and Israel, as small as it may seem, has enough of all to offer.

Israel can and should be known for harnessing the sun to replace oil as an energy resource; for innovative Internet applications; for medicine, bio medicine and stem cell advances far beyond that of most other countries; for music and art and some of today’s mainstream celebrities like the Apple songstress Yael Na’im, American Idol Elliot Yamin, Natalie Portman, and the infamous Gene Simmons.

That is the Israel our children will look to, and that is the Israel that will survive the daily news and routine thrashing from her mendacious opponents. If Israel can learn to deal with its own internal strife and make an organized effort to promote what’s good and relevant to today’s generation, then my fond memories of debating in Israel’s pubs and watching the sunrise over Masada as I escaped New York to chase a dream can be succeeded by my own child’s memory of eating schnitzel and humus at a sidewalk cafe, and maybe one day infusing his longing for Israel into his own children.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR .

A version of this article also appeared on Yahoo Voices

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Filed under Career and choices, Christian Zionism, Israel, Juda Engelmayer, Judasim