Public Relations and the Art of War

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards. He is the best-selling author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” a book known as an industry “must read.” Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Torossian lives in Manhattan with his wife and children. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


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My PR agency has been active in political and issues-based work. The state of Israel is, for me, a personal and professional passion, and with love I will say that Israel does a horrible job when it comes to PR. The simple message that Israel is a tiny, democratic country surrounded by murderous despots doesn’t get through— not to governments, the media, or the public.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it so clearly on May 24, 2011, in his address to the joint session of Congress: “Of 300 million Arabs in the Middle East, the only ones who are truly free and live in a democratic country are the Arabs who live in Israel. Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East, Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”

It doesn’t really matter what you personally think about Israel. My point is that the state of Israel should be forcefully communicating sympathetic messages to the world but isn’t. Case in point: many people don’t understand the difference in size between all of the Arab states and the Jewish state. The total area of the state of Israel is 7,951.6 square miles and is surrounded by Arab nations—Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt alone covers an area of 386,659 square miles. Israel has a population of about 7.5 million people, and the Arab nations surrounding her total 300-plus million people.

Everyone can relate to concepts about distance and size, such as the fact that Israel is the size of New Jersey and is completely surrounded by much larger countries with huge swaths of land and bigger populations who would like to see the tiny country destroyed. Still, the media worldwide writes of the “Jewish settlements” and “West Bank” as key conflicts between the Arabs and Israel. Leaving aside the perspective of just how tiny these areas actually are, or that Israel won them in a defensive war, is like blaming a flea for a pit bull’s aggressive behavior. The state of Israel is in real danger, partially because of its flawed public relations and communications work. In contrast, terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah, and certain Arab nations have hired PR agencies to lobby for them in the press and on the world stage. Terror groups have engaged reporters and journalists, share meals with them, drink with them, and win their favor.

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  • Nakba1948

    "Why is Israeli PR so ineffective?" Hmm…could it be because the hasbara coming out of "Israel" is transparently dishonest and hypocritical, and the rest of the world knows it? Nah, that'd be too obvious… Now, let the tiresome, unsubstantiated accusations of anti-Semitism and ridiculous Islamophobic non sequiturs roll!

    • Lan Astaslem

      stay in your islamic cesspool naki – and take a big hot steaming dump in your koran!

      • Galveston

        hey nakba, even russia and china are tuning their backs on the muslims and forging alliances with Israel because they too have seen what problems muslims bring to their nations. Wherever muslims go, trouble follows. I'm not an islamophobe. I don't fear muslims. I am onto them – just like the Israelis have been onto them for decades. Too bad the arabs haven't learned their lesson.

    • Snorbak

      Well, arnt you just a glowing beacon of rational thought.
      Once again, all we hear from you is an emotive rant devoid of any substantive or factual support to your argument.
      The humiliation you must feel knowing that the "pathetic Zionists", as you have previously referred to Israel, are so superior to the combined Arab/ Muslim world by any measure you may apply.
      Enjoy wallowing in your self pity

      • Looking4Sanity

        He's just killing time waiting for the next "Catastrophe". The good news is, I don't think he's got long to wait!

    • http://frontpage richard sherman

      The coward Mohammad had 900 unarmed Jews decapitated at Quarazah. Cowards stick together!

      • Looking4Sanity

        That's the kind of thing you do when you're possessed of Satan. Maybe we shouldn't be too hard on the old camel jockey? Nah.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I think your stupidity speaks for itself…and it speaks volumes!

    • Ghostwriter

      You know,Nakba1948,your constant anti-semitism is getting old real fast. Why don't you go back to the pit where you were spawned from?

    • gray man

      I don't think you are an anti-semite. I think you are a stupid scumbag.

    • Jamilu

      It is because,Israel does not want PR to be practiced well in her territory.

  • Joey Glicks

    Thank you ronn torossian for speaking words of truth. Its plain old fashioned anti-semitism.

  • crackerjack

    Israeli PR is highly effective and exemplary.

    Which nation on earth could uphold an aggresive, expansive occupation regieme for 5 decades and still have its leaders recieve a standing ovation welcome in US Congress and Senate?

    Which nation on eartn could produce and stockpile nuclear arms outside any international convention and still lead a international campainge against nations it suspects of acting likewise.

    When it comes to political PR, Israel is state of the art.

    • artcohn

      Israel is not an aggresive, expansive occupation regiem. The weakness of Israel's Habara is that you and too many others think that is so.

    • Robert2007

      Israel is the size of New Jersey. Some aggresive, expansive occupation regime you got there, cracker.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I'd like to see you PROVE that Israel has nukes! Have they ever used one? There's only one way to find out for sure. Go ahead and poke that bear and see what happens. That's one show I'd LOVE to watch!

  • Bert

    When it comes to Israel and Jewish experience there is a spiritual dimension that is too often overlooked or ignored.
    The dismal reality is that the Israeli leadership is largely corrupt and secular with too little regard for the bible.
    The warnings in the bible about Jerusalem and not dividing the land are ignored. What the psalmist warned about is coming true. The Netanyahu government is more concerned with what Omama thinks rather than what G-d says.
    Psalm 137:6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
    Could this ancient warning be the real cause that Israel lacks spiritual conviction and can only stutter in the face of evil?

    • Looking4Sanity

      That's a thought provoking observation, Bert. Thanks!

  • EthanP

    Israel is "incoveniant". Arab oil money has bought most of the media bribes the corrupt rulers of the world. Have you noticed that the more despotic the nation, the more anti Zionist/anti semitic they are. And let us not forget good ol Christian/Islamic anti semitism. Russia and China are starting to wake up. Primarily it is a recognition of the internal Muslim threat both share. The west is too cowardly to recognize this threat.
    The non oil GDP of the entire Arab World is less than Israel. Israel is a leader in scientific and medical research.
    If the Arab nations disappeared tommorow, would the world be a poorer place? What about Israel, which has just developed a new, safe means of treating breast tumors?

  • dave

    The world is impervious to any pro Israel or anti Islam debate. It doesn't matter what is said, people have made up their mind on the issue and can't seem to change. It has alot to do with the business between the west and Arab states, we sell them arms, they sell us oil and both parties agree to demonise Israel as it takes the heat off of their greed. The fact that arabs never complain that their leaders have literally all the wealth while they live in poverty, never fails to amaze me, it is easier and safer for them to blame Israel.
    However, the more the rest of the world witnesses the reality that Islam is at war with everyone and everything, in particular the sunni/shia inner war, the existence of Israel becomes completely irrelevant. Islam is addicted to violence and always will be. If Israel and Jews didn't exist it would make no difference and this is the message that is slowly getting through and needs to be repeated.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I have no desire to change. I'm pro Israel and anti Islam and that is something that will never change…even on pain of death.

      (a Protestant Christian)

  • mrbean

    Our own U.S. State Department has been and continues promoting an anti-Israel propaganda campaign. The extent of the campaign and the misinformation raises serious concern that it is becoming openly anti-semetic. Until now. On Thursday May 19, 2011, President Obama, a clandestine Muslim, made plain his support for Arab protesters, irrespective of their political views about the United States. From al quaeda to Hamas, from Hezbollah to the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama is rooting for them all, as the Arab Spring moves towards a glorious Arab summer. Contempt for Israel dripped through his sanctimonious sermon. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now completely at one in their pro-Arab, anti-Jewish sentiments.

  • bkopicz

    Thanks Ronn for bring a very important issue to light. Israel’s extremely poor PR has ramifications not on which laundry detergent will be used but on the actual survival of the State and its population. I don’t understand why this message is lost on a nation which I’ve always seen as realist. Views which were once thought too anti-Semitic to be said out loud in public are now normal conversation. Lets assume we buy the BS Nikba story, given the size of Israel (go ahead Google a map) the maximum displacement for a Palestinian would be 30 miles!!!. 30 miles is the distance that I commuted to college by way of the NYC subway: Bronx-Manhattan-Brooklyn. The problem has never been about land it’s about the Jews who lives within "their region". This imaginary refugee problem and settlement issue is pure PR that needs to be addressed by PR. The Arab states have used PR effectively and have resulted in the loss of Israeli lives. Nakba1948 and crackerjack have as always shifted the focus with their absurd comments, what is needed is for Israel to remedy the problem and develop an effective PR campaign. As far as the practices of appointing diplomats that do not speak the language, this has to be corrected now.

  • Schlomotion

    This article contains a lot of silly misfacts:

    1) "The simple message that Israel is a tiny, democratic country surrounded by murderous despots doesn’t get through— not to governments, the media, or the public."

    That's not true. Zionists say that all the time. So do the slippery, stealthy ones like Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks.

    2) "the state of Israel should be forcefully communicating sympathetic messages to the world but isn’t."

    Of course it is. That's what Hasbara is. People know what Hasbara is. It's Pro-Israel PR.

    3) "delegitimize Israel by orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza Strip."

    Was the USSR legitimate before the US did the Berlin Airlift? Does delegitimizing a blockade delegitimize the perpetrating country?

    4) "Why not create messaging about how a Jewish person can legally build a home and live anywhere in the world—except Israel?"

    Because it's a lie?

    • nightspore

      Another nice example of slippery misstatements (point 1) and deflecting attention from real arguments through false equivalences (point 4).

      Specifically: "the message doesn't get through" does not contradict "Zionists say that all the time" – the latter is a nonsequitur
      The 2 blockades are taking part under different circumstances; in particular, the blockades had different ends. Also, the Berlin airlift to some degree did delegimatize the USSR.

      Keep it Schlo, you're giving the readers at this site good lessons in political sophistry.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Seriously…what douchebag organization is paying you to come here and troll this site? Is it C.A.I.R. or the Obama Administration?

    • Ghostwriter

      Yet another bit of anti-Jewish nonsense from Schlockmotion. Why doesn't he join Nakba1948 in the vile pit they were both spawned from?

    • augie doggie

      intestine-in-motion, a vile nonentity, is upset that no pays attention to him, upset due to the fact that he is a middle-aged loser with insufficient money to be free from others who tell him what to do, or to influence anyone else to do anything. He is powerless. He obsesses about Jews, having posted literally thousands of screeds relating to Jews and Israel over the past year: literally THOUSANDS.

      Here's a hint, intestine-in-motion: if you spend less time writing about your obsession, perhaps you would be less of a failure in life.

  • Looking4Sanity

    "Why is Israeli PR so ineffective?"

    Because it doesn't HAVE to be! They're so dam ned effective at what REALLY matters that PR is a moot point. And the fact that they have an eternal Covenant with God Almighty doesn't hurt matters either.

    Let the muzzies worry about PR. Flapping their lips and blowing themselves up is what they're good at anyway.

  • patriothere

    After the Second World War, nearly all Arab countries were well-disposed toward the United States, and before the creation of Israel, the U.S. had only friends in the region.

    • Sane

      During the cold war there were many allied with the USSR communists.
      Egypt had Russian tanks.

      Your talking points are challenged by facts.

  • shibumimanagementcanada

    If you want to examine exactly what "The Art of War" would say about this situation, download the only fully researched, annotated and plain-English version of the Sun Tzu classic here: http://tinyurl.com/btn3e9y