You may have been shocked by this , or per­haps you were in­trigued by this Last week, New York­ers woke up to see this Meet David Saranga, . . the man whose cam­paigns are re­brand­ing Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES - BY DAVID RUS­SELL

LOG ON TO the web­site of the Is­raeli con­sulate of New York at www. is­, and you will find more than just guid­ance on visa ap­pli­ca­tions. Promi­nently dis­played on the home­page are links to Face­book, YouTube, MyS­pace and is­Re­alli, the “new blog of Is­rael”. Diplo­mats’ web­sites tend to be staid, un­ex­cit­ing places, so to find th­ese con­nec­tions to so­cial-net­work­ing sites comes as some­thing of a sur­prise. Th­ese in­no­va­tive web ef­forts are at the fore­front of the con­sulate’s cur­rent has­bara (pub­lic in­forma- tion) cam­paign — whose aim is no less than to change Is­rael’s im­age. They are sup­ple­mented by creative off­line ini­tia­tives, which are pro­mot­ing the coun­try in a new, more pos­i­tive light to a global au­di­ence.

The cam­paign mas­ter­mind is David Saranga, the 43year-old con­sul for me­dia and pub­lic af­fairs. For­merly deputy spokesper­son for the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, he has an MBA in mar­ket­ing — and it shows. His vo­ca­tional de­gree, and ex­pe­ri­ence, is im­por­tant. “Dur­ing my time as a spokesper­son in Is­rael,” says Saranga, “it was not dif­fi­cult to see that the 400 for­eign cor­re­spon­dents we dealt with daily were there for one rea­son only — to cover the con­flict. Their in­ter­est was only in the po­lit­i­cal is­sues of the coun­try. They were not there to write on the many pos­i­tive as­pects of life in Is­rael, only on the neg­a­tive.

“When I ar­rived in New York, I learnt from that ex­pe­ri­ence. To have the great­est im­pact on per­cep­tions of Is­rael, we must high­light the pos­i­tive and fo­cus pub­lic-re­la­tions ef­forts on the many fields out­side of pol­i­tics: such as ar­chi­tec­ture, green tech­nol­ogy, sport. Not only tar­get­ing the ma­jor news chan­nels, but the many new-me­dia chan­nels too.”

Ex­ten­sive au­di­ence re­search laid the foun­da­tion upon which this new has­bara strat­egy has been built. Creative, in­clu­sive think­ing by the young team around Saranga has been vi­tally im­por­tant too.

The cam­paign made head­lines last sum­mer with the pub­li­ca­tion of a fea­ture on fe­male IDF sol­diers bar­ing nearly all in swim­suits in the Amer­i­can edi-

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