S2 E10: Navigating the Media Landscape in Israel with Hanan Kamir
The media landscape in Israel is diverse and competitive, with various TV channels, print newspapers, and technology-focused media outlets. It's important to choose the right outlet, angle, and journalist for a story to be successful with PR in Israel.
Hanan Kamir explains that multinational companies should be aware of the need to adapt their message for the Israeli market. He emphasizes the need for "transcreation," not just translation of messages to ensure they are contextually relevant and will resonate with the Israeli audience. He also highlights the challenges of balancing PR decisions with business demands and the need for flexibility in strategy.
About the Guest
Hanan Kamir is CEO of KAMIR, a strategy, media and PR consulting firm specializing in the management of complex challenges in the public and media spheres. KAMIR offers their clients a wide range of services to help them reach their goals, from formulating the strategy and crafting the desired message, to implementing their communications plan. KAMIR's clients include multinational corporations as well as private, public and governmental bodies, and are among the leaders in their industry in Israel and worldwide.
As CEO, Hanan is focused on KAMIR’s long-term and strategic goals for the future. He oversees the firm’s clients, advisors, and projects, and ensures KAMIR’s team has the optimal tools to succeed. Hanan actively participates in projects with high-profile clients in the Capital Markets, Real Estate, Infrastructure, and Energy sectors. Prior to working at KAMIR, Hanan worked as an issuing manager in the underwriting department at Value Base, one of Israel’s leading investment banks. Hanan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Management from IDC Herzliya, graduating Cum Laude. Hanan is also an alumnus of the Arison’s Honors program.
About the Host
Abbie Fink is vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona and a founding member of PRGN. Her marketing communications background includes skills in media relations, digital communications, social media strategies, special event management, crisis communications, community relations, issues management, and marketing promotions for both the private and public sectors, including such industries as healthcare, financial services, professional services, government affairs and tribal affairs, as well as not-for-profit organizations.
PRGN Presents is brought to you by Public Relations Global Network, the world’s local public relations agency. Our executive producer is Adrian McIntyre.
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From the Public Relations Global Network, this is PRGN Presents. I'm Adrian McIntyre.Abbie Fink:
And I'm Abbie Fink, vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona and a founding member of PRGN. With public relations leaders embedded into the fabric of the communities we serve, clients hire our agencies for the local knowledge, expertise, and connections in markets spanning six continents across the world.Adrian McIntyre:
Our guests on this biweekly podcast series are all members of the Public Relations Global Network. They discuss such topics as the importance of sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance programs, crisis communications, content marketing, reputation management, and outside of the box thinking for growing your business.Abbie Fink:
For more information about PRGN and our members, please visit prgn.com. And now, let's meet our guest for this episode.Hanan Kamir:
My name is Hanan. I'm from Kamir, a strategy and communications firm in Israel. We're based in Tel Aviv, and we're happy to be here.Abbie Fink:
One of the things that I always enjoy doing when I travel is taking a look at the local media, right? Picking up the local newspaper, flipping on the television station, turning on the news radio, and listening or reading and kind of looking at what similar things that I might recognize in my local media and what might be really different based on where I am, either throughout the US or the opportunities I've had to travel internationally. So I thought it might be interesting just to start the conversation—you said you're based in Tel Aviv. Tell us a little bit about what does the media look like in Tel Aviv, the center of Israel there in terms of technology and development, but there's a vast difference across the country in terms of culture and such. So I'd be curious for you to give us a little overview on what traditional media looks like and maybe what role social media plays in your communities.Hanan Kamir:
With pleasure. First of all, if you would like to read a newspaper here, you'll need to know Hebrew. So I hope that's a skill you have. But in general, the media landscape in Israel is on one hand simple and on the other hand complicated. And why is that? It's because if you were 9.5 million people overall in Israel and there are many media outlets, okay? And they're known for being very critical, and some of them very cynical. And as a small country, the media has a strong influence. It gets directly to the people and gets directly to the decision makers. That process happens really, really quick. This circle connects to each other and it's divided to four main TV channels that cover the news. Each and every one, by the way, is perceived in a different way. Some say the most popular channels 12 and 13 are left wing, some say are right wing. Some channels are government owned, and that also has a meaning in that place. And we have traditional print newspapers: two, which are the most popular ones, that are spread around Israel, and three financial outlets which are very strong and very competitive with each other. And of course, as a startup nation that is now becoming also a scale-up nation, in the recent years many technology outlets joined and became strong. They have strong communities behind them and readers that are very, very relevant to the tech audience here. So the whole media landscape is very diverse, but also very competitive. And you need to understand how to work inside this landscape. What do you want to talk about? What do you need to be careful of? Which journalist will you work with? And what does it mean about the other outlet that you didn't choose to work with as a company? And understand the balance. The most important thing is to also understand that Israel is different than every other country around the world. And that means you need to know how to adapt your message, especially if you're a multinational company. Okay, at the end of the day, many of your press releases are global. The same press release that you send out in the US and in Europe, you also want to send it out here in Israel. But for almost 100%, many of the messages won't be strong enough or not resonate enough in Israel if you don't give them the right angle and the right adaptation they need to have in order to enter. And that's not only on the journalist end. Of course, it's also on the journalist end because the journalist wants to write whatever will interest his readers and whatever he wants to tell his readers or flag to his readers. But it's also how to take this message to your target audience. So the target audience itself also will hear what you want him to hear and think about the client or the company based on the message sent to him. It's very, very important to know how to adapt the message and how to … there's a phrase I heard for the first time in a campaign I did for a client in Germany. We created all the materials—it was PR and also advertising. We prepared all the materials in the creative. And then we hired a firm that did “transcreation.” It's not only translation. It's taking the Hebrew language or the English language and not just translating it to German, but translating it and the meaning in a way that it will speak to the German audience. Same thing happens in Israel, and I will say it's not on a basic level. One example that happens a lot is multinational companies that are taking these huge marketing firms that are global and tell them, I want to do a campaign in Israel. And then you see an ad on a newspaper that the Hebrew there is somewhere between Google Translate and someone that knows Hebrew. The readers see that and they understand it. And you need to make sure how you do it. Israelis are critical in their thinking. They think fast and they want to feel that someone invested in them and then believes and appreciates them. We have a big ego, okay? So it translates also to what we expect to see that the company is doing here on the ground.Abbie Fink:
Do the journalists throughout the country take active roles in social media? We see a lot here in the States where journalists will … their stories will appear in their publication and they will quite heavily start promoting, “read this story for more information” and use their social channels to do that. That in part, I think, to certainly get the eyes on the story, but also to elevate themselves as a reliable source for this type of information. Do you see your local journalists throughout the country using social media in that way or in seeking out sources for stories? Are they actively engaged in that communications platform?Hanan Kamir:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Just an example that we had, we did a big two-page interview on one of the financial outlets and the journalist posted it on her LinkedIn, promoting it, saying about the news because I think journalists are very proud of their work themselves. They don't write about things they don't believe. That's also one of the challenges for us as PR firms or communication firms is how can you identify what's interesting enough for the journalist and what will make him want to write about it and not just stick it down his throat and he won't do that. Of course, he's a professional. So if you find the angle that made it interesting enough, yesterday you see them publish it on their social media outlets, if it's on LinkedIn, if it's on Twitter. Some journalists in Israel are very strong with many, many followers, strong on social media I mean, and very popular. So they promote it and it can of course draw to the story a lot of attention. And by the way, this is another point of, you know, something to think about when you try to identify where is the right outlet to go to. For example, there is an outlet in Israel called Geek Time. Geek Time is a technology outlet, pure technology outlet. And they have, I think, between 1.5 million to 2 million readers a month. In terms of Israeli numbers, it's a lot. Especially when the fact is that they are pure tech, okay? So they have a Telegram group with 15,000 subscribers and they push the articles into there and they have a Twitter account and a Facebook page with 120,000 followers. So when you wanna do something that is targeted for developers, for engineers, for entrepreneurs, that can be a thought that you need to have in mind. What is the weight of them also pushing it inside the community and not only publishing it on the news website, but on the other hand, you have great tech journalists on the financial outlets—on Calcalist, Globes, TheMarker—very professional, very deep down looking inside. And you also want them to receive the interesting stories. And there is always this question, what is the best benefit for the company? We need to understand what will bring the best benefit to the company. In the short term, when the story is published, who will read it and how it will affect the target audience? And also in the long term, because we want the client to work with all of the media outlets and not be associated only with one or two. So that's the whole picture that you need to always put in the account, and social media is also part of that. I won't say it's a major part, okay, that's, you know, there are journalists that have 150k followers and you want them to push that, but it is also a consideration.Abbie Fink:
So as companies are considering either relocating to or having a presence in Israel or are looking to grow their presence, we, you know, we always encourage the idea of, of connecting with a communications firm to help guide the process in terms of outreach and message development and such. What are some of the things that businesses should consider if they are looking to have a presence in the Israeli market somewhere? From a business development perspective and a communications perspective, what are some of the things they should be considering if they're thinking about making that connection into the Israel market?Hanan Kamir:
That's a great question. Let me start a little backwards and say that for Israel times have changed. Israel is a young country, 74—if after April, 75. In the past, when huge multinationals were entering Israel, the Israeli press and community would hug that. Intel is one of the first companies that entered Israel. And today they have, I think 15,000 employees here in Israel, which is huge. But today also you have Apple with 2000 here, you have Google that has an R & D center here and Microsoft has an R & D center here and IBM and Facebook—Meta today—and more and more. So today, when a company announced at the entrance to Israel, sometimes we're still thrilled about it, but the media is a little more suspicious. And it's starting to look at why is it entering now and is there a reason? For example, in early 2022, Carrefour, the international European supermarket chain announced entering Israel. And in the beginning, the first media wave was, wow, that's great. That will affect competition. It will maybe even affect the cost of living in Israel—which is, after security issues, that is always number one on the agenda in Israel, is now number two and very, very strong. It's on a daily basis, protests and everything. And Israel won the prize last year of Tel Aviv being the most expensive city in the world. “Yes!” for us. So the first wave, as I said, was positive saying, maybe it will bring competition, maybe they will bring lower prices here. Maybe we'll do like IKEA did in the furniture industry. And then the second wave, suddenly an article that comes up and says, wait a minute, why is Carrefour entering here? Maybe it's not because they want to low prices. Maybe it's because they think Israelis are suckers and Israelis will pay. So maybe we can come and raise prices on the ground because Israelis are used to pay. So it's always this question and you need to understand. One of the things we do with the international clients before they enter or open an office here or open a new center is we first of all do an analysis of the public sphere. What is on the agenda right now? What are people talking about in the streets? What is the media covering all the time? And what are the sensitive parts that can be related to this client? After we do the whole analysis of the public sphere, what's the regulator's things, what is the government talking about? We start looking where are our client’s strengths, where are the weaknesses, the opportunities, and the threats. You know, SWOT, some say it's an old and past model. We find it's still very, very helpful and easy to understand and also a good base to start thinking about the strategy. And after we look at this whole picture, we understand the public sphere, we understand our client and what can we use, then we start building the strategy and making sure how do we do the first steps inside in a very accurate way. Media-wise, yes, it needs to be aligned with the business. Because at the end of the day, most companies' business is what is demanding. That's a challenge for us as PR people, as you know, Abbie, because we need to see how on the one hand, it's maybe not a good PR decision to do something, but the business is doing that. So we need to find a flexible way to make it happen. But I think there is no five-step guidelines to open the business in Israel that I can tell you, media-wise, you need to do one, two, three, four, five, and you're clear. It's every time for every different business, for every different company, doing this analysis, building this strategy, and looking how you do these steps correctly when you enter the country. Because Israel is very “bubbly,” I'll say. Many different things, many different communities. Things are changing all the time, macroeconomics, geopolitical, so it depends on the time you enter. It depends on how you do that and what you need to consider when you do that. I cannot give you the five keys to do it perfectly, just as a guideline that is relevant forever.Adrian McIntyre:
Thanks for listening to this episode of PRGN Presents, brought to you by the Public Relations Global Network.Abbie Fink:
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