MIA: Jewish Federation’s Media Strategy

Every organization – regardless of size, regardless of mission – needs a PR/media strategy. It is needed not only to convey the work of the organization to the broader audience, but, as last week’s Komen/Planned Parenthood disaster showed, it is needed to effectively counter the unexpected crisis.

And here, unfortunately, some of the most important brands in the Jewish world fail miserably.

For example, one such organization is Jewish Federations of North America, (JFNA) – a point I have privately made more than once to their senior executives and communications professionals.

In addition to broadly promoting the work of the federation system, JFNA frequently has “issues of importance” to convey. But the only conveying they do is to their own internal stakeholders, those who receive “Leadership Briefing” emails. This is NOT a media strategy. This is NOT a way to build public awareness, strong branding and – most important – good will for their organization.

This is not a new circumstance; JFNA, and UJC before, has historically been tone-deaf to the issue. What has changed is the 24/7 world we live in; the strengthening of the Internet and various networks – on, and offline. The Komen/Planned Parenthood disaster should be a wake-up call to all, including those at 25 Broadway, about the need for a vibrant, outward-focused approach.

Let’s take for example the great work accomplished by the federations’ National Women’s Philanthropy. Just yesterday, 150 women from their Heart to Heart mission arrived in Israel to meet with local women leaders, discuss issues of civil society, rights of women, and more. Huge hot-button issues in Israel today.

Where are JFNA’s leadership and communications teams? MIA; either afraid that reaching out to the media in advance might mean media coverage where JFNA can’t control the message or they didn’t think the women’s philanthropy network could benefit by the positive coverage they were likely to receive. Either way, a senior management failure.

According to Wikipedia, “Media strategy … is concerned with how messages will be delivered to consumers or niche markets. It involves … defining the characteristics of the media that will be used for the delivery of the messages, with the intent … to influence the behaviour of the target audience … ”

JFNA needs to begin to influence behavior. The absence of same is destroying their mission.

This article reflects the personal views of Dan Brown, the founder of eJewishPhilantrhopy.com, and should not be regarded as a statement of the views of eJewish Philanthropy, its volunteers, advisors or funders.