What to Say While the Bombs Fall

Israel finally had to say “enough is enough” last week and respond to Hamas’ constant rocket attacks on the citizens of Israel’s southern towns. But knowing the necessity of Israel’s response is different from finding the right way to talk about it especially when the media continues to paint a politically-correct, neatly balanced accounting of the conflict.

For every marketing professional in the field, this is a moment to help your supporters better understand the complexities of the crisis, the reason for Israel’s actions and for them to see your organization as one that can effectively articulate the painfully nuanced trauma that war exacts.

As every Jewish communications professional knows, when Israel is in the headlines it usually means immediately go to its defense. Unfortunately, that response too often takes the form of yet another “knee-jerk” pro-Israel at any cost reaction—a response that allows too many of those you want to reach to simply turn you off.

Instead of taking the obvious route of issuing yet another “We stand with Israel” statement, why not create a message strategy that reaches people where they are at this moment—feeling the pain of Israel’s citizens, its young soldiers and their families, its traumatized children, its friends and family members who live worried and sleepless nights continents away. Make the communication personal, human and real. And yes, it is okay to also include sympathetic messages about innocent Palestinian children who have also been victimized by this war. Israel 21C does a great job of this today in its posting on the crisis.

Finding hope in the midst of conflict [VIDEO]

A few other ways to get supportive and meaningful messaging out is by connecting with blogs or videos from Israelis living through the war. Put one or two of these on your homepage and bring the reality of the situation home in ways that no statement of support can match. Write a short but clear piece that explains why Israel had to take action. The Jewish Federation of Chicago has a good example of such a letter.

Finally, give people ways to feel connected to the crisis. Offer them opportunities to sign a petition, create an event (real or virtual), join a conversation, listen to experts…..and if needed, make a gift to help Israelis get through these difficult times. It is a time to really work hard at getting the message right. It’s our chance to get more people who would rather ignore this conflict or even simplistically decide that Israel is once more an aggressor to think differently.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.

image: Mother and baby in Sderot, The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago