Twitter, YouTube and a Blog: Israel’s bold communications strategy leads headlines, overshadows military operation

The internet is all atwitter about the latest Middle Eastern military skirmish. But the actual ground operation is not necessarily what is creating the loudest chatter. What has grabbed the news headlines are the channels used to announce the attack: Twitter, YouTube and a blog.

Coincidentally, I was on twitter when I first learned of the attack. A tweet popped into my feed, saying something along the lines of: “Israeli defence and Hamas exchange threats via twitter.” .

I didn’t immediately click on it, because my first thought was: “No way. Israel is not tweeting about a military operation in real-time.”  Then I remembered the cartoon bomb that made its world debut at this year’s UN General Assembly.

Enough said.

So I gave in and clicked on the third article I came across, which expressed shock and disbelief that a government organization would tweet and post video of a military strike to its official twitter handle (@IDFSpokesperson). However, I approached the story from a slightly different perspective.

Putting aside my opinion on whether or not the actions taken by the military were legitimate, I focused on the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) choice of communications mediums and the strategy behind it.

Social Media Offensive

The tweets sent out to followers of IDF (and subsequently, the world) accomplished more than just providing fodder for pundits and talk show hosts. Israel managed to do what all people, brands and organizations WANT to do when faced with an issue that has the potential to become crisis: get ahead of the story and frame the narrative.

By bypassing the traditional information gatekeepers (tweets preceded the official press conference) and delivering its messages straight to Israeli citizens and other influencers (since only those invested in Israel would be following their feed), the IDF connected directly with its audience by live-tweeting and blogging its key messages; with photos and YouTube video (over 150,000 views) used to provide visual evidence.

Story Break-down

Upon closer examination of the content of the tweets a deliberate narrative unfolds.

  1. Intent to attack: A statement of intent outlined the IDF’s position on military action if they felt it warranted.
  2. Reason for attack: Announces military action against Hamas due to previous attacks against Israel. Tweet is also accompanied by hashtags to monitor trending and comments.
  3. Target of the attack: The following two messages identify the intended military target and provide a link back to the IDF’s blog, which lists the alleged crimes perpetrated by the individual.
  4. Reinforcement of action: This tweet provides a link to information on past disputes between the two forces. Providing a history of conflict to perhaps reinforce the IDF’s assessment of the threat posed by Hamas.

So why was this effective?

Using the reach and immediacy provided by social media, the IDF not only engaged the public to gain support for its military campaign, it gained global coverage of the story it wanted to tell – in its own words.  Indicating that the organization has a true understanding of how social media combined with strong communications planning can provide a direct line to stakeholders.

We will have to wait and see how the rest of the story unfolds. But the boldness of the IDF’s social media strategy could herald a future trend.

What are your thoughts? Did the IDF manage to frame this issue? What would you do differently?

Amazon: Consumer Knight or Raider?

Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth and brand extraordinaire, is walking a tightrope at the moment. Since news of the Department of Justice’s crack-down on the e-publishing price-fixing syndicate hit the web a few weeks ago, Amazon has been at the center of speculation. Everyone wants to know how this will affect Amazon’s pricing structure and position in the market. Amazon has been remarkably (and cannily) tight-lipped, providing nothing more than as statement about how this is good news for its customers. Discounts = consumer’s dream right?

Not so fast say the experts.

Industry analysts have weighed in, and they paint a decidedly grimmer picture of what will happen if Amazon cut’s costs. They fear that it will create a monopoly: with rivals unable to compete, publishers coerced into lowering their prices – eliminating diversity of choice – and leaving Amazon with the power to arbitrarily raise prices with no fear of repercussion. Meaning that after you have purchased your Kindle and made Amazon your e-retailer of choice, you will be forced to pay a higher tariff due to lack of an alternative provider.

Lower prices= Trojan horse?

So will amazon woo you in with cheaper books just to turn around and lock the door while you are busy rating a reader recommendation? Don’t be too alarmed, this is all speculation for the time being, and only time will tell that story. However, Amazon should be keeping a sharp eye at the current media narrative; it has been cast in the role of the big bad wolf, out to devour market share and leave destruction in its wake. And whether or not this is the case, Amazon needs to prepare a response strategy, and that response strategy should have them directly engaging with their consumers. Because, if they don’t have a convincing tale to tell, it will continue being told for them.

Do you support Amazon’s promise to lower e-book prices? Is it one of your brand favourites?

And what form would your response take? Weigh in.

Beyoncé is on Fire

After the tepid (for her) reception of her fourth studio offering, the hater-nation was out in full force and barreling down on Bey with guns glinting in the sun. But that did not stop the starlet from stealing the heck out of the media headlines during the past year. Her publicist is top-notch, because going from claims of faking pregnancy to being crowned the most beautiful woman in the world, all in a period of 6 months, is truly genius.

Here are the highlights:

  • CD dropped (literally) to mediocre reception. (June 2011)
  • Beyoncé showed that she was in control by nailing her headlining gig at Glastonbury 2011. (June 2011)
  • Follows this up with a memorable pregnancy announcement, onstage at the 2011 MTV awards. (August 2011)
  • Weathers the  ‘you’re not really pregnant’ controversy with good humour. (October 2011-January 2012)
  • Steals the pap’s thunder by releasing home-photos of Blue Ivy for FREE on Tumbler. (March 2012)
  • Named People Magazine’s most beautiful woman. (April 2012)
Next up is her role in a Clint Eastwood directed film. Yup, brand Beyoncé is doing just fine.

 Grade: A

Let’s talk brands!

Hello and welcome to the Communications Hub, where I plan to spotlight the latest, greatest and most newsworthy brands and the campaigns that drive them. In essence, I hope to create conversations about one of the greatest conversation starters in the business: PR.

Now, I am going to let you in a well-known secret: You build brands. Yes, YOU, reading this post. You make a brand successful. How? You might ask. Well, let me tell you.

A brand is an intangible jumble of feelings, ideas, image and experiences (with the brand) that are held in your mind. In PR our mission is to create campaigns filled with information, images, and experiences that you can engage in and share with people you know. We put a lot of thought into developing the big idea but its success is ultimately in your hands.

So, I am calling on all brand lovers, makers, spectators, and critics to voice their opinions on the brands I discuss and offer suggestions on which I should pick next (good or bad).

I look forward to some interesting brand discourse!