GRACIOUSNESS IS not one of the most outstanding Israeli characteristics. Rejoicing in someone else's success - especially that of a business rival - is generally rare, but graciousness was the order of the day last week at the annual Israel Public Relations Association Roaring Lions Awards which were this year influenced by the number of dance programs on television.
Marketed through the industry under the headline "Dancing With Lions," the event at the Cameri Theater, featured talented dancers demonstrating their prowess in a series of Latin American dances with a little rock 'n' roll for good measure. The highlight, however, was a dance in which one of the partners was confined to a wheel chair. But what he could do in that wheelchair was amazing, and truly one of the best ways to market the idea that "wheelers" are like everyone else, but just require a little more space for maneuverability.
The Roaring Lion is a silver statuette of one of the symbols of Israel - the lion. Only this time, it's just his head. IPRA chair Sylvia Beit Halachmi announced that this year there had been 35 entries including five students who are studying communications. It was extremely important, she emphasized, to encourage the next generation and to enable students to get professional experience in the course of their studies, a factor that helped to increase their motivation and creativity. New PR and marketing offices are opening all the time, with new foci on political and business strategies, image building, marketing and public relations, Beit Halachmi noted, adding that new challenges for the industry have arisen in an Internet age in which response can no longer be measured, but must be instant. The Internet also poses problems of integrity, she said.
Yair Geller, chairman of the Israel Advertisers Association, applauded the theme of the ceremony saying that every marketing project is like a dance. "Advertising agencies dance closely with their clients just like spokespeople."
He was all in favor of the analogy of the dance, he said, "because if the steps are not synchronized, the outcome will be disaster."
Geller was very pleased to see a lot of community-oriented work among the entries because much of this was pro bono, he said.
"I was very proud that efforts are directed not only towards commercial clients, but towards those community projects where there is no money to pay the professional."
In 2006, he said, members of the IAA, had taken on 292 pro bono campaigns. Ran Rahav, who heads Ran Rahav Communications, which was one of the key sponsors of the event, said he never imagined when he started working in public relations 21 years ago, that it would develop into such an extraordinarily important and sought after profession. Hardly a day goes by, he said, when he is not approached by lawyers, accountants and other white collar professionals who want to change course and work in PR.
Roaring Lions were awarded to winners and runners-up in 10 categories, in addition to which Cellcom CEO Amos Shapira was named CEO of the year and Mordechai (Motke) Shifman, one of Israel's PR pioneers, was named an IPRA Fellow, which is tantamount to a life achievement award. Shapira, who in his various executive positions learned the value of PR by working first with Moshe Dayan, then Irina Shalmor and Rahav, now works with Galit Tuchterman, whom he insisted on bringing on stage.
While not underestimating the value of advertising and PR, Shapira made the point that while slogans may be effective, what's more important for any enterprise is to have a soul. "A business without a soul cannot succeed." As an example, he cited Cellcom Volume, which operates in several parts of the country attracting youngsters at risk from the streets to club houses where they can learn and play music.
The energetic Shifman, who began his career 40 years ago as a spokesman for Egged, told his colleagues in the audience that he'd received his most significant and enduring lesson from Guta Eliav who had then been the spokeswoman for ZIM. She told him that it was more important that he represent the passengers of Egged than the management of Egged. Since then, concern for the end consumer has been his guiding principle - and it works.
Roaring Lions were awarded to Shuli Mansfeld, PR for Yiddishpiel for her Yiddish Community Singing campaign; Nitza Holtzman and Anat Bar-Lev for the annual Ilan Fundraising campaign; Ruder Finn for the opening of the first Aroma Espresso Bar in New York; Sintara PR for Dani Books; Hatzav De Witt for two tourism campaigns - Ha'On Resort Village and the Bnei Shimon Regional Council; Amiram Fleischer for Harel Insurance; Sintara for Waterjel; Hatzav De Witt for the Coffee Bean chain, whose owners Jack and Natalie Weissman specially came to Israel for the occasion; the spokesman for Amigur for a project on how 2000 senior citizens from the CIS and Ethiopia weathered the second Lebanon War; Yael Cooper for Health Awareness; Ofir Hacham for a campaign on promoting quality and excellence in Israel; Twister for promoting Ahava Spa Products to bloggers; Gitam Porter Novelli for the launch of Office Windows Vista; Idit Harel Shemesh of Tod'a for a campaign to foster public awareness of the extent of male and female prostitution in Israel; Lapidor - Zman Emet for the Israeli Pavilion at the Paris Air Show; Orit Communications for an international campaign for Plasan Sasa; Timing Campaigns and Communications for a clean beaches campaign; Dalia Mazor for the 70th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Rami Sadan for a campaign aimed at increasing the health basket; Hatzav De Witt for cleaning the beaches around the Kinneret; Amiram Fleischer for Pelephone; Gitam Porter Novelli for the World Chess Championships that were held in Israel for the first time; Ruder Finn for the International Christian Embassy's Feast of Tabernacles; Aviva Shemer, spokeswoman for Ichilov Hospital in the Struggle against infections and pollution; The Jewish Agency and the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption for the campaign to change public perception of Ethiopian immigrants on the 30th anniversary of aliya from Ethiopia; Ruder Finn for aliya from North America during the Second Lebanon War; Yossi Rivlin for a campaign to promote Kiryat Gat; the Spokesman's Bureau of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality for a spectacular fireworks display; Michal Slutzki of Bar Ilan University for a doctoral thesis on PR successes; Sapir College students Shimrit Biton and Cheli Brok, Planning a PR campaign for the Sderot Cinematheque; Sapir College students Einat Ovadia and Amir Ashkenazi for preparing a PR campaign for a farm; College of Management students Tomer Wachsman, Israel Katz and Naama Gamliel for a campaign for the Youth Squash Championship; Sapir College students David Elharar, Mor Hassid, Yael Levy and Hofit Musari for a campaign for the Soldiers Welfare Association and Sapir College students Shimrit Darf and Alon Abramovitch for a PR campaign for Nissim Laundry Services.