Postcard from Israel: A growing economy with a vulnerable government

The 'start-up nation' has plenty of opportunities for the PR industry, says Maayan Nave, owner of Now-You Heart & Business Communication and head of global comms and PR for SodaStream International.

Israel is an international hub of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, with Tel Aviv as its business centre. It is known as the ‘start-up nation’, a term coined by journalists Dan Senor and Saul Singer in their 2009 book of the same name. Start-up Nation ref­lected a global interest in Israel, a small country to build global economic and business influence, particularly within the hi-tech, bio-med and new media industries.


The new global economy engines, mainly driven by the private sector, are responsible for a stable and growing economy. Real GDP growth slowed in 2015, but is expected to exceed four per cent every year in 2015-19. This should keep unemployment low. 

But Israel is much more than a global inn­ovation centre. Social diversity, a sense of urgency and creativity are very distinctive characteristics of a country best described as a land of contradictions. Domestic disputes, social intolerance, Israeli-Palestinian tensions and violent flare-ups (even when a two-state solution is clearly in consensus) are as real as the innovative human capital, pragmatic attitudes and optimism.

The right-wing religious coalition government of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has only a one-seat majority, making it vulnerable. At the moment, Israel’s real estate prices continue to inflate, while the middle class is eroded in a country that has the third highest gap between the rich and poor among the world’s advanced economies, according to an OECD report.

With 425 PR offices and 675 professional spokespeople, the Israeli PR industry is blooming. A variety of agencies and services are in place with everything from strategic consultancy, reputation management, public affairs and crisis comms to proactive b2b and b2c PR, event PR, social media and campaign management services. Leading PR domains include lifestyle and fashion, finance and economics, society and culture, health and education, legal and public aff­airs. The market is dominated by a small number of media groups and state-owned TV channels and radio stations.

Leading media groups include Yediot Group, Israel’s largest media group; Israel Hayom, a daily free popular newspaper and site supportive of the PM;  the popular news site Walla, part of the Bezeq media group, targeting young audiences; Haaretz The Marker, a left-wing paper; and sites aimed at educated and financial elitist audiences. Channels 2 and 10 are the two commercial broadcast TV channels, mainly based on advertising and content marketing, allowing for direct PR influence.

Media consumption data for 2015, analysed by IFAT – Israel’s leading media intelligence group – shows the following. More than 60 per cent of the population are exposed to daily papers, 50 per cent are exposed to the two commercial TV channels daily, almost 60 per cent listen to daily radio shows, 80 per cent visit internet sites daily, and 70 per cent are active on at least one social network.

Ex-Soviet Union immigrants, numbering 13 per cent of the general population, consume Russian-speaking media including a daily paper, TV channel and dozens of magazines.

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