Client: One Jerusalem
PR Team: Coast 2 Coast Communications
Campaign: Mass rally for Jerusalem
Timescale: 31 December 2000 - 8 January 2001
Budget: dollars 6,500
What began as a normal working day for Coast 2 Coast Communications CEO Aaron Weil and president Charles Harris ended with a meeting in the living room of former Soviet Refusenik and current Member of the Israeli Parliament Natan Sharansky.
The heads of the Israeli PR and marketing firm were picked by Sharansky's chief of staff after hearing of the company's work with trade missions to the region from major US states.
Under the current political situation, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak has resigned his position and called a general election, but continues to offer new concessions at the negotiating table.
Sharansky and the organisation One Jerusalem decided to launch a rally in Jerusalem to counter Barak's concession to split the city by promoting continued Israeli sovereignty.
With less than ten days to plan the campaign, Coast 2 Coast was charged with developing a strategy that would bring a tremendous amount of media exposure, both from the local media and Israel's powerful foreign media.
The goal was not only coverage of the event, but pre-event coverage as well to bring out the masses. The caveat was that the majority of the people coming would be from the religious community and political right and a strategy had to be developed to prevent the rally from being hijacked by extreme right-wingers and being portrayed as politically biased.
Strategy and Plan
To counter any claims of political connection, all politicians were removed from the speaker's list. Even Sharansky himself (at his own request) did not speak at the event. Instead, speakers and dignitaries were brought in from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds as well as several countries, stressing the universality of Jerusalem in the world.
Position papers were quickly developed and distributed to the media in Hebrew and English that stated the goals of the rally.
The day before the event, at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, Sharansky, Jerusalem's Mayor and the organiser of the event were brought out for a press conference to state the rally's goal of support and unity for Jerusalem that cuts across political, religious, national and ethnic lines.
All of the groups involved in the co-ordination of the event were briefed on the messaging and the organisers were discouraged from using any negative, inflammatory or politically sensitive messages. Posters and banners were printed in large quantities and distributed widely through the crowd ahead of time, reducing the possibility of right-wing protesters standing out at the event.
With limited space for microwave antennas and live broadcast vehicles due to the size of the walled city, priority was given to CNN, BBC, Reuters, two major US Networks and both local Israeli channels.
A media information pack was faxed out to all the bureaux the night before and followed up by calls from Coast 2 Coast.
In order to maximise exposure to the American Jewish community, Coast 2 Coast negotiated a deal with Jerusalem Post radio for exclusive rights to a live broadcast from the event.
Measurement and Evaluation
Between 250,000 and 400,000 people attended the rally. In addition to live broadcasting at the event from seven major networks, over 120 members of the foreign press were on hand resulting in thousands of stories the world over, including front page coverage on most every major daily in the US. The Jerusalem Post gave coverage before the event as well as a supplement on the day.
The rally was the largest in Jerusalem's history and one of the largest in Israel's recent memory.
Coast 2 Coast is exploring other opportunities on the Israeli political scene, including creating new programmes that tie in existing hi-tech clients with new political opportunities.