Embracing the Beast

The Daily BeastI have a bad habit of waking at four in the morning, stumbling to my computer and scanning the news. Something, somewhere, is happening in the middle of the night and I need to know what it is before I can go back to sleep. It’s the digital insomnia syndrome. When I am afflicted, increasingly these days I head to The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s recent entry into the wonderful world of web journalism, opinion and entertainment.

The Beast proves that you need a human filter to make the web interesting – otherwise the wisdom of the crowds leads to the overwhelming nonsense of the masses. Tina Brown has fashioned a long career straddling the line between intellectualism and sensationalism. She was successful in that vein at Vanity Fair, not so at The New Yorker. The web may be the perfect place for her journalistic sensibilities.

The Beast aggregates news and mixes it with proprietary content and celebrity opinion (left-leaning, of course).  Oliver Stone and Padma Lakshmi contribute recent tidbits. Charlie Gasparino, the ubiquitous CNBC commentator, dishes inside biz gossip in his blog and Laura Bennett proves that you don’t have to win Project Runway to mine a rich afterlife as a “personality.”

Tina Brown understands that in the digital age journalism is visual and textual. The video highlights of the Sunday political news shows saves us time otherwise wasted watching politicians deliver PR messages. Beast videos are embeddable (below) and span an intriguing cross-section of politics, culture and entertainment.

PR/Media Week in Review 01-04-2009

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewIsrael Escalates PR War. With Israel pushing deeper into Gaza, 512 Palestinians dead so far, the PR war on both sides is intensifying. The Israelis have Pres. Bush and Condoleezza Rice at the White House delivering a well-scripted, well coordinated message:  Hamas invited this incursion with its behavior, and can stop it any time by ceasing rocket attacks.

Joel Leyden, a self-professed ”Internet media, SEO, PR pioneer” is betting that it is all a matter of perception. Leyden has enlisted Facebook to fuel a worldwide propaganda buzz machine that justifies Israels massive and bloody military operation.

This is a particularly aggressive, activist PR campaign that Leyden Communications is running and it is working through social media channels. I get Twitter tweets defending Israel. There are dueling Israel – Palestinian YouTube videos.

“Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip. 

Livni instructed senior ministry officials to open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign, in order to gain greater international support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip.” See Israel to mount emergency international PR effort in wake of Gaza campaign

Israel’s foreign ministry is skilled at this sort of high-stakes, global perception building.  British PR firm Saatchi & Saatchi helped Israel’s Foreign Ministry “free of charge” in the effort to repair its image after the state lost the Second Lebanon War.

From Reuters: 

“The campaign is a departure from the government’s long-held practice of ‘hasbara’, or ‘explaining’ itself to Western audiences that may have little sympathy for crackdowns on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 

Now Israel wants to create an alternative image abroad, focused exclusively on assets like tourist attractions and business innovations. In the words of one campaigner and ad executive, the aim would be to create ‘a narrative of normalcy’.”

“The blogosphere and new media are another war zone. The important thing is to get the truth out there,” Major Avital Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, said.

MORE GLOBAL/POLITICAL PR: Ukrainian infighting gives Russia the edge in public relations war, from the FT, 1/2/09

THIS WEEK’S BEST PR FOR PR: How did this happen?  Image need overhaul? Hollywood PR vet offers help is the title of the incredible Associated Press puff piece on the appropriately named uber publicist Howard Bragman.

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