The FT ran today a very interesting article about the relationship between Israeli companies and the media. The basic premise was that Israeli CEOs do not like talking to the media and that Israel is suffering as a consequence.
As someone who has spent the best part of the last 15 years helping Israeli companies communicate with stakeholders through the international media, I find the thrust of this article at odds with my own personal experience. Yes, it is true that some of the family businesses behind much of Israel's more traditional industries (banking, insurance, real estate etc) have had their feet burned with an often hostile local press. However, the idea that Israeli companies as a whole will refuse to talk to major international publications like The FT is not the reality with which I am familiar.
My experience is that Israeli CEOs from the new economies of technology and healthcare are hungry for the right type of international profile. Plus, the more traditional industries do engage with the media when they see the value. It is incumbent upon those of us in the PR industry to explain to our clients the value of PR and CEOs are right not to accept interview requests blindly without challenging the reasons. I think this is the same in every country around the world in which I have worked. It also shows the value of companies using a trusted intermediary to facilitate media relationships. Companies are understandably cautious about direct approaches from journalist they don't know, and very often they should be!
Put more boldly: the voice of Israeli business and the very rich is absent from the public square and most of the discussion about it takes place without it. I would argue that Israel suffers as a result.