For the past three years, Finn Partners Israel has had the privilege of managing all international media for the Israeli Presidential Conference – Facing Tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful project each year, and has given us the opportunity to partner with a great domestic firm (They handle the Israeli media.)
The results are always fantastic, and this year, they were off the charts. We normally provide two volumes of clips to our client. This year, it’ll probably be four.
It’s also a great event for the FP Israel team, as it gives each member of the team a chance to shine. Junior Associates are setting up interviews between major public figures and top-tier media outlets. Associates are able to build strong media relationships with the more than 550 journalists and bloggers who attend.
And for me, well, it’s a nice opportunity to get back to my first love – reporting, since we produce all the news releases over the course of the three-day conference.What made this year’s event special was that it was also a public celebration of President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday. Barbra Streisand sang. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair paid tribute. Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone attended.
And Dr. Ruth Westheimer opined … about technology … again.
You see, every year, there is a big-time technology panel moderated by Israeli hi-tech investor extraordinaire Yossi Vardi. Every year, the panelists talk about where things are going in the world of technology. And every year, Dr. Ruth is in the audience ready to pounce when things get out of hand.
This year, with panelists including AOL’s Tim Armstrong, SalesForce.com’s Marc Benioff, Marvell co-founder Weili Dai, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond, LivePerson CEO Robert LoCascio and others talk about how connected the whole world is, including one panelist who wondered “why is my car not my (Facebook) friend?” everyone knew that Dr. Ruth might pipe up.
But she stayed quiet until the discussion turned to the issue of viewing movies in theaters versus watching them on tablets and smartphones. At that point, Dr. Ruth had heard enough.
“I want people to go to the movies so they can hold hands,” she said.
And that struck a chord with me, given that my career began when cell phones were just coming on the scene, WordPerfect was the word processing program of choice and the world’s top PR firms didn’t even have voicemail, let alone email.
A lot has changed. But people are still people, and sometimes, it’s important to connect our hands, rather than our Bluetooth-enabled devices.
I thought about how much change President Peres has seen in his lifetime of 90 years, which obviously dwarfs the change I’ve seen. He seems to have – in his twilight years – decided to embrace technology (He has quite a strong Facebook presence and following.), and I applaud him for that.
But we who worked on the conference also saw the other side to Peres, the side of him that led him to break out in a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” at the conference-ending team meeting, for one of the team members who was celebrating his birthday that day. And the president gave a kiss on both cheeks to the woman who was responsible for the overall operational side of the conference.
It seems to me that President Peres has found a balance.
We work our tails off for our hi-tech clients in the areas of software, hardware, telecom, mobile, etc. And we make sure that we are always up-to-speed on the latest in technology, both in terms of the market and PR implementation tools.
But Dr. Ruth is right.
We also need to step away from the technology … to go out to the movies sometimes, just so we can hold hands.