Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hasbara 2.0 - a taxonomy of effective communication

Towards the end of my Hasbara 2.0 lecture, I (too quickly) went over this slide:

The higher you go up the pyramid, the bigger the emotional pay-off. Things like videos, songs, and plays reach people on a visceral level and are far more effective than text or verbal communication alone.

Take data that you or others discover, and push it up the pyramid. Convert raw data into a chart, convert a static chart into a Flash animation with voice-over. The higher up you can bring it, the more that people get emotionally involved. Text rarely goes viral, but videos do. If you can move things up the scale you can make the message far more effective.

The Gaza Mall is a perfect example. Reading about it is interesting, but seeing it in photos has a greater impact. Watching a video of people actually shopping there raises it up a notch - and making people laugh while watching it is even better.

That is my point - effective hasbara is not simply repeating information, but transforming it into a form that will get into people's hearts as well as minds. Most people make their judgments in their hearts before their minds. The information must be 100% accurate, of course, but it needs to be presented in a way that penetrates people's psyches on all levels.

The posters and comics and videos I've made recently have been intended as a way of taking my own advice, and it definitely works. My posters are getting more hits than my regular posts, and they spread much faster, especially via Facebook and Twitter. But they are not meant to stop here, or to merely get copied - they are meant to be used. My part in the hasbara universe is to generate data and tools; others are free to use them. While of course I would prefer to know how they are being used, and I would prefer that people keep my website name on the graphics, they are meant to be used, not just to entertain my readers. Print them, turn them into posters, make them into postcards, forward them, place them on social bookmarking sites or message boards, email them, convert them into balloons if you want. But to me, hasbara should not be done by organizations in a vacuum - everyone should share their creations and their ideas, and let the good ones rise to the top. If some Zionist organization wants to use my posters, comics or videos, or - better yet - it can improve them, go for it!