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Why Is This Site Different From All Other Sites?

The challenge

Our experience on behalf of MyJewishLearning.com involved launching the nonprofit website designed to serve as the most comprehensive interactive resource available for exploring Jewish religion, history and culture. MyJewishLearning.com's goal is to promote understanding by enabling Jews and non-Jews to explore the broad spectrum of the Jewish experience.

The challenge, however, was that despite the backing of high profile philanthropist like Edgar M. Bronfman, MyJewishLearning could have seemed like just another website – and in 2002, a new website typically is not considered to be newsworthy, no matter how lofty its goals. Another challenge was to convey how the site is different from all other Jewish sites: MyJewishLearning takes "a multi-layered learning approach to present objective, authoritative information from multiple Jewish perspectives...so that individuals or members of groups can explore and shape their own Jewish identities, seek spiritual information, conduct research, or become exposed to new ideas and information."

The activity

  • Developed the media strategy, including the press conference timed to hit during the United Jewish Communities (UJC) General Assembly, the annual meeting of members of 156 Jewish federations and 400 independent Jewish communities across North America. The strategy involved a "teaser" media alert campagin to generate interest in the initative; positioning the website launch as a "Chanukah gift" from the philanthropists; involving representatives of major Jewish organizations that are partnering in the initiative to demonstrate community buy-in; and discussing the importance of multicultural understanding.
  • Wrote press materials, including press release; fact sheets on the intitiative, online learning, and self-assesments (which offer visitors a fun and educational way to test their knowledge of all facets of Jewish life); partner quotes, etc.
  • Developed media list, targeting secular media and Jewish media with a different story angles.
  • Conducted the media outreach to major outlets.

The Results

Generated coverage in secular and Jewish media that included:

  • key messages about the website's goals and the intentions of Edgar M. Bronfman and Lynn Schusterman, the philanthropists who funded the initiative, which is to "educate Jews – and curious non-Jews as well – about Jewish values and history." (USA Today);
  • stories in USA Today, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor
  • stories in The Forward, Jewish Week (New York), Philadelphia Jewish Exponent that hit during the United Jewish Communities (UJC) General Assembly.
  • A wire story by Jewish Telegraph Association (JTA), an international news service that reaches more than one million Jews each week through distribution to over 100 Jewish community newspapers, magazines and Web sites. The JTA story ran in dozens of Jewish publications.

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