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Ronn D. Torossian is an American public relations executive, founder of New York City-based 5W Public Relations (5WPR), and author. Torossian built his firm's brand through aggressive media tactics, which have, at times, enmeshed him in controversy.
Ronn D. Torossian
|Born||August 25, 1974|
Brooklyn, New York City
|Alma mater||SUNY Albany|
|Employer||5W Public Relations|
|Known for||Public relations|
|Title||Chief executive officer|
|Spouse(s)||Zhanna (m. 2003, divorced)|
Torossian has been heavily involved in Israeli right-wing politics and activism.
Torossian was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in The Bronx and attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City. At age 13, at the insistence of his mother, he joined Betar, the international Zionist youth movement associated with Israel's Likud party. While at SUNY Albany, Torossian became national president of the North American branch of Betar. After completing his undergraduate degree, he moved to Israel, where he sought his master's degree, but quit his studies to get involved in political activism. Torossian founded, together with fellow Betar members (and later Israeli politicians) Danny Danon and Yoel Hasson, an organization called Yerushalyim Shelanu (Our Jerusalem), which promoted Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.
Torossian began his career in public relations in 1998, working with then New York City Council speaker Peter Vallone, Sr. during Vallone's trip to Israel. He also worked for the Likud Party in Israel. He worked at two firms, including The MWW Group, before launching his own firm, 5W Public Relations, in 2002. The New York Times called him "brash and aggressively outspoken."
In addition to his PR company, Torossian is the Chief Marketing Officer, a Partner, and Advisory Board Member of the jet-sharing company JetSmarter. A spokesperson for the New Israel Fund wrote that Torossian had "teamed up" with Pamela Geller and an article in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles found evidence that he "[worked] in some capacity with Geller." Torossian denied that there was any professional relationship between the two.
Torossian's public relations agency, 5WPR, was ranked in 2014 by The New York Observer as the number 35 PR company in New York City. In 2017, the public relations reporting organization J. R. O'Dwyer Company ranked 5W Public Relations at number 11 among companies which submitted income and employee information to them, with revenues at $24 million.
Torossian's aggressive PR tactics have won him both praise and criticism. Business Week called him "loud, crass, buzz-obsessed," the "Bad Boy of Buzz," and the self-anointed "brash new face of PR." Atlantic Monthly writer Jeffrey Goldberg called him "the most disreputable flack in New York", particularly criticizing his representation of what Goldberg called the "lunatic fringe" of right-wing Israeli politics. Gawker's Hamilton Nolan wrote that Torossian "embodies the public's worst ideas about what a PR person is: loud, brash, more flash than substance, dirty, manipulative, amoral, and, in the end, not particularly bright." The editor of the Jerusalem Post wrote that Torossian and his colleagues were "nuts."
On the other hand, clients have cited his "unlimited energy" and his unique approach to public relations as reasons for hiring him. Jameel Spencer, former CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment-affiliated Blue Flame Marketing and Advertising, called Torossian "one of my most trusted business counsels," A The Jerusalem Post profile of him cited his "meteoric rise in the business world today". Another client compared Torossian to former basketball player Dennis Rodman, whom "Everyone hated to play against. But if he was on your team, you loved him". A Forward story said, "His aggressive style may not always be pretty, but the results speak for themselves."
Some commentators see Torossian's style as a sign of the times. He is "one of the New Yorkiest practitioners of this quintessentially New York profession... the consummate scrappy publicist," wrote The New York Times. Businessweek wrote, "Torossian has anointed himself the brash new face of PR ... echoes the raw, unvarnished discourse of the blogosphere... Few seem better equipped to navigate a celebrity-obsessed culture."
Torossian was an active member of Betar for 10 years, and its national president from 1994 to 1996, and continued to fund them afterwards. He says he is guided Ze'ev Jabotinsky's teachings in his financial and personal life. His view of Judaism was shaped by his Betar experience. During his undergraduate days at SUNY Albany, he became an activist and advocate for Jewish people, became the head of Religious Zionists of America/Tagar (the youth wing of Betar), and developed a desire to become the Prime Minister of Israel. He accused the United Jewish Federations of Northeastern New York of financially neglecting SUNY Albany students, but both community and Hillel leaders claimed he was lying. Torossian claimed the personal attacks were because of the community leaders' aversion to his Betar ideology, and that they cared little about the Jewish students.
In 1994, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Torossian was arrested for protesting together with Avi Weiss against Yasser Arafat being awarded the Peace Prize. And in 1995, as a member of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns-AMCHA, Torossian took part in a protest against Yasser Arafat's visit in front of the John F. Kennedy School of Government where Arafat delivered a speech, and disrupted Arafat's meeting with the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council in New York, saying that he and his fellow demonstrators were there to "peacefully raise a voice of Jewish moral conscience against the biggest mass murderer since World War II".
Later that year, Torossian, as a member of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns-AMCHA, disrupted the rally where Pat Buchanan launched his presidential bid, holding a sign that said, "Buchanan Is a Racist". Torossian, a follower of Rabbi Avi Weiss, criticized Howard University president Patrick Swygert for his failure to "clamp down" anti-semitism on campus, and claimed that Swygert had "allowed Jewish students to be intimidated by black students and... taken no action". Torossian claimed he and other Jewish students had been "verbally abused and physically threatened" by black students while staging a counterdemonstration against a black student rally in support of the Million Man March, called by Louis Farrakhan. He called Farrakhan "a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic hater". Torossian sued the police because they had prevented him from demonstrating at the rally, claiming his First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. During a demonstration in front of the Israeli consulate in New York, Torossian condemned and criticized Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and called him a traitor.
Torossian organized a protest in 1997 against Arafat's visit to the United Nations, and affirmed the coalition's support of Har Homa. He participated in a demonstration against Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in front of a New York courthouse when Abdel-Rahman was being tried for the New York City landmark bomb plot. Later that year, he helped three families, consisting of 15 people, move into a house in Arab East Jerusalem. His organization hired private bulldozers to help quicken the pace of construction in Har Homa. He and his organization began making news for protesting whenever they perceived injustice against Jewish people.
As a Likud activist, Torossian, along with Rabbi Avi Weiss and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind submitted a petition in 1998 to Israel's High Court of Justice demanding the arrest and prosecution of Abu Abbas for his role in the Achille Lauro hijacking by PLO in 1985, and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer. The state refused to try Abbas because the Knesset had passed a law that prohibited prosecution of crimes committed before the Oslo Accord of 1993. The court ruled in favor of the state.
As part of the right-wing civil rights organization Tzedek-Tzedek, Torossian helped that same year with coordinating lawsuits against Avishai Raviv to "pursue the legality of the Oslo Accords, to see whether it is legal for Palestinian murderers to be running around, not under trial and not under indictment." He submitted a petition to the High Court demanding that Raviv be tried for perjury for his statements during the trial of Yigal Amir, who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.
In 1999, Torossian criticized Benjamin Netanyahu's decisions, which included stopping construction at Har Homa and withdrawal of Israeli troops from parts of Hebron. As director of Americans for Israel's Survival, Torossian helped to organize a rally outside the French tourist office in New York in 2002, protesting against the French government's apathy towards anti-Semitic attacks. The rally called for a boycott of French goods and travel to France, aimed at harming France's economy.
Torossian publishes opinion pieces in the New York Post, The New York Observer and The Jewish Press. In March 2015 he criticized the New Israel Fund in conjunction with a campaign by Pamela Geller over the NIF's stance on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
- Torossian, Ronn (February 23, 2015). "Nonprofit Tax Sparks Outrage [author information]". The Ronn Torossian Foundation. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- Schreckinger, Ben (April 29, 2018). "Meet the pro-Trump PR Guy at the Center of the Mueller Probe — And Everything Else". Politico. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- Kurutz, Steven (February 20, 2005). "Brash P.R. Guy Grabs Clients, Ink". The City. The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
- Ciarallo, Joe (October 20, 2009). "ABC News Reporter on Being Interrupted By Publicist: "That Frequency and Aggression of Interruption I Have Not Seen Personally Before'". Ad Week. PRNewser.
- Editor (August 22, 2015). "Apology". Jerusalem Post.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Davidovit, Aliza. "Ronn David Torossian: The essence of a man" (PDF). Lifestyles Magazine. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Popper, Nathaniel (April 2, 2004). "Publicist scores with rappers, right-wing politicians". The Forward.
- "World Zionist youth movement – Home". Betar. September 23, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- Popper, Nathaniel (August 28, 2009). "Birthright Scored for Picking P.R. Firm Tied To Scandal, Hard Right Politics". Forward. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- "Special Report – 40 under 40: Ronn Torossian". Adage.com. Advertising Age. August 7, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- Holmes, Paul (December 22, 2002). "MWW, KCSA Vet Torossian Launches New Firm". Holmes Report.
- "Business Books Top Five US". Shanghai Daily. June 12, 2012.
- Shenkman, Peter (2013). Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In (First ed.). Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137333506.
- Torossian, Ronn (2011). For Immediate Release Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations. New York: BenBella Books, Inc. ISBN 9781936661275.
- "40 under 40". PR Week. December 3, 2007.
- Lima, Deobora (November 24, 2016). "JetSmarter boosts annual membership fee for fourth time". South Florida Business Journal. American City Business Journals.
- "Company Overview of JetSmarter Inc". Bloomberg Company Overview. Bloomberg LP. February 24, 2017.
- Nussbaum Cohen, Debra. "Will dueling op-eds turn into dueling lawsuits?". Retrieved November 13, 2015.
- Kaminer, Michael (November 19, 2014). "The Power 50 List". The New York Observer.
- O'Dwyer, Jack (March 1, 2017). "Worldwide Fees of Top PR Firms With Major U.S. Operations". O'Dwyer Company, Inc. ODwyerPR.
- Brady, Diane (November 11, 2007). "The Bad Boy of Buzz and His PR Problem". Businessweek.
- Goldberg, Jeffrey (October 27, 2008). "The Jewish Extremists Behind "Obsession"". The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
- Wheaton, Ken (March 10, 2008). "Ronn Torossian: No Poster Child for PR Industry". Advertising Age. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- Nolan, Hamilton. "Famous Publicists: Self-promoting publicists and clients who love them". PR Week. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- Blum, Ruthie (August 5, 2009). "One on One: 'It's all about shaping a story'". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- Singer, Natasha (July 1, 1994). "Betar Gears Up For Parade Suit". Forward.
- Gruenbaum Fax, Julie (March 3, 1995). "Money Crunch On Campus: Insufficient funding for Jewish programs at SUNY Albany". The Jewish Week.
- Weiss, Avi (December 16, 1994). "Outside and angry at the Oslo awards". Jerusalem Post.
- "Arafat speaks at Harvard University". News Record. North Hills, Pennsylvania. October 25, 1995.
- Dorf, Matthew (March 20, 1995). "Jewish protesters disrupt Buchanan presidential rally". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- Woodward, Calvin (March 21, 1995). "Buchanan is back, still trying to separate right from wrong". Buffalo News.
- "Buchanan kicks off '96 presidential bid". Galveston Daily News. Galveston, Texas. March 21, 1995.
- "Buchanan joins campaign for Republican nomination". Gettysburg Times. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. March 21, 1995.
- "Buchanan enters GOP fray". Salina Journal. Salina, Kansas. March 21, 1995.
- Beamish, Rita (March 21, 1995). "Buchanan declares war on sex and violence in presidential bid". Standard-Speaker. Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
- Drew, Joseph (May 19, 1995). "New Howard Head Vowing to Fight 'Tragedy of Hate'". Forward.
- Kurtzman, Daniel (October 12, 1995). "Black, Jewish students clash over march in Washington". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- Kurtzman, Daniel (October 18, 1995). "Behind the headlines: Strains of anti-Semitism waft among the marchers". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- Wohlgelernter, Elli (October 26, 1997). "DC police sued over treatment of Jews at rally". Jerusalem Post.
- Leibovich-Dar, Sara (April 10, 2002). "Adam's rift". Haaretz. Tel Aviv, Israel. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
- Mann, Cynthia (March 6, 1997). "Arafat complains to U.S. Jews about access to Israeli premier". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- Neumeister, Larry (January 18, 1996). "Sheik, followers get long term for plot". San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California.
- "Settlers Occupy Jerusalem Dwellings". Washington Post. September 15, 1997.
- Wohlgelernter, Elli (September 16, 1997). "'The Jews are here, and we're here to stay'". Jerusalem Post.
- "Settlers take over building in Jerusalem neighborhood". Index-Journal. Greenwood, South Carolina. September 15, 1997.
- "Settlers take 2 Arab Houses". The Capital. Annapolis, Maryland. September 15, 1997.
- Beck, Galit Lipkis (January 5, 1998). "Group aiding Har Homa construction". Jerusalem Post.
- Rodan, Steve; Najib, Mohammed (May 11, 1998). "Court petition demands arrest of Abu Abbas". Jerusalem Post.
- Izenberg, Dan (June 4, 1998). "State argues against trying 'Achille Lauro' hijacker". Jerusalem Post.
- "Achille Lauro Petition Rejected by High Court". Israel Faxx. October 14, 1999.
- Wohlgelernter, Elli (February 3, 1998). "Right-wing group coordinating suits against Raviv". Jerusalem Post.
- Wohlgelernter, Elli (October 27, 1998). "A-G put on notice regarding Raviv". Jerusalem Post.
- Ain, Stewart (January 8, 1999). "'Enough Of This Guy': Some of Netanyahu's staunchest U.S. supporters". The Jewish Week.
- Ain, Stewart (May 3, 2002). "'Serious Lesson' In Hate: WJC officials meeting in Belgium on the stunning rise in European anti-Semitism are assaulted physically and verbally; polls show Le Pen fizzling in Sunday vote". The Jewish Week.
- Ain, Stewart (May 17, 2002). "Split On French Boycott: Controversial AJCongress ad sparks rift among defense organizations". The Jewish Week.
- Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (March 11, 2015). "Moving on from attacking Islam, Pamela Geller sponsors N.Y.C. bus ads against New Israel Fund donors". Haaretz.
- Sassounian, Harut (November 24, 2017). "The Father and Grandparents of Turkey's Newest U.S. PR Firm's CEO Ronn Torossian Are Armenian". Armenian Weekly.
- Garvey, Marianne (August 16, 2003). "Bride and gloom – powerless city leaves couple at altar". New York Post.
- Rogers, Teri Karush (January 8, 2009). "Goodbye, Suburbs". The New York Times.