Jobs in political and public communication - Episode # 10

Mini-fairs for Communication professions We Are COM X ISCOM present to you the daily life of communicators, their joys and their challenges. Let's go for an overview of the political and public communication professions in this episode # 10! 🤓

Besides… the political COM and the public COM, what are the differences?

The quality of our communication is determined not by how we say things, but by how they are understood

Andrew Grove, American engineer co-founder of Intel

1 / Political communication 🏅

La political communication corresponds to all the techniques used to promote the support of public opinion, during the exercise of a mandate or the conquest of political power.

The fun facts of the political COM:

  • Abraham Lincoln created the first "social room ". The President of the United States won the Civil War, in particular thanks to the recent invention of the telegraph and to the team set up around this innovation to optimize the dissemination of information, from the White House to the front.
  • François Mitterrand has adopted the "star strategy" suggested by the publicist Jacques Séguéla, during his presidential campaign in 1981. The principle? Offer a product, in this case a candidate, an emotional dimension in addition to its technical characteristics. By bringing affection, product value increases.
François Mitterand political campaign - The quiet force
  • Emmanuel Macron made the buzz by generating more than 7,6 million views in one day, with the “trivia contest” challenge, alongside the two famous YouTubers McFly and Carlito. This communication operation, in support of a series of actions around youth, was a success.
Emmanuel Macron in the gardens of the Élysée, accompanied by McFly and Carlito

2 / Public communication 🇫🇷

La public communication is more a communication of general interest, issued by an institution: administrations, public authorities, territories, public bodies, etc. It is considered by law as a public service in its own right.

The fun facts of the public COM:

  • The Queensland state campaign in Australia has created a buzz in 2009. with spinoffs estimated at over 61 million euros. Do you remember this communication operation " The best job in the world », Where it was proposed to convert to an island guardian in the Pacific? Over 34.000 applications were received, generating extraordinary global advertising value for tourism in Queensland and the attractiveness of the territory.
Australian campaign: the best job in the world
  • The Gendarmerie des Vosges is a star of Social Media. Thanks to that editorial slant shifted around road safety, the Vosges gendarmerie has more than 80.000 followers on Twitter. Hats off to community managers who take turns.
Tweet from the Gendarmerie des Vosges
  • Karl Lagerfeld had posed for road safety in 2008. This campaign was taken up by more than 200 medias and 400 Blogs. It is easy to understand the recipe for the success of this communication campaign: innovative, offbeat and embodied.
Campaign for road safety, Karl Lagerfeld wearing a yellow vest

What are the little-known jobs in these sectors?

🛠 Among others, there is the job of parliamentary collaborator. This Swiss Army Knife is a real touch to everything. He is in charge of various missions - in particular of communication - with an elected official or a political group, or large institutions such as the National Assembly or the Senate. This professional must be extremely responsive and possess an excellent culture of the worlds of politics and institutions.

👀 Finally, the public affairs consultant is in charge of lobbying. On a daily basis, he carries out institutional watches and carries out actions for draft legislation. In addition to flawless organization, the public affairs consultant must demonstrate an unfailing adaptation and a sharp sense of analysis.

Can you see it a little more clearly? So what are the major trends in the sector?

  • 25.000 communication professionals work in the public sector.
  • 28 years, this is the median age in the communications and PR sector.
  • Bac +4/5, it is the average level of study, for communicators specialized in the political and public fields.

Expert opinion ????

On the occasion of this mini-fair, we had the chance to receive Valerie Lecasble et Florian Silnicki. Valérie is general manager of Hill + Knowlton Strategies France, and was previously director of communication and spokesperson for the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. As for Florian, he is the founder ofagency de crisis communication LaFrenchCom, after having joined the Studies Department of a political party and having been a parliamentary assistant to a deputy in the National Assembly.

???? Hello to both of you ! Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

Valerie Lecasble : After having completed a long journalistic career in numerous media (written press, radio and television), it was not until 2008 that I finally switched to communication. At the time, I left the management of the I-Télé channel - renamed CNews - to join the TBWA Corporate agency as Vice-President. I then had the chance to participate in political campaigns, in particular that of the candidate François Hollande, " The change is now "(2012). Now, and for two years, I have been at the head of the French office of Hill + Knowlton Strategies, ainfluence international.

Florian silnicki : Being an expert in crisis communication strategy, I founded the LaFrenchCom agency in 2014. On a daily basis, we manage the media and digital defense of personalities and organizations facing difficulties by the news. During my career, I had the opportunity to support a large number of political figures and even a political party, that of the Republicans.

(I.e. When and why did you decide to focus on COM?

VL: As I said, communication did not take hold of me until 2008. I was then looking for new perspectives and new challenges, when the Vice-President of TBWA at the time offered me the opportunity to join the agency. This decision was not obvious, I doubted a lot, then after reflection, I started. Immediately I was seduced, and it's been 13 years today that I am happy in the Communication sector.

FS: As for me, my orientation is absolutely not the result of chance, I have always wanted to do communication. The inability that most politicians have to make themselves heard by the French and the difficulty they have in addressing their electorate correctly, are two observations that have never ceased to intrigue me. Political communication makes it possible to support these personalities towards new uses of language and new communication tools, such as social networks.

???? What does a typical day look like?

VL: Just like in the journalistic world, in political or public communication, one day is never like another. 🙂 Our mobilization must be permanent: we must be on the front line without stopping since our professions depend on exogenous events, on current events. And this, even on Sundays, a high point in political life.

I like to remind you that our profession consists mainly of "offering and protecting". On the one hand, we offer by building a reputation and positioning; we develop the image of a personality or an institution. On the other hand, we protect by safeguarding as best we can this established reputation, at the discretion of the unforeseen that fall on us. This is very similar to crisis communication management.

During my experience at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, it was necessary at all times to be able to face the death of a soldier in the field, or even a demonstration by the wives of soldiers ... To work in communication, and especially in these very specific sectors, you have to be terribly curious and have a very pronounced taste for the news.

FS: Indeed, this profession must be a passion because the required investment is colossal. You have to know how to put everything aside when managing crises. Nevertheless, facing this kind of problem can be fascinating, since they are at the crossroads of all social and societal changes. Note that your customers will always have more imagination than you, to put themselves in difficulty. The challenges are daily. At LaFrenchCom, our agendas are dictated by needs that cannot be anticipated. At any time, we may have to accompany a personality in a complicated moment. For this we constantly put in contact our communicators, specialists in crisis management to work with journalists and also communication specialists under judicial duress to work with lawyers. 

???? What is the most stimulating in your jobs?

VL : This question is not obvious. I would say that people are the most important to me. The journalist tells the story of others, while the communicator helps build a story. In communication, support takes precedence over judgment. Developing a story is a long-term psychological and sociological task. It is extremely enjoyable to see an investment, both personal and permanent, bear fruit. In political communication, a successful campaign is crazy!

FS : Those are the crises that stimulate me on a daily basis. They are fundamentally enriching both in their birth, which invariably reflects human failings, and in their management. It is never easy to anticipate this kind of situation, despite the processes put in place. Crisis communication can be very emotional for the communicator, who sees himself becoming both a guide and a support for his client. It is essential to reassure the latter, generally in the grip of a loss of confidence, and to allow him to regain a certain serenity during a sensitive speech. We must keep in mind that in his very nature, humans are fragile.

🎯 Valérie, what are the specificities of public communication?

VL: Political communication, which is more partisan, accompanies a bill, a candidate or a party. While public communication represents a community, a territory, or even the State. It is at the service of the general interest of the Nation and defends the institution, whatever the personal political edge of the communicator.

Public communication is an exciting sector. The Ministry of the Armed Forces has more than 700 communicators and benefits from an extremely large budget - several tens of millions of euros each year. During my experience within this institution, we had to respond to considerable challenges, particularly that of recruitment. Attracting new recruits remains a constant need. Communication campaigns around this subject are incessant.

🤔 Should you put aside your convictions to work in political communication?

VL: It is always better to be in agreement with the people we accompany. Obviously and fortunately, you have a choice of what you do. It is essential to know how to listen to yourself. I applied to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the day after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015. Having lost close friends during this disaster, I felt the need to bring my stone to the edifice of the fight against terrorism. I need to believe in what I do, what I say and what I achieve every day. If it wasn't, not only would I not be good at my missions, but I would also be very unhappy.

FS: Indeed, it is more comfortable to believe in what we defend. However be careful, the job of a communicator never comes down to being an activist. Too much personal activism could even cloud the quality and effectiveness of the actions to be taken for the client you are advising. Defending an image or a position is above all to give them a fair place in the political ecosystem by making the voice of the customer heard to achieve their goals and not yours.

Note that the political environment is fundamentally fluid. Every party and every politician must constantly readjust their discourse and their commitments. It is possible to be in agreement with your client one day, and a little less the next day. This must not impact the work of the communicator.

(I.e. What are the major developments in the sector?

FS: Above all, the multiplication of media: paper, digital and digital. This contributes to the transformation of the modes of transmission of information, and therefore impacts the information itself. Disinformation is pervasive and is spreading with terrible speed. I would add that gamification is gaining momentum.

Regarding the issues, the problem of today and especially that of tomorrow, it is the question of the interest of the French for political discourse. Politicians no longer manage to make themselves heard, communication bears the responsibility for this mistrust of public opinion.

💡 How to build a career and where to start? Do you have any advice for future communicators?

FS : You should not "make a career", but rather "do what you like every day". Always seek to do what makes you want, a career will flow naturally from that. Efficiency increases tenfold when motivated and passionate. So I would say that the recipe for success is to stay yourself, to stay free. Do not listen to anyone, it is you who will make the world of tomorrow. So dare to take risks, have some nerve and try new things.

Valerie Lecasble

Valerie Lecasble,

Managing Director of H + K Strategies Paris

Florian Silnicki

Florian Silnicki,

Founder of the crisis communication agency LaFrenchCom

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