The professions of press relations and influence – episode #17

Mini-fairs for Communication professions We Are COM X ISCOM, present the daily life of communicators. Let's go for an overview of Press Relations andInfluence in this episode # 17! 😎

A few words about the professions of press relations and influence

Creating bonds of trust is the basic principle of press relations and influence. 🛠 These professions are the builders and guarantors of a company's brand image, its reputation and its e-reputation.

Press relations, also called media relations, represent any form of communication established between a public relations specialist and the media. While influence corresponds to any action consisting in arousing interest, promoting a product, convincing and inciting an audience.

To learn more about the professions of press relations and influence, do not hesitate to consult our episode #9. This way !

Expert opinion

From the side advertiser, we are fortunate to receive Séverine Sollier, Media Relations and Institutional Communications Manager of the MACSF Group. While on the side agency is Eliott Siegler, CEO of AmazingContent, which will testify to his daily life.

Hello everyone, what is your job?

Elliott Siegler: For 5 years now, I have set up AmazingContent, which I do not really consider as an agency but more as a product company. On the one hand, we are developing a platform SAS for communication teams, ambassadors and agencies. On the other hand, we offer coaching and training. Also, our activity is relatively hybrid.

AmazingContent has for vocation to support communication departments wishing to develop the influence of their company. It seems essential to us to put the human being back at the center of the corporate communication and foster more inclusive leadership.

Severine Sollier : Since 2019, I have been in charge of media relations and institutional communication of the MACSF, or mutual insurance of the French health body. This mutualist group founded by and for doctors at the end of the XNUMXrd century, today insures more than a million health professionals (medical and paramedical). In other words, our daily mission is to support these professionals by offering them all kinds of insurance: home, health, savings, automobile, etc.

Why and when did you decide to move towards COM?

SS : My adventure as a communicator only began in 2013. I previously worked in the journalism sector, as deputy finance editor for the business daily La Tribune, which in 2012 swapped its paper version for a digital version. It was then that a friend suggested that I join the Humanis social protection group. In this group, recently resulting from a merger, everything had to be done in terms of communication, press relations and, more broadly, brand awareness. A real challenge that I wanted to take up.

ES: Why did you choose the field of communication? Just because I am absolutely and fundamentally convinced that communication is at the heart of our lives, it is an essential practice for good relationships. In personal life as much as in professional life, everything goes through COM. As far back as I can remember, I have always loved communicating, which initially pushed me towards the theatre. It is essential to exchange, to speak and to transmit by voice. I would add that communication is a prerequisite for trust, again a central value in all human life. Moreover, the famous "Trust Barometer Edelman" proves it: the functioning of our society is intimately linked to our way of communicating and generating trust.

How did I get into this field? To be honest, a bit by chance. Initially, I turned to trade and business, then one thing leading to another, I became interested in the impact that the speeches of leaders can have, especially on social networks. Today, this brand communication is our DNA and I have the chance to find my job absolutely fascinating.

What does a typical day look like?

SS : There really is no such thing as a typical day, since precisely things change all the time. In general, each day begins with a watch, listening to the radio and reading the press (most often online). On a daily basis, my schedule revolves around team meetings and exchanges with managers and journalists. I also give myself time to write dedicated to the formatting of press releases, as well as to the reporting (analysis of media coverage) of these.

I would add that incoming requests from journalists are daily, often impacting our agendas: appointments, interviews, proofreading, etc. Finally, very regularly, we have to carry out internal press reviews and carry out follow-up work on social networks. It is therefore not the missions that are missing! Not to mention the weeks during which we organize press events. 

IS : I agree with Séverine, press events are not easy. Regarding my typical day, it is also variable. Most often my son wakes me up around 5 or 6 o'clock. 😀 Then I get down to a assiduous watch. I am lucky to have an application which presents to me every morning all the monitoring that interests me: market of specific interest, evolution of the CAC40, entrepreneurial news, internal... I also carry out competitive monitoring, by consulting the profiles of journalists and politicians who could impact my job based on their decision-making.

At AmazingContent, our ritual is to meet every morning for a "stand-up", a team point that allows us to discuss the different projects of each.

What is the most stimulating thing about your job?

ES: In first place, it's the variety of things we can do that excites me the most. We are fortunate to work with more than 80 companies, whose universes and professions are fascinating to discover. For example, by collaborating with the Orange group, we understood that their expertise did not stop at telephony, but extended to the field of cyber-defense. Contact with people teaches us a lot.

He is also extremely stimulating to create on a daily basis, to materialize an idea that did not exist until then. We must constantly rethink communication to differentiate ourselves through new approaches or new levers.

SS: Indeed, variety is a fascinating counterpart to communication. We constantly have new topics to discuss. Also, the search for new ideas to further highlight this or that subject is constant: method, format, content, event…

MACSF supports medical innovation, in particular by investing in medtech startups. How to communicate around this? How can we provide journalists with proof of our support for innovation? What is the format or message that will grab their attention the most? Communication requires a constant creativity.

Which communication campaign are you most proud of?

ES: Recently, we performed a the countryside for Johnson & Johnson, whose challenge was the attractiveness of the employer brand. To meet this need, we have decided to support 5 Human Resources directors on the Social Media, in order to make their speeches more regular. The latter are effective relays for sharing a company's values ​​and commitments.

From now on, brands are facing a real problem: the tension around talent. Indeed, many studies show that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 1 million qualified talents on the European continent. It will therefore be increasingly difficult to recruit talents who share the values ​​of a company.

Thanks to our campaign and the approach of openness, transparency and proximity implemented, Johnson & Johnson has succeeded in reversing the recruitment trend. It was a fascinating campaign, the result of which exceeded our expectations.

With regard to the more eventful aspect of our activity, we organized a social media summit, during which a number of influencers gave valuable testimonials. We have, among others, gathered advice from Michel-Edouard Leclerc – President of the E.Leclerc group – a star in the field of influence, who very early on understood the impact of speaking out from leaders. This meeting brought together more than 700 people from agencies, advertisers and even the biggest influencer platforms.

SS: At MACSF, we organized a press conference last January, intended to announce the returns of our savings products. All employees were proud of these results, which illustrate our ambition to do better at our level. This press conference benefited from media coverage three times greater than that of the previous year.

Our pride also lies in the fact that this event was for the first time conducted in a hybrid format, with a mixture of face-to-face and virtual. A total of 34 journalists attended, a record for a company that announces life insurance results. To achieve this, we have changed the format of presentation, making a range of content available to everyone (infographics and illustrated articles), from which journalists could draw as they saw fit. In effect, how to be useful to journalists, if not by providing them with resources that simplify their work? 

What are the major developments in press relations and influence?

SS : I would say the press release the old fashioned way is a thing of the past. Previously, beautiful paper press files were distributed, with elaborate layouts and extremely elaborate content. Now, they are more of content sets where anyone can retrieve the information they want. This is called “snacking” consumption.

In the same way, the press release has evolved from very short and extremely factual content to a true storytelling strategy. Increasingly, a press release tells a story, littered with quotes from executives and experts. This type of content can even be implanted in an information site, like an article. It is not uncommon for excerpts from press releases to be used as is, a relatively recent practice.

As for the press conference, this format no longer appeals. Already, before the health crisis, journalists turned away from it. The latter generally prefer to turn to personalized information, unless the announcement made is exceptional.

In my opinion, the most promising formats are individual meetings, where each journalist is free to ask their own questions depending on the angle of the subject they wish to cover. Moreover, this formula one-to-one grows a lot.

In other words, we are witnessing the end of the traditional press space, that of press releases in PDF. Today is the rise of newsrooms, these content spaces to be explored in the form of “snacking”. 

IS : When it comes to influence, social media has upended established practices. While the traditional media have a very "top down" structure, that is to say vertical, with the speaking of a single person, the social networks are very horizontal since each Internet users can express themselves as they wish. We've entered a conversational era and that's a game-changer for influence. Today, everyone can create a community and become an influencer, everyone can convey messages. Moreover, within companies, each employee can now convey a message.

Also, influence is in a way the thorn in the side of brand communication departments. For decades, they have been trying to make a brand speak, today they have to deal with a completely new dimension of corporate discourse. It becomes essential to identify the right spokespersons, to master all the messages sent and to assess their impact.

Regarding the major developments, I would say that there is also a internalization of influence. More and more platforms are managed internally by companies, it is a relatively new movement. Finally, influencers are diversifying. Many of them focus more on product marketing, others are more political or journalistic. I am thinking in particular of HugoDécrypte who interviewed François Hollande or even the duo McFly and Carlito who went to the Élysée. These new trends are creating new bridges between communities, a phenomenon never observed before.

Do you have any advice for future communicators?

IS : First of all, find out about the technologies. The professions of influence evolve extremely quickly and at all levels. It is important that you stay tuned, the job you are learning today will not be the same in 5 years. Regularly, you have to forget everything and relearn everything. And justly, because these technical skills, or “hard skills” are destined to evolve, focus more on human skills, “soft skills”.

specialize. Communication is a vast field, where professionals touch on everything. By opening your mind and digging into a specialization to become an expert, your profile will be more attractive.

S.S : Indeed, specialization is very important, even if the communicator remains essentially versatile. No one does PR without being in contact with community management, brand COM or internal COM… Today, moreover, there is a continuum between the internal and external communication professions. So, whatever your specialization, you will collaborate with the different sectors.

A good communicator must also master writing. You will need it regardless of the COM sector in which you practice. You have to know how to write short, write long, write for the web, etc. This know-how is essential, since everything goes through the editorial.

Finally, my last piece of advice would be to keep an open mind. Do not sit on your certainties but learn to adapt to people and situations. Too often brands tend to have a discourse that is too self-centered around the message, failing to take an interest in the needs of the targets. It is essential to always remain within the logic of effective communication, one that is useful and serves the targets.

Severine Sollier,

Head of media relations and institutional communication for the Group MACSF

Elliott Siegler,

CEO ofAmazingContent

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