Launching a product in the Quebec market can feel daunting especially for a PR agency outside the province. The language barrier and the cultural uniqueness are only the top reasons why companies look for ways to crack the French code. There are many ways for a public relations agency to reach the Quebec market without making a faux pas, but one sure way to build a bridge between the French culture and a product is by leveraging the dynamic star Quebec system. Local celebrities can give you almost instant credibility with an authentic voice carrying your message.
Quebec has a veritable constellation of francophone stars who have never crossed over. Given her media (over)exposure, you could be forgiven for thinking Céline Dion was the only star Quebec has ever produced. In reality, the province has many native stars, whose projects and personal lives receive so much coverage on talk shows and gossip rags that they’re practically like family. Take the ubiquitous Véronique Cloutier, or “Véro” as she is familiarly known: having started out as a VJ, she’s now a one-woman media empire, Quebec’s answer to Oprah, with radio and TV shows and her own magazine. Marina Orsini, Richard Séguin, Robert Charlebois, Paul Piché, Mitsou Gélinas… the list of household names unknown to the rest of Canada goes on and on. On the other hand, your average Quebecer thinks George Stroumboulopoulos is the name of a Greek restaurant and Jian Ghomeshi a type of curry, so what goes around comes around.
You first have to do your homework, be clear about the objectives of your communications program and what you’re hoping to accomplish before you make your choice.
There are many factors that come into play when you want to hire a spokesperson. But, If you only do one thing this is what you do. You first establish your yardstick for success. This is crucial. What does success look like?
Then you turn yourself to the actual factors that will determine your choice of a spokesperson.
I want to talk about my 4 most important PR agencies criterion to check before making a final decision.
1. Make sure he or she has a Good Connection to Your Cause/Product: Does your spokesperson have a strong personal story that will resonate? It is important to measure the ‘personality fit’ of a spokesperson. Look up his or her personal social network. You can get a lot of valuable information that way. And don’t forget to interview the person. But, when there is a personal connection to a cause/product and the spokesperson is credible, it can have a great impact, regardless if the local star is lesser known.
2.Media opportunities: Does the person have media channels to express himself/herself openly? If the local celebrity gets regular exposure on mass media in the province of Québec, you stand a chance to gain credibility much faster than only using the spokesperson in advertising materials.
3. Think about Your Target Audience(s): Is your spokesperson relevant to your target audience or demographic? Pretty straightforward. Right? Yet I’ve seen this mistake made too often. You have to put your personal feeling aside. It is especially relevant in the Québec market. For example, comedy, or what you perceive as funny in your market might not resonate with a French crowd. That is because humorous is a highly cultural phenomenon.
4. Look at their endorsement history: By researching a celebrity’s endorsement history, you’ll get a better idea of how effective he or she will be. Again, in smaller markets like in Montreal, a celebrity that monetizes fame to an array of products or causes will lack credibility. Also, be careful if someone endorsed brands or products that are similar to yours – or even someone who has endorsed your competitors before. That also will look disingenuous. What works very well is when you can find a local celebrity that is credible but that hasn’t done endorsement in at least a year.
Bonus. My last recommendation comes from personal experience. We found that finding a credible local celebrity that can also surprise the targeted audience increases the success of your campaign. When the combination of your product and your celebrity becomes bigger than the sum of its parts, your audience wants to know more. Which is important for your Public relations results. People want to know the reason behind the association. It gives you great memorable storylines that have lasting value.