Having two official languages makes Canada’s communications culture extremely rich. Bilingualism can be challenging, too, but with the right strategy, pitching a story in the French-Canadian media market can land your media relations campaign on fertile new territory. Here are four tips to help you get there with media relations in Quebec.
Know that differences go beyond language
Have you ever compared media coverage from CBC and Radio-Canada? Reading breaking news in both languages may have you wondering if these stories were generated by the same national broadcaster. Makes sense. The media cultures differ in important ways, based as they are on different experiences, beliefs, national meanings, local practices, histories, politics and economic structures. When doing media relations in any new media market, make sure you have a deep understanding of where your story fits – and why it matters – within the larger cultural narrative.
Not all translators are equal, and not all English-speaking companies have the internal resources to verify that the translator they’ve hired is doing a good job. Beyond an ability to perform textbook translations, hire translators who truly understand the culture so that important nuances and cues aren’t lost in translation. A company that reaches out to media with a proper Quebec-adapted pitch or release will be seen as knowledgeable and respectful – a potent recipe for success. If you don’t have the in-house capacity to verify the quality of the French you are sending out into the world, then don’t send it. Or find someone who can.
Modify your tone
It seems obvious, so why do so many marketing and public relations companies forget about tone? When drafting pitches, note emphasis, syntax, and formality (or lack thereof), and tailor your communications accordingly. Your tone can communicate much more than the facts in your release. It adds flavour and, importantly, meaning to your message.
Know the influencers
In a media market as concentrated as Quebec’s, it helps to have friends. Two corporations, Quebecor and Gesca/Power, share 97.2 per cent of the Quebec media market. Relationship building with media is therefore crucial in this context. Your best bet is to know the people who can help you get your story heard.
What else do you need to know when pitching French media? Tweet all about it @pilotpmr, in whichever official language you like.