Is your company courageous? How brave are your bosses? Marie-Josée Gagnon was interviewed by Montreal business journalist and blogger, Diane Bérard about corporate bravery to mark the end of the first year of Brave (web site in English soon). Let us know what you think!
What role does courage play in our lives and those of companies?*
For most of us, this is “what we often miss to live the life we are destined for,” said Marie-Josée Gagnon, president and founder of the communications and public relations firm, Casacom. Marie-Josée explored courage through eight meetings with entrepreneurs and executives. The series “Brave” took place between October and June 2018 (visit braveinspiration.com to listen to the podcasts).
For 17 years, Marie-Josée has advised leaders in their communication plan, when the sun shines as, well as when the storm rages.
In front of journalists like me, these leaders always show themselves in their best light. “Never let them see you sweat …”, they say.
Marie-Josée sees behind their mask. I wanted to know what she sees that I do not have access to. Here is the result of our discussion on the subject of ‘courage’.
Why does ‘courage’ interest you?
I meet so many dissatisfied people. Their lives seem to be on track, but nothing more. This is not exactly what they aspire to be. I wondered, why do I feel differently. I came to the conclusion that I owe it to courageous actions which have taken me elsewhere, on my “x”.
Why does the Brave series only feature women? Do you find women more courageous than men?
That was a gesture of courage on my part! The decision to focus on women for this platform was a difficult one. Men are welcome in the room, but I think women still have a long way to go before they’re “there,” so you have to give them a boost. It takes courage to dive in when everything is not perfect, when you aren’t able to control everything. Perfectionism is a more feminine than masculine trait. I believe that if I want to influence women to activate their courage, we have to give them stories of women who have done it and shown bravery.
Individuals can be brave, companies too. What does a non-courageous company deprive herself?
She misses her destiny. Take the case of Ultima Foods which lost the Yoplait brand in December 2010. In a few months, they launched a new brand, iögo. I saw this team tap into all the courage they had and go get all her energy reserves. Entrepreneurship was already in her DNA, but for this project, the step was very high.
How do you activate the fibre of courage in your clients?
It’s always easier when I have an unsatisfied leader in front of me. If I work with an executive who feels comfortable, it’s more of a challenge. In both cases, I explain the worst that can happen. “If you do not do that, here’s what could happen.” We advise, and the client makes the decision. This is the reality of consulting.
What is the basic courage gesture for a company?
Look at yourself and find what makes you truly unique. It is an exercise of authenticity. Some clients start it, but they give up. It is demanding. You have to meet the stakeholders. Ask real questions. Be ready to accept the answers. Companies that go all the way gets a compass. When they reach their essence, they can decide more easily in the presence of doubt. In front of an important or difficult decision, they say, “Is it me? Is it us? “
Your communications / public relations firm has existed for 17 years, how has the courage of companies and their leaders evolved?
Generally, we find that leaders do not like talking to reporters any more than they did 17 years ago! On the other hand, however, I see that there is more transparency now and meetings with stakeholders are more frequent than before. I think of this great American company that has come to explore the Quebec market. The leaders were terrorized by our “French language policy” (Office of the French language) … I proposed to them a meeting to separate their fears from the reality. They were very nervous to meet them. They came out relieved and satisfied after the discussion.
What is the ultimate form of courage for an entrepreneur / leader?
Building a company based on your values while society is not ready to follow you. I think of Anie Rouleau, who founded Baléco, the green cleaning products company, and Nathalie Tremblay, who founded Marmott Énergies, a geothermal solutions firm. These women fight every day because the values they defend are not yet imbued by society. Every day is a challenge, a test of their stamina and determination. There are many opportunities to give up, to compromise but they stand strong and courageous.
And lack of courage?
Board members who do not ask the real questions because they are afraid of being rejected, fall out of favor and will no longer be part of the group.
“We are all responsible for the integrity of the news,” you say. What is the role of leaders in this issue?
We must all fight against false news. Leaders, meanwhile, must agree to deal with what is uncomfortable. They must face what is happening in their organization and communicate it clearly, with humanity and empathy. It must be said, then remains the way to structure the message, of course.
You say that 10% of the leaders you accompany choose not to communicate. Does their business necessarily fare worse?
I must admit that some companies do well without transparency. Why? Some people are said to ‘always land on their feet’. Companies have dozens of legs and count on their employees. The potential to bounce back is greater. That being said, I remain convinced that the company that does not have the courage to communicate, misses an opportunity to become a better version of itself. Not to communicate is not to connect. We come back to the beginning of our conversation — just like the individual, a company that lacks courage, has a correct life, rather than the extraordinary fate it could achieve.
*Translation and transcription of an article by Diane Bérard published on Les Affaires web site on July 9 2018.
In response to a growing demand for creative and production of both visual and editorial content, CASACOM has opened a creative studio. The core of this team is Catherine Chantal-Boivin, Senior Consultant specialized in video production, Stacy Cavery, Digital Analysis Consultant, and Niti Mueth, Graphic Designer. The CASACOM studio team develops original and targeted content that amplifies the reach of public relations programs positioned for clients.
- Discover the latest achievements of CASACOM studio:
- Tous ruraux campain : website and interactive quiz, Fred Pellerin’s video and social media strategy
- AFFQ : videos
- Clearly : video
- The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated: video
The creations of CASACOM studio are based on a process that is divided into five stages:
- Data analysis
o Google Analytics, social media, newsletters, downloads, videos: the study of a brand’s digital ecosystem data helps identify trends that drive content creation.
o The content “cemetery” is growing every day. Too much content dies before reaching consumers. The choice of medium (visual, video, audio, text), the relevance of the content, the promotion budget and the frequency of distribution are the subject of careful planning.
o From video capsules to animated GIFs to infographics, we produce customized content adapted to the reality and needs of clients.
o Depending on the needs, we can distribute the content created on the web and social platforms, or collaborate with the client’s team at this level.
o Scope, tone, engagement rate and conversion: Digital content campaigns generate a wealth of statistics. Taking advantage of this data is key for amplification and the improvement of future campaigns.
At CASACOM, we believe that only original content with real added value will enable organizations to stand out in the sea of information broadcasted every day. With our new studio, we help our clients to be seen and heard by their audiences by offering digital content with a real public relations strategy.
Marie-Josée Gagnon, Founding President, is pleased to announce the promotion of two well-respected and valued employees, Claudia Bussière-Ladouceur to the position of Senior Consultant, as well as Noémi Foucault to Consultant, both who will be working with the communication marketing team. Both of these resources had been coordinators at CASACOM.
Claudia Bussière-Ladouceur joined CASACOM two and a half years ago and rose through the ranks brilliantly. As an expert in media relations and influencer programs, Claudia is recognized for her exceptional dynamism and client service, as well as her creative and personalized approach. She has developed her skills and knowledge by working with brands such as, Lexus Canada, Etsy Canada, Urban Barn and Netatmo.
Noémi Foucault began working at CASACOM as an intern a year and a half ago. Her dedication to learning, outstanding commitment and keen problem solving skills, has helped her professional growth within the company. From research to media relations to event coordination and social media management, Noémi has already mastered several aspects of public relations.
“It is always with great joy when I see young professionals taking off within our firm. Claudia and Noémi represent what is best at CASACOM: sincere commitment, professionalism and a constant search for results for our clients,” says Marie-Josée Gagnon.
We are pleased to announce that Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) has selected CASACOM as its public relations partner for the Quebec market following a thorough RFP process. CASACOM now supports Toyota Canada’s “Toyota,” “Lexus” and corporate brands with media relations, government affairs, and corporate communications across Québec.In collaboration with VIBRANT Marketing, an experienced brand expert, CASACOM will also support Toyota Canada in the experiential marketing component.
“CASACOM demonstrated a strong ability to help TCI establish a dedicated PR presence in the province of Quebec and is best equipped to understand the unique tone of the Quebec market,” said Dave Nichols, National Manager, External Affairs, for Toyota Canada. “We hope this will serve to foster solid relationships with Quebec media, and we look forward to working closely with the CASACOM team.”
“Toyota Canada is one of the most important automakers in Canada and its leaders truly understand the importance of engaging in conversation with Quebecers. They support the dealers’ efforts to address the distinct nature of our market, which is one of the reasons its new plug-in hybrid, the Toyota Prius Prime, was exclusively launched in Quebec. We are delighted to be working with such a prestigious organization and to become an extension of their PR team in Québec,” said Annie Paré, Executive Vice President for CASACOM.
ABOUT TOYOTA CANADA INC.
Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Toyota has sold over 5 million vehicles in Canada through a national network of 286 Toyota and Lexus dealerships. Toyota is dedicated to bringing safety, quality, dependability and reliability in the vehicles Canadians drive and the service they receive. TCI’s head office is located in Toronto, with regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Halifax and parts distribution centres in Toronto and Vancouver. Toyota operates two manufacturing facilities in Canada. Having produced more than seven million vehicles, popular Canadian models built at these facilities include Toyota RAV4, Toyota Corolla, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid. For more information on Toyota and Toyota products, please visit: www.toyota.ca.
CASACOM founding President, Marie-Josée Gagnon, is pleased to announce the promotion of Andrea Mancini as Senior Consultant in Toronto.
Joining CASACOM as an intern in 2013, Andrea Mancini quickly climbed the ranks and became an expert in media relations, social media and project management. She continues to deploy strategies to increase the reputation and credibility of our clients. Her expertise comes from working in diverse sectors such as health, consumer, technology and public affairs, working with clients such as Parrot, Netatmo, The Landing Restaurant Group and OnDeck Canada.
“Andrea is a determined and professional person from head to toe. She manages her projects with the highest level of commitment and excellence,” says Marie-Josée Gagnon. “I am so proud to have her on our team!”
“Working at CASACOM allows me to learn something new every day, to adapt and grow as a professional. I am extremely fortunate to work with such passionate and creative people, of whom I have learned a lot from. With this new challenge, which is very exciting for me, I want to continue to contribute to the success of CASACOM and our clients. ”
Andrea has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Professional Writing from York University and a Post-Graduate diploma in Corporate Communications and Public Relations from Centennial College in Toronto.
CASACOM founding President, Marie-Josée Gagnon, is pleased to announce the promotion of Jean-Michel Nahas to the position of Vice-President, Corporate Communication, in Montreal.
Jean-Michel is recognized as an expert in issues management, particularly through the relationships he builds with influencers and media. He knows how to match business objectives with communication strategies, which has led him to serve a variety of businesses including Ultima Foods, Sleeman Breweries, NOVIPRO, Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.
“Jean-Michel proves to be a valuable strategic asset for our clients and our team,” says Marie-Josée Gagnon. “In addition, he always engages with great sincerity in the success of our client’s projects.”
“I am very excited about this new role. My experiences at CASACOM are rich in learning and push me to surpass myself on a daily basis. I am delighted to be working with a talented and dynamic team and I am excited to contribute more to the success of our clients. ”
Jean-Michel Nahas has more than 10 years of experience as a professional in public affairs, public relations and management. He began his career as a journalist at the Journal de Montréal before joining one of Quebec’s largest school boards in the communications department.