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Mis-Communicator of the Week: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

16th January 2014


On my first day of my first job in PR I was press-ganged into helping run an event which was, to all intents and purposes, little more than a photo-op.

For me – unaware as to how many things became news and made their way into the papers – it was a sudden wake-up call.

My colleagues and I shepherded news crews and photographers from every major outlet into position to await the arrival of the principal. After a wait I found excruciating, as I thought how rude we were to keep all these important journalists waiting, the photo-op finally happened.

Principal arrived and met people; photos were taken. A short speech was made; a pre-arranged doorstep interview with the broadcasters followed. Everyone then raced away to Central London and their offices as this was the days before mobile internet and the 'snappers' had deadlines to meet.

After the wait it all was done in about 20 minutes. The carefully choreographed nature of the event which was alien to me was understood, accepted and appreciated by both us, the PR team, and them, the journalists.

Those not understanding how news is made might think an event like this fake. It wasn't. It was constructed but at no point was the subject of the news story not authentic or did he say or do anything to undermine a reputation hard won over many years in front line politics.

This brings me to this week where a French politician, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, has seen her chances of becoming the next mayor of Paris damaged by a series of PR gaffes.

NKM, as she is known, is famed for her elegance and glamour. This though has been seen by some as a barrier to her winning control of such a diverse and multi-cultural city.

Eyebrows were raised and social media went on the attack when NKM was pictured in a glossy weekend supplement puffing on a cigarette and standing beside a group of homeless men and social workers.

It's an image that jars severely with who voters think NKM is, therefore she is seen as inauthentic. Her team have argued there was no photo-op but the damage has been done.

What's the difference between the photo-op I was involved in and the image which found its way into the French glossy mag? I'd argue that while I was working with journalists in a way that helped them to report accurately on a politicians' policies, NKM and her team were trying to manipulate or spin how she is perceived. That is why Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite



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