InsightsPOSTED April 16, 2014

5 ways to alienate Quebeckers

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public relations french canada

“Let’s translate that and push it out to Quebec” is a tactic I’ve heard from a number of clients over the years. And every time I hear it, it makes me cringe.

Typically, there’s a major program launching and every “i” has been dotted, every “t” has been crossed, and the final step is national execution. Since Quebec is part of Canada, it makes sense to just distribute the same materials in French and call it a day, right?

Nope. It’s not that simple.

Now, I suspect this issue is somewhat familiar. I imagine that the topic has come up at some point during a lunch ’n learn, industry event or planning session. However, despite the fact that most of us know something else is happening in Quebec, it can be tempting (especially in a time crunch) to just take those French docs and run with them. But unless you want an entire province to tune you out, I urge you to be diligent and to plan ahead.

To ensure your message is heard, take note of these five things you might be guilty of that aren’t translating:

1. You’re not doing your research

Before you get started, it’s important to invest in some research. Choose a reputable company that has experience providing insights into this market and learn about what makes Quebeckers tick. Having this information on hand will also be hugely beneficial in the long run, as the data is something you can refer to again and again over the course of a couple years.

2. You’re not aware of the socio-economic differences

Now that you have your research, look for the trends that set Quebec apart from the rest of Canada. What does the typical family look like? How did the 70s feminist movement impact the province? What insight does knowing average household income and debt provide? This fundamental knowledge will be the foundation of your work.

3. You’re not considering their purchase habits or how they consume information

Do you know if Quebeckers are budget conscious or impulse buyers? Are they brand loyal or brand liberal? What kinds of media do they enjoy and how do they respond to various forms of product promotion? All of these are crucial questions, the answers of which should be shaping the strategies behind your campaigns.

4. You’re not investing in a different spokesperson

Regardless of how popular or influential [English Mega Celebrity] is…chances are they’re not resonating in Quebec. Instead, look into well-known personalities that grace the French Canadian media landscape and who are popular amongst the demographics you’re aiming to target.

5. You’re not making it personal

It doesn’t matter what the rest of Canada is doing – there are significant cultural and value-based differences that need to be acknowledged when working in Quebec, and you should be making every attempt to tap into them. Your efforts have to be about more than just speaking their language; you have to respect that the audience appreciates and responds to content that is specific to their way of life.

Quebec is just the tip of the iceberg. It just so happens that we have a wealth of knowledge about building an emotional connection with consumers. Why not learn more?

Daina Astwood-George is a bilingual Account Manager at APEX Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter.