Marie-Françoise Hervieu has been in public relations for over 15 years. Throughout her career she has had the chance to work in corporate communications, marketing communications and government relations in Québec, Canada and the U.S. Her professional attitude, her ability to provide sound strategic advice, and the quality of her services are some of the reasons many of her first clients continue to do business with her today. Here’s what she has to say about Zone Franche, a public relations agency she founded five years ago.
1. WHAT DOES YOUR COMPANY DO?
Zone Franche is a public relations agency specializing in corporate positioning. Our areas of expertise include external communications, issues management and internal communications.
2. WHO ARE YOUR CLIENTS?
We have a very diverse client base, made up of businesses of all sizes and industries. However, we are mainly recognized for our expertise in manufacturing, telecommunications, health care, finance, energy, technology and education. Working with Media Profile, our partner in Toronto, we serve various multinationals across Canada, including Google, Starbucks, Honda, and AbbVie.
3. WHAT MAKES YOUR COMPANY STAND OUT IN THE MONTRÉAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY? WHAT IS YOUR EXPERTISE?
We have extensive expertise in managing press relations, preparing press materials and short speeches, and developing and implementing positioning strategies for social media and training in particular. Our clients say they appreciate the fact that we listen to their needs, we’re not shy about challenging them, we’re flexible, we deliver on time and we always find solutions (that’s one of our values!).
4. WHAT ARE THE THREE WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE GREATER MONTRÉAL?
Cool, diverse and welcoming.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A FOREIGN COMPANY THAT WANTS TO INVEST IN GREATER MONTRÉAL?
We’re currently supporting a few European—mainly French and Belgian—companies locating in the Metropolitan Area. Corporate positioning in Europe is very different from corporate positioning in Canada and our job is to help those companies tailor their tools and strategies to the North American market.
Here, for instance, getting media coverage for businesses and their CEOs is the thing to do—and the timing is right because media interest in small and medium-sized businesses is on the rise. French CEOs say they’ve always managed to stay under the radar in France, but here in Montréal and Québec they must position themselves in the community if they want their businesses to succeed.
We recently had a major daily paper cover a French company in its business section. The very same day, our client was contacted by two investment funds interested in investing in the company’s projects. Our client had spent almost a year trying to get one interested. We always do our best to help our clients reach their business goals so we were quite thrilled to learn that our hard work had really paid off!