Brice Hortefeux: political communication crisis

by Laurent François

Quand Brice Hortefeux dérape
envoyé par lemondefrL’info internationale vidéo.


France is now living an important political communication crisis.

Quick summary:

“Introduced to Amine Benalia-Brouch, a young party activist of north African appearance, Hortefeux (pictured) said: “You always get one, when there’s one it’s OK, it’s when there are a lot of them you get problems.” (…) The incident is captured in a video on the website of Le Monde. Mr Benalia-Brouch is introduced by a figure who says “He’s an Auvergnat, an Auvergnat, it’s a disaster.”

As the young man poses with Hortefeux someone says “that’s integration for you!” A man then says: “He speaks Arabic,” and a woman says: “He’s Catholic, he eats pork and foie gras.”

Mr Hortefeux then says: “He doesn’t correspond to the archetype then. Not at all” – before making the controversial remark.”

What is pretty surprising is the apparent misunderstanding and lack of professionalism of Brice Hortefeux. Every content, interview, travel, meeting, can now be broadcast on YouTube, FlickR, blogs: in this case, Hortefeux speaks as if he was 100% off the record.

Moreover, there are several ingredients for a typical communication crisis:

  • UMP politicians have been pretty crap in terms of communication during the last few days. Luc Châtel and Nicolas Sarkozy were spotted while they were “organising” some fake testimonials
  • Hortefeux claims that it’s a conspiracy of other parties against him. Well, as his own supporters did not give the same explanation & the same storyline of the context in which he was filmed, the thing is that Hortefeux cannot be followed, listened and credible
  • Hortefeux accused parties, media & new media, all in the meantime. Well, if you need to save your life, you’d better leave a chance to get one open channel. Otherwise, you’re dead
  • Public Sénat did not declare immediately that they were the ones who filmed Hortefeux. Therefore, every French citizen made a shortcut: Elysée pressure=Brice Hortefeux wants to control the truth. Have a look on Twitter
  • Jean-François Copé burning situation: Brice Horefeux was not alone to make a mistake BUT JF Copé “escaped” to a certain extent the controversy. How come? I don’t have any right answer now, but we can imagine that Copé’s friends prefered to see Brice suffering from the polemic

One new breach in the empathy system that candidate Sarkozy wanted to implement during the presidential elections.

Few insights:

  • as social media is now a great information loop in France, journalists, activists & citizens can communicate together to share quickly elements of context when it comes to important issues
  • you cannot pretend that nothing’s happening if everybody’s asking for answers online, that is to say that the word-of-mouth is calling you

to be followed!

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