In Case You Missed It: French election result and what it means for media relations

Welcome toICYMI– a weekly snapshot of European news stories that have given me pause for thought. ICYMI is a chance for you to go beyond the front-page headlines and find out what other stories may be worthy of your attention. 

In this week’s ICYMI, I wanted to focus on a story summing up the political developments in France. As one of the founding EU members and its second-largest economy, France plays a vital role in EU affairs and its policies can have a huge impact on the business and technology landscape. The current situation also offers insight into how a significant election like this one can affect the media landscape, and how we should adapt as public relations practitioners.  

The situation in France 

This piece in Les Echos gives an overview of the results from the first round of snap elections in France on June 30th, following President Macron’s decision to dissolve the lower house three weeks ago. The far-right party, The National Rally (RN), emerged as the leading political force, gaining the most votes with 33%. The far-left coalition came second, followed by the President’s coalition.  

However you look at the result, the consensus is that Macron has been significantly weakened within the EU and globally. Meanwhile, the rest of Europe is watching closely as to what this all means for cohesion (or lack of) in Europe. Although the RN no longer seeks a “Frexit”‘, its policies widely diverge from current EU policies, potentially affecting issues like the Ukraine war, relations with Russia, and foreign policy. The long-term impact could include changes in direction for the technology and trade sectors.  

The other key aspect from this election was the turnout – the highest since 1997, which underscores just how significant French voters believe this next political chapter to be. 

The second round of voting will determine the final outcome of this election period and will determine who France’s next Prime Minister and Head of Government will be. That vote is being held on July 7th. 

How this affects media relations 

There are few major events that significantly affect the news cycle. Elections, especially ones with so much at stake, are one of them. European national and business media are rightly heavily focused on the political situation in France, and the same is true in the UK with its General Election on Thursday.   

This heightened focus is expected to continue throughout the week, impacting not only the national conversation but several affected vertical media sectors like tech, finance, marketing, and retail. As a result, there will be less room and resources available for them to cover their typical beats, and our media outreach will need to adapt. 

From a national business and broadcast media perspective, we recommend deprioritising all non-essential media outreach until at least next week. Take the time to perfect those pitches and be prepared for when the time is right. In terms of tech and vertical publications where the political situation is a key focus, it is an opportunity to provide timely and relevant insight. These publications will be most receptive to experts’ views on what the impact of the political situation means for their respective sectors, especially if we are able to offer a strong opinion, data or insight on the situation.

Looking further ahead, between elections, the Olympics Games and summer holidays, media outreach will be challenging for the next few weeks, especially in France where the Games are being hosted. Switching attention to developing long-term thought-leadership content for future pitching will pay off, as journalists will eventually seek to diversify the topics they cover and resume some semblance of normality.  

It’s also important at times like these to keep in touch with key contacts, even just informally, as they will soon enough want to hear about something else and naturally want to stay updated on their traditional beats. 

We’ll be monitoring and keeping in touch with key publications to gauge their appetite for wider stories, or identify live opportunities for clients, as well as keeping an eye on developments in France and the UK and how they might affect our clients.