“The French love to Argue”

Today, October 20, in my international PR class, we had a guest speaker via Skype. Elizabeth Albrycht “skyped” in from Versailles, France.guest speaker

Albrycht has been living in France for 6 years and has been working in the PR world for almost 20 years, in which she even owned her own agency. After moving to France, Albrycht decided to get her masters and began teaching.

Albrycht now works at ISCOM in France where she teaches International PR as well as English in a class mostly comprised of french students. “France has one of the most difficult times with English,” Albrycht said. She also teaches at Paris School of Business in which she has 17 different countries represented in her PR and business disciplines classes.

Across the aboard, Albrycht believes that all people want to be communicated with, to be treated as an individual and with respect. She also believes that people hate feeling helpless.

Albrycht’s advice was that it is really easy to get tripped up on cultural differences and what is obvious and feels right to us doesn’t always translate. She advises that we use individual approaches as well as collective approaches. Stategies and tactics differ from country to country.

An example she gave of France is that, in the US, she was considered left wing, but since French labels are different, she considers herself a right wing there.

france-flagAn interesting fact she told us is that France is one the of top countries for blogging, which she believes is attributed to the thought that the “French love to argue.”

Most people that the French hate Americans, but Albrycht sees it as a love/hate relationship.

Another interesting fact she told us is that although gifts are not accepted as business deals in the U.S., they are accepted in France, under strict rules. This gifts could include things such as a plane ticket.

Overall, it was a very interested topic. I enjoyed hearing about the small details that differ from country to country that you usually don’t think about on a day to day basis. I would love to hear about more of the details about France or any other country in the future.

The whole skype effect was very cool too being my first experience with it.


October 20, 2009. International PR.


  1. Elizabeth Albrycht replied:

    I am glad you enjoyed my lecture. I just wanted to clear up a few points.

    I teach at ISCOM (pronounced ees-comm) here in Paris, as well as the Paris School of Business.

    As for the differences in accepting gifts, you should be careful here. I was explaining that the rules for media engagement can be different country to country. For example, you can’t buy a plane ticket for a US journalist, but you might be able to for a French journalist. This is not the same as “accepting gifts”, which can often be read as “bribes”. I would state categorically that the French follow strict rules of business when it comes to “gifts”!

    Privacy laws are decided by the EU now, and the EU laws are generally more strict than in the US.

    It is certainly an odd feeling to find oneself not fitting into the usual categories we use to identify ourself. The example I shared (which is one of many) is that in the US, I tend to fall more on the left side of the center spectrum politically and in France, those same beliefs leave me on the right of center here, given the strong socialist history of the country. It just goes to show you that labels can be tricky! We have to be careful of our self-identifications when we travel to other cultures as they don’t always translate directly.

    One last piece of advice. While I used a few generalizations for the purposes of clarity (the French love to argue), be careful when you apply these to a strong cause-effect relationship. Yes, that is a cultural attribute, which I believe contributed to the strong growth in blogging here. But I don’t think you can call it the only, or even most important, cause.

    Thank you again for summarizing the class here! I wish you luck in your studies.

  2. Andrews replied:

    Isn’t nice when the guest speaker comments about your post.

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