Top-level communication: behind the scenes with famous French spin doctor Jacques Séguéla
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This article explores the practice of spin doctoring through the point of view of a practitioner and possible differences between France and America in that practice. We do so by reporting and analyzing an exclusive interview with famous French spin doctor Jacques Séguéla, VP of Havas, one of the world’s largest advertising and communications groups. Séguéla was involved in 20 political campaigns in France and abroad, advising, among others, French President François Mitterrand in 1981, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barack in 1999. He still advises a number of politicians and top-level executives worldwide. In the interview, Séguéla talks about his life as a spin doctor, and divulges some of his best communication “tricks” through a wealth of stories and anecdotes. Following the interview, we compare Séguéla’s point of view with American spin doctoring practices. We then discuss in more depth Séguéla’s key assertions on the role of authenticity and intuition in top leaders’ communication under crisis.