We interviewed Arnaud Dupuis-Castérès, president of Vae Solis Corporate, a French communication consulting firm and partner of Proa Comunicación, to explain how they work from the agency and how they deal with their greatest challenges.
What is Vae Solis Corporate?
Vae Solis Corporate is a consultancy specializing in communication strategy and reputation capital. Our positioning is very clear: support and advise managers independently on issues they have regarding image and reputation.
What are the origins of the company?
The company was founded in 2002 and in 2007 we launched the Vae Solis Corporate brand. My initial desire was to create an independent consultancy with an original positioning: to be multidisciplinary, with a tailor-made approach and a team of senior professionals capable of advising the most senior executives of companies and institutions. Between holistic communication groups and small highly specialized agencies, I wanted to build a medium-sized firm that offered an alternative, a positioning strategically focused and with conviction from the very beginning: reputation is one of the most valuable assets of our clients. Therefore, it must be valued and protected.
What is the current composition of the Vae Solis team?
The Vae Solís Corporate team consists of nearly 35 multidisciplinary consultants, with complementary backgrounds and extensive experience in the public, political and private sectors. The team is led by 10 directors and partners who manage the projects, two of which are based in Brussels.
From which sectors or business areas do your consultants come from?
We are a very diverse team, made up of profiles which complement each other. Diversity is one of our fundamental values. Some of our professionals come with a specific formal educational background in communication, but most have other sorts of qualifying experiences, such as experience working with ministers or parliamentarians and large companies. Others have been officials, bankers, journalists or lawyers. This diversity is very useful and greatly enriches our approach. This is one of the main strengths of the firm.
What value proposition does the consultancy offer that differentiates it from its competitors?
What kind of profiles do your clients have and which sectors do they operate in?
We work with CAC 40 clients, as well as startups and support many institutions and associations. We are fortunate to have many loyal customers with whom we have worked with for many years, and together we have built very close and trusting relationships. One of the firm’s strengths is that it works for different sectors of activity (finance, infrastructure, agri-food, construction, telecommunications and health, etc.). This diversity enriches our professionals and our ability to understand the main problems faced by companies and institutions.
What is the service or practice most appreciated by your clients?
Vae Solis forte is precisely in its ability to impart a global strategic vision of reputation. For example, mastering crisis communication and risk prevention is often very useful and relevant in developing a communication strategy. In addition, customers appreciate our ability to respond to, mobilize, and react very quickly. We can support our clients for long periods of time, like in the case of the “yellow vests” social crisis, seven days a week, 24 hours a day for several months. If we know how to do it, it is because we have been doing crisis management for 20 years.
What is the key factor to fostering a lasting relationship with your clients?
Our clients expect us to be always proactive, to inform them about popular trends, and to be able to decipher weak messages. The agency should be a partner that helps the client to take a step back and analyze their problems from a different perspective. Finally, it is undoubtably about obtaining results over time. Without results, customers will look elsewhere.
How relevant is crisis communication as a tool to improve your customer’s income statement?
Risk prevention is more important than crisis communication. Risk prevention not only reduces the risk of a crisis happening, but when it does occur, it reduces the impact of the crisis and, when it has some impact, it allows for better management and turns the crisis into an opportunity. The Chinese word “crisis” (“Weiji”) is composed of two ideograms: “danger” and “opportunity”. If we understand the danger, we have opportunities ahead.
What is the main objective that Vae Solis aims to achieve? Is strategic positioning or brand management more essential in preserving reputation?
In my opinion, working on strategic positioning cannot be fully conceived without brand management. Both enhance each other. Corporate communication, even more so in the current era, is becoming a fundamental element of brand strategy.
How can communication contribute to the creation of synergies between Spanish and French companies?
We are accustomed to working with non-French companies and organizations and we have many international clients in Europe, but also American, Chinese, African, etc. We support French-speaking companies in international matters, but also international clients in their issues in France or in Francophone countries. Our ability to mobilize a solid international network of high quality partner agencies is clearly an asset for our clients, especially in Spain with Proa Comunicación.