Member news | October 09, 2020
In our latest Meet the Member feature, we chatted with Guilaine Depis, CEO of Balustrade, her very own press and public relations agency. Guilaine works to introduce her clients to her strong network of journalists and important figures built upon 16+ years of professional experience in the exclusive Saint-Germain des Prés neighborhood in Paris.
Read more to gain insight from Guilaine on working in the PR & media industries, working between French and American cultures and more…
FACC-NY: What led you to becoming a PR and media relations professional ?
I have always loved human encounters. They give life meaning and a future. I have always loved discovering the hidden treasures in each of us. I am said to be a generous person ; it’s actually in my character to open my heart and my address book to others. I believe that since my teens, without my being aware of it, I’ve been a good professional of press and public relations, because I have always behaved like this – go seek the light in others and raise it high so that everyone can enjoy it ! My company is called Balustrade, it means a railing, or a launching pad, that protects from the outside world, and on which one can rely in confidence and rise to be seeen. This is what I do for a living.
Working in press and public relations in fourteen different sectors (from AI to literature) allow me to connect them to each other, to initiate unexpected and fruitful encounters, for example between an entrepreneur in real estate and a famous writer, or between a scientist and an artist.
Balustrade is responsible for communication and part of the programming of national and international events. I always try to dovetail my other clients with the organization of events on which I work – Salon international des mathématiques, Marché de la poésie, Festival de la photo animalière, Fête de la philo, among others. This puts the spotlight on them. I would say that I promote my clients’ expected encounters but that I also often provoke quite unexpected encounters by crossing my networks, by weaving the most unlikely, the most magical, links. I help bring about positive synergies.
FACC-NY: If you can share, what was the most extraordinary client you have worked with? What was your biggest takeaway?
I’m proud to have a lot of contacts with journalists and prominent personalities. As an example, I’m on very good terms with famous French-speaking authors such as Amélie Nothomb and Sylvain Tesson whom I regularly interview to consolidate and retain friendship. I’m also a friend of the most famous French journalists Patrick Poivre d’Arvor and Eric Zemmour. Like the Louvre, this address book of mine, which is the envy of many, was not built in a day. My address book has been patiently built throughout sixteen years spent in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the mythical Parisian district where many celebrities live. For example, to get closer to them, I invite journalists to lunch. This allows to establish friendly links that go beyond the strictly professional stage and favors their benevolent attention for the customers of Balustrade that I then suggest they might interview.
My fondest memories as a press secretary ? Pretty difficult to say… Right now, I just love being the press secretary for innovative entrepreneurs like Eric Jeux, Emeric Lebreton, who are leaders in the AI field, but I also have a strong memory of my work for the late Antoinette Fouque who passed away in 2014, and a co-founder of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I gave her the media exposure she had never had in her life before I took charge of things in 2007. This month, I’m also delighted to promote Pierre Ménat’s book on the post-Covid European Union. Pierre Ménat is a former advisor to Jacques Chirac. This is his third contract with Balustrade !
FACC-NY: You have previously stated that by choosing your company Balustrade, you are choosing a « chic and shock » communication, can you elaborate on this?
I am known in Paris for my elegance, both in my dress and in my writing, my way of being. I do not go unnoticed, either on the streets, on social networks, or with my long texts published on internet magazines that earn me a flood of rave reviews. I feel good in my body as a woman, I claim my femininity and in a country like France that invented the art of ‘courtly love’ (‘amour courtois’), I have never been reluctant to put forward this charm to ‘fit’ my clients with journalists apt to be sensitive to my image, my kind words, my feminine gentleness, or my wit. I have an iron hand in a velvet glove. I never give up a goal once I have it in mind. I am extremely persevering.
FACC-NY: What are the biggest cultural differences you see in your work between France and the U.S.? Good or bad?
In France, many of my professional successes take place in restaurants ! Journalists love eating and drinking champagne. Sharing a good meal, a great wine, brings people together ! It then becomes easier to convince them to do articles, TV shows, interviews with my clients. That is why having a go-between like Balustrade, in the flesh in Paris (and with a smile!), is in my opinion an indispensable asset for any company or private person wishing to gain recognition in France. Virtual reality is a good thing, but human contacts are better, warmer and therefore more efficient. Complicity, and therefore the desire to be pleasant, to help me by taking an interest in Balustrade’s customers, will be stronger with a journalist after an excellent lunch, shared laughter than if I deluge him/her with endless, yawn-inducing emails.
FACC-NY:Why did you choose to join the FACC-NY?
With a passion for opera, and especially for Richard Wagner, I took the opportunity of a superb Ring, given at the MET in 2019, to discover New York. I immediately fell in love with it, it felt so strange… There was so much energy everything seemed possible, at hand. This city I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl looks a lot like me – same ferment of ideas, same sense of excess ! I feel like I’m magnetized by the Big Apple.
I have a French lawyer friend – from Yellaw – who found for herself on LinkedIn working partnerships with law firms located in New York. She is convinced that it is possible for me, as it is for her, to achieve in my sector of activity (press, PR) similar partnerships with companies or individuals in New York looking for representation in Paris as well as visibility in the French media.
On my return from New York, on the advice of this lawyer friend, I decided to create a second website, in English, for my company Balustrade : http://french-press-agent.com During the 2020 Covid lockdown, I made a 2:30-minute live video and wrote a 30-page PDF document introducing Balustrade to potential foreign customers.
The final move to reach my objective – the globalization of Balustrade which already has Chinese, Canadian, Korean, Israeli, Paraguyan customers – will be of course to join the French American Chamber of Commerce in New York. I am looking forward to finding new professional opportunities which will allow me to go back there.
Interested in connecting with Guilaine? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.
Guilaine Depis, by Xavier Blanchot, CEO of the famous hotel La Louisiane
Translation : The hotel La Louisiane has always welcomed writers, novelists, poets, essayists, philosophers, historians, scientists, journalists, biographers … The start of the year is therefore an opportunity to salute the quality of the work of Guilaine Depis, media officer with her agency Balustrade, specialized in the promotion of writers and their books, and in general in the cultural world, its events and its actors. Thus, in a way, Guilaine brings to life and energizes Saint-Germain des Prés, our illustrious district which should not fall asleep on its laurels (and worse, become gentrified like the Right Bank or become boboish like the Marais) , but on the contrary to keep its spirit of secular resistance and to remain the place of new, disturbing, atypical, revolutionary creations. provocative or punks. The day when the pen itches you and your manuscript goes beyond Jack’s page in The Shining, without forgetting that « To work too much, one loses joy and health », contact Guilaine without hesitation so that your great work benefits from his talent. Xavier Blanchot, CEO of the hotel La Louisiane in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés http://hotel-lalouisiane.com
Guilaine Depis, French press agent, Balustrade PR’s interview for the Web TV « Racine solaire » (a Web TV with only French famous people)
Translation of an article about Guilaine Depis which was written by a French Women’Leaders Club called Femmes 3000 and published here : https://femmes3000.org/le-portrait-dune-adherente-femmes-3000-guilaine-depis/ :
Born on Christmas Eve of 1979 in Périgueux, Guilaine Depis fulfilled her dream to live in Paris, the city she has always been in love with. Her 19/20 grade at the Literary Baccalaureate is a sign of fate. She’s captivated by her studies at the faculty of political science, Sciences-Po, in Toulouse (1997-2001) which gives her the possibility to accomplish an internship at the French Embassy in Japan and another at the General French Consulate in Sydney. After a stay at Langues’O in Japanese at the National Institute of Oriental Languages, she validated a master’s degree in “Political Administration” at the Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne faculty. It’s during her job as a parliamentary assistant at the Senate in 2005-2006 that she becomes aware of her difference. Caught by the literary environment which she feels much closer to, she hones her skills as a press agent with the rigorous Antoinette Fouque at the publishing house “Editions des Femmes” from 2007 to 2010, where she learns a great deal in a beautiful and stimulating environment.
In 2009 it’s during this professional experience in a women’s environment that she discovers the “Femmes 3000” association. In fact, Christine Spengler, the photographer whom she is in charge of highlighting the book, tells her she is the guest of the “Mardis du Flore” (Tuesdays at the Flore, a famous Parisian Cafe) of the “Femmes 3000” association. Following this first evening of 3rd March 2009 which she attends with pleasure, Guilaine Depis will suggest other authors she then represents as guests, such as Christine Orban and Gisèle Halimi , they will immediately be accepted.
Guilaine Depis is seduced straightaway by “Femmes 3000”, where she’s around proactive women with a “constructive” spirit, women who aren’t in the resentment or at war with men. This association is, above all, wonderfully led by Line Pierné, the President, with whom a strong and discrete friendship builds up. Guilaine Depis feels a spontaneous deep affection for Line Pierné and the feeling is mutual. Their sensitivity and their cheerfulness stimulate and respond to each other. Something powerful and authentic which Guilaine Depis fully understands the value of when she finds herself unemployed in 2010. Line Pierné takes her under her wing and recommends her for jobs, she worries about her feelings and regularly calls her to see how she is doing. When you go through an ordeal such as unemployment, a phone call doesn’t seem much, but it can be huge and important. Even more coming from the President herself leading such an amazing association as “Femmes 3000”. Guilaine Depis is overwhelmed by so much attention and generosity coming from Line Pierné, she imagines her as a radiant sun from whom she can draw energy to bounce back and she will keep this image of her forever.
In 2010, Guilaine Depis starts interviewing important figures she admires such as Raphaël Enthoven, Sylvain Tesson, Xavier Darcos, Christine Clerc, etc, for the “Le Magazine des livres” (The Books Magazine). It’s because of the quality of her interviews published in the written press that in 2018 she will be noticed by the TV channel ArtLive who gives her the opportunity to have her own literary show. Amélie Nothomb, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, Blanche de Richemont, Catherine Lopes-Curval will be among the first ones invited to participate. She’s fond of all frameworks of expression in which she can introduce books and talk with the authors.
It’s after her fixed-term contract as a substitute in communications for the prestigious School for Higher Education in Social Sciences (EHESS) in 2011-2012 that she decides to create her own business Balustrade (guilaine-depis.com). She is today a great example of a successful entrepreneur, whom fully flourishes being self-employed, with the freedom to select her customers. Her current policy is to diversify the fields in which she carries out press relations, each year being less confined strictly to the literary environment. With a great appetite for encounters and knowledge she is enthusiastic whenever an unusual customer has the audacity to reach out to her! Everyone may need visibility, thus climb on her balustrade!
Guilaine Depis named her business “Balustrade” because it’s the allegory she makes of her job as a press agent: you can lean on her in total confidence, she listens, advises, supports and protects from the outer world, prevents falls, enhances and allows to aim higher. She assists you with style and introduces you with tact to her soundly-based network of journalists and important figures in addition to 14 years of professional experience in Saint-Germain des Prés, in Paris, France. Her customers are authors, publishers, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, also events such as the “Marché de la Poésie” (Poetry Market), the “Mathematical Games and Culture” fair, the International animal and nature film and photography festival. She is also entrusted with writing jobs: texts on works, forewords and even the writing of entire books. The core of her job and her talent is to build relationships, to mix different environments and coordinate them. Her greatest reward is that most of her customers rehire her year after year, constantly renewing the contracts or talking to their friends about her.
Guilaine Depis has been a true auditor of the Pataphysics College since 2009 and attends to several literary circles. She’s an opera passionate, she’s been a member of the AROP (association for the Paris Opera outreach) and the National Richard Wagner Circle since 2010. She goes to Bayreuth and the Met. She’s already travelled a lot and far: India, China, Israel, Iran, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Jordan, United-States. Fortunately, her favorite travel agency, “Voyages intérieurs”, based on spirituality, has recently become one of Balustrade’s customers.
She’s been practicing Body Pump and Body Attack for more than 20 years and also horseback riding at the Paris riding center “l’Etrier” since she crossed Mongolia twice on a horse. She collects gallinaceous poultry and shares her apartment in Saint-Germain des Prés with Jasmine Catou, Balustrade’s feline personal assistant.
Guilaine Depis’ Balustrade website: guilaine-depis.com
Guilaine Depis, press agent noticed by “Libération” (newspaper) and “Obs” (magazine), the 3000 Women’s Association, etc.
Guilaine Depis, press agent to whom the journalist Edouard Launet dedicates half a page in “Libération” in 2012
Guilaine Depis, only press agent mentioned in an investigation on literary TV shows in the “Obs” in 2012
The 3000 Women Newsletter of March 2019: Guilaine Depis honorary member