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Choosing the right spokesperson for your organisation

Posted on 28/04/2014 by Erin Rigby in Media relations Media training Spokespeople whatsnew
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Choosing the right spokesperson is essential if your company is looking to build a positive profile in the media. Knowing who to choose and why is not easy, so Cole Lawson breaks it down and provides some tips for choosing the perfect spokesperson.

If your business is looking to build its reputation and media profile, choosing the right spokesperson is essential. A good spokesperson gives your business a real, human face which your audience can recognise and relate to in any medium – it turns your business from an ‘it’ into a ‘we’. 

It’s not always easy to choose the perfect spokesperson but the following tips can help:

The CEO is not always the way to go

Choosing the right person depends on the story or situation and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always have to be the most senior person in the company. The media want to talk to the person who is closest to the story, so the spokesperson you choose should be the most qualified and knowledgeable person for the topic. This way, when they are approached by the media for interviews they are completely across what is being talked about and can answer any question thrown their way.

It's also quite common for a company to ‘roll out the big guns’ for a company-wide announcement or crisis, so choosing the CEO for every opportunity could make your audience feel like the story is more serious than it is.

Be hands-on

As PR people, we need to talk to the person closest to the story to get the facts before constructing key messages and media content. It’s important that your spokesperson is involved from the start of this process so they can be prepared for any media interviews and always stay on message. Yes – sometimes that can be time consuming, but it's the best way to ensure a strong and consistent message.

The perfect spokesperson must also understand the value of publicity to an organisation, if they don’t, they may not convey they right messages to the media or be motivated to respond as quickly and efficiently as required.

Training is key

Not everyone was blessed with Obama-like charisma so training is essential to hone your spokesperson’s skills and ensure they deliver information that is consistent and on-message every time.

Untrained spokespeople run the risk of distorting your company’s message, confusing your audience, damaging your reputation with stakeholders and journalists and just generally making you look bad. Take acting BBC director-general Tim Davie’s 2012 interview with Sky News as an example. 

Many companies factor regular media training sessions into their budgets because it’s that valuable. Specialist media training practices, like Cole Lawson’s, are designed to put your spokespeople through their paces in a media environment with real, working journalists. Media training is beneficial as it provides a risk-free environment for critique, gives a platform for the spokesperson to learn how to convey key messages correctly and stay in control of an interview. All of which are invaluable skills for your company’s spokespeople.

It’s important to realise the value of having a good media spokesperson. Your company’s spokesperson can make or break your media reputation and help build solid relationships with journalists and other stakeholders. 

If you’re interested in more information, or need some advice on how to choose a spokesperson for your company, get in touch 

By Erin Rigby - Consultant.