To Select a Spokesperson or To Not Select a Spokesperson? That is the question.
Most organizations and companies, especially the large ones, have a spokesperson of some type. Some go to great lengths to select the right person, while others seem to pick anyone who can string together some coherent sentences. I don’t recommend the second option.
Personally, I don’t favor the spokesperson model where someone other than the organization’s leader does all the talking. Stakeholders want to and need to hear from the person in charge. Sometimes a subject matter expert must be the one speaking but the organization’s leader should do most of the talking.
But it is important to have a spokesperson because you need a representative with whom the media, and eventually the public, can identify. You want one people handling media interviews – especially in crisis situations - because you need stability in your communications.
Public relations professional Yulia Dianova writes “Having the right person to represent your company is vital for successful PR and marketing. When choosing your spokesperson, select someone you can trust with your company’s image and future.”
That’s so true. Interviews can be intimidating even for people with media experience. A spokesperson must articulate the organization’s position and know how to advance an organization’s goals, viewpoints and objectives.
There are several things to consider when selecting a spokesperson:
· That person must be articulate and well-spoken.
· That person must convey trust and credibility.
· He/she must be genuine and sincere.
· A good spokesperson is good at thinking quickly on his/her feet.
· Even though you might be “the boss” your organization’s spokesperson might not necessarily be YOU.
That last bullet might hurt your feelings if you’re the boss, but you must face the truth. Perhaps you are a wonderful leader and personable with a brilliant mind, but maybe you are not the right one to serve as the spokesperson.
Risk Communication Expert Peter M. Sandman, Ph.D. says “There are lots of good communicators who are not good risk communicators and they won't be good when talking about an emergency and they're not the right person.”
If you are going to go through the effort to find someone to serve as your spokesperson, one of the best things you can do (if you have the money) is have that person professionally trained. It is money well spent.
(Tim is the author of the book 30 Things You Should Know about Media Relations, and other books on communication, available on Amazon.)