Learn how to identify the qualities of a good spokesperson.
- When you begin planning your communications program, one of the first questions you should ask is: Who is the company spokesperson that will interface with the media? The immediate answer is usually "our CEO" or "our president." Hold on. Not so fast. This question deserves much more careful consideration. Here's why. It's imperative to have the right spokesperson or spokespeople in place. Those who will speak on behalf of the company during a myriad of different situations.
They must also have the credibility, authority and expertise to speak on a particular topic. Of course, if you own a small company, it's likely that your CEO has hands-on knowledge and experience to handle all of the interviews with the media and bloggers. However, as your organization grows, you'll find that it's important to start thinking about the thought leadership of other team members as well. Let's focus on the growing company, using several experts as your spokespeople.
There are two important areas to consider when selecting the professionals who will interview. First, you have to determine the importance of the issue or the topic related to the interview. If there's a crisis, depending on the level of escalation, that's how you decide if your highest level executive should be available for interview. For example, if you have the CEO or president step into every interview that focuses on a small issue, or that is not of crisis proportion, then you may alter the way the public views the situation.
You don't want to make a situation appear more urgent or more serious than it really is. The best advice, is to save the CEO or the president for those interviews that require the top of the organization to step in for an official statement. Second, you need to consider deep insights and knowledge of the subject matter. In larger companies, the CEO and the president may be reserved for interviews discussing the business, company vision, and growth stories.
However, if you have a CMO who can cover marketing situations and related issues, a CIO for technology interviews, and subject matter experts in different areas of the business, then you'll want to tap into their expertise as well. Of course, anyone who's going to be interviewed by the media will need to go through media training. You'll want them to speak comfortably and to be on point at all times. They should be able to focus on appropriate messaging for the interviews, which we'll discuss in the next video.
Selecting your spokespeople also means asking questions and considering key characteristics. First, who's best in front of the camera, and who's best for print, online, and blog interviews? Charismatic executives are usually the best on camera, and should definitely be used for TV broadcast or radio interviews, and now, video and Skype interviews too. I often find that technical people and subject matter experts may be better for the print or online media, and blog interviews as well.
Next, will the executives you select always be available to interview? You want to have backup spokespeople, especially if the issue or crisis is in different regions of the country or the world. One spokesperson can't always be ready and available to speak. And does your spokesperson have the sincerity and the transparency that's required during an interview? You'll want this professional to come across in the most favorable light for your organization.
Very human, with strong emotional intelligence, especially if they're handling tense situations. And how well does your executive know the organization? It's important for your spokesperson to not only be knowledgeable in his or her respective area, but also be well versed and able to comment on important company information that's in the public domain. Finally, can your spokesperson speak meaningfully on the subject? Your spokesperson should go beyond what's recognized or on the surface.
For example, if it's a technology topic, it's the difference between knowing the name of the software and knowing the functionality. Having these insights adds to the credibility factor that's required in any interview. Now that you know the different ways to evaluate your spokesperson, go back and ask yourself: "Is our spokesperson the CEO or president of the company? "Who else can we use to represent our organization?" Having the right spokespeople to interview and share their expertise, may help to position your company more favorably in the eyes of the public, during any situation that attracts media attention.
Watch the mock interview at the end of the course and see Deirdre's techniques and strategies in action.
- Selecting your spokesperson
- Knowing your journalist
- Preparing for interviews
- Interviewing on Skype and social media
- Going off the record