Spokespeople play critical roles in PR programs. As the faces of companies, they are primary links between internal (businesses) and external (media, customers, general public) audiences. While the role of a company’s spokesperson varies, the job description often includes participating in media interviews, authoring contributed articles, participating in speaking engagements and attending tradeshows.
Whether you are evaluating your current spokesperson or searching for the next one, let’s take a look at some of the top qualities to seek in them.
While knowing the company inside and out is important, it’s also key that they can speak to trends and how they impact the industry at large – not just the spokesperson’s company. Editors and customers like sources who take bold stances and can help their stories make a larger point. That might include talking about how the election effects the industry, or the impact of a recent study, knowing that the company’s product or offering might not be the primary focus of coverage.
Spokespeople should also be able to tell their company’s story in terms of the customer benefit and from a customer’s point of view. Additionally, it’s critical for spokespeople to speak to their audience’s level. If you’re speaking with the general public, then it’s wise to use plain language and avoid industry jargon or acronyms. With more experienced reporters, though, it may be okay to get more technical.
Polished and Professional
A spokesperson needs to walk the fine line of being polished and professional but also conversational and human. The way they talk about your organization should be authentic rather than scripted or sounding like a brochure.
For media interviews and speaking engagements, it is crucial for spokespeople to be comfortable thinking on their feet. Here are additional tips to come off as polished and professional:
- Lead with the most compelling content.
- Speak in soundbites and headlines to make it easier for editors and the audience to identify the key messages.
- Bring a positive tone to the message and avoid criticizing the competition.
Credible and Trustworthy
Credibility and trustworthiness are the most fundamental traits of great spokespeople. When working with editors, they should show genuine interest in the relationship and help fulfill their needs by speaking to their readers and relating to their pain points.
Live interviews can also put pressure on spokespeople to provide immediate answers or expose them to tough questions. Instead of deflecting and saying “No comment” or saying more than they know to be true, a good spokesperson can be honest and answer, “I don’t have the answer to that question” or “I will check on that and let you know.” Additionally, knowing where the line is with divulging confidential information and expressing personal opinions will not only help reduce media blunders, but is required for this job.
The next time you are in the market for a new spokesperson, take the time to evaluate and identify a good fit for your company. Finding a good spokesperson doesn’t just determine how effectively your message gets delivered; it can also help evolve your company into a strong industry thought leader.