A Great Spokesperson Goes Beyond Knowing The Message

Identifying the “right” spokesperson is often a big topic in the board room when public relations campaigns and social media efforts are discussed. And, usually the CEO or someone else with a big job title is named. After all, they come with the clout and cache, right?

Not necessarily. A job title does not necessarily make the person the best representative of the message or brand.

It should go without saying that the chosen someone should know the message and story and be able to answer questions related to the topic at hand. But, that’s not the only skill required. Great message delivers also have the following characteristics.

  • They are likeable. People are attracted to the messages of people they like. So, unless the story calls for being outraged, putting someone before a microphone or behind a podium that will make the audience uncomfortable isn’t wise. Rarely do you want someone who is confrontational, angry or sarcastic to lead the charge. You want someone who can figuratively bond with the audience.
  • They have the appropriate energy for the topic, the brand and the audience. Just like you wouldn’t put someone who talks like a 22 year old professional skateboarder before a group of Wall Street investors (unless they are selling stock for a skateboarding company), you want to make sure the audience can related to said spokesperson. You want a spokesperson who can inspire and make audience members (even the audience of one) feel a certain way.
  • They demonstrate real interest in their audience. There is no faster way to turn off a reporter or an audience than to act bored or disinterested. Why should someone care about someone who doesn’t seem to care about them?

What else do you believe a good spokesperson should have to move an audience to action?

Investing In Your Corporate Language: Priceless

Under the umbrella of “things we wish every company would do” is proactively spending time (and not just two hours during a board meeting) selecting the language they will use when describing themselves. Developing an elevator pitch, an organizational story, and top level messages are just as important strategic actions as designing a financial strategy. Sound like strong medicine?

Right this very minute, words are crossing hallways, being flung over board room tables, getting sent via Twitter and Facebook, being left on voice mail messages, and being printed and copied.

Apparently people like to talk so much they need many words, nuances, and options to hone their thoughts, beliefs and ideas. According to the Global Language Monitor, it is estimated more than one million words exist in the English language alone. (According to this group, the English Language adopted its millionth word to our speech on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m.)

Today everyone in a company has the option of delivering those words and messages on your behalf (Hello, social media!), impacting your brand, your narrative and your relationships with customers, vendors, partners, investors and other stakeholders. Would your associates choose the same words as you – from the million or so available to them – when it comes to describing your company? How much thought have you given to your messaging, really?

What The People In Charge of Your Reputation Wish You Knew

As part of a new series, we’re going to blog about what we wish clients would do or knew. We are public relations folks. You know, the ones charged with managing your reputation and building your presence, and there is guidance we give we really wish the companies and organizations that hire us would take, but sometimes don’t.

There, I wrote it. Yes, sometimes our clients don’t want to do what we ask of them. We know there are reasons, justifications, political positions, and internal workings that keep them from take our advice sometimes. After all, we’ve been doing this for more than 25 years now. We’ve been around the block a time or two.

But, sometimes, perhaps they just don’t believe it will work?

So, in response, we’re going to talk about some of the issues we come across that sit firmly in the realm of “The Advice We Wish Clients Would Take.”

First up? What makes a good spokesperson for your organization. It’s not always the CEO.

Next? Why it’s important to talk to Basket Weaving Today or your local news outlet or any other media outlet you deem “small potatoes.”

And, then? Why investing in determining your company-wide messaging should be as important as your financial planning.

There are other topics. But before we start pontificating at will, what do you want to hear about?