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Don't Wait Until a PR Disaster to Realize You've Got the Wrong Spokesperson at the Mic

By Darby Underwood

Your Choice of a Spokesperson Speaks Volumes

Popular television shows like “Scandal” and “Spin City” have turned a bright light on the profession of spokesperson. Public relations practitioners are often portrayed as sleazy, fast-talking insiders who will do anything to get their clients out of hot water.

In reality, a spokesperson serves as the voice of your company, so you want to ensure that what people hear is accurate, eloquent and timely. They speak to the world on your behalf. When you have something to say, the person who does the speaking can be as important as the message itself. That is why there are so many things to consider when hiring or selecting the right spokesperson.

The Qualities of a Great Spokesperson

  • One of the most crucial things to look for in a spokesperson is media experience. They should have expertise in the workings, schedules and mindsets of journalists and editors. Additionally, this has to include social media and online reputation management.

  • The very definition of a spokesperson is someone who speaks to the public. As such, a competent spokesperson has to wear public speaking like a second skin. You want to find someone that can talk fast, think faster and is not easily flustered.

  • A great spokesperson must be both visible and invisible. They must be zealous enough to engage the media and the public, but careful enough to not become part of the story. Like wearing contact lenses, you want people to notice your beautiful eyes and perfect vision without seeing the steps you take to achieve your look.

  • Any spokesperson you hire will need to be as tough or aggressive as necessary to handle media and make sure that your message receives notice. At the same time, it is important that they do not come across as rude or unpleasant.

  • When making a hiring decision, of course you look at a person's educational background and previous experience. More important, the person must be a good match for your organization. In particular, the spokesperson you select has to be a perfect fit to represent your brand. For example, you may not want to choose a 90-pound weakling to discuss the benefits of your muscle-building equipment (unless maybe he is the "before" illustration).

Getting the Best Use from Your Spokesperson

You rely on your spokesperson to combat negative publicity and ensure that you are portrayed in the best possible light. They are also called upon to tell everyone about all the good things you have going on. However, you do not have to save them for special occasions or use them only for crisis communications.

A good spokesperson has talents that can serve your entire organization. For example, they can train executives and staff on proper protocols to follow if confronted by members of the media. Also, they can help teach people in your organization about public speaking. These tips can be especially helpful if you are ever interviewed for a news story or magazine profile.

Every Organization Needs a Spokesperson

One of your top executives has been arrested and it has attracted media attention. An innocuous tweet by an employee trying to be funny was deemed insensitive and has now gone viral. Your company has scored a major acquisition and you want the world to know about it. Who you gonna call? Your spokesperson.

Years ago, companies would simply find someone who could write well and call them a spokesperson. Several catastrophes later, businesses began to realize the importance of putting the best person out front to serve as the public face of an organization.

Many companies don't think they need a spokesperson, until they do. Any little occurrence has the potential to become a news story. Also, you want to make sure clients and future customers know your name and good reputation.

The professionals at Axia Public Relations can take the worry out of managing your image. Let us show you how to make the most of your public profile and take your organization from unknown to world-renowned.

Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.

photo credit: www.audio-luci-store.it via photopin cc

Topics: media relations, public relations, PR tips

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