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Should you hire a spokesperson or a spokesmodel?

By Wendy Bulawa Agudelo

progressive-flo.jpgKnow the difference between these two roles and the services they provide

There are plenty of professionals, in and outside the field of communications, who utilize both spokespeople and spokesmodels – but don’t recognize how different one is from the other. As more celebrities have evolved into lucrative business people, the definitions of spokesperson and spokesmodel have blurred, yet they each serve distinct roles.



A long-valued asset to any organization, a spokesperson serves as the public face of a business and acts as a key source for the media. The role of a spokesperson is to influence public perception by effectively connecting with audiences and delivering critical information. These articulate speakers are comfortable in front of cameras and crowds; focused on delivering facts not fiction; and familiar with principles of crisis communication. Spokespeople are frequently quoted by journalists and remain front and center during times of crisis to update the public. Typically, individuals with experience in public relations, media and communications serve as spokespeople. Rather than being spoon-fed scripted information, spokespeople create the news and details they share. Additionally, in lieu of seeking out the spotlight, spokespeople are frequently working behind the scenes to uncover true details, which they then present publicly in digestible sound bites. The most pure difference is that the public typically does not recall the name of a designated spokesperson, but will remember the information that individual shared.  


By contrast, spokesmodels serve a high profile, but less functionally critical role. Their sole focus is to bring attention and recognition to a product or company. Spokesmodels, also known as pitchmen/women, can be celebrities and athletes or simply attractive, stylishly dressed individuals hired for promotional purposes. Businesses hire spokesmodels in an effort to create or increase consumer interest and trust. Spokesmodels may also be selected based upon individual ability to inspire or excite public interest, thus boosting overall sales or company/brand recognition.

Recognizable spokesmodels include Billy Mays, who served as a pitchman for numerous “as seen on TV” products including OxiClean; Flo, the perky sales clerk from Progressive Insurance; and Paul Marcarelli, the Verizon Wireless “Can you hear me now?” test man. Paul Marcarelli is a prime example of how spokesmodels affect public perception. Once the oft-quoted spokesmodel for Verizon, Marcarelli now resides dead center in Sprint’s advertising and public relations campaigns. His viral popularity with Verizon, in fact, is what spurred Sprint’s decision to hire him. Spokesmodels are predominantly actors or models who are provided with a script and attire to promote a product or brand.

While it may not be filled with scantily clad models, Axia Public Relations’ spokesperson training webinar visually highlights the core nuances between spokespeople and spokesmodels. To further understand the differences, we hope you’ll watch.

Spokesperson Training Webinar

Wendy-color.jpgWendy Bulawa Agudelo has nearly 20 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and nonprofit public relations. She serves on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force and is a culinary enthusiast and champion for the special needs community. Wendy has worked for Axia Public Relations since September 2014. Learn more about Wendy Bulawa Agudelo. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.





Featured image credit: Creative Commons

Topics: public relations, spokesperson training

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