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Your company spokesperson messed up. Now what?

By Lisa Goldsberry

48823002_s.jpgUse these PR tips to get back on track

Many executives shy away from any type of public speaking task due to fear of humiliation or embarrassment. However, if you avoid speaking in public, you do a disservice to your company, and you miss out on important opportunities for increased visibility and engagement with vital audiences. With tips and training from public relations, you can learn to correct mistakes or avoid them altogether.

3 types of mistakes and how to recover

  1. A bad news media interview.

An interview with a reporter can be nerve-wracking even in the best of situations. Throw in a hypothetical question you were not prepared for or an inquiry regarding a past mistake by your company, and it’s easy to get rattled or say the wrong thing. Do you stammer and stutter for five minutes? Chastise the journalist for asking such a stupid question?

No. Take a deep breath and realize that reporters have a mission to report news that will be interesting to their audience. They are probably not maliciously trying to trip you up (although if they do, they will run with it) and are just trying to gather information. Answer questions briefly and honestly. When presented with a question you can’t answer, say so. Explain that you will find out the proper answer and provide it when you can.

Remember that microphones are always on and notebooks are never permanently closed. Jokes and speculations are best avoided during contact with a reporter. An interview is only over after you or the reporters have left the premises. With spokesperson training from a PR agency, you can become skilled at staying cool and poised.

  1. A public meeting or event goes wrong.

Many people must work together to organize public events. This leaves plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. It could be something relatively small, such as forgetting the name of an important investor. Or it could be a major snafu like your CEO making controversial statements that the media picks up. Should you stop planning events? Censor your CEO?

No. It’s best to simply issue a statement on the matter and an apology, if necessary. Then, explain what you are doing to rectify the situation (termination, independent review, etc.).

  1. The dreaded “technical difficulties.”

We’ve all seen them (or had them happen to us). A machine malfunctions; the well-prepared PowerPoint slides are not displaying correctly; the video you have based your entire presentation around won’t play. Do you kick the computer? Give up and go home?

No. You simply roll with it. Realize that your audience likely understands and sympathizes. Offer a brief apology for technical difficulties, and move on. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself and the “wonders” of technology. Any speech you give should be well rehearsed until you are comfortable with it. If visuals are mandatory for the audience to understand your speech, perhaps you shouldn’t be delivering it.

Preparation in all areas is the key to success. Brainstorm to anticipate any potential problems and have a plan to deal with them. Even with the best of preparations, sometimes things just happen. Keep calm and hire a PR firm.

When you have Axia Public Relations on your team, you can learn to be comfortable in public situations so that when the unexpected occurs, you will be relaxed enough to handle it. To find out more, watch our Media and Spokesperson Training webinar or contact us to schedule training for your entire management team.

Spokesperson Training Webinar

Lisa-G-Color-SM.jpgLisa Goldsberry is a blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.






Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: spokesperson training, public companies

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