It’s also important to remember that sometimes it’s a good idea to have more than one spokesperson. It’s not uncommon for an organization to have experts in different fields, but a situation may arise where it’s important for each of them to provide commentary, insight or feedback. You want make sure your company is able to appeal to all demographics and can handle both industry-specific media and public media coverage.
Now, we get it: Cameras and microphones can be scary, which is usually the primary reason people avoid volunteering to be a spokesperson. But hey, someone has to do it. So before you begin the sometimes-daunting task of selecting your spokespeople, consider the following:
1. Make sure you consider the topic and medium. You may have someone within the company who is considered the expert on a particular topic and who is extremely passionate. This is a great start. You certainly want someone who can portray passion for the subject matter and answer questions intelligently. However, it’s not enough to simply like and know the topic. What about the medium? Will they be speaking to a print publication, a radio station, a television network? Will the interview be live or recorded? All of these things need to be considered. Perhaps your very knowledgeable and passionate candidate is terrified of a live interview but is great writing about the topic and submitting it to a print publication.
2. Make sure they have good communication skills. Quality communication skills are a must. Ask yourself: Can they speak intelligently and clearly about the topic? Do they have a good personality? Are they easy to talk to and connect with? You want someone who is quickly likeable since they are going to be the face and voice of your organization.
3. Speaking of personality, do you have a person who is able to remain calm, cool and collected in any given situation? Spokespeople are sometimes met with attacks and criticism, and you need someone who can handle it with grace.
4. As you develop a list of potential spokespeople, remember that it’s also crucial that the person hold some level of authority within the organization. The media loves to speak with someone from the C-suite, but not every organization is set up that way. Additionally, not every C-suite executive is comfortable in front of a crowd or camera. Do your due diligence and make sure you have someone whose words will matter and be taken seriously.
5. Crisis communications is a bit of a different animal. We’ve suggested that you select someone with authority as your spokesperson. However, in a crisis, if you select someone too high up within your company, the public may perceive that the crisis is bigger than it really is. Alternatively, if you select someone too low in hierarchy, the public may perceive your company is not taking the crisis seriously. It’s best to choose someone at the executive level and be transparent in your approach. Always have something to share with the media. Some information is always better than no information.
Now that you have the basic requirements for a quality spokesperson, find the person that best fits this profile. Once you find that, it’s time to do some media training. You’ve found yourself a spokesperson.