At a time where fake news, false information, and ambulance-chasing are as damaging as it ever could be, there is a need for genuine experts, authentic voices, and sharp insight. Startups, organizations, and individuals who can help the media to navigate these novel issues and unpack the messages we are receiving from our government are in high demand.
This means that traditional radio days, consumer research, and third-party spokespeople – normally the bedrock of broadcast media relations – are taking a back seat to more authentic voices and expert insights. What national broadcasters need now is the ability to call upon expert opinions, and leverage the knowledge and experience of a range of business professionals.
Why your business needs a spokesperson
People respond best to people – not to faceless business entities.
If you want to make a connection with the public, you need to give your company a face and a personality. Customers want to know who they’re dealing with.
Consumer trust is important at all times, but especially during periods of global uncertainty. It’s hard to convince people that your brand cares about its employees and its clients if you’re hiding behind a corporate logo.
Making a personal appearance to speak on behalf of a company sends a powerful message. It communicates that the person trusts the brand enough to stand next to it and say, “This is me and this is my name, and I believe in this business.”
Especially in today’s social media-connected world, consumers are much more interested in personal authenticity and trust than in slogans and wordmarks. Introducing the public to a representative who is authoritative, compassionate and charismatic can have a powerful effect on how they perceive your image and integrity.
What makes a good spokesperson?
Of course, not all spokespeople are created equal. If you decide to appoint a spokesperson, it’s important to ensure that the person selected to be the face and voice of your company isn’t spreading the wrong messages, or giving a bad impression.
To that end, media training is extremely important. This will help the spokesperson to prepare for key questions, anticipate interview traps, and be able to give a smooth and polished presentation, focusing on a clear message.
A successful spokesperson will need to have a good level of comfort with public speaking and/or appearing on camera. However, this comfort can often come as a result of practice and preparedness and can be built over time.
It’s also essential that a company spokesman should have an understanding of the media landscape and the roles of journalists and interviewers. This will help them to communicate more effectively, and to know how their message may be edited and presented.
Finally, as broadcasters strive to ensure their commentators and contributors represent a breadth of people, it is important to demonstrate diversity across your spokespeople. Giving your senior female or non-white business leaders a platform and investing in media training for them will be highly beneficial, for you and for the media who want to make sure their audience can relate to and can engage with their on-air guests.
The tone of voice for brands and spokespeople
Where possible, the personality and voice of the brand should be consistent with its most prominent spokesperson. A brash and boisterous spokesperson may not be the right choice for an otherwise muted and sensible firm, and the opposite is also true.
It’s also extremely important to be sensitive to current affairs – especially in today’s climate of ongoing health crises, race relations issues, and other social concerns.
From moment to moment, adopting the right tone to fit the situation is a necessity, and can determine the success and failure of brands. Although broadcast media outlets are interested in positive news stories during difficult times, they can’t accept a story in a vacuum – it has to be relevant in some way and cognisant of the world around it.
Tips for speaking to the media
If you’re going to be the company’s spokesperson and engage with the media on their behalf, you’ll need to know a few tips and tricks.
Here are some good things to keep in mind:
- Do your homework. You can’t really over-prepare for an interview or media appearance; you should strive to know your subject inside and out. You may also find it useful to do some background reading on the media outlet or journalist you’ll be talking to (what sort of questions do they tend to ask, and what do they respond well to? What happened last time they spoke to somebody from your industry?).
- Share your expertise. By sharing genuine industry insights and useful information from a position of professional experience, you can quickly build a reputation for being someone who’s really here to help – not just to publicize his or her own interests. It’s cheesy to be a walking advertisement who only talks about the brand and its products, and this isn’t something people respond well to.
- Stick to the point. Offer clear and concise answers to questions, and try to resist any temptation to go off-script and tell long, rambling stories. It’s good to have a specific message that you can keep coming back to – just don’t sound like a stuck record.
- Be a real person. Don’t try to be too polished, perfect, or guarded. Allow your personality and the things you really care about to show, and let the public get to know you.
- Don’t make things up. If you’re asked a question you don’t know how to answer, stay cool and don’t try to fake it – just say you don’t know, or that you will look into it. If it’s not a live interview situation, you can offer to get back to the journalist later with a better answer to their question after you’ve had a chance to research and think about it.
Of course, it’s always sensible to know if it’s time to get help and seek professional media training to help you prepare for being in the public eye.
Ultimately, without the personal connection and trust that comes from having a good spokesperson as the figurehead for your business, it’s hard for the public to know who you are, or exactly what you stand for.
It’s no longer enough for an organization to be a faceless entity with a nice logo, especially in the current climate. By employing a spokesperson, consumers will get a sense that you care about them and about doing the right thing – making them feel reassured about doing business with you.
Broadcast Revolution is a specialist broadcast PR agency and consultancy, set up to provide a fresh and creative way of delivering quality broadcast coverage for brands across TV, Radio, and owned channels.