By Catriona Pollard, Director CP Communications

Building your company’s profile and protecting its reputation should be a key aspect of your public relations strategy but an entire strategy can be derailed if the wrong spokesperson is selected to front the media.

So what should be considered when choosing your company’s spokesperson?

High-ranking executive: but not necessarily the CEO

In many cases the CEO is the most reputable name you can put out there, they obviously know the business well and have final say on all issues, however if the CEO is not media friendly, they could end up doing more harm than good.

If the CEO has a nervous or shy disposition or they can come across as un-trustworthy, they may not be the best person to represent your business. Another executive who is more confident and likeable is definitely worth considering.

Know the business and its key messages

One of the most important lessons in PR is knowing the company’s key messages and being able to tie them into an interview, regardless of the questions being asked. The spokesperson should have a strong knowledge of the company’s background and the issues that a journalist may raise, with a confidence to answer the questions while sticking to the PR strategy.

Well presented and well spoken

It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable a member of staff is, if they can’t string a sentence together for radio or look presentable on camera, then they shouldn’t be your spokesperson. It might sound harsh and it’s certainly not all about appearances, however in reality this person represents your company and you need to consider how you want the audience to perceive your brand.

Understand the importance of media

Your spokesperson doesn’t have to have ‘get’ public relations but it is vital that they appreciate the power of the media and the value for the company of getting good ‘press’. If your spokesperson sees PR as a waste of time and a hassle in their busy day, they will not project the best image and may not convey the right message.

You want your spokesperson to be approachable and available where possible so they can engage with the media when required. This will help build your brand and protect your company’s reputation.

Media training is recommended

Everyone gets nervous when approached by the media, but by having a plan in place, your spokesperson will have more chance of giving a successful interview.  Learning how to answer questions and how to stay in control of an interview by conveying your key messages can be incredibly valuable.  It’s a good idea to participate in some sort of media training, whether it is an intensive one day session or a half an hour briefing with your PR person before the interview- the difference is definitely noticeable.

Catriona Pollard
BY Catriona Pollard ON 7 September 2011
Director, CP Communications, which provides specialist PR and social media strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.