How to train your spokespeople

Some people were born to be on camera. Or in front of a microphone. Hopefully, your company spokesperson is one of these lucky people.

But if not, don’t worry: anybody can become a solid and respected mouthpiece for their brand. There are just some rules to follow.

At a show like Infosec – you will likely be arranging media and analyst briefings in advance. But of course, a journalist could drop by your stand with no prior warning, looking to find out more. Or they could ask a question that you weren’t perhaps expecting.

It’s important not to be caught out by this, which means that all attendees should have a fully-trained spokesperson who can communicate your brand proposition clearly.

Here are some guidelines to follow when training your spokesperson:

  • Repeat:  Ever found that you only remember something after you’ve heard if for the second or third time? The same rule applies to interviews. If you have a key message that you need to get across – make sure you emphasise it. Which means saying it more than once.
  • Sandwiches: Building on the above point, try to speak in ‘message sandwiches’ when answering a question. Give your very brief answer (top layer) – then give some statistics or anecdotes to back it up (the filling), before repeating your initial answer to re-emphasise the point (bottom later). Simple, and delicious.
  • Plain speaking: Quite often your spokespeople will be technical experts. But remember that many of your audience might not be. Even the journalist might not be! Always speak in a language that everyone can understand. This will ensure that your message creates impact wherever it is read.
  • Best foot forward: Don’t feel like you have to enter ‘corporate mode’ in an interview. Spokespeople come across much better when they are being themselves, speaking naturally and even asking their own questions. It’s a conversation after all.
  • Nothing is off the record: The concept of ‘off the record’ does not exist. Even if you think it does. Remember that a journalist has a job to do – and if you give them a controversial sound bite, they are entitled to use it. So don’t say anything you are not prepared to see in the news the following day.

Any other ideas on what makes a great spokesperson? Please feel free to share them via @Infosecurity on Twitter. Or comment below

See you next month!

Waggener Edstrom is a global public relations firm with 30 years of experience in technology PR. We believe in delivering integrated communications programs that are creative, scalable and measurable. We blog about all things PR so that you can make the most out of your communications activities at Infosecurity Europe 2014.

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