Who Should Speak for Your Company?
When it comes to company spokespeople, how do you find the right one? We’re talking about the people who will take part in media interviews, industry analyst briefings, and in-person meetings at trade shows. These are all important contacts with people who are going to be writing about your company, so you want the right person(s) for the job.
How you decide who will be the face for you depends on a lot of factors, ranging from the requirements of the role itself to the interest in it among key executives to the type of business that you’re in. And ideally, you will have more than one person who can fill that role, so that you never miss an opportunity due to scheduling conflicts.
Here are some guidelines in finding the right individuals:
- You want someone pretty outgoing, who is very comfortable talking to editors or analysts individually or in small groups.
- Your spokesperson should have a very thorough knowledge of your company, your product lines, and where you fit into the industry and your market. They don’t need to have committed your specs sheets to memory, but they must be able to answer the most common questions about your products and services, why they are important, who is buying them, and your company’s near-term plans.
- Your spokesperson doesn’t have to be the CEO or the VP of marketing or business development, but they do need a title that lets editors and analysts know they are high enough in the company to have the appropriate perspective. Be wary of bringing in someone from sales as your spokesperson, as it is often difficult for them to adapt to the different style of an interview or briefing.
- Your spokesperson should want to play that role. Drafting someone into that role who is reluctant will never work out well.
- This is the most important factor. It has to be someone who can represent you positively at all times, who will make the best impression on editors and analysts and who will make these conversations positive and informative and will have the editors and analysts wanting to come back again and again.
We only scratched the surface in these “requirements,” and are always glad to talk with clients and prospective clients in more detail about how to find the right person. But this gives you a rough idea of what to look for.
It’s rarely an easy search. Good spokespeople are worth their weight in gold. We’ve seen highly knowledgeable people who had the personal style of a funeral director and we’ve seen top executives who – as eager as they were to do a good job – just didn’t know when to stop and take a breath so that the editor or analyst could ask a question. There aren’t many people who are naturally talented when it comes to this type of role.
Which underscores the importance of media training. Unless you luck out and choose a veteran, proven spokesperson, your “nominee” should receive some training. Talking to editors and analysts is vastly different from doing presentations or working in sales roles, and professional guidance coupled with mock interviews can do a lot to prepare someone for their new task.