We’ve put together our top tips for maximising on the input and knowledge from your spokespeople from the outset. These top tips should help you forge a strong relationship with your spokespeople to secure fruitful results.
Define the responsibilities
Having your name up in lights and splashed across the news might seem very glamorous. It’s a good way of enticing your colleagues into the spokesperson role. Yet many don’t understand the real responsibilities that come with the title. The best way to manage those expectations is to define what being a spokesperson entails. That way there are no unexpected surprises. So, what does it take?
- Brainstorm sessions: Spokespeople are there for their knowledge and expertise. They should have their finger on the pulse. They should be aware of industry trends. And they should understand the challenges their customers are facing. A spokesperson is useful for in-depth intel. Brainstorms are an effective means of getting this information.
- Have an opinion: There is a caveat to this idea generating process – spokespeople must have an opinion. Ground-breaking or controversial opinions work if it is in line with corporate messaging. This is what will catch the eye of a journalist.
- Feature opportunities: Flag these as and when they arise. The deadlines and complexity for these can vary. Wherever possible, a first draft should be done to save time. But, a comment written on behalf of a spokesperson will need signing off. So, ensure they are aware of the time constraints.
- Blog writing: In some cases, spokespeople will need to write their own blogs. It is important to share blog ideas with your comms team so they can turn it into an opinion article in trade press. In some cases, the blogs will be on behalf of the spokesperson, so you need to agree this process early on.
- Issues hijacking: If a story breaks in the media that’s relevant to your company, you need to jump on the story by sending out a comment responding to the news. It is the responsibility of the spokesperson to either provide a comment or sign off what’s been written on their behalf. This is time critical so alert the spokesperson at the earliest opportunity. Again, this will take the form of a comment which should be short and punchy.
- Social media: Spokespeople might run their own social media accounts, post blogs, news stories and responding to posts made by other members in the online community. Twitter and LinkedIn both offer advice on setting up and managing accounts. Or, the comms team can run the social platforms on the behalf of the spokesperson.
- Media interviews: This can take various forms. For example, an email Q&A, face-to-face coffee meeting, briefing at an industry event, a live broadcast interview etc. For spokespeople, it’s a great way to build relationships with the media and promote your company. It’s important to ensure the spokesperson stays on message. The spokesperson will need briefing on what to talk about and any questions that the journalist might ask. This is where media training could prove useful it they lack experience.
- Events: A spokesperson would be familiar with industry events. Whether that is presenting or representing the firm at a stand. Spokespeople should let their communications team know when they are attending an event ahead of time, so journalist meets can be set up if a media presence is there. Content should be created for an opinion article which can be pitched to trade press. Or, share pictures of the event on social platforms.
It’s an ongoing process
As a spokesperson becomes more experienced in the role, they may prefer to leave the writing in the capable hands of the comms team. Or, they might want to take control of producing content. Either method is fine. It’s a matter of working out what process works best for each individual spokesperson.