High quality and unique products and services do make a PR person’s life more straightforward. There is however something else that we in the PR business value greatly but that we aren’t always as consciously aware of: the importance of great spokespeople. At bcm we’re very fortunate with the people we work with and we try not to take our brilliant spokespeople for granted, realising that our job would be so much harder without them.
The importance of great spokespeople is most evident in a crisis. As an example, a report published in PRWeek looked at how 15 key spokespeople communicated during the swine flu crisis. The report concluded that high-profile spokespeople have enormous power to reassure the public, but they also have the ability to cause unnecessary confusion and distress. Most successful was professor John Oxford who combined a formal appearance with a personable style, providing clear actionable advice. Gordon Brown was on other hand reported to suffer from poor body language and a lack of practical advice, which sent a subliminal message of a crisis situation.
Spokespeople are however equally important without a crisis. We arrange interviews and meetings with journalists for our clients on a daily basis. A well-spoken, confident and knowledgeable person is not only able to carry the messages of the organisation but also gives journalists what they need to write a good story. In brief, everyone is happy (especially us!).
To make sure our clients have all they need to carry their message through in meetings with journalists and on other occasions, we always make sure to give them a good brief. Interviews and speeches can be daunting even for the most knowledgeable person and “well-done” research of the journalist, its magazine and readership can make all the difference. We always advise our clients on how journalists work so that they can keep this in mind during the interview but it’s also important that the client is able to stand up to themselves and always remember not to judge themselves as they speak. And of course, it’s absolutely vital to know the organisation, the topic and the key messages inside out.