Be the Perfect Spokesperson for Your Brand

13th Apr 2012
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Shahrukh Khan has one thing in common with Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Anand Mahindra, Richard Branson, et al, besides their success in their respective fields. The quality which unites them is being good at PR, and more importantly, understanding its true worth. They realize it’s best done themselves and they do a fantastic job of engaging with the audience directly. Communicating with their followers through social media channels and updating them on the latest developments in the company, reacting on customer feedback and even commenting on topics of general interest. In fact, Dr. Shaw recently used Twitter to announce the Bicon-Pfizer insulin deal being called off. Interesting thing to note was the messaging was controlled and updated from time to time which clearly means she follows advice of her PR & Communications team. You too can do the same for your brand/venture.As a spokesperson, here are some pointers that you should keep in mind while talking to the media so as to make the discussion/interaction more fruitful for both parties:

  • Always be specific while giving inputs and don’t get carried away elaborating on your achievements. Stick to the discussion. Only meaningful inputs lead to a good story, and save the time too.
  • Interaction with a journalist is just the beginning, be professional about it. An over friendly approach is not well appreciated. Don’t throw names or boast. A journalist can’t file a story based on your contacts but on the inputs provided.
  • A journalist would know if you are a contact to keep or if you are a source of information on trends. So share essential insights on industry developments, and by this, I don’t mean scoops.
  • What is a terrific story according to you may not immediately interest the media. Understand from your PR team the gaps to make it an idea which would interest a journalist.
  • It is a good idea to carry a list of points you would like to cover in your media interactions. This will help you cover the important aspects and keep your conversation on track.
  • ‘The right to answer or to not answer’ rests with you. If you are not sure about divulging certain facts or figures related to your company or if you are not sure about an answer, politely pass the question. Poor quality information might dent your credibility. It will perhaps be better to buy time to revert with expected facts or put the story on hold for the time being.
  • Quality checks in giving information to the media are as important as you expect it to reflect in your company’s performance. Before documents are sent to the media, cross check them for something as basic as spelling mistakes.
  • Information overload is never a good idea. Everything in the ‘Kitchen Sink’ will not get you a better story and perhaps even confuse the journalists to do the story at all.
  • Never be a part of the story for the sake of it. Learn to politely decline and perhaps you can make a better suggestion/idea.
  • Be proactive- Nothing disappoints a journalist more than answers in yes or no, share numbers, insights, ideas and something newsworthy.
  • Be open minded- Press coverage is an essential part of your brand building, brand perception, recall value, associations, etc. But it’s not all that there is to it. Support your PR strategy with other branding exercises too.
  • Opt for quality over numbers- Mere media mentions will not help in building the brand. Remember, right positioning will directly impact/contribute to perception, recall value, association.
  • Last but not the least, a PR team puts a lot of effort in converting ideas into media interactions and a story. Appreciate them, give them credit for lining it up and don’t spring surprises during a meeting. What you share with the journalist shouldn’t be ‘breaking news’ for your communications team.

A company's PR Portfolio reflects the nature of the organization. Spend time in carefully developing your PR protocols and strategies with your PR team. What goes into planning and how to make it crisp will be discussed in my next article!

If you have some questions about interacting with the media and playing the perfect spokesperson, feel free to reach out.

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