Traits of a great spokesperson

For any Public Relations professional, it is a natural progression to be groomed and turned into the spokesperson of the brand/organisation they work for. They are entrusted upon the responsibility to represent the brand on various platforms and to interact with external parties, especially with media, on behalf of the organisation.

There are few traits that go into the making of great spokespeople. They must be authentic in their message. They must be natural in their mannerisms and their talk so that people can better relate with them. They must believe that their function during an interview is not to impress their organisation but to forge a direct connection with each person reading or hearing their words. They must have the ability to simplify their message so that it can be easily understood by the audience. They must know how to use stories, statistics, and sound bytes to make their messages stand out, and must be adept at coining phrases that stick in the minds of every member of the audience.

Besides these basic characteristics, a spokesperson must keep the audience in mind. While the wealth of knowledge is a key strength, it must be communicated effectively to be impactful. For instance, while dealing with nontechnical journalists, they must spend more time explaining why a product specification or feature will be important to users and its USPs. Whereas, for journalists with strong technical background, they must be prepared for more questions about competitors, product specifications and comparisons.

A spokesperson must demonstrate their own passion for a subject while dealing with media and must also involve the journalist by asking questions about their knowledge or thoughts on the topic. As a journalist conducts a press meeting, they are gathering information and often deciding if and how they would like to cover it. A great spokesperson crafts and presents the story in a way so the journalist has written the headline and outlined the article by the end of the meeting.

A great spokesperson tries to build trust with editors and establish their organisation as a trusted resource. Hence, it is important to communicate that they understand the challenges that readers face and can speak beyond the specific interest of promoting their organisation.

They must be aware of the trends in their industry. Be aware of what the competitors are doing and not be afraid to acknowledge it. Avoid jargon or terms that are specific to their organisation, unless their company is working to emphasise a specific term to assert thought leadership.

An excellent way is to validate your main message by providing real-world examples. An example can be used as a bullet point in a story. A great spokesperson comes prepared with real-world examples that support their key messages and are relevant to the audience.

After having captured the attention of press, outlined the article, provided examples and proven themselves to be a trusted resource, they should restate their key messages and secure interest.

Having proven their point, a great spokesperson must ask the audience/press whether this information was helpful and if they would want any additional information or material to be supplied for their article/story. Ask them for a deadline by when the material can be shared with them and strictly adhere to that deadline. Most importantly, a spokesperson must be available at any time of the day especially in times of urgency, to address any issues pertaining to their organisation. Accessibility is extremely imperative, so is relatability.

Finally, if a spokesperson is capable of energetically delivering a credible and memorable message that they genuinely believe in, the audience/media is likely to perceive them favourably.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Corporate Communications leader, Mentor, Author, Public Relations Evangelist, Thought leader, Advisor. She has nearly two decades of working experience having spearheaded Communications, PR and Corporate Affairs with corporate brands such as Kingfisher Airlines, The Park Hotels, Bird Group.

She quit her corporate career in the beginning of 2018 to try her hand at various related things within communications space. She turned into a published author in 2020 with her maiden book ‘Little Joys of Communication’.

Currently Ritu is Senior Director at SCoRe and, Executive Director Communicators Guild – India (CGI).

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