My colleague Kara Lundberg recently wrote about how a company’s greatest PR asset can sometimes be its staff. While we certainly love a full bench of ready-to-go spokespeople, not every executive is suited for interviews and not every interview calls for the same person. As a full-service PR firm, we help organizations identify appropriate spokespeople and get them ready to talk. Here’s how we do it:
- Look beyond the C-suite – Titles are definitely impressive and great for pitches, but there are often rank-and-file employees who are charismatic, well-spoken and – most importantly – knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. Don’t always look to the CEO or CXO when picking spokespeople; rather, look to the person within the company that can best speak about the subject at hand.
- Be pitch specific – On a similar note, pitches and target outlets should be crafted based on the spokespeople that you have. If your engineers outshine your CEO, a great technology-focused pitch aimed at technology trades with technology-specific spokespeople is the way to go.
- Don’t just train on the general – A lot of firms offer media training as a one-time deal with a standard method and approach. While we’ve definitely crafted our way-of-training, we think of it as a process and not a one-off product. Give all potential spokespeople some general training, but if you know you’ll be using specific people for a pitch, train them again, and train them specifically on the pitch.
- Always role play – While it seems silly, nothing is more effective than coming at potential spokespeople with the questions you know, assume, and even hope they won’t get asked. This is good for weeding out the charismatic employees who may not be up to snuff, but also for genuinely preparing those who are.
Media training should be a no-brainer for your PR program, but it shouldn’t just be a standard approach. The people who carry your message are just as important as the message itself; spend as much time training them as you do developing and vetting the message – if not more.