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Spokesperson Savvy

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Think it doesn’t matter who delivers your company or brand’s message during a crisis? Think again.

Do you recall BP’s spokesperson saying that he’d like his life back, while the people of New Orleans continued to suffer?

How about a Toyota executive, reading a statement off a piece of paper, during their massive Prius recall? (I believe that he was also speaking Japanese. The clip that I saw on the news was translated by a newscaster.)

Or maybe you caught Tiger Woods’ robotic, over-rehearsed “news conference”?

All of these “performances” hurt the company and/ or brand involved. And much of the damage could have been avoided if they’d been smart about choosing a good spokesperson, who had received executive media training.

Process of Choosing a Spokesperson

1. Identify someone NOW within your company, who performs well under pressure and thinks well on her feet. Don’t wait for a crisis. Be proactive.

2. Get executive media training/ crisis communications training for that person. In fact, train a few people. In my experience, there’s usually at least one person within a company who is unexpectedly good.

3. Watch the video of everyone who receives media training. Who delivered the messages the best? Who looked most comfortable on-camera? Was there someone that people would relate to and like? Who was unflappable? Who ad libbed well? Who always looked calm and in control?

4. If your brand is popular around the world, make sure that you have spokespeople that can speak every language in your major international markets. I’d recommend that the person also be from that country/ region if possible. People instinctively place greater trust in those that they believe understand them and their culture and by extension their crisis.

Lastly, work on a crisis communications plan. Involve your spokespeople. Make sure that they understand their role during a crisis.

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