The last thing we want is to communicate a mixed message to our
public. That is why some organizations have only one spokesperson.
But in many cases this practice can be dangerous, leading to a lack
of credibility. Take the following scenario and apply it to your
organization: at a regional medical centre, a reporter starts digging
for information about why a certain medication is missing.
The reporter finds out that a former patient is the lead suspect.
The reporter wants to interview the medical centre's CEO and the
chief of security. Instead, the medical centre has designated the
public relations director as the only spokesperson.
If you had a family member being treated at this facility, who
would you rather see on the news answering questions? If only the
public relations director speaks, the public may think the medical
centre is hiding something or has brushed the incident off. The
public relations director should only be the spokesperson as a last
Sure, there will be pressure to put on the public relations director
to "do the talking, after all, that's what we hired you for!"
However, the best way to win over the public is for the real sources
of information to show their faces.
The most seasoned PR pros know that even though they may give effective
media interviews, a key to maximizing media coverage is to help
reporters get to the source. The bottom line is that if you are
responsible for the image of your organization, I recommend encouraging
the experts to be available.
If those who have information are not available, reporters will
try to find another expert opinion, possibly from another organization.
That means a lost opportunity to tell your side of the story. Speaking
with one voice means your spokespersons should deliver the same
message. It does not mean use only one spokesperson. If the news
media representative knows your experts are available and reliable,
you are more likely to be called and more importantly, to be believed.
Picking The Right Spokespersons
1. Who is the real expert?
2. Are they available?
3. Can they speak in simple terms?
4. Can they carry your message?
5. Can they handle hard questions?
Courtesy of Al Rothstein Media Services, Inc.,
specialists in spokesperson training and media relations seminars.
Phone: 1-800-453-6352. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a handy tip sheet on choosing contact persons for your Sources
listing click here.