The word battle ready might sound ominous, but that is how spokesperson must be always.
There could be a call from anywhere in the globe on something which happened a few minutes ago, and which would have an impact on the company or its fortunes. It’s a viral world and not always does the spokesperson have the luxury of having information by the minute.
But the ability to respond in an appropriate manner to any query from anywhere is one quality which is a must!
The spokesperson does not have a magic wand to all queries, and it is important to admit that – the best answer when confronted with an uncomfortable or ill-informed query is very simple – give me a while and we will come to you with the facts!
But most times, out of a quest to close the issue, and under pressure of the situation, the response is a bit casual. This is a perfect recipe for inviting negative media, and possibly messing up an already fluid situation.
In case the spokesperson needs any coaching in this front, the organization must provide it time and again.
Most organizations tend to have the belief that spokesperson must be suave and possess extra-ordinary skills in communication, particularly verbal. Yes, this is an added advantage. But that is certainly not a pre-requisite at all. In fact, track some PR crises and how suave spokesperson handled them – you will see that the over-confidence that comes out of being suave and flamboyant brings in a tinge of arrogance – a perfect recipe for many a media disasters!
Facts, put across in simple language with amazing clarity and miles ahead of a suave and ambiguous, arrogant and just too casual remark.
The term spokesperson, in the present scenario, is a misnomer in a way! The spokesperson or your media representative not just has to speak, but to respond in other media – mails, newsletters, and social networks… an endless list this can be. He must be competent in handling all this – yes with speed, but more than speed in a language that is appropriate and publishable to the world!
Many PR careers have been shunted by usage of inappropriate language, unintended it may be – someone somewhere leaks it out when things go out of the hand! The mantra ought to be state the facts and only facts, in a language that can be scrutinized anytime later.
While speed of response is a paramount criterion, it never can be at the cost of language that reflects an unprofessional attitude!
Sometimes, it does happen that the chief executive himself is the spokesperson – this is mostly when there is a larger than life event, or a huge crisis etc. – whatever be the reason, the past shows that the top management, out of their familiarity with the media, take to a casual approach in handling queries – and this sparks of a full blown PR debacle!
It’s important for senior leadership to take to some caution in handling such situations, and to repeat, facts mist not be colored by style and the way it is delivered!
Hope these simple yet powerful tips help your spokesperson to handle PR situation better this New Year! And as an organization, make sure the needy training is imparted through PR professionals, if it will help!