There are a number of characteristics that make for a great spokesperson, such as having the ability to respond with caution, evaluate audience opinions during a crisis and understand that you’re like the brand ambassador for the organisation you serve.
Therefore, it is vital as a spokesperson to understand your organisation's industry and its audience all round. Why?
So that you can design a communication strategy that will guide you in identifying and creating a message that is suitable for any
circumstance. media update’s
Nakedi Phala reveals four qualities that make up a superb spokesperson in the PR industry. Here are four characteristics that a spokesperson needs in order to stay on top of their game:
1. They have a hunger for knowledge
Continuously learning as a spokesperson is important as it offers you the opportunity to acquire knowledge of what’s happening, what’s changing and how you can communicate on industry issues within the PR sector.
Learning offers you the chance to adapt better to any changes, such as switching one organisation to another of a different industry. Essentially, the will to learn equips you with the ability to adjust easily.
Here are some reasons on why a spokesperson should be keen on gaining knowledge:
- You have a clear understanding of your subject.
- You’re able to execute your message appropriately to your audience under any circumstances.
- You learn how to respond to the media without putting your organisation in hot water.
- You know which methods you should use to respond to different situations.
Learning makes you a better communicator and you will be able to avoid previous mistakes. And, as a result, you’re able to deliver excellent written and verbal messages!
2. They’re able to think on their feet
Being a spokesperson for a brand is challenging sometimes, but there are ways you can make it easier to tackle any unexpected crises
In order to ready yourself for any
surprises from the media, you can arm yourself with these tactics:
- Research how journalists ask questions — especially during press briefings.
- Build a rapport with more experienced spokespeople to learn from them, as they carry vast knowledge.
- Listen more and speak less. When faced with a crisis, you’re hit with comments and questions; in such cases, it’s wiser to relax, digest and use the questions and comments to tailor your answer. If you have no idea what’s being asked of you, be honest and explain that you do not understand or have knowledge about the subject.
- Practice and practice some more. Remember, your organisation is counting on you to represent them and — most of all — hold the fort during times of crisis. Since you’ll be liaising with media practitioners, you need to practice with a colleague or friend to train you to answer frequently asked questions.
Impromptu questions and comments are the call of the day for any spokesperson, so it’s vital to always try to keep your cool, understand the question, pause before you respond and stay in control!
3. They always strive to capture the attention of audiences
When you are representing your organisation in the presence of the media, you need to be clear, concrete and direct to the point.
Remember, attention is a valuable currency, and if you’re able to persuade your audience to pay attention — you're in a zone where you’re able to deliver your message successfully. It all comes down to having a persuasive tone.
Here are some techniques that can help you deliver your speech successfully:
- Create a mood for contention by using language that resonates with your audience and that is communicated in a way that they will understand.
- If you’re addressing issues of a sensitive matter, use a tone that is empathetic — allow yourself to feel what the affected party feels.
- Be confident and passionate about your subject; reciprocate positive energy with the audience.
- Back up your claims with evidence; it helps to intensify your reasoning.
- Use inclusive language, such as we, us and our. This will make it easier to persuade the audience to be on your side.
4. They are humble
As a spokesperson, you need to remain humble. A lack of humility does more harm than good. When you’re humble, people are able to approach you about the positives and
negatives of the organization you represent.
For example, if you're briefing a group of journalists at a presser, they’ll feel more comfortable about asking you questions without any worry of bad attitude. When you’re humble, you’re able to build a rapport with media practitioners that is professional and tied up with mutual respect.
A spokesperson should always be ready to speak and defend on issues of any crisis — and
be skilled in dealing with rumours that may affect the organisation's reputation at large. Being an effective spokesperson is mostly about being authentic and relatable in your communication efforts. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.
Great spokespeople genuinely believe in their message, and when you believe in your message it’s easier to influence audiences. For knowledge on how to share the right message, read on how Timing can help you in sending PR messages.