Selecting and Training Spokespeople

5 10 2010

It is critically important to choose the right spokespeople.  The messenger is extremely important in establishing trust and credibility for your organization.  This particular chapter talks about how to choose the right spokesperson; understanding what is meant by “on the record,” “off the record,” and “on background”; getting professional training; and presenting a face and name people can trust.

One particular part of the reading that seemed especially important was understanding media terms and how to successfully interview with the media.  The number one rule all spokespeople should understand is to assume that everything is “on the record.”  This avoids confusion and avoids bad press.  Spokespeople should be especially careful what is said around the media and in media interviews.  Always present your organization in the best light by using accurate information, not exaggerating and always communicating effectively.

Another point this chapter brings up is that the press is constantly trying to “put a face” on issues.  Many times they want access to real people who can tell their stories about the issue that the organization is involved with.  This involves extra preparation to ensure that these people are protected and adequately prepared.  However, sometimes “survivors” are great spokespeople for an organization or issue because they experienced it first hand.  Safe Harbor could benefit from this tactic.  It would put a face and a survivor story with the organization.  This is very tricky for an organization like Safe Harbor whose issue is domestic violence, because it could put the person in harms way.  Organizations who support issues where their survivors could be harmed from sharing their stories need to be especially cautious.