Investing in a media-trained spokesperson is one of the best things you can do for your business. No ifs or buts. After all, 59 percent of surveyed business decision makers said they’ve experienced a crisis in their current or previous company according to a crisis preparedness study conducted by global communications agency Burson-Marsteller. Over half! Looking back through the last couple of decades, especially at the growth of the Internet and social media, can you really say you are surprised?
Let’s just review 2017. Do these any of these businesses and the PR mishaps they faced ring a bell? United Airlines’ passenger removal. Pepsi’s advertisement. Adidas’ Boston Marathon email. Uber’s rides during the taxi strike. And these are just cream of the crop! Countless more organizations suffered internal and external disasters at a local, state, national and international level.
It is understandable if you are a business owner that your main priorities for the company are in sales, visibility and/or customer engagement. You want your brainchild that you invested time and money into to take root and flourish. However, having a media-trained representative on your team is not just some frivolous expense; it is a necessity. It takes one mistake, one small accident, to cause a chain reaction that, if not adequately addressed, can cause irreparable damage to your brand.
This is where your spokesperson comes in. “When you make yourself available for commentary in the media, you are positioning yourself and your business in a powerful way so people take notice of what you have to say,” says PR director Catriona Pollard in a blog post published by HuffingtonPost.
While you might think that you can just hire a spokesperson if you have a crisis, your audience wants to hear from you! A crisis is an opportunity to build trust and recover quickly. Having a staff trained person, not an outsider, is essential. In addition to fewer expenses, Internal spokespersons have the added benefit of knowing the ins and outs of your business firsthand. As part of the team, it will be easier for them to comprehend and keep up with an evolving situation and the people involved.
Why media training?
Why do your spokesperson and backup need to be media-trained, though? Isn’t public speaking proficiency the only requirement? No! Being able to talk to large groups of people without lightheadedness is just the beginning. However, the fact that reporters and your audience have specific questions or concerns and can quickly escalate a conversation into a battle of words, or worse, makes it imperative to know the right way to communicate.
“Media training can teach you how to use your words, tone, and body language to deliver your message in a powerful way,” says Pollard. “When you are clear about your responses, you can steer the interview in the direction you want. This is a subtle and important skill that can be learned through media training and practice.”
In addition to learning how to properly get your message across in times of crisis, media training helps your spokesperson relay happy and pertinent news, too. For example, if your company is expanding or launching a new product/service or about an industry trend, you can proactively work with the media to share your news. After talking to the media enough times, he or she could even be viewed as a source expert!
How to get media training?
Getting media-training for your appointed spokesperson(s) is easier than you think. The majority of public relations and leadership organizations offer training workshops ranging from a couple of hours to multiple days. Although each program is different, the basic format is that it starts with a presentation of media best practices and then goes on to hands-on activities.
If your company is interested in conducting a training session, give Q Strategies a call. We are here to help local businesses plan for the future though crisis management and spokesperson training.