Showing posts with label spokespersons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spokespersons. Show all posts

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why Humble Can Work Best In Media Relations

 Recently CNN presenter Soledad O'Brien talked about what she looks for when someone approaches her with a story.  She was speaking at the 2011 Public Relations Society of America International Conference.

O'Brien's most important question is "where is the character" in this story?" Who is the person who best represents the issue? What situation are they in? What challenges do they face?  And how are they rising above their circumstances to break through and succeed?

The veteran CNN journalist points out you might have loads of statistics but the rest of us may find them dry and boring.  For her stories she wants an individual who can put a real face to those facts and figures.

My 20+ years in media relations suggests there is an order of people to choose from when it comes to presenting your issue in the media.

The very best individual you can select is someone you are helping or who benefits from what your organisation does.  They might be a client, a customer or a citizen.  People on the receiving end of your efforts provide authenticity and powerful testimony.  Yet sometimes these individuals may be shy, anxious about privacy or disinclined to be profiled for cultural, religious or other reasons.

Steeping down, the next best person to represent your story in the media is someone from your organisation on the front line directly involved in bringing about change.  It could be a staff member or a volunteer doing something that improves the lot of others, solves a problem or in some way builds a better world. 

For example the most powerful figure to emerge in wartime news reporting can be the "strategic corporal." A junior serviceman or woman, carrying out their mission, can tell you more about the conflict around them, and do it better, than any statesman or diplomat.

The least effective people to represent your cause just might be your boss, CEO or chairman or a politician.  Why should that be so?  Journalists and the public expect authority figures to say good things about their programs. That's their job.  They get paid to do that along with all the privileges of their position.  Besides prominent figures can sometimes muddy an issue and their past deeds, statements or performance can detract from your story.

The take-way from O'Brien's presentation: offer the media a real person. Their situation may be humble but their story is often powerful. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Seven Things A Media Spokesperson Should Be

 A key part in setting up a media relations program is selecting a spokesperson(s) to be the public face of your organisation when the media calls.  This is a very important job and most agencies, businesses or not for profits identify the CEO, Chairperson or person responsible for communications to fill this role.

Irrespective of the choice, your spokesperson(s) should:
  • Know the topic you are presenting to the media.
  • Be able to speak with authority about what your organization does and answer general as well as specific questions.
  • Be well-groomed and dress suitably.
  • Uses plain language and speak clearly and simply.
  • Be continually contactable by mobile or cell phone.
  • Be reasonably flexible about when and where to be interviewed.
  • Be available by phone or email for any follow-up questions after the interview.
 Journalists do not expect not for profits or smaller businesses to have well trained media spokespersons, but they do expect them to be represent your organization, provide information and be able to tell a good story.   

Training in media interview skills is not really necessary unless your issue is controversial, you plan to talk to the media often or your spokespersons are not comfortable performing this important job.  If so consider investing in professional media training for your spokespersons because good media coverage is so important to the future health of your organisation.  

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Media Spokesperson

Choosing a media spokesperson is key issue for most organisations.

Many choose the default position and select the Minister, CEO, Head of PR or another specific individual for that role. And then the curtains come down and no-one else is allowed to talk to the media. True this ensures absolute control over the message. But it often robs an organisation of the chance to get its really interesting stories out and put a more human face before
the public.

We noticed during the Olympics the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (an Australian university) had a number of academic spokespersons providing media commentary on the Games. The Institute advertised their availability to journalists and used event-specific interviews to profile its people and its brand. Check out the results here.

And on the subject of media interviews, click on this short video featuring a Fox News interview with Todd Palin, the husband of US Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Perhaps Todd could use a little media training and the
journalist interviewing him could certainly use help in asking more substantive questions.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Model Spokesperson

The value of good spokespersons is hard to estimate.

So we noted with interest the Pentagon has developed a new model spokesperson. See the video and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PR of World Youth Day

We know good PR when we see it ... so we take our hats off to the team organising World Youth Day.

The event management was superb ... hundreds of thousands of young people (often a tough audience) attending multiple mega-events over seven days. Things apparently running smoothly, no-one getting lost and activities synching in on time. And the most important indicator: people leaving events enthused by their involvement.
Event Management: A+ rating.

Media coverage was huge ...we know that sometimes these types of events gather a natural momentum and just take off. But you could detect someone's guiding hand (or was it divine intervention?) in the media relations planning ...every day a batch of freshly cooked stories, young and articulate clerics on hand as spokespersons and colour, sound and drama in abundance for the cameras and photographers.

Media Monitors reports 42,277 media items reporting the Pope's time in Sydney:

14,581 TV items
14,592 Radio items
11,301 Internet items
1803 Newspaper stories

Media relations for the visit: A+ rating.

And issues management ... well this one scores a C. The subject of sexual abuse by clergy was always going to be a key issue. Yet throughout the week while the Catholic hierarchy expressed regret for past transgressions, the apologies seemed wooden and at times unconvincing. Certainly aggrieved families and individuals who talked to the media regarded these efforts as less than genuine.

Without trivializing the deeply serious issue of sexual abuse and the Church, the rather average management of this issue marred a week of very good PR practice.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

7 Media Lessons from ANZAC Day 2008

ANZAC Day is the biggest and best known event in Australia and media interest in the Day is understandably intense.

This year we were privileged to help the Australian War Memorial with media relations for its ANZAC Day program.

With thanks to the Memorial's communication team, here are 7 media tips from that experience:
  • Even though an event is well known, it pays to work within specific campaign themes. This makes it easier to manage information, source images and video and identify spokespeople.
  • Media relations efforts must tie-in with other marketing, sponsorship and internal communications plans. This ensures media impacts contribute to the broader goals of an organisation.
  • Blogs can be a source of stories for journalists. Information on the War Memorial's blogs were picked up and carried into mainstream media for ANZAC Day and other campaigns. Links in media releases to blogs, wikis and on-line video (such as YouTube) can be valuable in guiding journalists to additional information.
  • We may live in a global economy but the media still want local stories. Newspapers and radio stations are always looking for local (human interest) perspectives on national issues. The first question journalists often ask is what's the local angle?
  • Approach TV producers prepared to talk in terms of images. Work with TV crews to provide the best visual opportunities and spokespersons. See this Channel Seven example.
  • Maintain a media database so you can quickly see the details of journalists and details of interviews that have been set up. In a busy campaign this helps to keep track of who to call and what's happening day by day. And when the campaign finishes it can provide good evaluation data.
  • Australian media have been reporting ANZAC Day for 92 years. Media outlets will want to report a continuing event differently each year. (See this ABC Radio's story on war time rationing). The key to continuing good media relations year after year, is to remain flexible and work with journalists to help them provide valuable information for their listeners, readers and viewers.