I have a little gripe. For those who know me, they’ll be aware this is hardly a rarity, but this is one I’ve decided to spout off about in writing.
There are so many businesses getting it right when it comes to their marketing. They have KPIs, they have objectives, they have a strong brand, they’re up-to-date with their social media know-how and they have a PR agency. However, all of that is pointless if you choose the wrong person to deliver your message.
There is an art to picking the perfect spokesperson and it’s an art that few have mastered.
Take the recent general election campaign as an ideal case-in-point. For months before, the polls and pundits were predicting a Labour victory (albeit a slim one). “The country is ready for a change”, we were constantly told. Many agreed with Labour’s policies and the general ethos of the party, yet when it came to it, they lost in spectacular fashion.
I’m not going to pretend that Labour’s loss was purely down to the party’s choice of spokesperson / leader, but there’s no denying that Ed Miliband was a major reason that many voters chose to place their X elsewhere.
Regardless of my own personal political allegiances and Mr Miliband’s obvious dedication to public service, I believe that as a spokesperson, he lacked charisma, he lacked charm, he lacked passion and, as the leaders’ debate showed, he was far from a natural in front of the camera. Ultimately, he wasn’t believable and no matter how much you believe in an idea on paper, if you don’t buy into the person that’s fronting it, it ends up losing credibility.
And boy did the media pick up on Ed’s awkwardness. Now, some of it was warranted but even I have to admit that it’s gone a little to far when a man can’t even enjoy a bacon sandwich in peace. Regardless, it demonstrates the pitfalls of getting your frontman wrong.
I’ve previously been quite bold with new clients and encouraged a change in spokesperson and it’s generated results. If you offer the media someone that not only knows their stuff, but will also engage readers / listeners / viewers and provoke both reaction and interaction, then you’re on to a good thing. At the same time, if that person embodies your brand and projects your key messages, then everyone wins.
So, my advice is to know your brand inside out, consider who your customers are and the type of person they’re most likely to engage with. Work with you PR team on key messaging and desired outcomes. These should all be taken into account when picking a face for your business.
For clients that have both a B2B and B2C offering, it could be worth selecting two spokespeople and, should a crisis comms situation arise, give careful consideration as to who would be best to deliver any statement you may make.
Over the years, I’ve seen many companies simply plump for the most senior person as their spokesperson. It’s certainly the safe, traditional option, but is it going to deliver what your business needs?