As any business owner understands, talking to the media is a part of the job. There is a huge difference between just speaking to reporters and being able to effectively make your point in a manner that helps to build ongoing relationships, create positive news and coverage, and becoming someone that the reporter wants to come back to time and time again for additional information.
There’s certainly plenty of information available about becoming a quality spokesperson, but here a few subtle ways you can begin communicating effectively with the media. If you plan to speak to journalists, you need proper training. There are several marketing consultants and PR firms that provide training as a part of their services.
While this is helpful, you should also use the tips and information here. Remember, if you have plans to become a spokesperson for a specific product, such as a secured credit card, getting to know the terminology and jargon is an important part of the process.
Speak slowly and remember to pause
The top rule to remember is that if you think you’re talking too fast, you probably are. On the other hand, if you think you are speaking too slowly, the pace is likely perfect. This is something that is applicable to spokespeople—even if you are speaking to someone over the phone.
Remember, unless the reporter you are talking to is recording your conversation, they are probably trying to take notes on what you’re saying. This is challenging because they also must mentally process what you are telling them and think of new or follow-up questions.
Pauses don’t mean huge or awkward silences. You will know if things get uncomfortable. However, shorter pauses are fine. Short pauses will provide the reporter time to take notes before moving forward to another topic. Remember to slow down, breathe, and when necessary, pause. People listening will thank you.
Be prepared when a reporter asks you a question
The definition of a conversation is that at least two people must be involved. This means the reporter must have time to speak, as well. If you are worried about the type of questions the they may ask, it is good to practice before the meeting. A quality PR firm will provide you with anticipated questions ahead of the interview, along with briefing notes. They can also go through a practice conversation if this would be helpful.
Keep in mind, though, that this will vary based on who you are talking to. Some prefer the natural, two-way dialogue during the discussion, while others prefer that you (the spokesperson) provide their spiel and then ask questions before ending the conversation. This is something you will have to determine on your own. No matter what situation you find yourself in, it would help if you gave the other person time to talk.
Answer all the questions that are asked
Nothing is going to frustrate a journalist more than dealing with a spokesperson who will not answer the questions they are asked. While some refer to this as “tactfully dodging,” the result usually ends the same. In some situations, this will do more harm than good.
It’s true that a company cannot divulge some information, and in some cases, the spokesperson may not have the answers. In some situations, the answer is not as positive as the company would like it to be. However, if you repeatedly refuse to answer something, the reporter may come to their own conclusions, which may be even worse for the company in question.
Building a quality spokesperson career
As a spokesperson, it is your job to shed a positive light on the company. Unfortunately, this is often more difficult than it may seem. Be sure to keep the tips and information here in mind to achieve the best possible results for your career and the company you represent. Also, as time passes, you will become more accustomed to answering questions, which will help ensure you do your job well.