When a crisis hits, the last thing you should be doing is arguing behind the scenes about who is the best fit to speak with the public. Choosing the right spokesperson for your crisis is not just an option, it is absolutely necessary. Your spokesperson is a representation of your company, sometimes taking attacks and criticism, and you need someone who can handle it with grace. The phrase, “No comment,” or issuing a blanket statement can hurt more than it can help, so it’s important to have someone available who can speak on your behalf.
What does a great spokesperson look like?
First, your spokesperson would typically not be the CEO or owner of the business, but that’s not always the case
We recommend identifying a handful of people who can speak to different types of topics. For example: If the crisis involves a marketing campaign, your Vice President of Marketing is a good spokesperson option alongside the CEO. If the crisis involves your CEO or owner, it’s best to keep them on the back burner for the time being and involve legal counsel or the COO as your spokesperson instead.
You will want to choose someone (or a group of people) who has great communication skills, confidence and a positive personality
Someone who can connect with people easily and who is sincere and transparent during interviews and who has also experienced extensive media training.
You will also want to choose someone who has expertise in the crisis matter
If it is a technological issue, say a computer virus, you’d want someone who has technology experience to be able to explain the issue and the steps moving forward.
You’ll want your spokesperson to look professional, organized and put together
Remember, they’re representing your brand. You’ll want them to look trustworthy and approachable (there are actually studies done on what physical characteristics people have that cause others to consider them trustworthy.)
This is a good place to reiterate that media training is a must
You can have someone who has all of the above characteristics but freezes in front of the camera or mumbles when the spotlight is on them. They can be well spoken but might not know how to field questions, or how to anticipate what reporters will ask. It’s always helpful to do a run-through or hold mock interviews to prepare a crisis spokesperson for the media.
Do you have other tips on choosing a crisis spokesperson? Share them with us in the comments.