What Makes an Effective Crisis Spokesperson?

spokespersonWhile all executives need to be media-trained, a primary spokesperson from the executive team needs to be identified based on the issue and target audience. The CEO needs to be visible during a crisis but should be used as spokesperson selectively depending on the issue at hand.

A good spokesperson will deliver corporate messages correctly. A great spokesperson will earn the public’s trust. During a crisis, which is usually where corporate spokespeople are introduced, being an effective spokesperson is a tremendous advantage.

Here are some of the key attributes of a great spokesperson, courtesy of Bobbie Wasserman, managing director of Wave2 Alliances:

  • They look sincere. They care about the situation and are invested in the company doing the right thing. They speak with a genuineness that garners trust.
  • They appear helpful and human. Being a spokesperson is more than delivering a message. It’s answering questions on message in a conversational tone. It’s the ability to say, “I don’t know, let me find out and get back to you,” and follow through. They set realistic expectations publicly. If they make a mistake, they own it and correct themselves.
  • They are presentable and real. A spokesperson must present him/herself well, be groomed and dressed properly for the part and well-versed on the issue at hand. A too-polished and “slick” look might question credibility, whereas a disheveled appearance will not garner any credibility.
  • They are trained. Being an effective spokesperson takes training and practice. The nuances learned in media training are critical to surviving tough questions in a public setting.

To learn more about building a crisis management dream team, join PR News for the Crisis Management Boot Camp, which takes place on Sept. 15 in New York City.

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene