The difference between a good and great spokesperson

What separates a good media spokesperson from a great one? It's all about the level of control they have over the quotes that end up in the story.

A great spokesperson enters a media interview with a clear sense of purpose. They never do an interview on the spot. Instead, they create a break to prepare. They know exactly who their audience is. They deliberate over their messages. They might even do a practice interview or two beforehand. Many will play out the interview in their mind before it happens, visualizing themselves doing a great job and looking for potential pitfalls. Great spokespeople keep their interviews short and focused. They may do a bit of research on the journalist. More often than not, they can tell you which quotes the reporter will use, even before the story is published. And more often than not, they're right.

A good spokesperson enters a media interview hoping for the best. They treat the interview like a conversation. They enter the interview with little or no preparation. For them, practice interviews are unheard of. They tend to have longer interviews, which translates into more content, which, in turn, translates into less control over the quotes that end up in the story. They repeat the reporter's negative language without realizing it. They fill awkward pauses with off-message responses. If you ask them which quotes the reporter is likely to use, they'll shrug and say something like, "How should I know?". And when the story comes out, more often than not, there's something in there that they regret.

Great spokespeople generate higher-quality media coverage. They're better for your company's brand and reputation. They can help boost sales and awareness. They can help you set your company apart from the competition. They're more likely to be called upon for future interviews. They can help your executives and directors sleep better at night. 

Good spokespeople generate mediocre, unpredictable media coverage. Every now and then, they'll have a great quote. But every now and then, they'll cause you to have to do damage control. Good or mediocre spokespeople give your competition an opening to eat your lunch. And over the long term, they pose a greater risk to your company's reputation. 

The difference between a good and a great interview comes down to discipline, preparation, practice and training.

What kind of spokespeople does your company have?

Are you sure?