When used well, personality is one of the most powerful weapons in PR. This is particularly true of small and disruptive organisations, where personality is essential not just for traditional PR, but in lead generation too. A brilliant sales director once told me that when all things are equal, people buy from people, and when all things are unequal, people still buy from people.
Here’s an example. We have an SME business as a client, operating in a new field and trying to carve out their niche in the industry. On the face of it, without a steady stream of news, it would be impossible to establish much of a media profile. Working with their CEO, however, gives us a constant source of innovative thinking and angles. Always responsive to our daily prompts for comment on relevant news, he is simply a person that will make a brand.
But not every organisation has a natural PR personality at the top. As PRs it’s our role to dig out the right fit for each opportunity and ensure clients make the most of potential coverage. Here are five tips then, on building a successful PR spokesperson programme:
- Choose your weapon
If you’re lucky enough to have a wealth of brains in the business, create a matrix. Seeing who can articulate their passions and expertise at a glance is fantastically useful. With smaller companies, it’s best to identify one representative that becomes a familiar industry face – two at the most. This can never be the sales and marketing individual; an ideal target is the CEO or someone with an alternative title such as Chief Data Scientist. Your representative must genuinely sound as if they have some killer insights to offer.
- Have a view and make it snappy
The classic example of this in tech PR is undoubtedly Salesforce’s Mark Benioff calling for the “end of software” – few things will compare to this as a PR statement. But his approach should be exemplary to every PR professional.
- Be quick and concise
All PRs get a number of response opportunities, whether news-based or approach-based, from journalists. With these, the speed of response is just as significant as the soundbite itself in determining success, so clients without a 24-hour turnaround process are always going to struggle for mindshare. Build a bank of responses that you can repurpose, and keep them up to date and compelling.
- Be accurate and open
In the era of fake news, the media are increasingly wary of overstatement or incorrect ‘facts’. The key to every likeable brand is openness and honesty, so getting rumbled for inaccuracies, intentional or otherwise, will do serious damage to your client’s brand image.
- Put a face to the name
Every good spokesperson deserves a good headshot. Pictures should be high quality and ideally consistent across PR and social media channels. Soon your spokesperson will become a familiar face for other businesses, journalists and influencers. Don’t submit your representative alongside a shot that’s blurry, out of focus, or clearly taken in the office canteen!
Ultimately, having great ‘PR-able’ spokespeople among your clients will show off their company’s knowledge, insight and leadership. The importance of finding individuals with powerful personality, looking to represent their business for all the right reasons, shouldn’t be underestimated. In fact, you’ll soon see it becoming a key strand of any successful PR campaign.