EMG Training Programmes: Bringing out your inner spokesperson
In these days of 24-hour news cycles, fake news, alternative facts and focus on celebrity news, the soundbite is increasingly getting shorter, attention spans are waning and audiences are getting more cynical. Without doubt, it’s getting harder to be an effective spokesperson.
Even companies that try to cut out the media middle-men by addressing audiences direct via digital platforms are finding that they need to work harder to gain and maintain interest.
The importance of preparation
In recent months we have seen White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer working hard at being a messenger of positive news, whilst trying not to become the actual story.
Although it may be harder to get across your good news, the opposite is true for negative information. Bad news travels faster and wider than ever before and there is definitely no time to start preparing from scratch once bad news hits the headlines. There will be an immediate response from customers, competitors and colleagues. “No comment” was never an option – “no response” isn’t one now.
This is also true in the industrial world. A good example is the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London. Even while the building was still alight there were questions being asked about the safety of rain screen cladding, a building system used all over the world. As a consequence everyone is acutely aware of the system’s potential dangers. And whilst many systems are perfectly safe, manufacturers of these types of products can expect to be facing questions from regulators, architects, contractors and clients – and from the media. Whatever their spokespersons say will need to stand up to some serious examination.
Over the last few years, EMG has helped nearly 800 professionals to become more effective spokespersons in workshops that focus on key messaging and/or provide an insight in the news-gathering processes and the possible pitfalls along the way. EMG Spokesperson Training is all about preparation and practice – preferably in a safe environment where mistakes can be made and learnt from. Our clients tell us that they find these training sessions highly effective, particularly when preparing for that important trade show or press conference.
10 Golden rules for spokespersons
We are often asked to advise would-be or de-facto spokespersons – and our immediate response is “practice makes perfect”. However, we appreciate that not everyone has the time to go on a one-day course – so here, in short, are our 10 golden rules. Adhering to these will make you a better interview partner at every occasion:
- Prepare – know what you want to say
- Manage the interview – say what you want to say
- Stay on topic – don’t be distracted or tempted to stray
- Listen to the question – respond with short and unambiguous answers
- Maintain your integrity – be open, honest and clear
- Remain within your area of competence - do not speak for others
- Never guess or speculate – avoid all maybes and what-ifs
- Don’t repeat negative words or phrases – use your own words instead
- Tell a credible story – an interview is not a lecture
- Give it a personal touch – with a few good quotes