Head vs spokesperson: who should represent the company’s position in the media
In a new article we explain how to competently divide the area of responsibility between the director of the company and the spokesperson in the matter of representing the business in the media
This is an eternal question in PR activities, which has still not been resolved. On the one hand, a spokesperson is a specialist whose duties include any communication with the media. On the other hand, a leader is the face of a company that is trusted and respected. When a business raises the question of who can represent the interests of the company in the media, present a strategy, answer journalists’ questions, the best solution is to attract the leader to public communications, because his status will positively affect the dissemination and perception of information. On the other hand, business leaders, especially large ones, are very busy people and are not always able to meet with reporters. Then a PR specialist comes to the rescue. So, what topics should be covered only by the head or only by the spokesperson?
Topics for Leader
Today the trend is “business with a human face.” In order to gain public confidence, to appear as “openmind”, the first persons of the companies simply need to speak in the media, attend public events as speakers. No one but the leader knows better than him about the main strategy.
Key topics for the leader:
strategic development of the company;
large and influential transactions: attracting investment, mergers and the like;
change in ownership;
bankruptcy, business closure;
staff reduction, outsourcing of units;
company results for a certain period of time.
The topics that the leader should cover are of a strategic nature, either working to strengthen the image and reputation, or to prevent the emergence of reputation crises.
Topics for a PR Specialist
When the tandem of the PR boss harmoniously interacts, the company has every chance to consolidate a positive image in the media. And the responsibility in this tandem lies with both. Indeed, in order for the PR man to convey the necessary message to the media, he must understand what the manager wants. To do this, at least (at least) you need to go to the boss’s office more often and talk about common problems. The feeling when a PR man understands the boss perfectly, comes only with years and victories and falls experienced together.
Key topics for PR:
negative situations that are not of strategic importance (to minimize the impact of negative information on the image and reputation of the leader);
current issues regarding the work of the company, social or other initiatives;
safety issues (if they are not related to accidents or tragedies);
organization of the enterprise, the main stages of production.
If communications within the company are built properly, then such distribution will be optimal.
In addition, the spokesperson must be aware of the affairs of the company, therefore, should:
attend all meetings and discussions among enterprise managers;
regularly receive information on the progress of the company from various departments (production, personnel management and others);
regularly communicate with the head to receive information on the state of affairs of the company from the first person.
Public Speaking Checklist
Check yourself for the following items:
What do you want to say, what is the main message of your appeal, what result do you want to get after broadcasting this message to the target audience.
What facts confirm your message. Collect 1-2 facts confirming the effectiveness of your decision on the history of other companies, and provide other facts about how your decision will affect the image of the company, its employees and customers.
Who is your target audience? After all, in communication with the press, mass media act only as information relayers. Your key consumers are investors, customers, local governments.
Gather analytics and facts about the market of your company in general, because journalists (most likely) will be interested not only in the company’s position on a particular issue, but also in the market situation, which contributed to certain actions by the organization.
Prepare answers to the most common questions of journalists. Most often these will be questions of why it became necessary to take one or another action, its possible positive and negative consequences, how the manager’s action affects the market as a whole and a specific city, how the company will deal with the negative consequences of the action, if any.
Make the right accents. You can spend hours talking about the achievements of the company, but not making an important emphasis. Then your speech will not have any positive impact on the audience.