The Six Traits Every Media Spokesperson Should Have
What qualities does a great media spokesperson have?
Over the past decade, I’ve noticed that most of the media greats share the same traits, regardless of personal style, ideology, or cause.
And here’s a pleasant surprise: you almost certainly have many of the same traits, and can probably learn the rest.
Here are six traits that most great media spokespersons share.
First, they’re authentic. The audience may not agree with their perspectives, but viewers can tell that the spokespersons genuinely believe in their own message.
Second, they’re natural. The best spokespersons are the ones the public perceives as being the same person on-camera as off, the same in a television studio as in their living rooms. They’re the spokespersons who bring the same passion to their interviews that they express privately when discussing the same topics with their friends.
Third, they’re flexible. They know that breaking news, technical issues, or a shifting storyline can change the nature of their interview with little notice. They know that rolling with the changes and displaying a touch of humor, where appropriate, will enhance the audience’s impression of them.
Fourth, they speak to their audience. They know that their function during an interview isn’t to impress their bosses or their peers, but rather to forge a direct connection with each person reading or hearing their words.
Fifth, they self-edit. Great media spokespersons know that their job is to reduce information to its most essential parts, never to “dumb down” but always to simplify. They know not to try to say everything, since doing so muddles their message and confuses their audience.
Sixth, and finally, they know to express their points in a compelling manner that helps their audience remember them. They know how to use stories, statistics, and sound bites to make their messages stand out, and are adept at coining phrases that stick in the minds of every member of the audience.
The bottom line is this: if you’re capable of energetically delivering a credible and memorable message that you genuinely believe in, the audience is likely to perceive you favorably.
What would you add to this list? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
They should be knowledgeable about their organization and its business.
They do not need to know all of the technical aspects and be able to answer every specific question. But they should not have to answer simple questions about what the organization does, its products/services, history in the community, and other basic information with “I don’t know; I’ll have to get back to you.” If so, they will lose credibility as a spokesperson and it will reflect negatively on the organization.
Absolutely right – great addition to the list. Any spokesperson should be able to answer the basic “who, what, when, where, and why.” Most reporters will forgive a spokesperson who doesn’t have answers to every technical question, as long as they can help them track down the answers in a timely fashion.
Thanks for reading the blog and commenting,
They should always be available to respond to the media!
Thanks for such great points .
I wish that spokespersons of Middel East goverments could follow these steps and stop lying on their people.
Not to be crass but I do think being attractive (for TV, obviously) certainly helps. That’s just the reality of the society we live in. At the very least, to look your best is critical if you’re doing anything that an audience is going to be watching live or seeing later via photos/etc.
I’d also add body language and facial expressions are a huge deal as well. An audience picks up a TON from (A) How you look, (B) How you hold yourself and (C) How you present yourself in terms of eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, etc.
Agreed on all points. And I don’t think it’s crass to point that out – for better or worse, it’s true that television prefers attractive people. One need only look at the 24/7 cable news anchors – they’re seemingly getting younger, blonder, and more attractive.
Thanks for writing,
Good thing for guys like you and me, Brad, that we’re so handsome to begin with! 😉
I beg to differ! While many tv journalist, personalities & spokespeople are attractive its not necessary. The most compelling are not attractive at all but are authentic, engaging & have mastered delivery. (Oprah, B Walters)
I agree that it’s not a necessity. But it is striking that Oprah came up in the 80s and Barbara Walters in the 60s. I can’t help wondering whether their paths to stardom would have been as easy in today’s climate.
In my own experience, I can tell you that CNN was full of “old school” journalists when I arrived there in 1999. They were largely purged by a new class of younger – and generally more attractive – journalists. I’m pretty sure they weren’t hired because their journalism was better…
Thanks for commenting and weighing in!