Published on July 2nd, 2016 | by Aakriti Kaushik0
Media spokesperson – asset or liability?
This post is inspired by specific events from last week where I was in charge of managing a broadcast interview with our company spokesperson and the local BBC radio and TV station, for a campaign focusing on innovation and technology in engineering. In the wake of the recent post-Brexit political turmoil I was in a dilemma whether to go ahead with the interview in the first place and, if yes, how to avoid getting into the political discussion and steer the conversation towards the campaign.
Now, one obviously cannot risk asking a journalist not to ask specific questions, especially when the topic is so hot they’d rather only talk about that alone! We received a text a night before to confirm the interview for the following morning with our UK Managing Director. A part of me was pleased as this was a fantastic opportunity for us to show the tech in action but another part was all nerves about this turning into a “single-market economy” focused discussion. I’ve never been involved in a political PR or public affairs campaign in my entire career. I can say that I’ve a lot more respect for my financial and political PR chums currently looking after post-Brexit British businesses!
The (mostly Brexit) interview
The journalist was greeted in the morning by my fresh smile and I was also relived to discover his keen interest in our business. But, the turning point of the interview was his first handshake with our MD. I could tell the journo was incredibly impressed with the buckets of enthusiasm and energy that our MD brought along. After a couple of standing instructions he started filming and recording – a 12 minute grilling of mostly Brexit related questions! I went through a roller coaster of emotions – cringing at the questions and breathing a sigh of relief (and delight) at the answers. My spokesperson was blessing his PR colleague with the most outstanding answers with only 30 mins of advance brief. He just turned it around into an entire positive story for the business when asked about the effect of the Referendum on customers and suppliers. My favourite part of the interview answers was – “We have over x million customers across the world, and we will keep serving them to the best of our ability no matter where the order comes from!” That brief moment when you thank your stars for being blessed with an amazing representative for the business who understands the A-Z of PR!
Great spokespeople are PR assets
I’ve worked with several spokespeople in the past – some of them have needed more than a couple of media training lessons and still delivered the most vanilla boring interviews. A couple have inspired me with their politician-styled speeches and top-of-the-head answers. I believe that a spokesperson who isn’t media shy and understands the requirements of his interviewer is a huge natural asset for us PR professionals. Not only can we rely on them for being the face of the business for delivering the best message and maximising the journalists’ time, but we know the journalists will come back another time for another story, making our PR life a lot easier and enjoyable.
All’s well that ends… well…
We played the interview live at the internal engagement workshop with a gathering of around a hundred people. Twelve minutes edited to five. Six questions in total. Four related to Brexit and not the campaign. Ending with a round of applause and cheer for how positive and amazing it was.
That was my PR highlight of the week.
Image source: rtsmedia.co.uk