Having timely and dynamic spokespersons who understand their role is a strategic line that constitutes the most important tactical action in the crisis and before it. The question that heads of communication should ask themselves is are their spokespersons as competent as the media and digital world requires them? If the answer is not clear, you should prepare quality spokespersons.
A good spokesperson is a solution to many day-to-day challenges in a communications office. It is the certainty of taking firm steps in the quicksand of misinformation or bad information. It is the most effective tactical action to begin any informative process, it is for lightning that saves time in the storm, it is the shield of credibility of an organization, it is the one who dissuades the detractors, pleases the public, motivates the media, He is an opinion maker and, above all, an official who holds a position in the organization to which he dedicates his best hours. Many will say that this would be the ideal spokesperson and does not exist in reality. I believe completely the opposite. The spokesmen are formed and trained as an athlete would. The problem is that the communications offices do not give it the importance that it has, and those that give it to them prepare them in a simple and generic way.
The selection of the spokesperson and his training cannot be things that are left to chance. Most of the communications offices that give value to the spokespeople count from 1 to 3 spokespersons and invest between 10K and 15K dollars per year in training courses that in the opinion of many do not contribute much after the first time. They have become more a requirement that is met and not the pillar of the communication work performed by the office. The reason, in my opinion, is that training courses are not adequate. They are sessions of some hours in which the spokesman sits in front of a camera and a journalist, usually external, that makes him look uncomfortable, wrong and then gives him some tips to improve. Sessions that are novel in the first minutes but that in the end in quality contribute little to the true formation of the spokespersons. It’s like giving him fish and not teaching him how to fish.
True spokesperson training should allow the person to understand their role, understand the scenarios in which they will act, assimilate the language they should use, adapt to the spokesperson format, know the formulas to answer efficiently, understand and master the three basic elements: the media equation, the information circle, and the telegenic bases. Know how to read between the lines, anticipate questions and key facts of the spokesperson. None of this is utopian, in fact, many do well and have reached their maximum level with the indicated training and the individual advances that proactive and non-traditional reactive training demands with the journalist and the camera that I mentioned before.
This training is not a single session, it requires several, it needs theoretical support since the spokesmen generally understand better when under the theory they are prepared to assimilate what they learn under three criteria: what is the use of what they learn when they should use it and third what result should you expect. Good training should use a real case study that the spokesperson can decipher and deduce.
Personally, I believe in a training model that I have developed over the years and for the good results achieved. These are 4 sessions of maximum three hours each of which three are theoretical and one of practice. In each case, it is done with biannual performance evaluation until reaching the desired level.
The modules are distributed as follows: one, fundamentals of the spokesperson, which deals with the basic elements, the keys of the spokesperson, the principles of the spokesperson, as well as its intervention inside and outside the crisis. Two, the criteria of efficient spokesmanship, handling of the ADLE model (developed by me) in different formats and finally the adequacy of the messages to the audience. Three, the keys to an effective spokesperson, formulas for organizing a statement, forcefulness in the intervention, language, preparation and help, eight ways to answer effectively and the small victories against the journalist or the audience. Finally, the fourth practice session that applies everything learned to the following formats, will speak in an interview, in a press conference, in an auditorium, as a source and finally in a quote.
The ADLE is a performance and evaluation model in which the spokesperson applies 20 elements and measures its action on 100 points in fields such as Attitude, Delivery, Language and Efficiency. The scores are interpreted as follows: 91 to 100: shows that the spokesperson has extraordinary and refined qualities to communicate, a product of the detailed and planned conjugation of each of the aspects according to the message and the medium. 81 to 90: This range corresponds to people who have found the perfect mix of each of the elements but still make very specific errors related to delivery and language. 71 to 80: This group includes people who have found the elements that improve their performance and are moving to a higher level but still make mistakes mainly on efficiency. 61 to 70: This is a level shown by spokespersons who know the key elements of effective communication but are often distracted in the background issues neglecting the form. With greater concentration, they will level up. They require more practice because they often repeat mistakes in each area. 51 to 60: This segment corresponds to people who continue to privilege the fund over the form. They fear to launch into communication that incorporates elements such as evaluation. They are not comfortable with several of the key aspects of delivery, language and efficiency. Less than 50: They must improve all the elements and the most convenient will be to have professional help.
Finally, remember that a spokesperson has very specific objectives to achieve in each intervention. It doesn’t matter if you intervene once a year or more than once a day. That your task will be to deal with the small details in each intervention and not in the big matters. Those will come in handy if the details have been taken care of properly. Keep in mind that when a spokesperson must intervene there may be no preparation time and only work on what was built in advance. If it has been good the previous good work will be the answer. Effective spokespersons are very valuable and must be cultivated and cared for. The reputation of a company, entity or brand is in the hands of him in each intervention. The good spokesperson almost always wins only by speaking well and positions the principle that the form is the background.
Most of the time in the media and public opinion equations, the losing part is characterized by the lack of a spokesperson or a good spokesperson. Unfortunately, it is when there is nothing to do and what was not done is regretted. The damage can be devastating. The question I ask is: do you have good spokespersons in your office and are you trained to act efficiently? Think about it and act. To learn more about this topic or if you have spokesperson training needs, simply write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me your project or need and I can surely help.