Ten Commandments for Being the Company Spokesperson

You sent out the press release and included the contact information. You are listed as the spokesperson for your company -- but what does that mean? And how can you be an effective one?

As a spokesperson, you represent your company. You are the human link between the media and your company. Although a powerful way to raise your company's profile, two-dimensional press releases can not connect with a journalist like a person can. If your press release is the lure and the hook, you, as the spokesperson, need to reel them in.

First, always be available, easily reached, and completely prepared for comment. Journalists work on all kinds of deadlines. If a journalist takes the time to call, be available to talk to them.

Second, always know whether your goal is to inform, motivate, persuade, or entertain the media. The ultimate goal for public relations is to improve your company's visibility and image. Journalists need a story, not a sales pitch, so determine the best way for your company to be part of a bigger story.

Third, time permitting, find out why a journalist wants to talk to you. This means looking over the reporter's previous work to determine if there is any bias or areas of particular interest.

Fourth, always be able to summarize what you want to say in one minute or less. If you can't do this, then your news is too complex or is too broad in scope.

Fifth, always be completely interested in and believe in your subject. You must intrigue and convince yourself before you can intrigue and convince others.

Sixth, always know your subject inside and out with tangible facts to back up your claims. Draft a fact sheet to give to the media stating any relevant data, statistics, research findings, or evidence with accurate sources. And, contrary to what you might think, it's best to include information about the opposing point of view and counteract those points.

Seventh, never say anything that you are not 100% sure about. Instead, if you don't know a particular answer, tell the media that you will either get back to them or refer them to someone who does know an answer.

Eighth, always be prepared to answer difficult questions. If it's anything other than a human-interest story, don't expect softball questions.

Ninth, always know your top three messages in a positive, non-defensive, concise format. Avoid jargon and overly technical terminology. Refer to your organization by name, not by pronoun.

Tenth, practice makes perfect! Always rehearse your answers and statements aloud.

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