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The importance of having a spokesperson

Frankie Mullaney, Senior Account Manager

The author

Frankie Mullaney

Senior Account Manager

How can you ensure your business is gaining relevant coverage in target publications and appearing as an authoritative source for not only journalists but also search engines?

With an aim of achieving high-quality coverage for clients in relevant media titles, pursuing media comment opportunities is a key focus for our team. Whether this is with national press or niche publications relevant to our client sectors, achieving a brand mention alongside a feature of a key stakeholder within the business is a sure-fire way of increasing your client’s authority within their sector. Our own link audit research has found expert comment opportunities to be one of the most effective ways of earning links for our clients.

But responding to these types of requests from journalists or reacting to a news story in your client’s sector requires a spokesperson within the business who is happy to be quoted in the press, speak live for broadcast opportunities or provide quick responses to ongoing news stories. 

What does it mean to be a spokesperson? 

A spokesperson is someone who is elected from within your organisation to speak on behalf of the business. This could be working with your PR team to draft a comment to share directly with journalists, speaking to a journalist over the phone or even appearing live on the radio/TV. Spokespeople should be on hand to react to inbound requests and should also have the authority to speak on a wide range of topics relating to the business. 

A company spokesperson should also have strong written and oral communication skills, and this is where your PR agency can help. 

If someone fitting that description isn’t already acting as your spokesperson, here are five reasons you should assign someone the responsibility:

1. The news cycle is 24/7

The media waits for no one, even if you’re the most well-known brand in your sector. One simple tweet or negative news story can uncover several sources. Should news about your organisation or industry break, would you be content watching your competitors step in as the authority on the topic? Or would you prefer to be the one to react and engage with the story? Having someone within the organisation prepped to respond will help to take control of the narrative as well as build your authority within the industry. Our media training teaches individuals/spokespeople to coherently and effectively interact with reporters, journalists and other members of the media. 

2. Expertise, authority & trust

Google’s search quality ratings guidelines make frequent mention of expertise, authority and trust (EAT) as a signifier of high-quality content.

Google doesn’t define clear examples of EAT, however, it does provide examples of signals of the lowest EAT, which tells us a lot about what the search engine is looking for:

  • The creator of the content does not have adequate expertise in the topic. 

  • The website is not an authoritative source for the topic of the page.

  • The content is generally not trustworthy.

Effectively, this suggests that Google is looking for content written by trusted authors (e.g. relevant business spokespeople featured throughout your website content) in their niche, as well as being on a trustworthy, relevant platform.

Ensuring you have off-page trust signals for both your authors and website is essential to performing well out of this algorithm. Having a spokesperson and successfully pursuing comment opportunities with high authority and relevant media titles is a good example of this. In a similar way that you’d build authoritative links to your domain, it’s worth getting your authors out there, whether it be a link back to your domain or mentions of them in relevant web-pages and publications. 

3. A crisis could happen at any moment

Reputation management is an essential part of PR plans in 2020. Rumours and negative stories can easily emerge across an array of platforms. Active listening and monitoring of not only live news stories but also social media ensure that communications teams and spokespeople can immediately respond and rectify situations before they go astray. 

Companies who are ill-prepared could find themselves at the mercy of the press. A trained spokesperson in the team and the support of your PR team to respond quickly, can be the difference between a successful day and potential bad press.

4. Each day delivers an opportunity to forge new relationships

PR professionals understand the importance of consistently monitoring relevant industry news and how important this can be in any comms planning. 

Staying up to date not only ensures preparedness but it also provides opportunities to actively comment on your industry news. This process is how individuals become trusted media sources as well as perceived experts with key journalist contacts. 

When target publications are seeking expert commentary, be available and ready to respond. If news is breaking and you have information, a valuable tip or previous PR campaign research that is relevant to the story, your PR team can contact the media and help your spokesperson and business become a critical source for breaking news. 

5. Giving your PR campaigns a longer shelf life

Creating a bank of media-friendly comments on a range of topics and storing statistics and research from previous campaigns is an effective way of preparing for inbound press queries. 

Having this authoritative and unique information to hand can help to strengthen your chances of securing a mention within a story but also give your PR campaigns a longer shelf life. Being able to update press releases and commentary in line with breaking news stories is essential to maintain your brands’ presence and relevancy within their sector. 

So, what can your PR agency do to help your spokesperson prepare for media commentary? 

From offering media training sessions to drafting and proofing media comments, both teams must work together to create engaging and relevant content which will appeal to the chosen publication as well as your business’ target audience.  

At Jaywing PR, the team has a wealth of experience dealing with inbound media requests from a range of journalists, publications and broadcasters. With this experience, we’re able to provide expert advice and training for clients across all sectors. 

Read more about how we can help here and please get in touch if you would like any more information regarding media training.