Why a spokesperson should always be available for media interviews
It can be daunting when you are contacted by a journalist asking for a media interview. But, always having a spokesperson available to talk to the media is an easy way to help get your organisation in the news, keep journalists happy, and to strengthen the reputation of your business.
No matter the situation, you need to make the most of any media opportunities that come your way. A good spokesperson will be able to manage the media to connect with your target audience and deliver your key messages confidently and with authority.
The more spokespeople you have who have been media trained, the more chances you have at securing media coverage for your brand. You don’t want to be contacted by a journalist and not have anyone available to speak to them.
Proactive PR vs Reactive PR
When it comes to PR, most organisations should prepare both proactive and reactive strategies and your spokespeople should also be prepared for both.
This means making yourself available for media interviews, not only on the days media activity is planned, but also being prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice for media interviews. Both are equally important for developing good media relations as well as for growing your reputation and brand awareness.
Using proactive PR is important, as it is all about gaining consistent coverage to form a strong reputational foundation for you and your brand. The most effective proactive PR uses long-term strategies.
As proactive PR is usually generated by your PR/Communications team, your spokesperson should know when to start expecting phone calls from journalists, have time to prepare, and be available.
“The worst thing a PR team can do is to quote a spokesperson in a media release who is not available the day the story is sent to journalists. This only leads to frustration for journalists, chiefs-of-staff, producers, and ultimately news bosses, and your organisation loses credibility,” Adoni Media Founder and Managing Director, Leisa Goddard, said.
“Sadly, this happened a lot during my three decades as a news journalist and I saw some very good stories dropped, simply because the spokesperson wasn’t available for interview.
“Now in PR, before we send out a press release or pitch, we make it a rule to inform the client first to find out their spokesperson’s availability, so they can be prepared if someone wants to pick up the story,” Leisa said.
“Journalists usually won’t have time to wait on you – you need to be quick if you want to secure coverage.”
Whether you target industry specific or mainstream media to share what’s happening in your business, proactive PR brings attention to your brand and boosts your credibility.
The more media coverage you secure, the more known you and your brand will become to audiences and journalists. And when you’ve built a credible profile, you may become a thought leader and have journalists contacting you on a regular basis for insight and comment about developing issues or breaking news relating to your industry.
Reactive PR is when you need to be prepared to act quickly and drop anything you’re doing at a moment’s notice. Breaking news stories are time sensitive and happen when you least expect.
Whether you’re reacting to good news or bad news, the key is to be prepared for anything and everything that might come your way.
If it’s a good news story, it’s important to be part of the narrative so you become known as a ‘go-to’ commentator. The more you make yourself available, the more likely you’ll gain a reputation for being ‘great talent’ by journalists and newsrooms. And journalists love filling their contact books with phone numbers for people they trust to give them credible insights and comments whenever they reach out.
However, the news cycle moves fast, and other thought leaders will be waiting to leap at the chance to have their brand on air, so you need to be prepared to act fast.
“It’s a horrible feeling when a client loses out on a big opportunity because no one is available to speak to the media,” Leisa said.
It takes commitment and time but is a great way to boost the profile and reputation of not only yourself but for your organisation as well.
As we know all too well, reactive PR is more likely to involve bad news or a crisis and this is when it’s vital to act quickly and be involved so you can help control the narrative.
Adoni Media Communications Director, Clare Christensen, says, when a crisis happens, you have as little as 20 minutes to make a statement if you want to stay on top of the story.
“In a time where your reputation is vulnerable, you need to respond quickly and have a spokesperson ready who can stay on message while under pressure to salvage the situation.”
“Media training is crucial for those in industries that commonly experience, or are under threat from, crises. Training helps teach your spokespeople what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.
“A great spokesperson coupled with an experienced PR team can even turn a crisis into an opportunity for your brand.
“If you don’t respond or your response is ‘No Comment’, it can be interpreted as an admission of guilt, a sign of dishonesty, and can portray a lack of empathy, leaving someone else to tell the story.”
So, to ensure you don’t leave journalists and their bosses frustrated, and that you are involved in any stories to help control the narrative, your spokespeople need to be available for media interviews.
Whatever the situation, saying ‘yes’ to interview requests is a great opportunity to become a thought leader and to build awareness for you and your brand.
The team at Adoni Media is made up of experienced journalists and corporate affairs specialists who know how the media works. We have more than 10 years of proven results for clients who trust us to prepare, promote, and protect their brand and reputation. To see how we can help you achieve your communication goals, contact us.