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The perfect spokesperson

By Arthur Perkins


Let’s face it, when it come to television and radio coverage having the right spokesperson can make, or break, a story.

The perfect spokesperson is quite often a third party one. It depends on the story of course, but this would typically be a psychologist, life coach, academic or KOL (Key Opinion Leader).  Either way, in a broadcaster’s eyes having what’s perceived to be a “neutral” interviewee definitely takes the commercial sting away. Here are some things to consider when picking the face, or indeed voice, of your campaign:

Two for the price of one

Often, particularly for radio days, we may secure double headed interviews, for which the 3rd party interviewee will sit alongside a corporate spokesperson.  Ideally each guest will play their own role with different key messages.   If it’s a research story for example the corporate spokesperson may talk around the statistics and the 3rd party, perhaps a psychologist, will give more analysis and background.

BBC mid morning radio shows, or smaller commercial stations, are particularly good for this two-for-the-price-of-one approach as they both have scope for live interviews and are receptive to the conversational banter that a double headed slot can bring.   A double headed approach doesn’t work for all though; for example, commercial stations or Sky Radio, who prefer a short, pre-recorded soundbite will only have time for a single interview.

Celebrity sparkle

What a broadcaster prefers above all is a celebrity.   It’s all about the audience figures and a luvvie boosts the numbers and for some stations it’s an opportunity to speak to a celeb they wouldn’t otherwise get access to.

That said even a top tier celebrity must have a relevance to a campaign – so if it’s a story promoting a new treatment for asthma the spokesperson must have some experience or knowledge of the condition.  And they need to be appropriate – if they’re in the headlines for all the wrong reasons that’s a campaign that could well back fire.

Of course you’re paying the celebrity to get you coverage you would otherwise struggle to find, but often there’s a deal to be had with a broadcaster – they WILL ask use a question about your campaign, but the celebrity will talk about other things they’re doing too.  Fair dos!

Corporate spokespeople

If the brief requires coverage for a corporate spokesperson then go for the top dog.  Broadcasters are title-tastic and a CEO or a representative with an impressive job description can work magic.  NEVER put a person forward who works in the press office; broadcasters hate that.

Rules that apply to all 

Some rules apply to all spokespeople.  Availability is the key one – potentially for pre-records the day before the story and from first thing (we’re talking from 0530!) on the day.   If they can’t do the interview they’re no good to anyone.  Are they entertaining is the next crucial question.  Not funny, ha-ha, but lively, enthusiastic performers on radio and television.   And they must have an opinion on the story. Broadcast can be very black and white; they pit one person’s view against another because that’s what makes broadcasting interesting and keeps an audience tuned in!

Remember:

  1. Make sure he or she has a good connection to your cause
  2. Think about your target audience(s)
  3. Think credibility
  4. Make sure Your spokesperson is a good communicator who is committed to your cause
  5. If you’re paying your spokesperson, make sure the ROI is worth it

Some of our recent favourite spokespeople have been:

  • Steve Fowler – Editor-in-Chief, Auto-Express
  • Gladaena McMahon – Personal Development Coach
  • Dr Hilary Jones – TV Doctor, Good Morning Britian
  • Dr Pixie McKenna. TV Doctor, Embarrassing Bodies
  • Emma Kenny – TV Pscychologist 
  • Bianca Miller – Runner-up of the Apprentice
  • Carole Ann Rice – Life Coach
  • Dr Sarah Schenker – Dietician
  • Dr Claire Nee – Forensic Psychologist
  • Grant Harrold – Etiquette Expert

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