Using and Supporting a Spokesperson

The help sheet Selecting a Spokesperson looked at how your group or organisation could choose a spokesperson, and some of the qualities and abilities that spokesperson needs to have to be most effective.

Choosing that spokesperson is only a small part of the task though. Once you have your spokesperson you want to ensure your group utilises them to best advantage.

Your spokesperson should become, in a way, the human face of your group or organisation – a living, breathing billboard for you, your members, donors, supporters, volunteers and helpers.

Having your human face – your "billboard" - working well for your group means being seen in the right places, doing the right things, and being supported by your organisation in making the right comments.

Using your spokesperson effectively will result in a higher profile for your group, and will open doors to attract funding, members, and the ability to meet with and lobby business and Government leaders and potential donors.

Using a Spokesperson Effectively

Media Opportunities

The first and most important way to use your spokesperson effectively is to ensure they have opportunities to get their messages – which are, after all, your group's messages – across.

The prime way of doing this is to work with the media. The media provides your spokesperson with an ideal outlet to communicate the group's messages, activities and opinions to the public.

Some of the ways your spokesperson can effectively get your group's messages across to the media are:
  • Through media conferences.
  • Through media events – for example, a policy launch or combined photo opportunity and media conference.
  • By having them involved in an interview or question-and-answer session with a reporter.
  • By organising or lobbying for a feature piece – most likely in a newspaper – where your spokesperson "does the talking".
The Media – Preparing a Winning Strategy section of the Media & Marketing Centre contains a number of help sheets that can help your group get its messages out by working with the media.

In particular, the two-part help sheet entitled Holding a Press Conference or Media Event goes into detail about organising these types of events and creating opportunities for your group and its spokesperson to spread the word effectively through the media.

Non-media Alternatives

While creating opportunities for media coverage should be a big component of using your spokesperson effectively, your group or organisation should also make the most of other ways to get your spokesperson into the public arena.

Some of these opportunities include:
  • Invitations to attend functions relating to issues in your sector directly or more vaguely linked to your group and its aims – where your spokesperson can network with others and develop contacts for your group.
  • Speaking at such events – with your spokesperson talking to attendees about your group and what it does.
  • Participating in panel discussions on selected topics or issues, which have the added advantage of pegging your spokesperson (and group or organisation) as "expert" in the field.
  • Attending conferences to further your knowledge, that of your spokesperson, and to be seen and open up networking opportunities.

Using the Name of Your Organisation

Always make sure the spokesperson brings the name of your organisation "into the conversation" – whether in the media or at other functions or events.

There are a couple of ways of doing this.

One is through your spokesperson should have a "lift speech" practiced and ready for use in conversation at functions, another is having a sound bite prepared when the media comes knocking.

The help sheets:
Both available at the Media & Marketing Centre, can help you and your spokesperson be prepared on both fronts.

Not only that, but correct and accurate attribution that links your organisation and any comments coming from your spokesperson is an important part of getting your group's name out there.

Having your organisation's name used in conjunction with your spokesperson's comments in this way through the media lends you a certain cachet; a bit of status and prestige. It also helps your name stick in the minds of the public.

Get the Scenery/Backdrop Right for your Spokesperson

If your spokesperson is having their photograph taken or doing a piece to camera, make sure your organisation gets maximum value for it by having the name of your organisation, its logo, a poster, members or one of its activities in the background.

It not only makes a more interesting picture but helps to get your group's brand across.

If its radio, maybe you can conduct the interview at the scene of one of your organisation's activities so there is some relevant background sound.

Supporting a Spokesperson

Supporting your spokesperson and doing everything to make sure they are ready to face whatever situation they need to is crucial in having them at their most effective.

A media team can help with a lot of this work, including
  • Lobbying the media to get your group's "voice" (spokesperson) heard.
  • Having on hand background material that helps boost your spokesperson's image, including:
    • Copies of recent speeches
    • Research etc
    • Backgrounders etc
  • Having speeches written and prepared, and any presentations (including organising props, posters or other items) co-ordinated.
  • Ensuring your spokesperson has business cards printed and ready to give out when needed.
For more information on media teams, refer to the help sheet Building a Media Team ... and yes, we understand the reality of most groups is that the media team consists of one person! This help sheet is just about understanding the different roles that person will have.

Remember, this support takes time and effort and, where needed, maybe some money for training.

But with any luck you might be able to justify this time, effort and money through getting double or triple exposure for your group. For example:
  • Your spokesperson could deliver a speech at a conference or function, which.
  • Could then be included on your website or cross-referenced with the website of the body to which he or she gave the speech, and.
  • Could be used in your group's next newsletter, as well as.
  • Being run or receiving coverage through the media.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.