Power of Perception: The Importance of a Good Spokesperson

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In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that “the medium is the message.” Nowhere does concept hold truer than in the world of public relations.

Whether we’re drafting press releases, writing blog posts or composing tweets, the medium that we select to deliver our clients’ message can significantly impact how effective it will be.

Take a company spokesperson, for example. If you’ve been in PR for more than a month, it’s likely that you’ve already had a fair amount of exposure to the good, the bad and the ugly. Some people just get it, and are able to efficiently and eloquently communicate their organization’s message without sounding too “salesy.” Others struggle to concisely and coherently answer journalist/analyst questions, or to employ good public speaking techniques, such as proper annunciation and inflection. A quality spokesperson, especially during a crisis, can help establish and maintain a positive public perception of his or her company.

While that perception is important, so too is quantifying the results of PR campaigns, including how spokespeople perform. So just how much can they impact a company? After Men’s Wearhouse announced that George Zimmer, its founder, chairman and icon of 28 years, was let go, the company’s shares fell 2.3 percent. In May, after a statement from Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries citing his company’s goal of selling its clothes only to “cool” people, its shares took a big hit, as well.

These are only a couple examples of how a seasoned spokesperson is needed, in good times and not-so-good times, to communicate with the public following statements from an executive or employee that stir the media pot. Can you think of recent instances when an organization’s spokesperson effectively, or ineffectively, handled such a situation?


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