The Boss Is Not Always Right
Previously I discussed When, Why and How to use an employee as an on-camera spokesperson as well as some of the natural qualities they would ideally possess. Now let's talk about who. You may be surprised to hear that the right person within your organization to be your spokesperson is not always the boss...
I have already mentioned that you shouldn't choose someone who can't do the job well. Sounds obvious and common sense, right? However, when corporate politics and ambition come into play, common sense sometimes gets ignored. Some employees will want to be the spokesperson because they believe the high visibility may help their career. While their desire to do the job will certainly make it easier for them, their personal goals and their place in the business's hierarchy are nowhere near as important as their natural ability. Likewise, someone's level of authority is secondary to their ability to do the job as spokesperson.
Now having said that, my next Rule of Thumb is to pick the highest level person who can do the job well.
The corollary to this is to pick the person who is closest to the message you want to send. If the message is policy, as in some sort of guarantee, the CEO or an appropriate VP has the authority to make it stick. If the message is say, quality, then the testimony of an assembly line worker may be more impressive.
There's two large car dealerships here in Southern California that offer good examples. One does radio spots that feature the CEO whose name is on the dealership--actually her father's name. They promote the policy of the founder and that they continue to negotiate great deals just as he did because it's the family heritage. The other dealership's spots feature not the CEO or the GM as spokesperson but the Sales Manager. In this case, you are being addressed directly by the guy on the front line, the guy who is personally going to close your deal. Both of these campaigns work. Both offer credible spokespeople with authority, despite the difference in their corporate titles.
Both these spokespeople come across as real people. They don't read perfectly or have the smooth voice of a professional. They are not slick. But they are well spoken and earnest. Not an easy thing to accomplish in front of a microphone or a camera. Obviously they have good copywriters, producers and editors to enhance their natural ability as a spokesperson. And they probably have had some training.
Pick the highest level person who can naturally do the job of spokesperson well and is closest to the message you want to send. Just how high a level should they be? That depends on the message. In the next installment I'll discuss using more than one spokesperson.
--John W. Coleman www.TwinOaks.tv