I have a confession. I regularly get so cross listening to the Today programme I have to turn it off. Is it the breadth of subjects covered, John Humphreys’ interview technique
or even the odd ‘unfortunate’ slip of the tongue when naming the Secretary of State for Culture that gets me hitting the standby button?
No, of course not. It’s the increasingly robotic and overly trained spokespeople who plunge my morning coffee into momentary silence (I do always turn it back on
again after a minute or two!). There I’ve said it. I think us communications
types have created a fair few monsters with our media training techniques
Of course, when you have spent months working on a new report or campaign, the last thing you want to do is send your CEO into the studio without a sniff of a briefing. But
do you really want to ply them with so many statistics and crowbar so many key
messages into every over-rehearsed answer that frankly they are a bit boring. No
wonder John Humphreys is getting crosser with each passing week!
Yes, the key messages are important, as is the “I recently met…” example to add a bit of human interest and the ABC technique has its uses. But increasingly I am
hearing spokespeople who are so obviously working through a long list of “you
must get this in” they cease to be having a conversation.
Have you ever considered that over preparing your spokespeople could be doing as much harm to your campaign as not preparing them at all? Yes, make sure they know
what the ask is and have some killer facts up their sleeve, but make sure they
can nail the delivery. Don’t just give them reams of briefing notes, sit down
with them, practice the answers and give them tips on sounding more relaxed and,
dare I say, passionate. A chatty enthusiastic spokesperson is so much more interesting
to listen to and much more likely to inspire potential supporters and advocates.