14 March 2013 1 Comment

Brand communication: danger of a bad spokesperson.

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Civil Defence Commandant Cant Civil Defence Website, Bad brand spokespersonBrands ‘happen’ everyday. Every moment your brand is being assessed. Everything you say or refuse to say contributes to your brand reputation and perception. Any deliberate or unintentional act can become your brand’s permanent fixation.

A vital part of brand communication strategy is the organization’s spokesperson. This role is not just for any sexy, beauty with right figure personality. It is position for a person with beauty and brain. While the ability to speak good English is essential, the major component of a skilled spokesperson is in his/her ability to demonstrate thorough understanding of the organization’s processes. A good hands-on experience in diplomacy, tact with excellent human relations skill is very important in this field. Media relations skill will also be a great advantage.

The role of organization’s spokesperson can be played by the top management or the head of the communication department. The degree of impact any misdemeanour from these levels of spokesperson can create may be different. Hence the need to be adequately informed so they can speak authoritatively about the organization they represent.

When it comes to brand reputation and perception management, we all know not many organizations’ leaders are very talented in good speech making, media relations management, media interview technique. But this shortcoming must be helped by head of corporate communication or any staff of the department.

Brand communication specialist must know the best points and weaknesses of the top management in communication process. Organization communication specialist must help in equipping top management so they do not look stupid at the end.  Today we will be sharing a case study of how a spokesperson can create real trouble for the organization.

There are rumours of job racketeering among some Government establishments in Nigeria. One of such Agencies is Nigeria Security and Civil defence Corps. In order to clear the air about this public misgiving about the organization, a Television Station decided to invite a state Commandant of the Corps, Mr Obafaiye Shem, to its  early morning programme.

From inception, it was clear that Mr. Obafaiye Shem should not have granted such interview because of his lack of full appreciation of the focus of the media interview.  Ideally, he should have been prepared by the Public relations department. If this is not possible he should have sent the head of that department to attend that interview on his behalf. What lesson can we learn?

 Every moment count: be very proactive. Media personnel may not be your friend. They want information but you must know how to answer the question without jeopardizing organization image.

Have your facts: be thoroughly informed about your organization. This said officer was not ashamed to say he never visited his corporate website. No wonder he could not correctly named his organization’s URL.

Errors travel fast: A simple search on Google with the phrase ‘Nigeria Security and civil defense commandant + Video’ resulted in over Two Hundred and sixty Thousand negative reports as at the time of this write up. This is outside Thousands of tweets, FaceBook Share etc. How long do you think it will take to clear this mess? That is if the organization cares about its online image.

If you are not prepared, defer the interview if you can or send the right person: There is no evil in deferring a media interview if the organization is not ready.  While this is not the best option especially during crisis, it may at least save the face of the organization. On the other alternative a good representative who has great knowledge about the organization and is skilled in media relations and communication can go instead of the top management.

In all this is a clarion call. How prepared is your organization’s top management for media interviews? Is your spokesperson a great addition or a minus?

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