I’ve worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports, as well as successful entrepreneurs and industry-leading CEOs over the past 30 years. One thing I’ve learned is that the founder/CEO is not always the best messenger when it comes to corporate communications. As PR people we spend so much time selecting the right words, choosing the best information to share with the media, and wordsmithing everything we can to make the biggest impact.
Think about the last TikTok video you shared or your favorite athlete-brand sponsorship. Was it the words in the video or the advertisement that caught your eye and made the content sharable? No, it was the messenger, not the message. And for that viral brand-partnership content, the selection of the best messenger was not taken lightly, I can promise you that.
Too often, corporate communications professionals don’t spend the same amount of care choosing their spokespersons. In truth, that’s because usually the CEO is the one selecting themselves as the messenger, and who are we to tell them they aren’t the best one? The next time you put out a statement, schedule an event speaking opportunity, or write a bylined article – think about whether your usual spokesperson is the best one to share that message.
Here are a few tips to consider (that might help you sell this idea to the CEO):
- The most impactful spokespeople are the ones your target audience will relate to most. Consider the audience, the message, the timing, and the news cycle – and ask yourself whose voice will help you get through the clutter and make the most memorable impression.
- When selecting a spokesperson, you’re choosing someone who represents your brand. So do so carefully. Is the CEO the best person to represent your brand and this specific message to the target audience you are trying to reach right now? Or is a designer, a delivery driver, or a front-line worker a better fit this time around
- Sometimes the CEO is the best person to make your announcement! If you’re a publicly traded company announcing merger or corporate earnings news, they are the most important voice to share with the media and your investors. But, for a specific interview on a financial network like CNBC, you might provide the company’s CFO to follow-up on the announcement, which I did when working with American Express.
If you’re a CBD company wanting to stand out based on your use of nano technology, you might ask a research partner to share your message. In this case, using a spokesperson from outside the company, who is a partner, so they know the ins and outs of your brand and its proven results, adds credibility. When doing PR for Just Food For Dogs – we utilized a veterinarian to discuss how dogs could have a longer, better life with fresh proteins, veggies and carbs instead of processed kibble with a shelf life of four years.
Photo: Sam McGhee on Unsplash