In my previous post, I discussed the traits of highly effective spokespersons. If you have that role at your ad agency, here are a few thoughts from someone who’s been in your shoes:
1. Make sure you have the full support and backing of agency management before saying a word publicly about a particular issue.
2. Always go into an interview or news conference fully prepared. Know the subject matter inside out, and have people practice asking you questions and critiquing your responses.
3. Have a few key points you want to make, and find ways to work them into the conversation.
4. If you don’t know something, say so and offer to get back to the reporter with the answer as soon as possible.
5. Never try to bluff your way through—more likely than not, bluffing will come back to bite you.
6. Never deny the obvious. Sounds like common senses, doesn’t it? But it’s amazing how many people and organizations do that in hopes that things will change just because they deny there’s a problem. Trust me, that won’t work.
7. Record the interview or news conference. That way, if you’re grossly misquoted, you’ll have a way to prove what you actually said.
8. If the situation you’re dealing with could have significant ramifications for your agency and/or a client, get professional outside help. Individual consultants and firms that have experience dealing with news media day in and day out can provide valuable objectivity and expertise, and they’ll help keep you focused, on track and maintaining proper perspective.
And remember, you’re going to make mistakes—just try to make sure they aren’t big ones. IF you misspeak, don’t hesitate to correct yourself immediately or as quickly after the interview as possible.