I’ve read a lot about spokespeople lately. They are, quite literally,
the face of your organization, your response, your agency. They
provide the face of the matter. Where the rubber meets the road and
Quick, who is your agency’s spokesperson?
But let’s assume you’ve at least vetted your spokesperson and taught
them what to do with their hands. Your Mayor, right? Or CEO. They’re
savvy and can handle the cameras, so probably.
In an emergency, though, that’s not the end of your problems. Not by
far. And that’s because your spokesperson is the person who will be
blamed for the situation—rightly or wrongly. So, are you sure you want
your vetted, hands-at-her-sides spokesperson up there getting blamed?
Your executive might be running for election, your CEO might be
worried about the effects of being a punching bag in front of the
stockholders. Sure, you want to project that the leader is in charge,
but should they be up there every day? At every press conference?
Inextricably linked to the continuously unfolding disaster? Is there
some other leader who might be (more expendable) better linked to the
(Think hard about how CEO Tony Hayward did during the Deepwater
Horizon response. I argue that it was appropriate for him to be
present at the beginning, but as the disaster stretched on, did he
represent the face BP wanted to project? After the chief spokesperson
position changed to Gulf native Bob Dudley, notice how the tenor of
the response changed?)
You see, your decision about who to put in front of the cameras should
no longer be predicated on the answer to the question, “What do you do
with your hands?” Think strategically, think long-term. Wo should your
spokesperson be now? Now? Five hours from now? In two weeks? Are you
sure it should be the same person?