Five Tips for Selecting a Crisis Spokesperson

Sooner or later, every firm will have to deal with some bad news. And who speaks on your firm’s behalf in these bad news situations can be just as important as what is said … maybe more important.

Don’t automatically rely on the top communications executive or the CEO. They may not be the right person for this specific situation. But then, who is?

It depends. While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule as to who should serve as your firm’s spokesperson during times of crisis, over the years we’ve noticed there are five considerations that can help you select the best person for the situation.

Here are our top five recommendations for these critical crisis scenarios:

1) Pick an insider – Sure, outside PR counsel may know how best to work with the media in many situations, but for maximum credibility of your message and firm, your spokesperson should come from within your organization.

2) Pick someone with the right expertise – Choose an executive that not only knows the details of your situation, but is also an expert in the department most involved. For example, in an IT crisis, look to the Chief Technical Officer or senior IT staff.

3) Pick someone with the right firm knowledge – Tap someone who “gets” the firm’s key messages and is well-versed on the organization’s mission, vision and values, so she/he can convey the proper big-picture perspective.

4) Pick someone with solid communications skills – Choose someone who is comfortable and capable with telling your story, preferably someone who is personable, quick on her/his feet and has taken some media training (and give them a refresher course!).

5) Pick someone with the right personality – Select someone who can remain calm and empathetic in the heat of hostile and emotional situations, who is a bridge-builder and who can keep their own ego in check. A little genuine compassion and humility go a long way.

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