In my experience, everyday wants to talk to the press and be interviewed. It’s exciting to see yourself on TV or read your name in the newspaper. However, an over eagerness can lead to problems when the wrong person takes or gets the opportunity to be interviewed.
The willingness of so many employees to step up and participate is appreciated but rarely does it mean every person that wants to should be allowed to talk to the press. To this end, every business should implement a corporate spokesperson policy to guide employees on the do’s and don’ts of talking to the media.
An effective corporate spokesperson policy will provide the guidelines of who can and can’t speak to the press on behalf of the company. It will also clearly spell out the consequences for employees that fail to abide by the policy.
For the most part if employees follow the corporate spokesperson policy there won’t be any issues. However, if the policy is ignored the consequences could be severe. A corporate spokesperson policy exists to ensure that the right information is being disseminated, not as a way to control or limit what was being said. By identifying spokespeople you can streamline the message, ensure that the right information is being disseminated and avoid unnecessary confusion.
With this in mind, here are four key points to include in a corporate spokesperson policy.
- Only an authorized press spokesperson may speak as a representative of the company to the press. No one else should be making public statements about the company’s vision and future.
- If the phone rings and you answer it, before you start answering a bunch of questions, identify the caller. If the caller is a reporter or a member of the press, refer them to your PR team. The PR person will know exactly what to do and will ensure that the call and the reporters needs are handled accurately.
- Be aware of protecting the company’s confidential information. This includes material written on whiteboards, sitting on top of desks, on computer screens, on handouts, and material discussed in conversations that can be overheard on airplanes, in building and hotel lobbies, etc.
- At tradeshows or industry events, be careful what you say and who you say it to. Be clear if you’re giving your opinion on a subject or if you’re sharing the companies views on a topic.
As your company becomes more visible in the press, it is imperative that all employees know and understand the company’s spokesperson policy. It is important that all employees follow these guidelines. Violation of this policy could result in lost sales, lawsuits, and loss of company reputation. For an employee, violation of this policy could potentially result in loss of employment.