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Choosing a Spokesperson for Your Utility

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Your utility likely is interviewed relatively often by the local media, so your choice of spokesperson is an important one.

What should you be looking for in a spokesperson?

It seems kind of shallow (and it is), but your spokesperson should be an attractive person. The blonde weather reporter isn’t on air primarily because of her knowledge of how cold fronts impact snowfall, and the distinguished-looking guy anchoring the news isn’t there because of a background in macroeconomics.

That said, your spokesperson doesn’t need to look like Kate Upton or George Clooney; they just need to be appealing enough that viewers might sit up and pay attention.

Speaking well is another prerequisite for spokespeople. Aside from not having a shrill or distracting voice, they should speak clearly, avoid jargon and know how to avoid the “ummms” and “ahhhs” that plague so many speakers. A good spokesperson answers questions directly and keep responses short. They want to think in terms of “sound bites,” which are the short burst of words that encapsulate the issues being discussed.

Practice and coaching can improve a spokesperson’s speaking ability, but some of it is an innate trait. You either have it or you don’t.

Obviously, any spokesperson should know the company inside and out and is quick on their feet should an unexpected question be asked. Someone in your public relations department is typically an ideal choice.

Going back to looks, spokespeople should be dressed appropriately. For a man, that’s typically a dark-colored suit, a solid white or blue shirt and a tie with a muted pattern or stripes. For a woman, a solid-colored business suit is ideal. Avoid flashy jewelry, which reflects light.

There are exceptions to the clothing rule, depending upon the situation. A spokesperson in the rain or snow out with a repair crew should be dressed appropriately for the weather. Or if your utility’s main fundraising event is a high-profile golf tournament, a suit out on the course is silly. A golf shirt and khakis is just fine in that case.

Finally, remember that a spokesperson is the face of the company, so take the task of finding one seriously. It’s worth the time and effort.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus on February 25, 2019

Thanks, Andy, good points to consider. In choosing an appropriate spokesperson, utilities should remember that person is literally the face of the company.

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