As a PR person, you spend your time getting journalists to interview your spokespeople.
But you cannot assume that the journalist understands the story, the product or the issue, right.
The old days when newsrooms overflowed with expert journalists are gone. Even in trade papers.
Your expert spokesperson is quite likely to be talking to a 25 year old journalist who is struggling to understand a wide array of topics on their beat. They don’t understand the details and don’t have the time to really get to grips with it. Some know their stuff but others are learning on the job. You need to take account of the journalist’s level of knowledge.
Most journalists know a little about a lot of things. Their knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. Your spokesperson’s knowledge is the opposite – an inch wide and a mile deep.
For the journalist confronted with something new, a few minutes on Google is often as much research as they can do. Even trade journalists.
So you don’t want your spokesperson to answer the journalist’s first question by diving deep into the detail of a product or issue. No matter how obvious it may seem to the spokesperson, it may not be obvious to the journalist.
And their reaction will be to try and summarise or interpret what was said. And on the basis of their two minutes of research on Google, you really don’t want them to be doing that.
Generally speaking, journalists don’t write about products and services.
They write about how they impact on people.
Until it becomes clear the level of a journalist knowledge, your spokesperson They shouldn’t look to dazzle the journalist or overwhelm them with jargon.
They need to speak in everyday language and relate it to everyday things.
Tell them instead a story about the product or issue that is rooted in the experience of real people. More detail can then be added once the journalist has engaged with the core story.
And think about what matters most to the audience – and therefore to the journalist.
The reason that The Times and The Guardian newspapers co-exist in serving a professional middle class readership in the UK, is because they are read by two completely different types of professional, middle class readers.
Talking to a journalist from different publications about the same issue, requires you to flex the story. Your spokesperson needs to communicate differently in the interview if the story is to land positively with the audience.
At Electric Airwaves, we serve the needs of Communication teams that need their spokespeople to tell their organisation’s story in an engaging and compelling way to different types of journalists.
How will your next announcement be received?