There are a lot of things that can be said about Anthony Scaramucci’s tenure as White House communications director, but one undeniable truth is that it was short lived.
Scaramucci’s 10 days as communications director offers a timely opportunity to consider: What makes a good spokesperson? And, these lessons are just as true for corporate or brand spokespeople as political figures.
Here are five tips that can help you pick a stellar spokesperson:
1. In the internet age, vetting is crucial. While it might not seem fair to bring up a spokesperson’s personal life or past experiences in the context of his or her current role, all is fair when it comes to the internet. Properly vetting a potential spokesperson can help ensure that the focus will be on the spokesperson’s words and not on his or her past behavior or credibility. Perhaps many, if not all, of these famous spokesperson disasters could’ve been avoided with better vetting (and, of course, proper spokesperson training).
2. Temperament matters. It’s hard to argue against the idea that a part of what got Scaramucci in trouble was his inability to keep his cool. Choosing a spokesperson who can maintain his or her composure, especially in times of crisis, is incredibly important. Not only does staying calm, cool and collected help make sure that a story doesn’t become about the spokesperson melting down, but it also tends to help messages be delivered more effectively. A spokesperson’s demeanor can also be viewed as a surrogate for how the company is reacting, and staying in control during a crisis is how every organization wants to be viewed.
3. Choose someone likeable. This might seem like a simple idea, but it can get far more complicated when the leader of an organization isn’t necessarily the most personable or likeable spokesperson option. In these situations, it can be helpful to remind those involved of the larger picture and potential benefits of choosing an affable spokesperson to be the “face” of the organization.
4. Storytellers win. Some people are natural born storytellers. They’re the ones who you could sit and listen to for hours. These storytellers often make for great spokespeople. They’re engaging and can keep the attention of any audience. Plus, they tend to be good at staying on message. Put simply, as humans, we respond to stories, which mean that we respond to storytellers. And, because storytellers are inherently great communicators, they usually approach a spokesperson role with enthusiasm. This can be contagious.
5. Fix mistakes…quickly. Following the four tips above can be a great start to identifying stellar spokespeople. However, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. Hopefully you never find yourself in a situation where a spokesperson has gone off the rails, but if you do, fix the situation, and fix it quickly. This might be the greatest lesson we can learn from Scaramucci. If someone isn’t working out, it’s time to get them out.