How to Be a Better Brand Spokesperson Than Mark Zuckerberg

Recently, during a live stream of Facebook’s weekly internal Q&A meeting, Mark Zuckerberg shared, “I do such a bad job at interviews.” When the CEO of a company with a market cap of over $500 billion admits that he does a poor job at press interviews, it makes you wonder: What makes for a good brand spokesperson?

Recently, during a live stream of Facebook’s weekly internal Q&A meeting, Mark Zuckerberg shared, “I do such a bad job at interviews.” When the CEO of a company with a market cap of over $500 billion admits that he does a poor job at press interviews, it makes you wonder: What makes for a good interview?

For starters, the quality of an interview should be judged from both the perspective of the interview subject (and their company) as well as the reporter (and their publication). I’ve worked with dozens of spokespeople over the years and have facilitated good, bad and, quite frankly, ugly interviews.

The likelihood of a good interview increases greatly if you identify spokespeople with certain innate qualities. Good interviews are also the result of proper preparation and training.

4 Requirements of Good Brand Spokespeople

Whether a company is big or small, there should be an arsenal of spokespeople to cover a variety of topics that will boost the corporate reputation. The best place to begin selecting your spokespeople is with these four requirements: interest, availability, knowledge, and title.

Interest

If a spokesperson isn’t interested in participating in interviews or doesn’t see the value, then guess what? They won’t be good at them. Public relations teams should educate their spokespeople on PR goals and share examples and results, especially over time, to maintain interest.

Availability

In the digital and social media age, the news cycle is rapid. If a spokesperson can’t respond within minutes or hours, they will miss out on opportunities.

Don’t assume travel means a spokesperson isn’t available. I’ve worked with colleagues who are road warriors, but make the time for interviews from airports, hotels, and cars. I’ve even done chat and email interviews with spokespeople who are in-flight.

Knowledge

An interview is an opportunity to share knowledge specific to a story topic. If a spokesperson doesn’t know what they’re talking about, they make themselves and their company look bad. A brand spokesperson should be a subject matter expert and, in partnership with the PR team, the interviewee should do additional research ahead of time.

Title

Not all brand spokespeople are created equal in the eyes of the press. Certain roles and titles garner more media interest than others. More often than not, reporters prefer the opportunity to speak to a CEO or other member of the C-suite. It’s very difficult to get a reporter excited about speaking to a sales leader.

Going From Good to Great

Now that you’ve got someone who is a willing participant and knows what they’re talking about, there are a number of other factors that will make for an engaging and valuable interview, for both the company and the publication.

Unique and Timely POV

Contrarian and provocative points of view make for more interesting stories and help reporters provide a balance of ideas. A brand interviewee should be able to speak to relevant and timely matters, and provide perspective on what’s to come.

Sincerity

A good brand spokesperson, much like a good politician, is likeable, genuine, and sincere. When Mark Zuckerberg sat down with CNN in March 2018, following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, he was robotic and dodged a lot of the issues, as noted by the BBC.

Clarity

Interviews can last a few minutes or hours. However, that doesn’t mean a brand spokesperson should ramble. It’s important to be clear and concise. The best spokespeople repeat their key points and pause periodically to allow reporters to ask follow-up questions. Training and preparation provide an opportunity to pinpoint key messages and practice concise delivery.

Good Judgment

Even with extensive preparation and a public relations representative facilitating an interview, there’s onus on the brand spokesperson to exercise good judgment when asked a tough question, or in general. Elon Musk’s erratic behavior in interviews and with the media makes him a liability, not an asset, when it comes to interviews.

Open to Feedback

There’s always room for improvement, when it comes to interviews. Feedback, during the pre-interview prep work and post-interview, is critically important for a successful partnership between the brand spokesperson and the PR team.

Empathy

Journalism has transformed in the last two decades. Many publications have shifted to digital platforms, while numerous publications have folded. Reporter deadlines are tight and workdays are long. Spokespeople who can empathize with the position a reporter is in will be better interview subjects.

To help my spokespeople understand the reporters they speak with, I’ve not only focused on general media training (i.e. message development, interview tactics) but have also shared “a day in the life” of a reporter.

Ready for Prime Time

Rarely, will you find a brand spokesperson who has all of the skills and characteristics outlined above. However, with the right partnership between PR and spokespeople, companies can be well-represented in press interviews and can forge relationships that will help tell their story and improve their reputation.

Disengage: Create Response (and Sales) With Content Marketing

Does your content marketing create reaction beyond sharing? When using LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs, creating response is critical to netting B-to-B leads and sales. The key to success is getting your target market to take action—moving them off of social media. At some point you’ve got to disengage and get the inbound in the term inbound marketing going!

Does your content marketing create reaction beyond sharing? When using LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs, creating response is critical to netting B-to-B leads and sales. The key to success is getting your target market to take action—moving them off of social media.

At some point you’ve got to disengage and get the inbound in the term inbound marketing going!

Many inbound marketing experts claim being engaging within LinkedIn groups or telling compelling stories on your blog will help you net generate more leads and sales. It’s simply not very effective. In fact, most content marketing plans fail because popular wisdom the practice is fatally flawed.

Before you can net a lead, you’ve got to create confidence in potential buyers with social media. This is an exciting, effective, new way to generate business leads with social media. But where to start?

How can you start creating response-right now-without investing more time in what you’re already doing?

How to Create Response-Now!
If telling compelling, transparent, authentic stories about your brand won’t help you make sales what are you to do? Trash the idea totally? Never. All that’s needed is this to make those remarkable stories you’re telling actionable.

You’ve got to give prospects a compelling reason to ask for more content in exchange for qualitative information about them. Because when they do that they become part of your sales funnel.

I know it’s fashionable to say marketers are publishers but the truth is you’re not in the publishing business at all. You’re in the response business. Not the reaction business (ie. getting shared) but the response business (getting leads).

The success formula is quite simple.

Step 1: Create content that solves a problem.
Step 2: Locate and/or attract qualified discussions.
Step 3: Lure prospects into taking an action that connects to your sales funnel.

Create the Honey: Useful Content
Pick an itch your customer has and scratch it with blog, video or some other form of content. Solve a common problem that relates to the end goal your customer is pursuing, for instance. Whether you’re a service or product marketer, this is the best content for blogs or any B-to-B content marketing vehicle you publish.

In my case, I published a handful of stories and audio interviews on my site featuring a niche subject matter expert. My guest told readers/listeners how to take action on a burning problem-one that related to a specific solution I sell.

The idea is to use content to give confidence to buyers. The trick is to do it in ways that increase their ability to feel emotionally grounded and intellectually stronger-fully equipped to do what they want to do. Buy.

Attract the Bees
Next, simply locate and/or attract qualified “conversations” with prospects. You can hunt them down inside LinkedIn groups or blog in ways that attract search engine traffic based on questions (keywords) your prospects are asking.

In my case, I decided to begin using LinkedIn for sales prospecting. I spotted a discussion on a niche LinkedIn Group where I answered a question in a way that “brought to life” the specific valuable answers my guest expert was offering… but not in the usual way.

Provoke an Action
I did not link back to my content; rather, I quoted my expert’s best sound byte. He was honestly provocative because he shared a new perspective and unique remedy. It then became easy for me to invite my prospects to join me on a journey… one where they would receive more useful content if they opted-in.

Of course, this moved them toward (or away from) my solution.

Remember, in B-to-B marketing you’ve got to go beyond telling a good story. Start netting leads by creating content that is provocative-compelling enough to cause prospects to sign up for more content they’re craving. It can be a webinar, ebook, downloadable tip sheet, self-assessment or educational video series (like free sales training videos) that solves a common problem or addresses a popular fear or myth.

Good luck!