Organizational spokespeople who deal with the media should have a few focused messages and avoid “no comment” when dealing with a crisis.
A recent study by Michaël Opgenhaffen, An-Sofie Claeys and Aurélie De Waele — three researchers from Institute for Media Studies in Belgium — has some important recommendations for those who have to face the media in stressful times.
The recommendations come from 17 professional media trainers from Belgium who train the spokespersons to deal with media briefings. The trainers were interviewed over the course of the study.
“The interviews reveal the recommendations of media trainers concerning verbal, visual, and vocal cues of spokespersons, with special focus on addressing the media in times of organizational crisis,” the study says.
According to the study, interviewed trainers stressed that the organizational spokesperson should:
- Define and strictly carry two or three messages before the media briefing.
- Avoid saying “no comment.”
- Communicate fast.
Visual cues such as background, posture, appearance, hand gestures and eye gaze are linked to making the spokesperson more credible or avoiding distracting the viewer.
The media trainers also emphasized other vital issues that can helpful a spokesperson or public relations official.
“Pauses, vocal emphasis, intonation, speech rate, and volume are cues that are often mentioned by the media trainers as cues that can strengthen or undermine the clear delivery of the message,” the study says.
To read more: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2019.101871
De Waele, A., Claeys, A. S., & Opgenhaffen, M. (2019). Preparing to face the media in times of crisis: Training spokespersons’ verbal and nonverbal cues. Public Relations Review, 101871.