The Art of Being an Effective Company Spokesperson

This story appears in the
Association Focus 2024 Issue 1

Being a resource to journalists and working with the media can be an effective part of any PR strategy. When journalists see us going the extra mile to help them meet editorial deadlines, a rapport is built. So, it’s important to have spokespeople that are media trained in place and ready with essential talking points.

Having an untrained spokesperson talk to the media can create serious problems, which no one wants. Here are a few tips to help you and your team be prepared to effectively deal with the media.

Tips on Speaking with the Media

Be Prepared

  • Before the interview, decide what you do and do not want to say to a reporter.
  • Have one or two main talking points ready that you want to get across.
  • Write your key points down and have supporting facts at the ready.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask what the story is about before you accept an interview request from a journalist. The story you want to tell may not be the angle the reporter is pursuing.
  • Do your homework to decide how your points fit into the story being told.
  • Make sure you understand the question and ask for clarification if needed.

Be Concise

  • Respond quickly, reporters work on tight deadlines.
  • Lead with your key points and make your key points over and over.
  • Get to the point. Deliver your message in one or two clear and concise sentences.
  • Offhanded or sensational comments WILL find their way into a story, so get to the point and stay there.
  • Always remember, things you say outside the “interview” can find their way into a story, so be careful. If you talk off the record, you must announce that in advance.

Keep it Simple

  • Reporters are looking for simple, clear, interesting quotes that can be understood by a wide audience. Avoid jargon.
  • Stick to your key points. Don’t throw a lot of information at a reporter and assume they will know what to emphasize.

Handling the Tough Stuff

  • Set ground rules for the interview up front.
  • Is the reporter willing to repeat/email the quotes he/she will use? It’s worth asking.
  • Don’t assume a reporter understands the background of a story. Be prepared to talk background if needed.
  • Avoid answering loaded or unreasonable questions.
  • If you misspeak, simply say so and then correct your response. If the interviewer presents incorrect information, mention the error and provide the correct data.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. If you don’t know the answer to a question or need time to research and collect your thoughts, tell the reporter you will get back to them later with an answer.