Who should be your spokesman in a crisis?
During media and crisis communication trainings, there are many debates about who should speak for your organization in a crisis. Here are three common approaches and what you should consider as a crisis unfolds.
Argument 1: The CEO should always be the spokesman
A CEO who wants to be the only voice is destined for failure. In a crisis, the CEO should be:
- Managing the crisis
- Managing the business operations
This is especially true in the first hours of a crisis, when information is just becoming available.
Argument 2: The PR person should always be the spokesman
The public relations person is an excellent choice as a representative in the first hour of the crisis, when reporters might be just arriving, but doesn't have to be the only voice throughout a crisis.
The PR person should be a member of the crisis management team and should lead the crisis communications team.
Argument 3: A variety of people should serve as spokespeople
Numerous people should be media trained as spokespeople. In a crisis, the PR person should speak during the first hour of the crisis. By the end of the second hour of the crisis, a subject matter expert should be your representative, as they can give detailed information and have the needed technical understanding. If needed, the subject matter expert can remain the spokesperson if the crisis is ongoing. The final news briefing of the day may be the best time to feature the CEO.
What can help you decide is knowing your people and how they perform under pressure. Specifically, a media training helps identify your star players and their strengths. Most importantly, never let anyone speak without intensive training.