Spokespersons 101: Selecting the Best “Face” for Your Brand

July 26, 2010
Public relations is all about creating third-party credibility – and one of the most effective ways to accomplish this goal is to work with a spokesperson.

Within the past few months, I’ve secured three different spokespeople on behalf of our home industry clients. Through these experiences, I’ve learned the following guidelines for picking the perfect personality to inspire trust and confidence among consumers:

  • Be budget minded. An “A-list” spokesperson can generate significant media coverage for a product or brand, but booking a big name often requires big bucks. If my budget is tight, I’ll research up-and-coming talent – perhaps someone who just landed his or her own show on the DIY Network or HGTV. This is often a win-win situation. We benefit from a dynamic spokesperson with reasonable fees, and they have the opportunity to raise their visibility.

  • Set expectations right away. When vetting potential spokespeople, it’s important to be clear and specific about how you plan to use their name and likeness. If they participate in a satellite media tour, be sure to discuss if you also plan to post that footage to the client’s website. If you’re going to quote them in a press release, determine if they’ll also make themselves available for media interviews. By spelling out all of your needs in advance, you’ll get a better idea of what they’re willing to do within your budget limits – and you’ll avoid any surprises after the contract is already signed.
  • Consider your audience. When it comes to spokespeople, one size does not fit all… even with two projects for the same client. For a Pergo retailer event in Las Vegas, we hired professional poker player Daniel Negreanu – who we knew would be a huge draw for the largely male group. Then, when Pergo hosted a series of laminate seminars at Lowe’s stores around the country, we secured home improvement personality Ron Hazelton – who is well-known and respected among do-it-yourselfers for his practical, hands-on advice.
  • Work with a trusted vendor. There are several vendors who specialize in identifying just the right spokesperson for your program or event, and these vendors often can help you to navigate the tricky process of working with agents, drawing up contracts and negotiating fees. While vendors can make things easier, remember that they will charge a mark-up for their own services – and they often have an exclusivity clause that requires that you work with them to sign any talent they research on your behalf.
  • Select a natural brand ambassador. In my opinion, the best spokespeople are those who already have knowledge of and experience with a particular product. If they possess a favorable opinion of the brand you’re asking them to promote, they “sell” it naturally to consumers – and their passion will be evident and contagious.

The bottom line is that an effective spokesperson is yet another tool in our PR arsenal, but there’s much upfront work that must be done to ensure you have the best personality to represent your client.