Once upon a time, you could turn on any morning news program and see any number of paid spokespeople.  Joe Consumer would have no idea the “news” he is hearing and watching is being brought to him by an expert being paid $10K+ for getting in the coveted product/brand mentions. 

The trained eyes and ears of a PR person could point them out in seconds.  The producers knew but wanted the ratings associated with the guest— gadget experts, car experts, fashion experts, baking experts, and the list goes on indefinitely.

Now, the climate has changed.  Many news stations were emblazoned with negative coverage about Satellite Media Tours as well as the paid experts as morning show guests.

What can PR professionals do now to get their client’s product/brand that coveted on-air mention or recommendation on the top morning shows?  Get the influencers on board.  What top bloggers have you reached out to lately?  Who are the most respected reporters in this space? Which analyst has the best pulse on this industry?  Answer these questions and get in front of these people and you’ll find your answer.

When choosing a spokesperson, know you’ll still have to shell out some funds.  This could be in the form of paid research with an analyst’s firm, an ad buy with the reporter’s publication or blogger’s web site.  What these influencers offer that the company spokesperson and the celebrity don’t always are deep knowledge about the industry and more objectivity.  Yes, they will say your product is great, but they also might say your competitor’s product is good too.  And that’s the purpose— to educate the consumer on all options and get your client’s name mentioned in the process, in a way that is not obtrusive.  If your product is what you say it is, the consumer will make the choice you want.

At Airfoil, we’ve made this happen very successfully.  But, we’ve also had some experiences in finding spokespeople that we can share with our peers to help all avoid the fatal spokesperson mistake – the media diva.  You’ll know them when you see them.  They have a “bow down to me even though I’m being paid to do this” mentality.

There are several warning signs that indicate you may want to continue shopping around before signing on the dotted line with these people:

  • The contract goes through more than 5 rounds of negotiations
  • You are not given a direct phone number for the spokesperson
  • Every other word out of the person’s mouth is an expletive
  • The person doesn’t realize you are their client

There are brilliant, provocative spokespeople out there, just choose carefully and prep them properly.  If you can ensure they have your client’s best interest in mind, you should have a successful campaign.

— Elin Spahr