Keith Trivitt, Vice President of Corporate Communications at AXIS Capital stopped by the D S Simon Media studios to offer his spokesperson best practices with Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media and Founder of The SPOKEies™. Keith also touched on potential pitfalls for spokespeople to avoid when navigating the media landscape.
“Your job is to be a consistent advocate on behalf of your organization, but also to do so in a way that is effective to the different audiences.”
“It comes down to reputation. A really strong, consistent, credible spokesperson is going to increase that value and reputation of the business. And ultimately, that’s going to come back to the bottom line.”
DOUG SIMON: From your experience, and you’ve had quite a bunch– your current job, you worked at PRSA– what are some of your best practices that you’ve seen for a spokesperson to be effective?
KEITH TRIVITT: Of course. I think first and foremost, you’re trust and your credibility with your audience, both your audience outside of your organization or your company and your audience within, is the most critical aspect of this. So I think for any spokesperson, it’s always a balancing act. How do you have a credible perspective to the people that you’re communicating to on behalf of your organization? But also, how do you have a credible perspective internally, and making sure that you’re bringing back those different concepts and bringing back the different feedback you’re getting from the outside of the organization?
DOUG SIMON: What are some of the common mistakes in-house spokespeople might make?
KEITH TRIVITT: I think one of the biggest mistakes is not having a consistent message. You’re giving different messages to different audiences of different people at different times. That, right there, you’ve already broken down your most critical aspect. Your job is to be a consistent advocate on behalf of your organization, but also to do so in a way that is effective to the different audiences. When you start breaking that down, when you start communicating different messages to different people, it confuses people. It makes it seem like you’re trying to hide something, or perhaps you’re not giving them all the relevant information.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah, especially in this era of authenticity.
KEITH TRIVITT: Absolutely.
DOUG SIMON: No longer can you say one thing to one group and a different thing to another group. Everything will be found, and everything will be discovered. Within your own organization, do you see the value of having effective spokespeople communicating your message? And what have you seen?
KEITH TRIVITT: Absolutely. At Access Capital here, we’re now trying to really become much more– externally giving much more exposure to the business, and we’re really trying to make sure that we have a consistent message across the company now. So for us, having really strong spokespeople is a critical part of both our internal and external communications aspect for the business. And what we’re doing now as a company is really making sure that we have those clear, consistent, concise messages to all of our different audiences, whether it’s our clients, our employees, our different partners inside and the outside the company. It’s a very critical part of our business right now.
DOUG SIMON: And of course, there’s media. Whether it’s consumer media, trade media, those are important outlets to be part of.
KEITH TRIVITT: 100%. Absolutely. There, I think it’s really the spokesperson’s job to make sure, again, you’re consistent in how you’re communicating with the trade media and with your consumer or business media, whatever it may be. Your job is, again, to advocate on behalf of your company, but it’s also taking the different perspectives of those that you’re speaking to. Bring that back and feed that back into the company, because like we talked about, the trust and the credibility of you as a spokesperson is your most paramount thing.
DOUG SIMON: Great. Now, Keith, the word on the street is that in time, you’ve received high-fives from senior executives after getting them on CNBC. Sometimes the communicator maybe is not appreciated for the role that they play helping turn their experts into influencers. How do you feel the SPOKEies™ might be able to help change that?
KEITH TRIVITT: Well, I think one of the most critical things the SPOKEies™ can do is really kind of bring a light, and shine a light, to the critical value that a spokesperson has within the company. In today’s world, in which a business’s reputation is its most valuable thing that it has, a spokesperson’s job is to be that kind of forward face there, on behalf of the company, in their public audiences. And therefore, it comes down to reputation. A really strong, consistent, credible spokesperson is going to increase that value and reputation of the business. And ultimately, that’s going to come back to the bottom line.
DOUG SIMON: Awesome tips. Thanks so much for being with us.
KEITH TRIVITT: Thanks, Doug. Honored to be here.