Lorraine Schuchart, Founder and CEO of Prosper For Purpose and current board President of the PRSA Cleveland chapter, spoke with Founder of The SPOKEies™, Doug Simon. Lorraine provided her useful tips on working with in-house spokespeople and touched on the role of authenticity in communications. Watch below to find out more.
“We typically train our clients to be their own spokespeople. I prefer to stay behind the scenes to give the clients the confidence and the tools that they need and then to let them loose.”
“I think that authenticity is first and foremost. To always tell the truth, to have messages, to stay on point, to role-play.” Lorraine on her tips and guidance for the most effective spokespeople.
DOUG SIMON: Hi, I’m Doug Simon from D S Simon Media. My guest is Lorraine Schuchart. She is the board president of PRSA Cleveland and the founder and CEO of the agency Prosper for Purpose. Welcome to the video blog and thanks for being with us.
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: Thank you, Doug. Thanks for the invitation.
DOUG SIMON: Great. Now you’ve had a chance to look through some of the materials about the SPOKEies™. What were some of your takeaways?
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: I think that there is a real need for us public relations practitioners to be intentional about promoting our profession and holding it up, because if we’re not controlling the message, then other people are taking it from TV shows to the media in general. And we need to hold ourselves to higher standards.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah. And you make a great point about authenticity, because one of the things that we found is that an in-house spokesperson representing an organization is so much more authentic, even media prefers to interview them, than they do a third-party quote “expert,” if you will. And so the idea of actually awarding the in-house spokespeople and the PR people who work with them makes a lot of sense.
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: I couldn’t agree more. We typically train our clients to be their own spokespeople. I prefer to stay behind the scenes to give their clients the confidence and the tools that they need and then to let them loose.
DOUG SIMON: Great. No, that makes a lot of sense. What are some tips and guidance– you mentioned you train them– what are some tips and guidance that you share for best practices for them to be the most effective spokesperson representing their organization?
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: Well, I think that authenticity is first and foremost– to always tell the truth, to have messages, to stay on point, to kind of role play. So one of the things that we do with our clients is start with tell me the questions you don’t want to be asked. And we kind of talk about what the response should be to be truthful, but also to be able to share the information as to where it is at that point. And sometimes people have to go forward and talk with the media before they have all the information they need. And that’s OK. Giving some information, and enough information, to let people know where you are, especially in a crisis situation. And let them know that you’re still gathering information and when you’ll be back with an update.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah. What are some tips you might have that are common mistakes and how to avoid them?
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: I think mistakes are letting the media control you too much. So there’s certain things, especially on television, that we’ve trained people to do. And I think you know you don’t want to give over your power. And that’s not to say that you’re not being authentic, but just because the media keeps pounding you with the same question asked five different ways doesn’t mean that you have to answer it if you don’t really know the answer. So we don’t want people to be forced into saying something when sometimes the best response is I really don’t have the information to answer that question at this time, but I’m happy to get back to you when I do.
DOUG SIMON: Cool That sounds great. Any final thoughts? And hopefully you’re going to be getting your entries together to enter the SPOKEies™ on behalf of your client.
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: Yeah, absolutely. I think just in general, being able to be very intentional about how we build relationships from the inside out with our constituents, with our external stakeholders, if you’re a nonprofit, with your volunteers, your donors, and the public at large, so that you’re always presenting your best self, but that you’re always authentic. I think that’s what’s most important.
DOUG SIMON: Awesome. So Lorraine, thanks so much. And thanks for being with us. Have a great day.
LORRAINE SCHUCHART: Thanks. You as well.