Spokesperson Secrets to Build Your Brand; Sheri Sword, Danielle Holly and Don Bush.
Train Your Communications Professionals with Secrets from In-House Spokespeople in the Better Business Bureau, Common Impact and Kount
Spokesperson Secrets to Build your Brand, celebrates the inaugural SPOKEies® Award winners. You’ll learn how these honorees created exposure via social media, educated their public without selling, and how they created strong spokespeople.
Featuring: Sheri Sword, Vice President of Communications and SPOKEies® Award winner in the Non-Profit Membership Association category, from Danielle Holly, CEO at Common Impact the SPOKEies® winner in the C-Suite Leader Non-Profit Association category, and from Don Bush, Vice President of Marketing at Kount, the Honorable Mention in the Corporate Financial Services category.
DOUG: Welcome to Spokesperson’s Secrets to Build Your Brand. I’m Doug Simon and joining me for this panel are first Sheri Sword who is Vice President of Communications at the Better Business Bureau at Dayton and Miami Valley. And Sheri is the SPOKEies® Award winner in the Non-Profit Membership Association category. Sheri do you have a top tip to share to get us started?
SHERI: I think my top tips would be, be prepared. You have to be the expert. And so that means know what you’re going to say, know what sound bite you want to get across. It means practice practice practice, practice your body language, practice what you’re going to say, make sure what comes out of your head is actually coming out of your mouth and not all jumbled. So really be prepared.
DOUG: Awesome, seems like you were prepared for that question. Now we’ll turn to Danielle Holly. She’s one of the eight C-Suite executives joining us today. She’s CEO at Common impact and SPOKEies® winner in the C-Suite Leader Non-Profit Association category. Danielle thanks so much for joining us. What’s your top tip?
DANIELLE: I would say I’m less prepared than you, Sheri and I would say: talk about the moment that you became a believer in whatever your spokesperson about, particularly if you were converted. Right? If you were a skeptic and then became a believer. It helps your authenticity and gets people excited about what you’re selling.
DOUG: Awesome that’s great advice. Now there’s no limit to the technology that will employ here. So, joining us by telephone is Don Bush he’s Vice President of Marketing at Kount and was awarded Honorable Mention in the Corporate Financial Services category. Hey, Don what do you have for us and thanks for joining us.
DON: Thanks Doug. You know we’ve heard about practice but I would say start small. You know we have to communicate with other departments throughout our company all the time and start with them. Internally people will tell you more easily than external people where you’ve got problems, where you did something wrong, where you need to improve and then work into something next like you know moderate webinars. Something where you’re still talking to lots of people put it to the very controlled environment, and then go to the big time where you are on stage whether it’s at a corporate a or something like that. So kind of start small and work your way up, so your material is practiced your delivery is practiced and you’re ready for that stage.
DOUG: That makes a lot of sense and that’s something we’ve experienced a lot of clients prospects will come to us say we want to be in the Wall Street Journal. We want to be on CNBC and like oh well where have they been? Well nowhere. So, it’s very difficult to start at that level. Now earlier Carolina mentioned that we want the audience participating in that discussion. So, we’ll start with our first polling question, where we ask you the audience to weigh in and get feedback from the experts. So, here’s the question, if we can put that up through the CommPRO.Biz portal: Please rate your level of success generating exposure with an in-house spokesperson and choose one of the answers. 1)Have you been extremely successful 2) Somewhat successful. 3)Has it been a challenge. 4)We’ve not yet worked with an in-house spokesperson and for those of you watching on your screen if you’re not part of ComPRO, you can just tweet at us at the SPOKEies® hash tag with question number one and the answer. If you are watching through CommPro you can just click the answer on the screen. We’ll be leaving the polls open for about 15 seconds more. And we also look forward to receiving your questions through that portal or via Twitter. Again, using the SPOKEies hashtag. So, Sheri let’s start with you what do you tell us a little bit about the campaign itself?
SHERI: The campaign itself involved our marketplace sites video and so what we wanted to do is we wanted to engage people more on social media and get to them to watch our videos. And so what we did is, we went through and did short one minute, one minute and a half videos featuring local business leaders the local influencers sharing those business tips. So, we went through and we did that. It was actually very successful. We had over the course of the year 25 percent of the videos that were watched on our social media were the marketplace insights videos. We were able to do it at very, very little cost actually none-except for staff time. So that was a plus for us. We were able to create some great exposure for our accredited businesses and our accredited charities. So that was a win and the other thing was- is that it promoted ethics which was the whole mission of the Better Business Bureau, and it featured those business leaders sharing best practices; helping others become the best that they can be.
DOUG: Great so you in effect created a platform and a forum for those that were doing good things to get their message out and really engage with the community.
SHERI: Absolutely letting them shine in at the same time providing a great resource for our constituents. Great and Danielle? What was your take in terms of some of your ongoing efforts. Maybe you can share a little bit about the mission of your organization is so powerful.
DANIELLE: Sure. Our campaign is essentially our mission which is to connect the professionals from companies to pro-bono nonprofit consulting gigs. Building the capacity of nonprofits and so what we’re doing is we’re essentially trying to create spokespeople out of everyone that engages in our programs and particularly with corporate professionals trying to connect them to the meaning that drives them. And so our campaign is and every single one of our staff members has to be a spokesperson for us. Our campaign is to get those corporate professionals to think about themselves outside of their specific roles and sectors and think about what drives them and what they’re passionate about so they can bring that back to their desks at their offices but also that they can contribute that in a meaningful way to nonprofits.
DOUG: Great. And let’s bring Don into the conversation and feel free to jump on each other especially interrupt me, above all else. So, Don take us through some of the goals and efforts of your campaign where and how you were able to achieve them.
DON: Sure. In our field were pretty technical type product and we worked in the financial industry. And so the products that we present have to appeal to a CFO a CIO and other managers throughout the line of business and so it’s very technical. So, we took the approach of thought leadership in education and so our spokes folks really need to educate without overtly selling, everybody knows what company we’re from. So, they obviously you know we’ve got something that we’d like to sell them, but that education will turn you into a consultative type company with experts at the top and less of a selling pushy organization. So that was our goal is to come across for leadership you can you can trust us you can ask us questions and we’ll give you what you need.
DOUG: Great. And we’ve already got the results back from the survey, about 60 percent of the group felt they’ve had success getting exposure for their in-house people. While 40 percent of them are struggling with it as a challenge. You’ve shared some tips I’ll throw this open generally to the panel and let one of you dive in. What are some of the tactics to overcome the struggles, in terms of planning preparation getting your in-house spokesperson ready? Danielle do you want to take a jump at that as we get started? What are some of the things to think about?
DANIELLE: Well I think this is answering your question, but one of the things that I’ve thought about as I resource and identify spokespeople is that there are folks that have skills on paper that make them good spokespeople and then there are folks that just have the energy and excitement about what they’re talking about. And so, figuring that out as you go along and really identifying and directing those energies appropriately is one of the things that I’ve learned in terms of creating strong spokespeople.
DON: Doug this is Don, I’ll jump in here. I couldn’t agree more. You’ve got to find the right space because really this is a face to your company at whatever event or campaign you’re running. And sometimes it’s not the CEO. Sometimes it’s a really good product manager that can speak well that can take questions on the fly. That doesn’t get flustered easily. They have a really good background on the industry and the technical nature of the product. So really looking for that person that can bring the energy and bring the face of your organization to the public is really what we would look for.
SHERI: Part of it is we want to be that resource for the media. So, it’s being sure that we’re available when they need us if we’re out, and about then we’ll meet them in a restaurant parking lot, to do those interviews. We did that two weeks ago or you know we’ll go to the station and instead of them coming to us, we’re flexible. If we don’t have the answers we’re not the source for that interview, we refer them to the right source. So, they really look to us as a go to, to do those interviews. In fact I’ve had a couple of reporters joke around saying that we’ve had more airtime than their own reporters. So I mean –
DOUG: Were they happy about that?
SHERI: Not so much. But you know we really do try to be that go-to resource for them and make life easy for them.
DON: I just want to quickly add, I think that’s a really good point. Throughout your organization, you can have different spokespeople on different topics. Is this disaster recovery, is this technical consumer, is this, you know, what is the topic and let’s put that right spokesperson there. Sometimes having your customers can be the best spokesperson for you and having some of those references available are, also really really powerful.
DOUG: And that works both B2C and B2B marketplace as well. So, Sheri this is a question that came up for you, was asked by Dick Napinski about measuring success of your campaign. How do you do it, is it additional membership, viewing stats, recognition of ethics, and their use or another method. And I think we can then let the rest of the panel jump in on measuring success.
SHERI: I think it depends on what you’re working on for instance with the marketplace insights. We had some measurable objectives when we set up the plan. So, in that case we wanted to see an increase in engagement and see the numbers of viewership go up. It is setting that how many constituents you want to be involved in it. So we wanted 80 percent of our accredited businesses & accredited charities to be featured ended up being 100 percent of them. We wanted to do it at no cost so that was another measurement for us and we were able to do that. We didn’t have any expenses. So I think it really just depends on what the program is and what you’re trying to accomplish. But it has to be measurable for you to be able to know that you succeeded.
DOUG: And to your point it sounds like you know what Don was saying, where you have to be particular about which spokesperson is representing each issue. You have to have specific goals for each effort and campaign and make sure that’s all in a line. Danielle it looked like you were ready to jump in there.
DANIELLE: So you know there are the measurement of marketing activities right, and now with social media channels and digital channels that becomes easier to see how people are engaging in and how much. For us, as Don shared earlier, our work is about education and thought-leadership and so inbound requests for information, additional education, partnership is how we really use our success metric.
DOUG: Cool and they’re telling me that we have another question let’s see if I’m looking at that. I see that same question it just seems to be the same ones I’m not going to ask you the same question again given the nature of this that we’re celebrating the honorees for the first ever SPOKEies® awards. Maybe I can get your take on both you know the feeling of recognition and also the importance of recognize those who are working inside organizations creating trust and authenticity with their key publics.
SHERI: It was a great honor to be recognized as a SPOKEies®. It was a surprise to me and my co-workers nominated me so that made it even more special. So, it was a great honor and I think that it only inspires us to continue to do better and to help wherever we can help others.
DANIELLE: I’d say exactly the same thing. It’s an honor and it provides a platform to talk about our work which I really appreciate.
DON: Sure. And you never put together campaigns or activities because you’re looking for awards, but it is always nice to be recognized for the quality of your work, the impact that you have. So we were pretty pleased to see that happen of the entire team here was pretty surprised, of course but honored just the same. It’s always great to be recognized by peers and folks in the industry.
DOUG: Also and as you know the viewers can tell this is just the start of it that we really have some top notch talent and successful, not only communicators but people who are actually living and breathing the work and making it happen which makes such a difference. We’re going to be moving on to our next panel shortly. I know it’s been quick but I’ll give you time for just a final wrap up thought advice you’ve got for people to take away to those watching what can they do. Put in place starting now to make their organizations better.
SHERI: You know I think it is just prepare; don’t go anything willy nilly. You need to go through and you need to do your research, when you’re being a spokesperson. So, you are talking at the Aspers is practicing if you’re putting together a campaign go through and do focus groups do whatever it is in that regard. You want to set those measurable objectives when you’re doing a story that you’re getting the points across that you want to get across and impacting your organization the way you want it to impact your organization and then evaluate to see how you do that the next time you learn from it and can only continue to do better.
DANIELLE: When you’re thinking about yourself as a spokesperson or you’re trying to cultivate that, and others think about what connects you to what you’re talking about and the topic issue product that you want to engage others in because there won’t always be time to prepare. Right. You want to be able to go off script and so understanding really what’s meaningful about it to you and your story is something that can ground to you in those situations.
DOUG: And that really ties in well to the mission of your organization. Because it’s about people leveraging their own skill sets that they’ve developed professionally for the benefit of organizations they care about. Which is really just a cool link and that applies across the board for this. And Don we’re going to let you wrap it up now with your final takeaway suggestion.
DON: I think you can’t force that people into this role. Title doesn’t really mean experience in doing this. And so find those people that do put on that good face, that can work on their feet, do have good experience because they really are for good or for bad they’re going to represent your company. It doesn’t matter if they’re a manager or a C-level. If they do it well that’s who you want to be the face and that’s who you want to get out front.
DOUG: Well it’s clear that you guys are all deserving award winners. I also want to give a special thanks because through Social Media LIVE™ a number of you are reaching out to the members of your organization. To your Facebook platform Sheri at Dayton BBB. Danielle through your Facebook at Common Impact1. One we don’t know what happened at Common Impact, We’ll investigate that. Your witter is at common impact. So that was really cool, we hope those people will stay on and stay tuned in because there’s a lot of great stuff to come.