How to pick the perfect spokesperson

Brands big and small tap into experts and celebrities to help tell their story, but how can they ensure they pick the right face for their brand? Our PR Manager Kait (and spokesperson extraordinaire) offers some tips for how to communicate best when working with these innovators.

At Eighty-Eight, we’ve worked with companies of many different sizes, from a variety of industries and know the importance of telling clients’ stories to many types of audiences. From our time here and our past lives at other companies, we’ve had some pretty cool experiences working with spokespeople of different levels (some of us have even done an interview or two ourselves). Whether it’s a celebrity dog trainer or a Canadian business icon, our team has some insights into the selection process and the hard-hitting questions brands should ask themselves before teaming up with a spokesperson.

1. What are you hoping to achieve by using a spokesperson?

Whether it’s an industry expert to talk about a client in a new way or the hottest reality TV star chatting about why they love a product, it’s important to determine the goals of the campaign and what purpose a spokesperson serves. Narrowing in on these objectives from a client perspective can help manage expectations and lead to a more strategic approach. Are you hoping to reach a younger consumer base for your t-shirt line? Hello, Shawn Mendes! If you are hoping to earn top-tier business coverage for a startup client, the founder or a notable investor might be a better fit to achieve your desired results.

2. Can the spokesperson speak to the brand authentically?

An ideal spokesperson can speak to the brand authentically and would actually use the product or service they are promoting. Think of an NHL player promoting sports drinks or a healthy meal kit delivery service – the crossover is natural but also feels aspirational for consumers. Now try to picture Mitch Marner talking about organic baby products. As a 22-year old without children, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for him to be speaking about bamboo diapers or sustainable teething rings. The best spokespeople are already advocates of the product who can pull from real life experience, not necessarily celebrities with the largest following.

3. Is the spokesperson media friendly?

When selecting a spokesperson, be honest about their abilities, personality and how they connect to the brand. Many corporate spokespeople aren’t comfortable in an interview setting and require extra training, but this is where PR pros shine. Proper preparation and research from an agency team can help clients tackle interviews and deliver key messages in an engaging and authentic way.  On the flip side, many influencers or celebrities are already comfortable in front of the camera or in a phone interview, but there can be set backs. Celebrities can often bring baggage with them. Remember when news of Tiger Woods’ mistresses broke or the even darker Jared Fogel Subway scandal? It’s crucial to think critically about how the public might react to a celebrity spokesperson (Pepsi, we’re looking at you and Kendall Jenner) and understand that you can’t control what these people do in their everyday lives.

4. Can you afford a spokesperson and is it the best use of budget?

When you’re thinking about leveraging a high calibre spokesperson you should ask yourself, “Are you ready to make it rain?” While corporate spokespeople from within a company may have very full schedules, they are free for the brand to leverage and the most budget-friendly. Influencers and other industry experts usually require a fee, but can most often work within smaller budgets based on the requirements of the project. On the other hand, celebrities can cost a pretty penny and brands should be prepared to shell out five figures for a star-studded campaign. Negotiations are possible of course, but typically a brand needs to come to the table with an offer to start the conversation.