What does the UK need to adopt from Australia's PR industry? Standout spokespeople

Call me controversial, but I count a solid spokesperson as 80 (if not 90) per cent of the battle to get good media coverage - wherever you are in the world, whatever your story.

The UK PR industry could learn a trick or two from Australia, argues Katie Clift
The UK PR industry could learn a trick or two from Australia, argues Katie Clift

And I believe it’s the number one thing the UK needs to adopt from Australia’s PR industry in 2018.

I’ve worked for well-over a decade Down Under at the helm of Australia’s media scene, recently relocating to Greece to spend more time working across Europe and the UK.

From my experience, I believe the number one thing the UK industry needs to take the PR scene to the next level, is standout spokespeople.

Not just good, or great spokespeople - but standout spokespeople.

Think about it. The majority of the time, the public will ‘see and hear’ your story - not read it.

A standout spokesperson excels at bringing your messages to life - delivering them with charisma and colour - time and time again.

Harnessing the perfect spokesperson is undeniably invaluable.

They understand how to communicate in short, succinct messages. They have been trained to specifically handle tough questions - to lead the media back to your key points - to confidently withstand a crisis.

The Australian industry has experienced a surge in standout, quality spokespeople.

CEOs, managers, experts, representatives across a range of industries are ready and raring to go - on radio or on camera - and they become an absolute go-to for media outlets.

As an Australian radio broadcaster, the great interviewees - the ones who understood the medium and how to work it, the ones who were efficient and available, the ones who were willing to answer tough questions honestly - ended up direct on my speed-dial. Some, I still interview today.

Whether you have the ability to appoint the role of a central spokesperson, or you’re working to train CEOs or managers to build up these key skills - you should be aware of a few standout qualities that have helped to craft Australia’s best spokespeople.

Preparation and practice seem like common sense - but you would be surprised at how often these key skills fall behind.

Preparing, and practicing, for each media interview cannot be underestimated. The best Australian spokespeople enter a press conference or interview fully prepped - they know their agenda, their eye is on the prize and they’ve nailed their landmark grabs behind closed doors.

The best Australian spokespeople are confident, charismatic, colourful and in control.

They are bold and relentless. They understand every interview is their opportunity to deliver their key statements. They don’t allow the media to hijack their question time.

They know how to stand their ground, they aren’t swayed to comment off-the-brief, and importantly, where appropriate - they have fun. They build relationships.

They are interesting, approachable people.

The UK’s PR industry needs to learn from Australia’s surge. Spend time in 2018 developing the highest standard of spokespeople for the most winning coverage.

It’s a non-negotiable - and global media will thank us for it.

Katie Clift is an international PR consultant, journalist and broadcaster

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