Spokespeople can be called on by the media to comment on something at short notice. There was one such example on the radio a few days ago.

It related to an amusing story from a listener about their having thrown something at an irritating creature that kept them awake all night with its dull, repetitive and intensely annoying call.

The spokesperson from the relevant organisation came on air to talk about said creature and why its call was so grating. The interviewer was genuinely interested but the style of the interview was light-hearted. This was a great opportunity for the spokesperson to acknowledge the humour, sympathise that this call was not the most melodious and get across his key message of the importance of valuing this creature.

Unfortunately, the spokesperson stuck to the official line and dodged all attempts to join in with the humour. What became the memorable thing about the interview was his stubbornness to accept its tone, rather than the message he wanted to get across.

It highlighted two things. One, that if he had found out more about the tone of the interview he could have been upfront about his approach so the presenter could have changed his style to suit. Two, that sometimes to get your message across you have to adapt it to fit the channel.

Another radio station challenged a magazine that had printed photographs that were supposedly of one area but journalists with local knowledge had spotted they were of somewhere completely different. In this situation, the spokesperson who was asked to come on air made a number of excuses about what had happened rather than acknowledging a mistake had been made.

Being a human being can have a great deal of impact in PR. Like it or not, we are fallible. But we have a sense of humour and using this in a negative situation can go a long way in maintaining reputation. It doesn’t mean you have to step away from your organisation’s core values. Indeed you’re more likely to be given a second opportunity to speak about your work or your cause if you speak in a real and genuine way. Who wouldn’t want that?!