How to handle being in the spotlight

27 April 2015, Blog

For those of us who aren’t football enthusiasts, Harry Kane didn’t ring a bell until he scored for England straight after coming on the pitch on his international debut.

In the minute after he scored, his name was tweeted more than 11,000 times, making him quite literally ‘the man of the moment’. The next day, his story led the broadcast bulletins and made all the national headlines.

Not bad for less than 80 seconds’ worth of game time, but the preparation leading to that moment clearly came good on the night.

Although Harry Kane’s story is exceptional by its nature, it provides some lessons on how people and organisations should manage being suddenly thrown into the spotlight. This could be because of a major announcement or a promotion that puts a new spokesman ‘centre stage’, for example. If this happens to you, here are some tips to help you handle that sudden public exposure.

#1. Be prepared: Understand the issue you are talking about before you speak about it. Have some key messages prepared and familiarise yourself with them. Anticipate the likely questions so you can prepare for them and practice with experienced people who can advise on the best ways to respond. Above all, don’t wing it. Be prepared and invest in training if you need it as people will remember a faltering performance just as they will an assured one.

#2. Be clear and positive: When a big public announcement is made, it needs to be clear and to the point. Ditch the jargon; if people don’t understand what you’re saying you will lose them.  Above all, be confident and assertive when addressing your audience.

#3. Be straight: Taking advantage of a heightened interest is an opportunity to build better and lasting relationships with the media, influencers and stakeholders. Don’t spoil this by over-promising or giving an unrealistic response to satisfy the public desire for ‘an answer’. Stakeholders are increasingly discerning. Don’t underestimate them and don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes. The potential damage to your reputation long-term is not worth taking the risk.

#4. Be social: Do you know what people are saying about you or your competitors online? If you don’t, then you’re out of the loop on a valuable source of information that could help drive your business forward. Social media plays a huge part in building a person or company’s online profile, and can help make strong connections with influencers who will relish the opportunity to say they ‘know you’ when you’re in the public eye. If you don’t know how to reach these influencers, you’re almost certainly missing out on a hugely important network of support.

By Soraya Assad, Consultant at JBP


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