Who should go “out front”?

Whether you’re experiencing a crisis, launching a new product, or trying to get people to attend your annual fundraising event, a key first decision is selecting the person who will be the “voice” of your messaging. Most people are inclined to go “straight to the top.” That’s why you expect to see the mayor at the podium after a tornado. That’s why, when we think about Steve Jobs, we remember him on a stage announcing new devices.
Bar graph showing relative trustworthiness of different spokespeopleBut is this always the best approach?
The 2015 Edelman Global “Trust Barometer” is a fascinating report of a world experiencing a crisis in confidence. Media, Business and NGO’s all are experiencing an increasingly skeptical public. You can highlights of the report here.
But Slide 20, on the credibility of organization spokespersons, has very practical day-to-day implications. It turns out the public considers a regular employee or a company technical expert as more credible than the CEO.
This doesn’t mean the CEO doesn’t have an important role in communications. Especially in a crisis, it is his or her duty to be out front, reassuring the public that the organization’s full resources are directed at the challenge.
But these finding are a reminder that there is considerable room for creativity when it comes to choosing a voice for the message. In some cases, the CEO’s most important role may be in introducing the front line employee who already has the trust of the customers and the public.

— Beverly Bartlett

C2 Senior Strategist

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