What do Shaun T and Tony Horton have in common with Jessica Simpson and Marie Osmond? They all represent companies as brand ambassadors and spokespeople—and you can, too!
According to InsideJobs.com, “A spokesperson is someone who’s chosen by a company to promote its brand through public announcements and endorsements. As a spokesperson, you’re the voice (and face!) of an entire organization.”
“Working as a spokesperson for brands aligned with your expertise can prove incredibly lucrative, not to mention a ton of fun,” says Stacy DeBroff, national mom expert and founder of Mom Central Consulting, a company that connects “influencer moms” with over 350 well-known brands. “Plus, as a spokesperson, you get to speak with passion about your expertise, while the brand’s PR team gains you wide exposure, thus further building your platform, reach and recognition.”
What Is a Spokesperson?
As a spokesperson, you are essentially a public relations representative for that company. Why doesn’t the company just use its own PR reps and marketing professionals to promote the company? It does, but it also wants an expert in the field related to the product or service it is promoting. That’s where you come in! You may be featured in the company’s print ads or television and radio commercials. More likely, however, you will be involved in dealing directly with the media and public by participating in company-sponsored events and expos, media interviews, press releases, public speaking and social media.
Or your position may simply involve answering customers’ questions online.
Franklin Antoian, founder of iBodyFit.com, was approached 4 years ago by ManageMyLife.com, a Sears brand, to be its online fitness expert, answering customers’ fitness-related questions. “Users can log in and ask me any fitness question,” explains Antoian. “They get a response within 24 hours, but usually immediately.”
For the most part, he adds, each question takes just a few minutes to answer, though some require more research.
As a fitness professional with teaching experience, perhaps representing a company as a master instructor would be more your thing. Josh Taylor has represented Mad Dogg Athletics (MDA) as a spokesperson and an international Spinning® master instructor for more than 16 years. “I was approached by MDA for a master instructor position many years ago,” explains Taylor. “As Spinning has become more and more popular and has grown into a global brand, the master instructor team is now selected from people who are searching for the next level and have approached MDA to become a master instructor.”
Taylor’s time commitment to the company is two to three weekends per month. “Spinning master instructors are the voice of the Spinning brand,” he says. “My position requires me to be available to do Spinning certifications and fitness conventions at least two times per month. At the conventions I am responsible for leading master rides and doing educational lectures. It’s an amazing job!”
And did we mention you get paid to do all this?
“Typical spokesperson fees start around $5,000 and can go much higher,” comments DeBroff. “I often get about $75,000 for extended engagements. At the peak of doing spokesperson work—before switching to build out Mom Central Consulting into a leading social media agency—I was making just under $300,000 a year.”
DeBroff explains that how much you get paid depends on the amount of responsibility you’re given. “The pay all comes down to [your task] as a spokesperson: how many days, how much travel, television and radio appearances, written pieces, video, content owned by the brand, live events to attend.”
How Do I Get Started?
As you can see, being a spokesperson requires many skills, from speaking to writing to being comfortable answering questions live, on-air and in front of a camera. If you feel you’re lacking in any of these areas, seek out training to hone these skills.
“And become an expert [in a fitness-related area],” adds Antoian. “It doesn’t matter in what field—weightlifting, weight loss, etc.—but be sure you are an expert in something.”
DeBroff recommends the following for those who are serious about becoming a spokesperson:
Build up some recognizable expertise. “You can do this first and foremost via writing—a blog, a website or a book—or video/pictures, such as your own YouTube channel or on Instagram or Pinterest.” Or write for professional publications, such as IDEA Fitness Journal or IDEA Trainer Success.
Get some TV segment experience. “I started by volunteering to do segments for a couple of local Boston morning shows, and after a couple of years this experience led to me doing segments on the Today Show and other national programs. You could create a ‘tabletop’ segment featuring your favorite fitness products, or get the hosts involved in some specific exercises. Come up with fun ideas—things that will capture the producers’ imaginations.”
Build an audience. “This comes down to website traffic and any specific demographics you reach.”
Create a spokesperson page for yourself. “Add logos of any brands you’ve worked with in any capacity, links to any TV segments you’ve done, articles you’ve been featured in, etc. You can see what I’ve come up with at www.stacydebroff.com. Use tags and wording such as ‘fitness expert’ and ‘corporate spokesperson’ within the page.”
Share your credentials with PR teams. In particular, seek out those working with fitness, health and food clients. “They’re usually the ones who will start searching for a spokesperson. These teams will typically show up at fitness-related conferences.”
Engage a low-cost publicity expert. Hire this person to help you get some broad media exposure. “It will be an investment of a few thousand dollars, but if you’re serious about building your platform and you pick the right person, it will pay off big time.” To learn more about how to get started with your own PR campaign, check out the article “Three Steps to Be Media Ready” in this issue.
Network with other spokespeople. “There are often conflicts with offered campaigns due to working for a competitor, not being offered enough money or not being available on the dates needed. Have them refer you. I know I’ve launched about 10 women successfully into full-blown spokesperson work just by passing on opportunities on which I was taking a pass.”
Send your credentials to companies packaging satellite media tours. News Broadcast Network and MultiVu offer this service for multiple products. “Satellite media tours can be a great launch pad for getting started and building TV experience.”
Recognize that this often takes time. “I’d say it takes about 5 years of dedicated time doing the above to build yourself into a nationally recognized spokesperson whom brands seek out!”
Last, be passionate about the product and company you’d like to represent. It may sound silly, but some people will take a lucrative position just for the money, regardless of whether or not they like the mission of the product and company. If you’re not in love with the product or the company and you don’t actually use its products, your disinterest will show in your presentations. Remember, you’re connected to that company, so its products and mission are reflected in you. People look up to you as a professional and as a representative of the company. Consumers may even buy the product because you represent it.
Know what you’re passionate about, build your audience, hone your skills, network with other professionals and contact the appropriate companies. While it may take time and perseverance, becoming a spokesperson is within your reach!
The following resources will give you more information on what you need to do to become a spokesperson whom companies will want to hire.
Gary Gagliardi, Making Money by Speaking: The Spokesperson Strategy for Marketing Your Expertise (Clearbridge 2006)
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