Building and Maintaining Spokesperson Credibility

(For Indonesian, click here)

Mika Brzezinski, the host of MSNBC’s popular morning program ‘Morning Joe’, has announced earlier this week that Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Donald Trump, will be indefinitely blacklisted from appearing on their show due to her overall lack of credibility. Conway has been repeatedly giving statements at odds with the White House, which put her credibility in doubt.

MSNBC is the second TV station to have blacklisted Conway. Two weeks earlier, CNN decided not to invite Conway to their ‘State of the Union’ as people began to doubt her credibility.

Conway is no rookie in US politics and has built herself a good reputation. During the U.S. Presidential campaign a few months ago, Conway acted as Campaign Manager for Trump, and after Trump was elected, Conway was appointed Presidential Counselor. The question is, why does her credibility diminish as time goes by?

In several interviews with the media, Conway used the term ‘false news’ and ‘alternative facts’ to obscure the facts that happened. The climax occurred on February 8, 2017, when she made a sales pitch for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on live television.

Conway’s statement instantly became a hot topic for the Democrats, as well as for Republicans, the party that brought Donald Trump to presidency. Both agreed that Conway mishandled her role as counselor to the president, undermining her credibility in the eyes of the media.

As such, let us take a look to our media in Indonesia. Have they ever blacklisted any speaker?

Unlike the US media that openly ban speakers, Indonesian media also equipped themselves with a list of people who are not welcomed on their shows, yet they keep it private.

Kompas TV Economics Senior Producer, Bima Marzuki, admitted Kompas TV has list of speakers who will not be invited to their programs. The list, however, is not available for public and remains confidential to Kompas TV editors only. In selecting sources for an interview, Kompas TV always considers the credibility of the source, data accuracy, and any conflict of interest that such sources possess. If these are not met, then the editor has the right to call it off.

Nonetheless, Bima did not dismiss the fact that there are certain speakers who are nothing but empty kegs, but are invited anyway because their controversialness is good for high rating. “As long as the source is not deceitful and can keep the audience entertained,” said Bima to Maverick.

In line with Bima, Ivan Firmansyah, TV One Assignment Coordinator News Gathering Jakarta, expressed his TV station once blacklisted sources for their love of giving out-of-context statements. Regardless, to respect and maintain good relationship with those speakers, they did not publish this.

According to him, to be a credible source, especially as an observer, there are two minimum criteria that must be met, which are the ability to present valid data research and information that are new to the public. Should there be a dialogue during the show, the source must be able to bring new facts to the table that can be justified, not only reiterating comments from the existing news.

Credibility and level of confidence are pivotal in business, thus, any stakeholder of an organization must master how to manage them. This is why media and spokesperson trainings are needed by spokespersons of any organization to build strong engagement with the public or media.

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