Learn how to write an engaging bio for a company spokesperson
A bio should provide a snapshot of a company spokesperson's career and accomplishments. Allira Carroll from Tonic PR joins me in this episode of the podcast to discuss how long a bio should be, what information you should include (and not include), the importance of interviewing the spokesperson plus tips for making it flow smoothly.
“Don't waffle or use hyperbole. A bio is meant to be an informative and factual representation of the spokesperson's career and should focus on essential information"
What information should a bio include?
Relevant positions held. You don't have to note how long they were in each position, unless it was a particularly long period of time and you think that is of significance. No need to list every single role they're ever done either, just cherry-pick the last few.
Career highlights. This could be awards, accomplishments or notable projects they spearheaded.
Personal interests. If the person is a bit of a character and is known for their impressive tennis backhand, it might be worth weaving this in as it helps develop their personal profile.
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips on writing a spokesperson bio. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, just search "The PR Pod".
How should it be written?
A bio is not a CV and should not be written as dot points. It's meant to be a carefully crafted collection of sentences that reads like a little story and positions the person in a compelling and engaging manner.
One paragraph is perfectly fine. You can extend to a couple of paragraphs if needed but that information better be relevant... Never go over one page.
Where should I be pulling this information from?
Start with their existing CV or a previous bio. Review it, make sure you know when they started each position (month/year) and when they finished. You are not likely to include this in the bio but a journalist may ask at some point. Clarify their exact job title if not clear, or job titles if they were promoted within that company.
Stalk them on LinkedIn. Most people keep their job information on LinkedIn so it's a great place to start.
Google them. You might find they were included in some news articles on something significant in their industry which is worth finding more information about. Additionally, you might discover something controversial that has previously run that is important you're across.
Interview the spokesperson. Dig a little deeper on the factual information and see if you can find some interesting elements. Are there some professional principles or themes that have followed them through their career? Were they responsible for any notable projects? Did they win any awards? What led them to that profession or to transitioning to their current role? Are there any stand-out achievements they've been really proud of being part of? Just note, most people won't be forthcoming with this information, you have to pry it out of them. Most of us don't like boasting about our accomplishments so put your journalist hat on and think about the kind of questions they'd ask a spokesperson about their career.
Tips for making a bio compelling
It's better to have too much information and leave elements out than not have enough. Collate as much as you can and then work out which bits are the most important or relevant.
Keep it concise. It's meant to be a snapshot of their career, not a compendium of their professional history.
Personal interests can add a more 'human' element. It can also lead to extra media coverage opportunities you weren't originally aware of. If your spokesperson is a chef and a keen surfer, they can chat about the best places to grab a egg and bacon roll post-surf, or their favourite breaks to surf in Australia.
Don't assume all the information provided to you is correct. I'm not suggesting people lie but they often don't appreciate that a journalist will potentially repeat this information within an article. And, the journalist will assume if it's coming from a PR, it's factually correct so your head will be on the block if it's not. For example, the chef may have written on their CV they won Chef of the Year in 2004 but actually, it was 2006 and it was Restaurant of the Year. Fact check everything you can to alleviate any embarrassment.
Inject personality. This is especially true if the spokesperson is a bit of a character, or it's part of the business brand values to be positioned less 'corporate'. However, if a company has quite a formal tone of voice for all external communication, then you should adopt that.
Ensure it flows smoothly. You're writing a narrative so you don't have to start in chronological order of their career, just as long as you touch on the key elements a journalist would find interesting or relevant. Weave it together in a way that leads the reader on a (very) short story.
If there's a gap in employment industry, bring this up when you interview the spokesperson. You may not address it within the bio but you should determine how that person would respond to that question should a journalist ask.
If you're putting a bio together for a spokesperson, there's a good chance you'll also have to put together a PR strategy soon. There's another episode on The PR Pod dedicated to just that, you'll find it here.