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How to Find and Use a Neighborhood Spokesperson

Abraham Lincoln, the perfect spokesperson

Abraham Lincoln, the perfect spokesperson

You’ve gotten the attention of your neighbors and friends who all agree that a stop sign would really help the traffic mess in your neighborhood.

You’ve scheduled time with several neighborhood organizations and have a meeting with the Department of Public Works.

Certainly, you have ownership of this issue. After several weeks of knocking on doors, your 30-second elevator speech has become the Gettysburg Address of neighborhood traffic.

Four score and seven years ago…our fathers brought forth onto this neighborhood a grid of streets, conceived in harmony, and dedicated to the proposition that everyone should drive safely.

How to Build Momentum and Credibility

But is your elevator speech enough? If you want to build momentum and credibility for your project, consider identifying and developing a spokesperson, someone who has career experience in public safety or city planning and can lend authority to your proposal.

Your spokesperson can provide expert support at your meeting with the Department of Public Works, testify at public meetings and answer questions from interested media. You can promote your spokesperson as the face of your project through your website and social media.

Finding a Spokesperson

So where do you find this perfect spokesperson? Think local. Do you have any friends or neighbors with the background you’re searching for who would be willing to share their expertise? What about the retired police officer you know who lives on your block and is living the traffic nightmare with you?

No matter how qualified this person may be, you have to make sure he feels comfortable answering questions and can stay “on message” – which includes being brief, direct, easy-to-understand and interesting.

That’s a tall order for your neighborhood spokesperson, especially if she doesn’t have experience speaking to people. Depending on how much you want to invest in your cause, you also can pay someone with experience to be your spokesperson. Lots of businesses and corporations pay handsome fees to celebrities and experts to tell their story.

It’s unlikely you need someone with national credentials, but offering to pay a local expert with speaking experience may produce your desired result much faster than relying on a friend.

And remember…once you’ve built your resume with a successful stop sign project, you are on your way to becoming the next resident expert and spokesperson for similar community projects. Good luck!

Next Links

How To Become a Neighborhood Activist

BART Unions’ Messaging War

Save CCSF Now or Pay Later


About the Author:
FX Crowley is a Public Affairs and Labor Relations Specialist, and former 15-year Business Manager of IATSE Local 16, San Francisco. A third-generation San Franciscan, FX can break down any football game from Pop Warner to the Pros and analyze it for hours. Contact to learn more ››