What are the chances you’ll actually need an image consultant? Probably not huge. But if you’re running for Congress, there’s a better chance you’ll need their help in the event that your race becomes competitive or pivotal on a national scale.
An image consultant is someone you hire to come in and tell you everything you’re doing wrong. Your hair is too shaggy. Your tie should be solid blue, not red with paisleys. Your wife needs a girdle. Your voice is too high. You get the idea. These people are experts at making you look and sound good on TV. I generally don’t endorse hiring consultants at all, so I’d say start with common sense, some internet research, and maybe going to the salon for a make over (yes, male candidates as well). But if you really feel like you need the guidance, here are some guidelines when it comes to hiring consultants to keep in mind:
- Determine if you really need an image consultant in the first place. You don’t have to be super-handsome to get elected. Your choice of tie (unless it’s really, really bad) probably isn’t going to have an effect at the polls. However, if you have problems speaking publicly that you can’t remedy on your own, for example, you may need outside help.
- Don’t hire a consultant until you have the money to pay them. Find out their fees upfront and set aside a portion of your budget for consultant fees, then make sure you’ve raised enough funds before you sign any sort of contract.
- Don’t hire a consultant until you are absolutely sure you need one. A lot of campaigns, especially at the Congressional level, hire consultants early on, without the funds on hand, because ‘that’s just what you’re supposed to do.’ It’s not. Don’t do it. It’s an insult to your donors to be so frivolous with their money.
- Don’t hire a consultant unless you are sure you can accept what they might tell you. It can seem really offensive when an image consultant tells you to whiten your teeth, lose some weight, and get rid of your unibrow. Or when a media consultant tells you that you basically need to change your personality altogether. It happens. But here’s the thing – it’s probably true, and you’re paying them to tell you these things, so just suck it up and do it. I’ve had candidates that hire consultant after consultant, then fire them because they don’t want to hear that they’re doing things wrong. Don’t be that guy. Or if you know you are that guy, don’t waste your money in the first place.