Expert Advice: Why is a Professional Head Shot Important for Media Relations? - WantLeverage
When pitching the media, we are often asked to send a headshot of the client as well as a biography and backgrounder. A professional headshot gives the reporter an idea of the person, their credibility, how they present themselves..
headshot, media relations
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Expert Advice: Why is a Professional Head Shot Important for Media Relations?

Expert Advice: Why is a Professional Head Shot Important for Media Relations?

For many clients, our agency books media interviews, speaking opportunities, guest content posts , among other things, for business executives, experts and authors. It’s common practice to send a headshot in JPEG format to the reporter before the interview, as well as a biography and backgrounder.  This gives the reporter a better idea of the person, his/her credibility, how they present themselves and their appearance. Are they artsy/scrappy or a professional/executive? Media will also go directly to the company website and often, the Linked In profile to get a better sense of the individual. Whether it is sent with a media pitch or populating a LinkedIn profile or website, a headshot speaks volumes.  A profile with a casual snapshot for example, does not carry the same weight as a headshot taken by a professional photographer who specializes in portraits. We asked Martin Bentsen of City Headshots for some tips.

Q. Can you crop an existing snapshot in lieu of a “headshot”?

A. A professional headshot should look, well, professional and polished. Cropping a photo from a wedding for example conveys something entire different from a business-like image which communicates a professional brand. 

Q. When preparing for your headshot, should you go “glam”?

A. You definitely want to look and feel like the best version of yourself, however the goal is to create a professional business image and a memorable first impression. Going “glam” may make you feel great, but is that the right message to send to the media, future business partners or sponsors?  In other words, keep it simple and elegant.  Whatever clothing, hair, or makeup you would wear at an important day at the office is what will likely work best for your headshot.

Q. Is hair and makeup styling necessary?

A. Having professional hair and makeup styling can make your photos look better and more useable. A makeup/hair stylist on set also provides another set of eyes to make sure the subject is perfectly groomed and looking his/her best. For women, professional makeup highlights and accentuates facial features and brings out the eyes and defines the lip line. For men, it will even out skin tone or hide blemishes.

Q. How do you quell the fears of professionals who are camera shy?

When interviewing photographers, establish an open flow of communication about your photo needs. His/her answers should help to put your mind at ease and give you a better sense of how you will work together on the day of the shoot. Go into your headshot photo session with a goal and don’t be afraid to try new things. Trying an exaggerated smile or laugh at the start of a session will make you more comfortable – sort of like pushing your boundaries and loosening up. Bringing an open mind to a session and trusting your photographer will help achieve the most relaxed, confident images possible.

Q. How long should a good headshot be relevant for?

If it is in the budget, updating your headshot every one to two years is optimal. It is possible to keep a good headshot for five years but a shot that is any older will start to look outdated. Let’s say you are spending $500 to have your headshot updated every two years. Breaking it down that means you are spending less than 50 cents a day to maintain a consistent professional image, which can be an invaluable investment.



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