Do I need head-shots and is a press kit important?

Here's the scenario. I have a good friend.  He's a thought leader in his own right; he just published a book, has given keynotes at prestigious universities across the country and is a well respected consultant.

You would think he had updated head shots right?

Or what about a press kit?

The not-so-surprising answer is no, he did not have those oh-so-crucial parts of any up and comer's media strategy.

And here's why it matters: about two weeks ago a major publisher reached out to him to write a book, which is almost guaranteed to be a NYT bestseller.

To say the very least, this is a big deal.

Before he could move forward in the selection process however he needed a press kit, which would include updated head-shots, among other things.

But his most recent pictures were taken when he was still in the entertainment industry (and that was about 10 years ago).

And a press kit? Not a chance.

He was fortunate enough to be a photographer and know photoshop like a pro, but for many of us, we can't whip up head-shots and a classy press kit in less than 24 hours. He was the exception.

A press kit and head-shots are like credit: you get them way before you need them. It's an early stage investment for anyone who plans on rising above the ranks of customer service at a call center.

Magazines, conferences, meet-ups, blogs, your employer and a slew of others all are going to ask you to provide a picture and if you want to be a speaker, a press kit.

Ironically enough, it's one of the most overlooked parts of someone's brand, as if it were only something that movie stars and entertainment professionals should be concerned with.

5 Reasons You Should Care

  • When you do get asked to speak in front of people you respect, you'll feel like an asshole when you're searching Facebook for a "decent' picture to photoshop. I've done it. It's not classy. 
  • Having professional pictures that are done well (and on brand) tells the subtle story of influence. You can read more about that idea here, but the main idea is that the world believes that powerful people are put together. Thus, when you're put together and on your A-game, people believe the same thing about you.
  • It's annoying to have to constantly find "appropriate" pictures.
  • Yes, you can get speaking gigs at conferences without them, but the more well-known you become, the more often they are going to request (and expect) you to have something of quality.
  • Don't you want to look hot? Why wouldn't you invest in looking amazing?

How to take a great head-shot (and make a sizzling press kit) 

Your head-shot is going to depend on your industry, the impression/story you want to tell and your personality.

First, make sure that you can clearly see your face. The entire point of a head shot is to get a clear shot of your  beautiful noggin, so make sure we can actually see it!

Secondly, shoot for the 80/20 rule. 80% represents the industry benchmark.

You want to stay within industry standards enough so that people recognize you as being credible, but you don't want to look so outlandish or stodgy that it garnishes the wrong kind of attention. This is the story you're telling about who you are in the world, so represent!

20% represents your unique sizzle factor so that you stand out even in a crowded marketplace or room for that matter.

To hone in on your special sauce, try playing with color, a great haircut, a powerful suit or unique angles in the photograph. The best way to stand out, in addition to a visually balanced brand, is to hash out your unique messaging and vision for your industry (check out these free tutorials on how to begin to do that).

To get an idea of what your 80% is, take a look at your industry for what a normal picture looks like.  The industry standard for an actress versus a consultant is going to be drastically different. Take that into consideration when you invest in your shots, but don't be afraid to be creative!

As far as creating a PR kit, this is your way of selling yourself to the media. An excellent press kit answers these important questions:

- Why are you credible

- Worth listening to?

- Share worthy?

Really, at the end of the day, I'm asking myself do I look cool/credible or stupid for putting my name next to your bio and image? If you want to see what not to do for your headshot, you can take a peak at this google search and you'll see some solid examples of what-not-to-do type of shots!

Erica Swallow, friend, past editor of Mashable and journalist, actually teaches a class on Skillshare on how to create a sizzling PR kit and even get attention from media outlets and bloggers. You can check it out here.

The big lesson?

Go get incredible head shots. Think of where you want to be in 10 years (your dream work) and get the head shots to match that position today.

You'll thank me when you do.

p.s. Are you looking to revolutionize your business and impact? One slot opened up and it might be for you. Click here to see more.