Why you should ensure your leaders have headshots

Most PR pros don’t expect a scandal to break involving their executive or client, but you never know when reporters will cover a crisis involving your organization. Here’s how a picture might help.

Rob Goldstone, a former tabloid reporter turned music publicist, recently found himself in the middle of President Donald Trump’s Russia scandal.

Goldstone helped broker a key meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the campaign, the details of which came to light this week. Unsurprisingly, Goldstone is now the subject of scrutiny by members of the news media, as he was last night on MSNBC’s ” All In with Chris Hayes.

The photo selection of Goldstone used in MSNBC’s graphic caught my eye. It’s a spectacularly unflattering photo. One could dismiss the choice as liberal bias, but the photos of the other two men are far more flattering.

Though the photo selection was cruel—and probably gratuitously so—I could there be more at play?

To see what other images were publicly available, I visited Goldstone’s business website, Oui 2 Entertainment. The site displays Goldstone’s bio but not a headshot.

Even if it MSNBC’s producers wanted to, they would have been unable to select a more flattering headshot from Goldstone’s own digital property.

I then conducted a Google image search. Better photos of Mr. Goldstone turn up, but none look particularly professional. The bottom line? MSNBC’s producers used an unkind shot, but Goldstone didn’t make it easy for them to find a better one.

This post is not intended to be a commentary on Goldstone’s personal appearance. I have no doubt that a shoot with a professional photographer would yield photos that he would be far happier to see splashed across cable newscasts.

It’s unlikely that you or your management team will end up immersed in an international political scandal, but ask yourself:

When news breaks involving your organization or agency and a local television station must use a photo of the person involved, will they be able to find a headshot that represents him or her—as well as your organization?

If your public utility has a water main break and you release a statement from an executive, what photo will news outlets choose to accompany your quote? If an employee sues your company for alleged discrimination, what photo of you will reporters choose to run? If you’re injured in an accident, what shot of you will flash across viewers’ screens?

If you don’t have professional headshots, but could end up in the public eye, schedule a shoot today. If you do have a good headshot, but haven’t posted it publicly, upload it today.

There’s no reason to compound the crisis of an already tough news story by having it appear next to an unflattering photograph.

Brad Phillips is president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He is author of the Mr. Media Training Blog (where a version of this article originally appeared) and two books: “The Media Training Bibleand “101 Ways to Open a Speech.

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