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Image consultants are professionals who assess the current status of the public’s perception of an individual, company, or other organization. The main function of a person in this position is to evaluate the degree of positive and negative perceptions present and determine the best way to enhance the positive aspects of the public image. In order to accomplish this task, the image consultant must be proficient in a number of areas, including the use of effective public relations tools and an ability to market the entity efficiently.
Celebrities, politicians, and other public figures often utilize the services of an image consultant. This is because of the significant impact that the public image of these individuals has on their ability to function effectively in their chosen professions. In the event that some event has taken place to change a generally positive perception into a negative one, the consultant will often seek ways to minimize the damage caused by the event by calling the public’s attention to more positive aspects of the individual’s public persona.
For example, a celebrity that is revealed to have a long-standing substance abuse problem may find his or her public image tarnished. An effective image consultant will find ways to call attention to the accomplishments of the celebrity in years past and also point to the fact the celebrity possesses the determination to overcome the addiction. This will be reinforced by regularly releasing information to the press that points to progress in overcoming the problem as well as including other incidental bits of information that are geared toward arousing empathy among the general public.
Corporations benefit from the services of an image consultant in a very similar manner. If there is some type of public scandal involving one or more of the products manufactured by the company, an image consultant will often launch a two-pronged counter attack designed to minimize the damage caused by the scandal and reverse public opinion. This often includes rebuilding the public’s image of the company by highlighting ways the corporation seeks to support the communities where it operates facilities. The focus will be on the company’s efforts to take responsibility and correct the situation, while also subtly pointing to all the other good things the company does for the general public.
An image consultant is also helpful in situations other than crises. Public speakers often rely on the services of an image professional, asking for assistance in choosing wardrobes for wear at public events. The consulting also includes guidelines on how to stand, modulating and controlling the voice properly, diction, and general deportment in a public setting. It is not unusual for public figures to keep an image consultant on staff or at least on retainer, so that the public image can be continually evaluated and perfected.