PR Consulting: Clothes Help You Project an Image

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Sun, Aug 12 - 9:00 am EDT | 7 years ago by
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I’ve seen lots of exceptions to the rule, but when it comes down to winning the confidence of a business audience, you need to look professional, but not mundane. You need to look distinctive, but not loopy.

Consider who your client is. Whether you’re an outside counsel or an in-house communications pro, your look shouldn’t be too far out of synch with the expectations of your client.

Superman shirt - PRSenior executives of major corporations expect their business advisors to look, talk and act like business people. The same goes for medium-sized businesses, and even many small shops.

When the creative director of an agency shows up, the business types expect the bohemian look. When they turn to a public relations advisor, they want someone who looks like they understand business.

Sometimes they are willing to accept eccentric geniuses who look scruffy but have brilliant ideas. Unless you’re well on your way to being a distinctive brand of your own, you should look the part of the business person.

The Hip Look

The technology industry can be different. When even the CEO is in denim, coming to a meeting in a full suit can make you look out of place. Think Steve Jobs and other execs who use a sport jacket or a turtleneck to give them the sleek lines of a business suit without the suit.

The casual look is just as much a uniform that says something about you as the business suit.

Whatever you do, don’t try to be hipper than you are. It’s possible to fake being more conservative than you are, but faking hipness never works.

Don’t apologize for who you are. But don’t undermine your credibility by underdresssing for an important meeting.

Check out Omiru.com’s What to Wear to a  PR Interview (for women): "The perfect interview outfit for a fashion public relations firm is one part fashion-forward and one part professional.  So while you want to show that you’re in the know with up-to-the-moment trends, reign in the tendency to go all out."

More job interview style points: Monster.com Blog, and Women’s Web.

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  • http://prblog.typepad.com Kevin Dugan

    To a certain degree Eric, you also need to reflect your own self within this tight window of professional business dress code and client-defined styles.

    An old boss always gave me hell for the way I dressed. This person had a VERY limited definition of what a PR person should wear.

    But two things we did agree on…you should dress based on the role you aspire to vs. your current role.

    And you need to look the part. I just went out and got a different part. :-)

  • http://commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    Too true, Kevin. I think we collectively spend far too much time bitching and complaining about what’s wrong with the organization we’re with, rather than deciding whether we’re in the right organization, in the right role.

    Poise and confidence will take you a long way, even if you’re not a wardrobe clone of your boss.

    That being said, don’t expect to be rewarded for disturbing the dress code, whether it’s written or unwritten.