Posts Tagged ‘gini dietrich’
I got into a bit of an online discussion the other day with a friend in Boston. He told me that “head shots are you at your most fake.” He argued “…head shots suck. The reason why people don’t have them is because we despise them with extreme prejudice, because we’re uncomfortable with posed shots. I, personally, feel super douchey and always send one I know the requesting party will hate. They then usually find something on the Web and use that, which is what they should have done in the first place.”
Now, my friend and I are both communicators, but in slightly different niches of that field. So while I respect his opinion, I have to disagree, and I thought I’d tell you why.
I think almost everybody would benefit from a well made headshot they could have in their back pocket. Why? For the same reason we have updated, cleanly laid-out, and spell-checked resumes. For the same reason that if we’re doing an interview with a radio station and we muff a sentence, we ask to do it again.
When you are putting yourself out to an audience — by writing an op-ed piece, a blog post, speaking at a conference, or anything else that you can imagine, don’t you want to put the best version of yourself out there visually? I think a good photo opens you up to the audience in question, allowing them to warm to your face before they hear you, read your words, or decide to come to your session.
Here are some thoughts from others that I respect, both behind the camera and in front of the camera:
Justin Van Leeuwen, Ottawa-based photographer:
Lots of people don’t like having their image taken, my job is to catch them in a sincere moment that is also flattering and that they’ll display to the world. My best images are made when we all forget the camera is there, when we’re talking and having a great time but happen to be making images too. When I show them the back of my LCD or my iPad and they say “wow” that’s when I know we got it.
I had them done because I needed high-res ones for media and other business opportunities. I had them redone when the book came out last year and you’ll notice they’re not traditional at all. One is of me hanging off a street light à la Laverne and Shirley. They show my personality and are professional enough to get by.
Bonnie Findley, Ottawa photographer:
These days I often capture subjects during an interview process. I think the intention of a photographer is everything. A professional wants to capture someone in their best light. Be that through lighting, a sincere moment or gesture that communicates who that person is, not just what they look like. We have mirrors to do that. Pro photographers reflect something more.
Of course I use headshots. It’s the only way to ensure that the target is effectively terminated when I’m playing Call of Duty. Wait, what?
Ummm, we’ll get back to Christopher.
Mélanie Provencher, Ottawa-based photographer:
The difference between a pro and an amateur is that there is a conversation that takes place before the picture is taken as to what the intention is. And then a pro takes the necessary measures to make the image look like what the client wants. Sometimes it looks ‘fake’ or for better use of words, ‘planned’. But under certain circumstances that it what the client wants.
When a client says ‘man I look good’. That’s usually a good sign. A pro knows how to put their client at ease, guide them in their posture, and harness the light to make their client or subject looks their best.
Okay, Christopher’s gonna try again:
…I’m a PR person and former speechwriter for IBM executives; I spent the first few years of my career arranging for and distributing headshots. I don’t find them fake, I kind of think they’re just an integral part of the publicity process.
You want something where they look relaxed, comfortable, being themselves. No artificial props, but something like what Gini did with the Simon and Garfunkel “hello lamppost, whatcha knowin’?” shot can work well. As long as the subject still looks relaxed — if it’s the person awkwardly playing in a fountain or saying “how did Laverne and Shirley do it again?” during the shoot and it’s obvious that they’re trying to stage spontaneity, it won’t work.
I think they are needed and can help to cement little bits and pieces of a person’s image in people’s heads. Look at [Scott] Monty’s for Ford — the bow tie he wears has become part of his personal stamp. Gini’s lamppost. Things that show a little bit of the person’s personality or uniqueness can help to cement the brand they’re already carving out.
I needed a decent one to send to magazines that asked for them for their contributor pages. I used to send fuzzy holiday snaps and then end up embarrassed when everyone else on the page had a nice one! I was initially a little wary of Dale [Hogan, the photographer]‘s suggestion that I have his wife do my hair and makeup before the shoot. He persuaded me and I’m glad he did. My hair had never looked that good EVER–not even in our wedding photos.
As for good vs. bad, I think the photographer taking the time to put the subject at ease makes a huge difference. We spent the whole afternoon in Dale’s studio, and it shows. I normally hate having my photo taken, but by the time the shot I liked best was taken, I was having a blast.
I’ve consciously used the same headshot in all my social media pages for several years, in the hope that it will help people remember me. I actually have a horrible, horrible memory for faces–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat next to someone at an annual conference, stuck out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Laura,” only to discover that I’ve travelled with them/spoken on a panel with them/interviewed them/sang karaoke with them at last year’s conference/etc. So having a consistent photo of someone pop up in multiple places really helps me when I meet them in the “real world.
My only worry with my headshot is that I’ll eventually have to stop using it and get a new one done. I once sat next to a famous writer at a conference and didn’t recognize her, even though a huge photo of her was displayed at the entrance to the banquet room (she was the keynote speaker). She saw me blink and burst out laughing. “Yeah, I don’t look anything like my publicity photo anymore,” she said. “It was taken 15 years ago, but I like it!”
And now it’s your turn. Point me to great or heinous headshots. Tell me what you think. And thanks to these busy folks for answering my questions.
I’ve been more and more interested in smaller organizations lately. Many small businesses and associations are using social media very well. But many others — among them people who I’ve worked with or who I’ve taught social media courses at Algonquin College — find social media to be a perplexing challenge.
I think one of the biggest parts of the social media challenge for small businesses and not-for-profits is to create a strategy that allows them to be confident they can meet the demands that social media place on an organization. I think it’s crucial that organizations without giant budgets or staff have a chance to create and maintain an effective social media presence.
You’ll have a chance to learn how to create a content strategy as part of a small organization from… well, me, this August. I will be part of the Summer Think Tank Series presented by SocialFish and CommPartners. This series of webinars is bound to be useful for people working in associations, not-for-profits, or any small organization. Maddie Grant has led the development of this series of webinars, and she has done a pretty impressive job.
Check out this lineup:
- July 12: David Svet and Heidi Hancock will talk Pinterest for nonprofits
- July 26: Debra Askanase and Shelly Kramer will present on Google+ for nonprofits
- August 16 (my birthday!) I’m in the middle with Your New Content Strategy
- August 30: Gini Dietrich will talk how nonprofits can apply the lessons of her new book Marketing in the Round
- September 13: Amy Vernon will talk about Creating Content that Works.
Each of the webinars costs $129 US, and the whole series can be purchased for $499 US. And if you drop me an email, I might even have a discount code for you.
It’s a real honour to be in the lineup with these talented communicators who I like and respect. And I’m looking forward to finishing the presentation and doing it online, hopefully with you in attendance.
One thing that really gets me going is conversation with smart people. I’m very lucky to know some that I get to see face to face, and then there are the people who I don’t know personally but get to hear speak or converse with.
And tomorrow, I get to speak with Gini Dietrich, co-author with Geoff Livingston of Marketing in the Round as part of the FIR Book Club. If you’re not familiar with FIR, it’s “For Immediate Release.” I do book reviews for that must-listen podcast, and I host these online talks as well.
Gini Dietrich is smart, funny, and prolific. She’s the founding CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based communications company that describes itself as a firm that started as “a very traditional public relations firm” and is now “a company that helps clients monitor and measure online efforts against business goals…providing an alternative to their traditional marketing efforts.”
In addition to their many clients, Arment Dietrich is responsible for the cheeky blog Spin Sucks and the PR resource site Spin Sucks Pro. And Gini became a first-time author with the publication of Marketing in the Round, a highly useful book on integrated marketing and communications in a social media age.
I’m excited to have 60 minutes to talk with Gini about her book and the ideas she and Geoff brought to it, and to offer listeners the chance to join that conversation.
If you want a primer on the book, you could listen to my review of the book on the FIR site. Then, join us on Talkshoe as a listener or a caller at 2 Eastern time tomorrow, won’t you?
After I posted my little rant about social media ideas last night (Sunday late-night posting bad for traffic? IN YOUR FACE), there was some Twitter talk, including this from Scott Monty: “Au contraire. Social media *leaders* need to be strong enough to withstand criticism. #socialmedia”
I agree. Let’s test this: Scott Monty, YOU SUCK!!! Just kidding.
I think that Scott Monty and I are actually in agreement (as you’d expect from a guy who does a Sherlock Holmes podcast and a guy who does a Stephen King podcast), but that we’re coming to a place of agreement from two different directions.
While I argued that ideas must be strong enough to stand up to criticism, I read Scott’s tweet as saying that those who make the ideas must also allow their ideas to stand on their own merits.
There was a medeival French philosopher named Michel de Montaigne. He once apparently wrote “We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship.”
When you’ve worked to develop a concept, a program, a web site, something — it’s hard to hear it criticized. The natural tendency is to protect it. And sometimes, the most accurate critiques are those that sting the most. We clutch our ideas in our metaphorical arms, desperate to keep them from harm. And we sometimes lash out. Or, in the case of social media, our friends lash out on our behalf.
I think we need to ensure that if we’re the target of criticism, we first take the time to recognize whether the criticism is of us or our work. Then, be courageous enough to decide whether the criticism has a basis of truth. If there’s something in it, then USE it. If there’s nothing, then choose whether to ignore it or to respond.
I think there’s one more post in me about this — about the rights and responsibilities of critics in social media. Maybe today, or possibly tomorrow.
There’s a technique in improvisational comedy called the “Yes And.” The “Yes And” is a principle that states that if two people are in a sketch, each line they create should build the sketch up, not block its progress. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:
“In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the improvisers involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation. With each spoken word or action in the scene, an improviser makes an offer, meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other improvisers to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, negation, or denial, which usually prevents the scene from developing. Some performers may deliberately block (or otherwise break out of character) for comedic effect—this is known as gagging – but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers. Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as ”Yes, And…” and is considered the cornerstone of improvisational technique. Every new piece of information added helps the improvisers to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene.”
And there’s a similarly familiar concept in brainstorming that states that “There are no bad ideas.”
Social media is neither of these things, and we who work and think about it do ourselves a disservice when we pretend otherwise.
At this point, you’re likely asking “What in God’s name are you talking about, LeDrew?” Fair enough. There have been enough incidents in within earshot of me recently where criticism is construed as insult very quickly. There was the Gini Dietrich-G+ contretemps. Then there was the Neicole Crepeau-Copyblogger kerfuffle. Now there’s the Olivier Blanchard-Social Media Club
shitstorm, er, foofaraw. I could go on a lot longer, but you get the idea. I’ve heard it said that some of my book reviews here and on For Immediate Release have raised hackles (although I’ve never been contacted by anyone about them to complain.)
I am partial to the idea of debate. In fact, I love it. My partner and I met at a debating society meeting in university. She claims that the relationship won’t end until one of us acknowledges defeat. She could be right.
But I am getting the feeling that debate, criticism, and argument are becoming the “fights that dare not speak their name” in the world of social media. And that feeling was strong enough that I horned in on a BlogTalkRadio show hosted by Joe Hackman and featuring the aforementioned Gini and all-round pot-stirrer Danny Brown last week called “If you’re not making enemies, are you really doing it wrong?” to blather about debate for a while, until everyone got bored of me.
What does all this come down to? What am I saying? Here’s my manifesto:
- You are not your ideas. If people criticize your blog post, program, sales offering, etc. — they aren’t by definition criticizing you.
- If your ideas are challenged, don’t shut down the challenger, and if you are the lucky person who has fans and supporters, police them.
- If your ideas are so delicate and filigreed that the merest critique will cause them to crumple into a 52 pickup… maybe you need to have some better ideas.
If we’re going to tell ourselves — let alone our employers or our clients — that social media is robust, that it makes sense, that it’s worth going into, we bloody well better be able to defend our ideas amongst ourselves. Because if we can’t convince our comrades in arms, how are we going to convince the CAs, the lawyers, and the CEOs?
There might not be any bad ideas in a brainstorm. But there are in real life. And we need to do to put those bad ideas out of our misery. We need strong ideas. Weak ones won’t even support… a house of cards.