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Image experts, consumer scams, merchandise and other election angles

election angles

As the race heats up, dive into these election business stories.

We still have three weeks to go before Nov. 6, and plenty of opportunity for election-related business stories. Here are some angles to jump on:

Image coaching.  As political candidates nationwide struggle with overcoming faux pas, with appearing to relate to diverse demographic groups and with reinventing themselves to chase poll numbers, it occurred to me to wonder if such grooming were prevalent in the corporate and professional worlds, as well.

And indeed, image consulting and executive coaching specialists appear readily available to strivers from the C-suite level down to the fashion- and manners-challenged newbie.  I was unable to dig up any comprehensive figures about the size and scope of the industry (here are some metrics put forth by Optimal Thinking, an industry member)  but a number of searches turned up enough such specialists that you likely can find practitioners in your area.  And you can approach the story from several angles:  As a career or small business profile of the consultants, or as a work-life, tips-oriented coping piece for readers interested in polishing their own images and avoiding gaffes.  (Or both, of course, with the latter a clip-and-save sidebar.)

The Association of Image Consultants International offers a searchable database that will help you find members in your area;  many of those I turned up are geared toward attire, etiquette and personal style, which is OK if that’s the direction you want to head.  If you’re looking more for management-grooming experts, I had luck Googling “executive coach” and “leadership coach” with a local geographic term.   The International Coach Federation, which claims 19,000 members in 100 countries, also has a referral service and database.

Professional campaign managers.  This might be one to bookmark for the next election cycle, or for a “What do they do in the off-season” piece after Nov. 6, but apparently there is quite the industry of professional campaign management companies which entourage-less political hopefuls at lower levels turn to for assistance.  In addition to strategists, some companies offer campaign management software and other back-end tools.  The American Association of Political Consultants may lead you to sources; you also can search the LinkedIn skills keywords for “Political Campaigns.”

Election season consumer fraud.   AARP and the Better Business Bureau are warning of election-season scams such as identify theft or credit-card swindles related to voter registration phone fraud.  Check in with your state’s attorney general and local law enforcement about any activity in your area.  And here’s a blog post from the ESET security firm detailing donation scams and even utility bill fraud tied to the presidential election.

Election merchandise.  As I wrote about in this Sept. 26 blog post, manufacturers, artisans and cottage industries are cashing in on the presidential race with items ranging from T-shirts to Chia heads of the candidates.  More recently, the Chicago Tribune’s Redeye has done a slide show of similar quirky goods, and the Chia makers are dutifully updating sales data weekly, with Monday’s report showing President Obama still in the lead.

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