WXXI AM News

How To Look Like A Candidate

Oct 30, 2015

Cindy Kyle's company is called Kyle Image Consulting
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI

Political campaigning on the local level is coming to an end, but its only just beginning for presidential candidates. Before they give any speeches, make any commercials, or kiss any babies, candidates in any race first have to look the part.

Cindy Kyle is an image consultant in Rochester, and she works with a lot of political candidates running for all levels of government. She says the hardest part of her job is keeping up with the sweat.

"It's constant. Especially on a warm day. Some people don't perspire at all it's like amazing, but others, well, I think nerves make somebody perspire, too."

It may seem trivial, but think about the Nixon - Kennedy debate in 1960. The story goes, if you watched it on television, your opinion of Nixon may have been influenced by the shiny upper lip he kept dabbing with a handkerchief.

"Image is everything, fortunately or unfortunately. Sometimes it's not about the knowledge you have, it's about the image you project."

Political campaigns are dominated by images -- commercials, pamphlets, public appearances, debates -- and Kyle's main responsibility is to help create the most powerful yet approachable image. But her job sometimes goes beyond picking the right suit cut or foundation for a client.

"When I work with candidates, I seem to gain their trust pretty quickly, so they feel comfortable telling me about their insecurities, what's bugging them that day, and they know it's going to stay with me."

Kyle is afforded a rare opportunity, the chance to see political candidates as people. She says with a little tweaking, anyone has the potential to look the part, even someone with insecurities and sweat.

She says as cliché as it may sound, her greatest advice (besides tailoring your suit, staying away from dangling jewelry, wearing clean shoes) is to smile.