Coach Lu Sierra works with the Miss Universe Organization titleholders. Photo: Lu Sierra
Coaches play a crucial role in the journey of pageant contestants. They guide girls in every element of the competition, teaching them the ins and outs of the pageant world. Like any other industry professional, coaches should know what is and is not appropriate. Etiquette is important in every aspect of pageantry. That is why pageant coaches should be especially careful in choosing what actions to take. It is important for coaches to take the time to know how to conduct themselves in any situation. Have you listed your business in our Pageant Coach Directory? This is a free resource that you can use as a coach to list your business so that pageant competitors can search and discover you.
The role of a pageant coach
A pageant coach's role is to prepare his or her clients for every element of a pageant. They should guide each client to a pageant that will best fit her. They base this knowledge off of their expertise in the field. If you need some help finding a pageant for your coaching client, check out our pageant directory to get started and discover new pageants in your/your client's area. Expertise and the ability to motivate are the two factors that are most important in a coach. Any client, especially one that is new to the pageant world, needs an expert in the field to direct and teach them. The ability to motivate is also extremely important. A pageant coach, like a sports coach, must be able to inspire and bring out the best in each individual person. They have to learn how each client responds to different types of motivation and choose the method that is best for that client. You will get a better understanding of your client's coaching style after working with her a time or two, since no two pageant contestants will be the same to work with.
Clients should receive your full attention throughout their sessions. Restrain from answering personal phone calls, texts or emails while in a session. Phones and laptops should be put away as a sign of respect unless they are needed to show a client a video or something that will benefit their coaching time. "When someone has paid me for my time, it is no longer an hour or two of my day but theirs," said Alabama pageant coach Wes Gandy of Perfect Image Consulting. "I do not think it would be fair at all to be distracted when with a client nor could I honestly say I provided the best possible service I could while also on a device, call or texting." Do not discuss other clients with the client you are in session with. This could give away information about your client's competition and is unprofessional. Some clients may not want their name mentioned at all as being one of your clients, so as a general rule, leave any other clients out of your conversations. If a parent or contestant asks about your other clients, respectfully decline to provide any detailed information for confidentiality purposes. "I am not going to be all high and mighty and say I've never done this," Gandy said. "As we grow and evolve, we make mistakes and all we can do is try to learn from them and become a better version of ourselves than the version who made the mistake." Are you competing in an upcoming pageant? Here are all the details you should know about contestant etiquette. (Read: Etiquette Tips That No One Tells You as a Pageant Contestant)
Favoritism and clients
You should uplift each client but restrain from showing favoritism, especially among clients competing in the same competition. Each client is unique and should be treated as such, but no client should get more attention or marketing on your social media than another. "When working with each client, I only focus on what we can do to allow them to showcase who they are in the best and most polished way," Gandy said. "That can sometimes be perceived as favoritism, but I don't see that. You expect a little more out of each client than what they currently do and then together figure out how to make that happen." This also comes into play at the pageant itself.
If you are coaching more than one contestant in a pageant, be careful not to spend more time with one over another at the pageant. If a parent or contestant sees that you are spending most of your time with one client over another, it can come across as showing favoritism and discourage families from using your coaching services in the future. Are you judging an upcoming pageant? Here's what you need to know about judging etiquette. (Read: Etiquette Rules That Every Pageant Judge Must Know)
We have all the etiquette rules for pageant parents, too. (Read: Etiquette Guidelines for Every Pageant Parent to Follow)
Pageant coach Wes Gandy. Photo: Wes Gandy
Posting on social media
Social media is an incredibly useful tool when used correctly. It is an amazing way to promote your clients and keep them updated on what is happening in the pageant world. However, be careful about what you choose to post about your clients. "If I have recently picked up a new client, I always ask the parent if they mind before doing a congratulations post," Gandy said. "I think it's only fair to do so because it's their child I am putting out there on social media. After the first initial permission request, I do not usually ask again."
Never post a picture of an outfit your client will be wearing. She should be able to reveal her wardrobe pageant weekend. It is frowned upon for someone else to disclose this information beforehand. Dress stores even keep the girls' gown choices under wraps. This year someone revealed Miss Philippines Rachel Peters Miss Universe gown before the competition and the pageant community was not happy about it. Good examples of pictures to post of your clients include their headshots, charity work or things they are advocating for. Recently, the Miss USA contestants posted #pressforprogress for International Women's Day. This is a great example of something to highlight on your own social media.
Miss Iowa 2018 Jenny Valliere posts a photo on social media advocating for #pressforprogress. Photo: Jenny Valliere
Do not share that you are coaching a certain contestant without her permission. In fact, do not post about a client at all unless you have spoken to her. Some contestants are very private about their preparation and that should be respected. Don't post videos of your clients walking, posing or practicing interview. I know it may be tempting to show off how far you have helped them come, but this could give away some of your client's competition secrets. Let your work speak for itself pageant weekend.
Being a part of clients' personal lives
The involvement of coaches in their clients' personal lives can often be a blurred line. Coaches want to show they care and are not just helping their girls because of the money, but often clients are less receptive to listening to advice or instructions from someone they personally know. "I never want a client to feel like I only care because I'm getting paid to and always want them to know I am there for them but this isn't always a great quality to have as a coach," Gandy said. "I have realized over the years that the more a client and family looks at you as a friend or even member of their family, the less your opinion matters and the less they are willing to just trust you and do what you ask of them."
Choosing to no longer work with a client
If a client is not putting in work or being receptive, it is okay for a pageant coach to choose to no longer work with that client. It is the coach's time that is being wasted if a client chooses not utilize the sessions or practice in her own time. This can be hard for a coach to do, but it is a justified and acceptable action to take. "It is each individual coaches time which is being given up," Gandy said. "If at some point a coach feels that they are no longer being effective, if the client is not receptive to the coach and manner in which they are coaching, if the coach feels they are no longer respected and even if the pairing of coach and client or mother produces an unhealthy atmosphere, then it is definitely the coach's right to decide not to go any further with coaching a client." If you make the decision to end coaching sessions with a client, be respectful to the family/client at all times after this decision is made. The pageant community is small, so you are likely to run into this client at another pageant.
There are differing opinions in the pageant world on whether a pageant coach should charge friends, family members or financially disadvantaged clients less for sessions than they would normally charge. "It's my time that is being charged for at the end of the day, and I am the one who determines what that time is worth," Gandy said. "Those who listen and are grateful and appreciative of what I do for them are one of the reasons I got into this to begin with. It doesn't seem like work at all when I am in sessions with them, so that's when I normally am more inclined to go above and beyond. This is not through discounts but through extra time, special gifts and different opportunities which are learning focused." It is up to you and your business how you would prefer payment. With so many methods of payment, you can choose cash, check, credit card, Paypal, etc., but always be upfront with your clients about your preferred payment method and your policy regarding payments ahead of time.
Pageant Planet Directory
If you are ready to gain new clients and put these etiquette tips to use, be sure to have your coaching business listed in our Pageant Coach Directory so that contestants can easily find your business. It is free and simple to sign up! This feature allows pageant contestants to browse through coaches in their areas, check out their social pages and then message or email them with any questions they have. Are you considering directing an upcoming pageant? Check out the next article in this course to discover all of the etiquette rules for directors (Read: What Directors Need to Know About Pageant Etiquette)
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