What Story Do Your Pictures Tell About You Online?

Sandi Webster and Peggy McHale

Pictures are integral aspects of online reputation management campaigns. It might seem obvious, but this is important if you want to tell a new or different story about yourself than is currently on the Internet.

Most people rely on one well-lit portrait taken at a photo studio, but we recommend five or more portraits for personal branding. That allows you to use a variety of images in different places (or on different platforms) instead of just one. Having up to ten portraits is an effective tool for displacing old or unwanted photos that currently show up high in Google searches of you.

These are additional strategies to consider:

Project an age-appropriate image in an age-discriminating world. We hear a lot about age discrimination, but we also hear about emerging talent concerned about looking too young to attract investors or the right position. If you want to project a more mature image, wearing dark clothes and being photographed against a muted background, such as gray, will help. If you are female, a deep shade of lipstick will also help.

If you are on the other end of the spectrum and want to appear more youthful, consider wearing bright colors. If you wear eyeglasses, try more contemporary frames before you have a new portrait taken—Warby Parker is a good resource for experimenting at home. If you are male, have pictures taken in an open-collar shirt or even a dark T-shirt if you can forgo the traditional corporate look.

Rebrand with a more contemporary vibe. A quick way for women to update their image is to wear bright, primary-colored dresses or tees with pantsuits. Hot pink, orange, and lime give an instant fresh look. For men, an open-collar shirt with a well-tailored dark suit, or a polo shirt with a contrasting jacket, conveys the same.

Ensure your new photo is high-resolution. Keep in mind that iPhone and other types of digital photos aren’t always sharp enough to reproduce larger than a thumbnail size, which limits their use.

Vary your poses. Use as many different poses as you can in your session: full-length, three-quarter, profile, at your desk, sleeves rolled up, holding your mobile phone, speaking on one, etc.  That way, you can use a different photo for each of your online profiles. That is a way to take more control over the images the public and media see of you.

Need to establish online profiles, but prefer not to publish your photo on the Internet? Perhaps you work in law enforcement or another industry where privacy is essential. Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons you might prefer not to use a photo online. Use a symbol instead or have a logo or drawing made.

Remember: Online reputation management enables you to shape the public’s perception of you by taking control of the story the Internet tells about you. We specialize in helping executives, professionals, and their organizations do this. It all begins creating the image you want the world to see.

By Shannon Wilkinson, CEO, Reputation Communications. Reputation Communications is an online reputation firm serving CEOs, executives, rising stars and their organizations. Shannon Wilkinson is the founder and CEO of Reputation Communications appearing in the Huffington Post, Forbes.com, USA Today, The Today Show (NBC) and the Wall Street Journal as an expert in managing online reputation.