Or Does It Control You and Your Image?
In my first job in a corporate communications department, before I became a Certified Image Consultant, I learned a golden rule very early on: never make an executive or employee of any level look less than their best in a photograph.
Case in point: I remember one year our photographer had taken some beautiful photos of happy employees at the employee picnic: playing games, eating picnic food and swimming in the massive pools. One image in particular was of a larger man playing ball with his boy. It was a cute photo, but…it made this person look very heavy, evenly slovenly. Did we use it? We did not. I quickly made an editorial decision that I could not publish that image and embarrass that person. It was a no-brainer, end of the story.
Today – this scenario is completely different. Facebook, Instagram and a myriad of other social media sites allow everybody to be a “journalist” per se. Anyone, in any setting, work or not, can snap a photo of virtually anyone and post it without thinking, “will this damage someone’s image?” Now these photos may not appear on your company website, but they could appear on someone else’s company or organizational website or personal sites.
Can You Control Social Media?
Unfortunately, many times you can’t, but you do, however, have control over your image. Executives, middle management and even entry level employees—virtually everyone–can fall victim to this at any point. Someone could snap an unflattering photo of you and put it on social media. Now there is a permanent record of how you looked at one moment in time. It could be as simple of a group photo at a work reception, and you are the only one who doesn’t like how you look. Perhaps you took your jacket off and the shirt underneath is far from flattering, making you look like the only unprofessional one in the photo. Now, if the photo is a really bad version of you, as your Image Consultant, I would not hesitate to contact the person who posted it and ask that it be removed. I would ask the person to remove it by posting a comment where it appears. If that doesn’t work, send a private email. Many times, others might join in and shame the person to remove the photo. I wouldn’t bother contacting Instagram or Facebook because you most likely have little ground on getting the image removed by them.
Image Consultant Tips On Personal or Work Functions
As an Image Consultant, I would advise you to always look professional at work to be avoid being photographed in an unflattering way. For instance, avoid T-shirts that photograph poorly. Always have a jacket or even a shirt/blouse available should you be asked to join a last-minute meeting. Make sure your work area is professional, too. That’s one of my biggest image tips. Avoid any items that shouldn’t be there such as goofy photos, strange knick-knacks, etc. When you are at a high-profile reception, dress the part. (If you need help revamping your wardrobe, I have services geared to executives.) All of these things, believe it or not, make up your personal brand image and how others perceive you.
Two other pet peeves I have: they center around eating and drinking at work functions. I hate it when someone is photographed with a big drink in his or her hand. It doesn’t matter what it is. You always think — that’s a big glass of wine. Along the same lines, as your consultant, don’t hover around the buffet or eat large amounts of food at work events. Do you want to be remembered as the person who cleaned up the last morsel of Asian Beef? That’s not a great image of you.
Also, etiquette really matters at work receptions. I am about to finish a day-long image conference on table manners and general etiquette. Stay tuned more for information!
If you are attending a work event and alcohol is served, drink moderately or better yet, not at all. Why take the chance of an image of you looking less than alert or something that portrays you in a bad light? Also, we tend lose our inhibitions when we drink, and why take the risk of saying something you will regret in the morning?
Remember – when you can, control your social media and your image. Often that means controlling your behavior as well. If you’re not doing something strange, you won’t be photographed looking strange. Think about it! Also, be considerate of others when you post photos.
Keep it sassy, Indy.
Indianapolis’s Only AICI Certified Image Consultant and Personal Stylist