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Upgrade Your Image: Your New Publicity Still

By Theda C. Snyder

You need a publicity still, also known as a headshot, because people want to match a face with a name.

publicity still

Most marketing experts advise lawyers to use a welcoming, smiling image. Some clients may only contact you by phone, email or text; the ability to picture the person they are communicating with will help build a relationship.

The primary place for your genial image is on your website. Also, include your headshot in your direct mail and other newsletters. Set up your Zoom account to show your publicity still when you have turned off video. Use your photo for your professional social media accounts, especially LinkedIn.

If you write or speak, journals that publish your articles will want a publicity still as will the conference sponsor who has asked you to speak.

Get a New Headshot Every Few Years

A client once said to me, “Is that supposed to be you?” Clearly, it was time for a new picture.

publicity still photos of Teddy

Do It Right: Use a Professional for Your Publicity Still

You will probably be using this image for a few years, so the annualized expense is small. Find the right photographer by searching “corporate headshot.”

I’ve seen posts on LinkedIn where people show a few versions of their proposed publicity still and ask which is the best. Putting aside the quality of the shot for reproduction, all the pictures are terrible for one reason — the background. In each instance, the background would best be described as “busy,” a jumble of irrelevant, often outdoor objects. Those pictures look amateurish — not the right image for a lawyer. A studio will provide an appropriate background.

Some professional associations hold a picture day. Members can get a new professional headshot at a greatly reduced price. This could happen in a van outside a meeting venue or at the photographer’s studio on a dedicated day. If your local bar group has never organized a picture day, volunteer to set one up.

Come prepared for picture day:

  • If you are wearing a suit, a dark jacket and a light-colored shirt are best. White can produce a glare, so a different color such as light blue may be a better choice.
  • If you choose a shirt or dress without a jacket, wear a solid color in a medium shade, not too dark, not too light. If you are not sure, it’s fine to bring several clothing options and ask for the photographer’s advice.
  • Some photo studios offer makeup and hairstyling for an additional charge. This is usually worthwhile but must be arranged in advance.
  • Messy hair will look even messier in a photo. Professional styling on the day of the shoot is a good idea. That includes facial hair. Stylists at a blowout salon such as Drybar can tame long or unruly hair.
  • If doing your own makeup, apply cosmetics as you would for a formal event. Don’t try to create a look you’ve never donned before; you won’t be happy with the result.
  • Avoid oversized jewelry. Your goal is to look professional and trustworthy. Also, multiple ear piercings and other body piercings may work in your social group but may make you look less than credible as a professional.
  • Similarly, consider how to display tattoos on your neck, head and arms. Long sleeves may be the best choice for your publicity still.

A major benefit of using a professional is the photographer’s ability to retouch the picture to make sure you look your best. Whether the issue is pimples, scars or facial furrows, the photographer knows how to make you look good. Clothing imperfections such as obvious wrinkles can also be retouched.

Caveats

Some lawyers avoid publicizing their photos to avoid harassment. It’s pretty disconcerting to get an email to your business address from a stranger saying, “You look hot.”

Avoid posting information about your private life such as where you live or information about your family. Use separate social media identifiers for personal and professional posts. Let your firm know about any inappropriate response to firm publicity. You can report harassment to most social media platforms directly.

Read: “Specific Steps to Take If You Receive a Threat.”

Notwithstanding this risk, most lawyers will use every opportunity to display their headshot as part of their overall marketing plan.

In “Snap a Winning Headshot,” Clinton Brandhagen has advice from the other side of the lens, including this great tip:

“Without stepping on your photographer’s toes — let them do their thing — ask that they do several shots in landscape orientation and leave you a bit of headroom. Why? Websites are responsive and the crops of photos will adjust according to various screen sizes. It’ll also give your marketing team more to work with for various mediums. Plus, with a landscape photo, you can always crop it vertically later. It doesn’t work the other way around, I’m sad to say.”

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Teddy Snyder Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at SnyderMediations.com and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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