If you would like to hear a short podcast discussing how legal advertising has changed due to the internet and social media, how to launch a successful marketing campaign without getting into trouble with state bars, and some advice to small and big firms about advertising in certain practices and geographic regions, LISTEN HERE to the podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Thanks to interviewer Jason Marsh, Adriana Linares and the LTN team for the opportunity to chat during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston, Texas.
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In the November/December 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I write about Embracing the Changing Face of PR. In the column, I write about how much the concept of PR has changed with time and technology. While I still believe that PR is a significant part of business development, the way you utilize it and how it works has little resemblance to the way that it functioned a decade or two ago.
With print deadlines for Law Practice coming about four months prior to publication, it was summertime when I sat down to write this piece. What the column does not tell you is why I chose this particular issue to address PR. At that time, my first boss, Lou Corletto, had just passed away. I started my professional career as a PR professional, before law school, before a lot of things. In high school and undergrad, I had PR internships with the Baltimore Blast and Philadelphia Fever of the Major Indoor Soccer League (and at the league office). But my first formal PR training came via an internship with the Philadelphia Flyers. I learned a lot from the PR triumvirate of Rodger Gottlieb, Mark Piazza and Joe Kadlec. To this day, Mark and Joe are among my dearest personal friends. I "see" Rodger on LinkedIn from time to time, and while not in touch, have always appreciated what he did for me. They played a role in suggesting to the Washington Capitals that they hire me the following year. The Caps PR director was a long-time, old school, gentleman named Louis Corletto. For his memorial service, I sent along my thoughts and remembrances (ironically, an ABA meeting prevented me from attending in person). The memorial took place in Richmond, Virginia in August. I thought this would be an appropriate forum for sharing those words. Thanks Lou.
LOU CORLETTO MEMORIAL
I'm sorry that I could not be in Virginia today to say a proper goodbye to my dear friend Lou. He hired me as his public relations assistant for the Washington Capitals nearly 3 decades ago in 1985. I was a fresh out of college, 22 year old know it all that came to him via Temple University and a PR internship with the Philadelphia Flyers.
No matter how condescending or insubordinate I was, Lou never raised his voice, never disciplined me, never did anything but show patience and try to teach me the way that maybe I should behave. He was a tremendous mentor who knew how to treat people--regardless of rank or stature. I was especially appreciative of the way he would treat my parents as they entered the Capital Centre--like they were the Mom and Dad of someone quite important.
One particular anecdote in 1986 has always stuck with me. Lou asked me to include in the media notes a welcome to corporate sponsor Ace Hardware. He was under some fire by the Caps marketing guy. I said that the media notes were for the media, not to welcome sponsors. Lou asked if I could please do it. I responded that I did not want to, but would if he ORDERED me to do it as my boss. He said that he would not order me to do it, but hoped I would.
I did not. Later that night, he came up to me and said "you couldn't have done that for me?" I said "I told you if you wanted them in, you needed to insist upon it." He never brought it up again. He would not punish me and rarely said no to a request from me. The sheer disappointment in his face that night was enough to make sure I never did something like that again. He did not order, instruct, yell or curse--Lou Corletto got things done with kindness, respect and a hearty laugh.
As a young man, I'd complain that all he did was play golf at Congressional or have lunch with Larry King at Duke Ziebert's. All this while I slaved away at the typewriter doing the real PR work. As I matured, I learned that any punk can write game notes, but not everybody can pick up the phone and ask George Michael at NBC or George Solomon at the Washington Post for a favor. As the years went on, knowing that he enjoyed so many moments like those only lightened my heart.
Fast forward to the late 90s. I had gone to law school and was living outside of Philly in Voorhees, New Jersey. Lou showed up unannounced. He was at the train station and needed a place to stay. I had a little one bedroom apartment. Lou stayed with me, sleeping on the futon in the living room and making phone calls--looking to get back on his feet. I listened as he called some of the great people in the NHL--David Poile, Bill Torrey, Larry Pleau, John Halligan, his dear friend Nate Greenberg and others--looking for help in getting another opportunity to do what he did best. It was impressive that he made the calls and that everyone would take the calls as well. As we spent time together, I told him this was my penitence, the payback for the Ace Hardware omission. This was my chance to give back to someone who deserved it. He just laughed and said that he loved me. Lou could only remember the half full part of dealing with me. That is how he lived his life.
Eventually, with the help of our mutual friend George Starr, we saw Lou on to his next stop in Raleigh, North Carolina. I told him my young girlfriend did not understand what this guy was doing at my apartment. Lou understood. Today that girlfriend is my wife of 14 years. Lou loved hearing about my six year old son and 10 year old daughter as they've grown up. In our conversations, he always told me how much he appreciated me. He never let the rocky times keep him down. Lou was ever the optimist. I enjoyed sitting with Commissioner Lou at a Southern Hockey League game and PR director Lou at a Major Indoor Soccer League game. But it was his love of the Caps and the NHL that brought the widest smile to his face. He truly appreciated everything and everybody. I learned a lot from the man. There are times where I could stand to learn a little more. I'll always cherish his friendship and miss him. As NHL photographer Bruce Bennett said upon hearing of his passing, he is up there in that great press room in the sky smiling and laughing and taking care of people. That is what he did. Rest in peace, Lou. I'll always appreciate the times we had together--good and bad--but especially appreciate that you only saw the good in people.
I've seen a lot of fun and strange law firm web site ethics issues come up since the mid-90s, but it is refreshing to see that there are still new takes on the concept of "deceptive and misleading" lawyer advertising online in 2014.
A State Bar Court judge in Sacramento, California has recommended a six month suspension for a Los Angeles attorney who put Photoshop to use in manipulating a photo gallery on her website filled with fake pictures of her with various politicians, celebrities and star athletes. The court found that this photo gallery amounted to deceptive advertising. Read the highly entertaining opinion here.
Svetlana Sangary's website describes her litigation boutique in similar ways to most related practices. However, when contacted by the state bar investigating the photos (and another complaint), there was a failure to respond for many months.
Perhaps, she was at the Emmys or lunching with Jamie Foxx--both sounding far more fun than answering to this stuff in court--but was more likely photoshopping another shot out of US Weekly. Among the interesting tidbits in the handling of this matter are:
- She refused to remove the photos in question even after contacted by the State Bar.
- Her 16 page response also included 148 pages of exhibits ranging from an article about Natalie Portman (now that is a photo opp I'd enjoy) to an array of e-mails and canceled checks.
- The judge noted her response as "bizarre".
- She cited a First Amendment right to remain silent.
There are politicians from both parties--Obama, Biden, Gore, two Clintons and a Schwarzenegger to name a few. Hollywood elite from Streisand to Clooney; DiCaprio to Baldwin. People that annoy me like Dr. Phil and Larry King. People I'd like to hang with like Jennifer Garner and Magic Johnson (and Paris Hilton, although I would not usually admit to that one).
Perhaps more entertaining are some of the Yelp reviews I read in looking to learn more about this attorney. Her 6.1 on Avvo will likely take a hit, since that included a 5/5 for professional conduct. My guess is that someone is vetting each accolade, testimonial and result posted for her in various places online.
It was probably close to a decade ago that an attorney came up to me after one of my internet marketing ethics programs for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in Philadelphia. He was somewhat irate (and annoyed) by a Philadelphia lawyer that displayed a "photo gallery" on his website of him with various politicians and celebrities. He believed that the use of such photos were deceptive and misleading--suggesting to potential clients that he had relationships with these folks and potentially might be suggesting they are clients.
Now this CLE audience member actually expected me to "do something about it." I still remember responding that I was not the ethics police and that he was free to report this website to the state bar. I don't know if he ever did. But I did start using that website as an example in my seminars of a "potential issue." Just minutes ago, I went back online to see if that photo gallery was still a part of the law firm website in 2014--and sure enough, it was. In a twist of irony, many of the politicians and celebs in those photos are the exact same people photoshopped in Ms. Sangary's gallery--although I do believe his to be authentic.
You might ask me why I don't "name names" in this example (as I often do). Well, I'm still not the ethics police. And while I don't know the guy personally, he seems like a good person and is involved in some related organizations outside of the legal profession that I'm also in. So, I'd rather just be nice about it (this time). However, I've always suggested in my CLEs that a proper disclaimer in regard to the photo gallery and his relationships might go a long way to appeasing anyone believing the use to be deceptive and misleading advertising. And I might suggest that these two photo gallery examples--from Philadelphia and Los Angeles--will likely make it into my 2015 ethics CLE.
The marketer side of me finds both examples to be entertaining. Although I doubt she can fall back on the "no such thing as bad publicity" argument in this situation. The ethics attorney side of me wonders if the deceptive and misleading argument would still be an issue if indeed those photos were real. Perhaps that is a case of first impression somewhere else for another day.
For Ms. Sangary, the bar court judge also recommended a three year probationary period to go with the six month suspension, and a retaking of a professional responsibility exam. Only in Hollywood.
Peak Season for Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Is Here; Hurry before the Thanksgiving Lull hits!
It was a joyous day on my work calendar after Labor Day when the kids went back to school. The camp bus pickup at 9 am is replaced by the school bus pickup at 7:25 am. Extended day at school moves the "end of day" from 4 pm to 6 pm. The sunscreen, towels and related daily chores are replaced by much simpler tasks. And while family vacations are nice, they are not exactly relaxing. Many of those work trips are far less stressful.
While summer time is fun, the reality is that a lot of business and work hits the back burners after Memorial Day. If there is one thing I learned when I started working with law firms on marketing efforts back in 1997, it is that there are two significant time frames where little to nothing gets done--the first is from Thanksgiving until after New Year's. The second (and much longer) are the months of June, July and August. Because marketing falls below "work for clients" and "family commitments/vacations" on most schedules, it means little in my world gets done.
This did not stop a bunch of law firms from discussing business development plans for the coming year during the summer months. It was just made clear that nothing was going to happen until the fall. And I still had a few law firm clients that wanted to launch some advertising campaigns or related marketing ventures--that I quickly put the kibosh on. Because just as people do just enough to get by during the heat of summer, that also includes interest in reading business publications, attending CLEs and other events that don't involve BBQs, concerts and the beach.
This leads us to the huge importance of the fall on our business calendars. There is not a higher peak time of the year than the September-October-November months for marketing and BD initiatives. We hunker down and get back to work, but just as critical, businesses are evaluating their lawyers, costs and needs for budget planning in the next calendar year. These are the months that generally tell me what kind of year I'm going to have in 2015. When January hits, many of these decisions have now been made. It is important for your law firm to be positioned properly (from a brand perspective, market position, messaging and identity) now to maximize visibility and possibilities for retention and growth. While I spent the summer telling many of you to not bother doing much in the public eye because nobody is paying attention, the reverse is true in the harvest season. The winter holiday lull will be here before you know it. And while ramping up again in January is certainly important, the real peak time to position you for a strong "next year" are right now.
In the July/August 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I address the always-sensitive subject of age. In this case, it is about the marketing value of a law firms' years. It is yet another subject that seems to present itself to me with clients a few times every year. How young is too young? And how old is too old? And is there value in touting age--and more specifically--an anniversary to clients and prospects?
Many law firms have taken anniversaries--literally as short as the one year mark and as long as 200 years--and looked to make them into marketable events. In some cases with good success; in others, it simply does not work. My column provides anecdotal examples of ways your firm may or may not commemorate a business birthday. When you look at all the possibilities, you might be surprised to find that some of the ideas and scenarios fit right into an upcoming anniversary of your law firms' entry into the marketplace. We often look for excuses to celebrate. We often look for ways to manufacture firm "news." Somewhere in the middle is the marketing of a law firms' anniversary. If you are going to invest time, money and effort into such a commemoration, read my column first. It should serve as a guide to ways to ensure the highest level of business development return possible.
It is hard to believe that I've been teaching the "advertising/marketing" ethics hour for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute for more than a decade now. But what makes it particularly interesting is that my space (pun intended, if you get it) keeps changing with such rapid fire imprecision that it really never gets old. This year I return to the theme of social networking ethics. I could say I'm repeating my program from 2010, but very little is the same. I looked back into my PowerPoint slides to find my first discussion of advertising and social media taking place in 2003. This makes me sound and feel ancient.
As usual, I will be presenting this PBI program live in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in April, August and December of 2014. My April programs take place on the 24th in Pittsburgh and 29th in Philadelphia--from 11:30 am-12:30 pm. For more information and registration, visit PBI.
Understanding social media is critical to the practice of law--Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networking sites not only enter into almost every practice, but are key tools for law firm marketing and business development efforts. However, many lawyers have failed to understand the ethical implications as they relate to the Rules of Professional Conduct. What issues should you be aware of when delving into social networking for generating business opportunities? What are the implications of using LinkedIn's recommendations, endorsements and specialization components? How have state bars addressed these issues in recent rule changes and new ethics opinions? You'll learn the how-to, how-not-to and the latest lessons in social networking participation.
For my April 2014 contribution to Web Marketing Today, I return to a topic that I last covered just 11 months ago in May 2013. So much has changed in the social media space in a relatively short time. The players are still the players. But with Facebook changing--more focus on mobile and more focus on revenue (advertising options)--you simply can't sit around and stay status quo.
On the marketing side, it has certainly gotten my attention. Many law firms are finding that Facebook provides brand awareness options that are sharper, cheaper and more focused than many traditional advertising methods. And you do not need to be targeting a mass consumer audience to find ways to use some of these tools effectively. The bottom line is this--there are two ultra-powerful websites in the world--Google and Facebook--and if you don't exist on both, your online universe is not operating at full strength.
A special thanks to Robyn Davis Sekula, a communications consultant in Kentucky. She is an excellent guide on using social media for clients, including but not limited to law firms. Robyn provided some good examples for the article along with low cost to no cost tips for posting on Facebook. I had the privilege of working on a project with Robyn--and now we're fast Facebook friends.
ABA Journal Podcast -- How lawyers can get the most out of Facebook's paid status updates
If you'd rather hear my voice than read an article, listen in on my recent ABA Journal podcast on the subject. Moderated by reporter Stephanie Francis Ward, I joined two colleagues with different perspectives for a spirited discussion. Nicole Hyland, a partner with New York's Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, focused on ethics issues (usually my area of concentration on these programs) and Anthony Johnson, an Arkansas plaintiffs' personal injury lawyer, gave his perspective on using Facebook advertising options to obtain new clients.
All three machers (look it up--it is Yiddish--and would likely be referenced by Krusty the Clown on The Simpsons or one of Dan Schneider's shows on Nickelodeon) - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn--with Google+ likely on the horizon as #4--are still growing and refining their products. They are all relevant to all law firms--but the targets, usage and focus certainly vary significantly.
In today's The Legal Intelligencer, reporter Gina Passarella writes about the trend toward sticking "business development" into the titles of many Philadelphia law firm lead marketers. She could have changed the title to "Philly Law Marketers should not let the revolving door hit them on the way out."
The latest step (or misstep) for many of these firms is to add or change the CMO title to lead or include "business development" in it. Somehow, law firm management thinks this will make it all better. The irony is that most of the hires and candidates have the same set of credentials as their predecessors. It is nothing but semantics. Few have true BD experience, backgrounds or credentials. But that has not stopped many of these management committees from moving forward with their umpteenth marketing head of the last decade.
I often find myself reminding law firm management committees that there certainly is a connection between business development and marketing. In reality, every single employee of a law firm is somehow engaged in BD. We are all in business and we all are trying to develop more of the same. Marketing provides the image, messaging, tools and resources to develop said business. In corporate America, many CMOs are held to a number--meeting a revenue target, increasing market share, balancing the budget between them. In most law firms, it is the attorney that either generates a number--or not. They rely on the marketing team to give them what is needed to develop business. There are exceptions. But generally that is how it works.
Ms. Passarella cites Dilworth Paxson, Blank Rome, Ballard Spahr, Montgomery McCracken and Pepper Hamilton as just SOME of the firms where the marketing merry go round have made recent stops. This is certainly not a knock on the personnel. And it is not really a knock on firm management either. It is simply a reminder that law firms continue to struggle with the priorities, purpose and pay grades...which ironically is the title for an upcoming ABA webinar on the subject.
On May 5, 2014, I moderate and speak on a panel designed to address some of these very issues. My fellow panelists include Nick Gaffney of Infinite PR, who will address issues of public relations and media relations. Maziel Abrego is Practice Development Manager for Vedder Price. A former president of the New York chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, Maziel has bucked the trend with significant longevity at large law firms. All three of us are trained attorneys and marketers. We will discuss the issues that law firm management face in determining the best routes for spending and staffing marketing and business development. Thanks to Saturno Design's underwriting, the ABA webinar cost is well under $100. A small price to pay to avoid blowing another couple hundred grand.
Law firm marketing and business development efforts have increased significantly in the last decade. Recent shifts in firm demographics, client, and market pressures are making it more important than ever that a law firm's leadership and management has a working knowledge of the core aspects of any successful marketing plan and department.
We will discuss what a management team needs to know about the effective components among marketing efforts, staffing and spending. Learn first-hand what is working for the competition and what truly is a proper amount of time, money and resources for your practice.
Topics include: branding and advertising, technology tools (including web and social media), networks and professional associations, marketing materials, public and media relations, professional development training, proposals and pitches, ratings & rankings, sponsorships, community/charitable giving, ethics compliance, client surveys, staffing, and budgeting. CLICK HERE for more information and registration.
Perhaps this post is just an excuse to brag about my wife, Ivy Brown, who was recently honored as a Working Mother of the Year in the advertising industry by Working Mothers Magazine and the Advertising Women of New York.
The event itself was pretty remarkable. There were more than 750 attendees in the grand ballroom of the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The tables were a who's-who of leadership from blue chip companies--from Johnson & Johnson and Comcast to Facebook and Sony. The commissioner of the National Basketball Association was at the NBA table, honoring a working mom from his organization.
A highlight was definitely watching the short video our kids put together to commemorate the occasion. They were asked the question, "what do you like to do with your Mom?" Lily, 9, scripted out the video with her brother Benjamin, 5. They put notes on a white board and had me videotape it (with an iPad) until they approved the final version (14 takes later). Talk about marketing. Besides the big screen at the awards, this video has appeared everywhere, from internal company newsletters to social media and in their classrooms at Moorestown Friends School. Lily's performance earned her the gig of making the "lunch is served" announcement at the awards program (where she quickly memorized the cue card and showed no fear in standing on the stage in front of the crowd).
In watching the event, from the initial announcement of honorees through the luncheon itself and the promotion after, I marveled at the marketing value tied to it. In our age of two-working-parent households, millennial "philosophies" and societal changes in attitude toward who works in a family and how a company handles it, there is a lot to learn from this program.
With increased pressure from corporate America to make sure your workforce is diverse, many law firms have found attracting viable candidates difficult. Again, looking at it purely through marketing eyes, you see the heavily promoted women's initiatives, diversity efforts and paternity policies splashed across websites and brochures. The goal is twofold--to attract diverse lawyers and to show your corporate clients that you care about it. Reality, in some instances, might be another story. But, hey, if we do a good job marketing it...that's not my problem.
With the Working Mothers' honor, my wife received recognition internally (promoted within J&J), externally (through PR) and everywhere from her school to friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I had the chance to put faces to names at the luncheon. She gets positive promotion that will ideally positively impact her career down the road. J&J gets positive promotion as a company that does not just sell products to Moms but creates an atmosphere and culture in the workplace conducive to working hard and successfully raising a family. The kids get to see Mom honored at a huge event (although skipping school was easily a benefit as well). The parents and in-laws get to attend. And the husband takes photos, smiles and writes a blog post about it. In recognizing work-life balance, everybody wins.
The Working Mothers were divided into three categories. Congratulations to all the Moms that work with the Dads and their respective employers to achieve work-life balance:
Claudia Strauss: CEO, Grey Activation & PR, Grey New York
Barbara Ross Miller: VP, Consumer Marketing Solutions Group, Sony Electronics
Marjorie Porter: EVP, Brand Agency Leader, Publicis Kaplan Thaler
Linda Gharib: SVP, Digital Marketing, Head of Cross-Channel Initiatives, Citi
Stacey Larson: Managing Director, National TV Investments, OMD
Dawn Matson: Director of Media Planning, Kohl's Dept Stores
Cheryl Guerin: EVP/Group Executive, US Marketing, MasterCard Worldwide
Val DiFebo: CEO, Deutsch New York
Joy Schwartz: President, Havas Worldwide Chicago
Gina Hughes: SVP Marketing, AMC
Ivy Brown: Senior Marketing Director, Global Brand Management, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care
Jeanne Boland: SVP, Director of Client Services, Local Media, BPN
Eileen Diskin: VP, Marketing Communications and Strategy, Comcast
NEW TO MOTHERHOOD MOMS
Rachel Cohn: Americas Lead, Global Partnerships, Facebook
Erin Quintana: SVP, Business Partner, J3
Rachel Jacobson: SVP, Global Marketing Partnerships, National Basketball Association
Christi Woodworth: Director of Digital Communications & Social Media, Sonic Drive-in
Monika Grabania-Dailerian: Group Director, Strategic Planning, Mindshare
Ritu Trivedi: Managing Director of Digital Marketplace, Mediavest
Kelly Wenzel: CMO, Centro
In the March/April 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I address a law firm marketing topic that never seems to lose steam--the impact of lawyer ratings, rankings and reviews on the legal profession.
Of course, I should not really complain. The topic has proven to be great fodder for my Pennsylvania Bar Institute ethics courses; I've been quoted countless times in the media on the subject; in the ABA Law Practice Division, we led the "educational" charge with major panels (and participation from all the players in the business) for both the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference and an ABA Annual Meeting. Last October, an ABA CLE Premier Speaker Series program on the subject attracted nearly 5,000 attorneys. Everyone always is interested and has an opinion.
It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of the industry over the last 15-odd years. To think, when I first became a lawyer, the only thing you really knew about was Martindale-Hubbell. Today, the brand struggles mightily with shifts from across the pond (the UK's Chambers publication); from known ranking brands such as U.S. News & World Reports; from thousands of local-yokel attorney "awards"; and both legal and non-legal online reviews from the likes of Avvo and Yelp. The business has never stopped booming, but it has definitely changed--a lot.
What has not changed? The ego sell to many lawyers. The interest in "how did we do?" that varies significantly based on law firm size, areas of practice and client type. And, of course, there is the level of profitability that these companies have found selling in the legal space.
In the last few years, I've definitely established closer relationships with many of these companies. For the most part, I've found the executive leadership to be smart, friendly and accommodating (while there are some that I still find highly questionable). We both have jobs to do--and my clients care about how they perform here--which means that I care too. Read the column and look back at prior blog posts addressing the subject--you will likely find that I've learned to change with the times as well.
Know your audience. That is my response to the many "water cooler" conversations about what might be the most successful lawyer viral video to date. I'd love to know--and will likely ultimately ask him--what expectations Jamie Casino had when deciding to buy expensive and lengthy local TV ad time on the Super Bowl; and, more importantly, was it a successful new business generator? But for a personal injury practice looking to stand out in a crowded field to an everyday Joe audience--BINGO.
In this month's Web Marketing Today article, I discuss the wild, raging online viral video success of the sleekly-produced, Hollywood movie quality, two minute ad for a personal injury lawyer. It is like nothing you've ever seen before. When all is said and done, it won't matter that it originally ran for two minutes on the Fox television affiliate in Savannah, Georgia during the Super Bowl. The vast majority of the international viewing audience will see it on YouTube or embedded on another site.
The majority of my clients are midsize and large corporate law firms. None of this would be remotely interesting to them. Actually, they'd generally find it somewhat horrifying. Our marketing and business development strategies are as far away from a consumer-oriented TV ad than placing a huge billboard on I-95. But when I do get to work on marketing for a plaintiffs' practice or other consumer-driven area of law, the concepts of branding and lead generation are totally different--and can be a lot of fun.
I mention in the WMT piece that if the Casino Law Super Bowl buy was my idea, I'd declare myself a genius. The story itself (the true story) is different and totally compelling. The production quality is something you'd see in a movie theater. Casino, a fellow Temple Owl like me, looks and sounds like a movie actor. While much of the content of the ad appears more about vindicating his deceased brother's memory, bashing the local chief of police, and denouncing bad guys (who he will no longer represent), Casino can now combine this ad with his "traditional" (and entertaining) ads for personal injury. The last line of the two minutes? "I speak for innocent victims that cannot speak for themselves." A refreshing break from "we don't get paid until you do." Because imitation is the best form of flattery, expect a knock-off somewhere in the legal sphere come next Super Bowl Sunday--when I'll be busy watching the Philadelphia Eagles finally reach the Promised Land. Or just watching the commercials.
Join me on February 13th in Washington, DC for a full-day tutorial on media and press relations, presented by the ABA Journal, in conjunction with the ABA Center for Professional Development.
I still recall my old friend Dan Leary telling me about a conversation they were having in the Major Indoor Soccer League office back in 1986. I was the PR Director of the New York Express and Sports Illustrated had sent top reporter Franz Lidz to spend the week shadowing the team. He was writing an SI piece about the importance of the New York franchise to soccer in the United States. Leary told me that in the league office they were trying to guess how high in the story I would be quoted. The answer was paragraph two. I might have been 23 years old, but I knew how to get myself quoted and interviewed--on TV, in the New York Times, Washington Post, SI and major dailies throughout the country.
In my pro sports days, I was known as a go-to guy by the media--for quotes, for off the record stuff, for ideas to fill a column or a TV interview. If you were a journalist, you knew that I'd call you back fast, tell you something you did not already know, and provide a colorful quote (even if I was giving an evasive answer). When I needed a favor--put this in the paper, don't put this in the paper, quote this guy, do a feature on this player--I was paid back for being a reliable source. Some of the stuff I pulled was pretty clever. But even today, I would not write about it or give specific examples--I'm not sure the statute of limitations has run on everything. And many of those conversations and interactions were certainly off the record. But I was not a lawyer yet, so the Rules of Professional Conduct did not apply.
Fast forward a few decades and I'm still involved in media relations and PR--but now it is as an attorney--and I'm usually more interested in getting a law firm client media exposure than myself. It is a vastly different media world now as well. The late 80s was long, long, long before the Internet, blogs, social media and an accompanying change in the art of Journalism (still one of my favorite professions). After all, this is a BLOG POST--an entirely different way of delivering a message and finding an audience.
In my business of law firm marketing, media plays varying roles in the game plan. Depending on the market--which might be based on practice, geography or a combination of the two--press relations can be extremely valuable or of little interest. In general, I'm a firm believer that a good quote in a big-time publication or positive airtime on radio or television is immensely more valuable than a print ad, commercial, newsletter, seminar or website. It is "free" and considered much more objective and reliable (in most cases). Most attorneys say they would love to be on TV, quoted in the Wall Street Journal or a talking head on CNN, but few know how to make it happen.
In some cases, there is legitimate fear on the part of many lawyers in being misquoted when dealing with certain media channels. The lower level the publication and the more junior the journalist, the greater a chance that "this is off the record" might not be adhered to. In some instances, your client is interested in less media, not more media. And it is important to understand their preference. Of course, sometimes the media provides tremendous power with influencing jury pools and opinions in the court of public opinion.
Here are my top three missteps in trying to develop better press relationships between a journalist and an attorney:
1. BORING! The attorney is so concerned about saying something improper or inflammatory that he or she basically says nothing interesting at all. And your TV/radio voice demeanor puts the audience to sleep.
2. TOO LATE! In this day and age, most journalists are looking for a quote, reaction or interview yesterday. Returning the media inquiry phone call tomorrow is literally a day late and a dollar short.
3. THAT'S NOT NEWS! Whether it is a dull press release or a lame idea of what is newsworthy, I'm often pushing back on law firms asking me to get news coverage on something utterly meaningless to anybody in the outside world. I'd give you a list of examples, but my clients would recognize them and not be pleased with me. I have to make a living.
On February 13, 2014 in Washington, DC, I am part of an A-list faculty providing a day-long program on marketing yourself through the media. The program also includes advice on blogging, social media, and ethics. George Washington University law professor and media personality Jonathan Turley will provide the key note address.
I will be sitting on two of the program panels, including "So you want to be on TV?" with Jennifer Brandt of Cozen O'Connor and Seth Price of Price Benowitz. I'll also discuss "Social Media -- Your Personal Printing Press .. . do's and don'ts" on a panel with David Lat, Steven Anderson and Seth Price.
If your law firm is interested in developing or improving press relations, it is worth spending a cool February day in the nation's capital. To learn more and register, CLICK HERE. Or feel free to contact me directly for additional information.
In advance of the fourth edition of the ABA's New Partner Conference, Law Practice Today highlights the topic with an issue dedicated to the theme of new partners. With the New Year upon us, many new partners are taking their places at the management tables of law firms throughout the country. Yet many find themselves wondering what the new role brings with it. Many of the New Partner Conference speakers and planning board members have authored the articles that coincide with their respective program topics.
LPT issue editor and conference speaker Amy Drushal of Trenam Kemker in Tampa, Florida, authors Transitioning from Associate to Partner: What now? Yours truly, also a conference presenter, writes about the new partner's role in marketing and business development. Kerri-Ann Bent and Vanessa Cotto write on the effects of mentoring on the duty to supervise.
Avvo honcho Mark Britton discusses the New Partner Cheese--taking lessons from "who moved my cheese" to the law firm board room. Justia's Tim Stanley, with co-authors Ken Min Chan and David Kemp, writes about building great relationships online, focusing on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.
The professional development article this month, on how "big law" can reinvigorate the practice of law, comes from Jen Bluestein, Brad Kaufman and Richard Rosenbaum.
Thank you to all those that contributed to this month's issue of LPT. Best wishes to all the new partners out there. May the experience bring the rewards that your arduous path from associate required. I hope it proved worth the effort and the wait!
To access the December 2013 issue of Law Practice Today, click here.
Sequestration may be bad for the economy, but it has boosted some law firms' federal procurement practices, attorneys and marketing professionals told Bloomberg BNA, in an article by reporter David Hansen, published on November 14, 2013.
Those interviewed in the article included McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP Partner Elizabeth Ferrell, Lateral Link Group LLC Principal Larry Latourette, Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) Personal Finances Researcher Dan Auble, CRP Research Director Sarah Bryner, George Washington University Law School Assistant Dean for Field Placement Jessica Tillipman, and yours truly.
The story touches on what sequestration has meant for law firms' federal procurement practices, including the impact on those practice groups, their desperate need to recruit experienced government contract attorneys for both litigation and lobbying, the impact on lobbying efforts, and internships--namely unpaid law school interns to fill staffing needs.
I provided the marketing and business development perspective to Hansen's piece, discussing how large law firms were winning big, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding federal budgets and the numerous practice groups positively impacted--including tax, banking, employment, corporate, immigration and litigation. I also noted that while midsize firms might not be able to grab a piece of the pie without already servicing impacted clients, there are niche opportunities in targeting small businesses that are not positioned to retain big law.
To read the article in its entirety, please visit Bloomberg BNA.
In the November 2013 issue of Your ABA, the monthly e-news for attorney members, they have effectively recapped my October CLE on lawyer rankings and ratings with an excellent top ten list of suggestions, based on speaker comments and the examples provided.
Nearly 5,000 ABA members tuned into the monthly ABA CLE Premier Speaker Series, which I led along with my esteemed colleagues--Florida Bar ethics counsel Elizabeth Tarbert and Best Lawyers co-founder and President Steve Naifeh. We were able to provide three very different perspectives of a powerful industry in the legal marketplace. Tarbert focused on bar compliance issues. Naifeh gave the perspective of the companies in this space. And I fell somewhere in the middle--since I provide guidance on ethics issues as an attorney and guidance on participation as a marketer.
The topic continues to spark controversy and interest in the profession--and will continue to do so as our business evolves. From the "original" Martindale AV to tier one in Chambers USA; top honors in the Best Lawyers/US News & World Reports law firm rankings to effective visibility on Avvo; working the popularity polls for your local-yokel "Top" Lawyer lists in your hometown to the truckload of lists, surveys and rankings from American Lawyer Media publications. There are thousands to choose from. Figuring out which matter is just the start of the process.