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July 27, 2015

Law Firms Online -- Rebranding and Client Tracking

July has been a busy month for me in chatting with legal reporters about the law firm world online in 2015, starting with Gina Passarella's piece for The Legal Intelligencer on Morgan Lewis' controversial rebrand. Little did she know when our conversation started that I was involved in Morgan Lewis' first website, some 18 years ago or so and in the firms' shift from mlb.com to morganlewis.com shortly thereafter.

A few weeks later, her American Lawyer Media colleague Lizzy McLellan followed up with Online Rebranding 'Not Just for the Big Guys' in which we discussed rebranding issues impacting midsize firms--where there is not likely a large marketing team with a wealth of resources, yet still needing to deliver a unified message.

In "Firms aim to track clients on websites," California's Daily Journal staff writer Joshua Sebold spoke with me about a topic beyond site development and branding--the way web traffic can be tracked and analyzed in strategic business development. From web cookies to analytics analysis, tracking open rates on e-mail legal alerts, online advertising, social media hooks and tracking URL clicks, the beauty of the online world is still that it offers much greater hard data to identify return on investment than almost any law firm branding effort--online or off. You'd have to go back to tracking phone numbers in a Yellow Pages ad to find anything close. Or as my kids would ask you, "What are the Yellow Pages?"

July 8, 2015

LP Magazine - The True Value of Your Published Work

LPM_JA15_cover-nospine.jpgYou could also call my column in the July/August 2015 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, "101 Uses for an Article," but in The True Value of Your Published Work, I discuss how sitting down to write one article can pay dividends in so many ways. The key is not to think about the time spent as writing one article for one publication, but more as writing one thing that will be repurposed in so many ways.

This very blog post you are reading is yet another use of one article. Perhaps you reached this blog post through one of my social media feeds. Or maybe I handed you this very column during a pitch meeting at your law firm or during a subsequent meeting with an attorney about business development planning.

Print deadlines being what they are, I just submitted my next column for Law Practice earlier this week. You won't see it until November. I would never spill the beans on the subject matter, but suffice it to say that while rereading it, I was struck that the column could be turned into an entire CLE program...and you will likely see it as my Ethics Potpourri offering in 2016 for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. It is a little disturbing that this idea came to me in my sleep last night (there are better things to dream about), but it occurred to me that the column could be the centerpiece of the program and the accompanying written materials. In other words, the four hours or so that I put into writing, research and editing will pay numerous dividends moving forward. You get the idea.

There has never been an easier time than now to "get published." The online and offline options are endless. If need be, the ability to self-publish means that even the worst idea in the world can see the light of day. Just go online and read the rantings of some lunatic with access to a computer--you know what I mean. But our writings, offerings and publishing venues are far better...most of the time.

So, if the most recent "published works" on your attorney bio is 1996, take a few hours this weekend and fix it. No excuses. The benefits are endless.

July 7, 2015

Morgan Lewis Took Risks in Its Rebranding

morganlewis.pngIn ALM's The Legal Intelligencer, reporter Gina Passarella writes on Morgan Lewis Took Risks in Its Rebranding. She spoke with me about the effectiveness and controversial aspects of the mega firms' new look, which included a new website among the various rebranding efforts.

Passarella points out that with a new chairwoman and two mergers, the firm is undergoing change. The article also mentions that the rebranding initiatives, led by the firm's marketer, Despina Kartson, started prior to the Bingham McCutchen and Stamford LLC mergers.

While the article states that the firm's goal was to balance the classic and the modern, you can't help but see the dreaded Executive leadership compromise in the end result. The logo itself is staid and very old school. The website and the content "below the fold" (logo and imagery) is closer to The Huffington Post in design, appearance and functionality. So if you cannot agree on classic or modern--do neither and both. I've been at the table of plenty of these branding and rebranding conversations at law firms. I can't say I win many of those battles either.

In my conversation with Passarella, I noted that I quickly picked two sites to compare the ML site to--Coke and Deloitte--basically confirming what I expected to see--very corporate, content driven sites that were more about being a resource or information repository than a sales tool. Just as I do not need Coke to tell me about its brand and business to get me thirsty or Deloitte for professional services, I do not need an explanation as to who the firm is or what they might offer. As the old adage goes, "if you have to ask," you are probably not a Morgan Lewis client (that they want). In the ALM article, I also note that there are a handful of firms (I said dozens, maybe 100, which was stretching it) that have the name recognition amongst their client pool for the "marketing" to have much of an impact.

Morgan Lewis has come a long way since that first website in the late 90s. I enjoyed working with them when it was still MLB.com. Ironically, mlb.com is probably one of the sites today that I access most--for scores and highlights. As a local firm based in my backyard--Philadelphia--they have greater breadth of international locations and practices today. They certainly get diversity points in the leadership category. There is increased sophistication and commitment to business development. Like many mega firms, a compromise on logo and messaging is not going to hurt anybody. But from a corporate branding perspective, it still sends a mixed message.

April 8, 2015

What's in a (Law Firm) Name Change? Wolff & Samson Is No Longer

GWB.jpgIn today's The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), staff writer Shawn Boburg writes on Former Port Authority chairman David Samson's retirement from the firm he helped found--Wolff & Samson--and the firm's decision to retire their name as well.

Wolff & Samson was founded more than 40 years ago (1972) and has grown into one of New Jersey's largest and best known law firms--with 120+ lawyers in three offices.

As the article states, "A close political confidant and adviser to Governor Christie who has been the subject of an ongoing federal investigation arising out of the George Washington Bridge scandal said Tuesday that he is leaving the powerful law firm that he founded decades ago. And the firm, Wolff & Samson, is erasing David Samson's name from the front door, a move that some see as an effort to protect the firm from any potential fallout that may lie ahead."

Among the topics posed to me by Boburg were the reasons that a law firm might decide to erase a well-known law firm brand, the cost involved and the thoughts behind such a move. With significant experience dealing with law firm name changes over the years, I suggested that it was not likely an easy decision to make--and those opinions among firm management probably varied significantly. I might not have personally advocated for a complete name change, but would have weighed the potential negative publicity of a federal investigation and the blowback onto the firm. While Samson's age (75) points to retirement, how the transition of clients is (and has been) handled would likely give me better insight toward the firm's thought process as well.

The swift name change from Wolff & Samson to Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC erases years of favorable branding in an instant, although one would expect that in the short term little would change with an individual attorney's personal book of business.

Of course, much of the firm's bread & butter is tied to government work. The link between Christie and Samson appear to have been quite favorable to Wolff & Samson--how much of that works still flows from the State of New Jersey without him might have a greater impact than the potential branding issues.

March 9, 2015

The Legal Intelligencer--Major Changes Could Be in Store for Law Firm Websites

website_image.jpgIn today's edition of ALM's The Legal Intelligencer, reporter Gina Passarella writes on Major Changes Could Be in Store for Law Firm Websites. She spoke to me about the state of law firm websites in general and the new K&L Gates Hub in particular.

K&L Gates describes their new "hub" as "a digital destination for timely insight on critical issues at the intersection of business and law. Whether you are in a legal department or are a C-suite executive, we hope you will find our current insight on industry and legal trends to be a valuable resource." It is not designed to replace the regular law firm website, but provide extensive content on a few topics for a very specific audience.

Websites have come a long, long way since the first one I worked on--for Morgan Lewis--in 1996. I found this screen capture online from 2000, back when mlb.com belonged to the law firm and not to Major League Baseball. In 2000, I was proud to have worked on one of the first unique components on a large law firm website--HSRScan--which was a searchable database of letters interpreting the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the HSR Act) and its regulations. At the time, moving beyond attorney bios, news, practice area descriptions and maybe some dynamic recruiting content was quite unique. I loved that HSRScan was a database of content that literally did not exist anywhere else.

While sites have come a long way in sophistication and content, the reality is that most today are extremely similar--with the same databases cranking out the same data, and the usual array of bells & whistles. K&L Gates does a nice job organizing the enormous amount of content that they harness among their attorneys, offices and practice groups. Few firms are going to have that level of depth, and fewer are going to have the staffing resources to build it and keep it up. With a 100-person marketing and business development team, they probably have the bandwidth to keep the hub up to date and growing.

For those few firms without a 100-person marketing department, you might be focused on other elements of the Internet--strong use of social media sites, mobile-friendly sites (a must), SEO (when applicable) and various combinations of the same Hub-type content--videos, webinars, blogs and client alerts. The ship has sailed on truly unique law firm websites and blogs, but that does not mean the same elements can't be reconfigured in a different delivery mechanism. And just because it is not unique does not mean that it is not a necessity.

March 5, 2015

LP Magazine -- Effectively Managing and Maintaining Your Online Portfolio

LPM_MA15_cover.jpgIn the March/April 2015 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, my topic is relevant to pretty much every practicing attorney (not to mention almost every human being on the planet). What does your online portfolio look like, and why should you care?

Every week, I will meet, speak with or e-mail a prospective client. While I will send them my own crafted biography, links to my website and blog, and additional information--what they will often be more interested in is what they find when doing a search for my name. With a somewhat unique first and last name, what they see will almost always be me. This is not the case with many that have more mainstream names to search for.

While some individuals and firms are forced to use reputation management companies to "fix" a page of results, most of us simply live with what we see. But the thought that you have no control over what appears is not accurate. Taking advantage of profile pages on powerful sites should help control that first page of results. Few will venture on to page two. Almost nobody will get to page three. And only stalkers are likely going beyond.

On this given day, I went and did what I try and do every few weeks--search for myself and see what pops. A Google search for Micah Buchdahl landed nearly 4,000 results--but only nine are on the all-important page one. Chances are pretty good that on the day you take a look, your results will vary. But here are today's top nine...

1. The bio page on my website at www.HTMLawyers.com.
2. My LinkedIn profile.
3. My bibliography of articles on Web Marketing Today.
4. My Twitter feed
5. My Facebook page
6. This blog (marketingattorney.com)
7. One of my many articles on Law Practice Today, where I serve as Editor in Chief.
8. My bio on the ABA Law Practice Division site.
9. A recent podcast on the Legal Talk Network.

Page two included Justia, Avvo, Google+ and others that often will show up on a first page. The bottom line is that while I don't "control" the page, the website, articles, speaking, blogging and social media profiles populate a page with positive results that enhance my portfolio. And when I ask you what your online portfolio might look like, make sure you know the answer. It could be the difference between being retained and getting passed over.

February 17, 2015

Legal Talk Network Podcast: The Legal Advertising Landscape

podcasts.jpgIf 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.

January 6, 2015

LP Magazine - Embracing the Changing Face of PR (and a tribute to Lou Corletto)

LPM_ND14_cover.jpgIn 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.

September 19, 2014

Attorney's Fake Celebrity Photo Gallery on Website Draws Suspension

Sangary-Article-201409171849.jpgCall her the Zelig or Forrest Gump of California attorneys, but you can also call her "suspended."

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.

September 8, 2014

Peak Season for Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Is Here; Hurry before the Thanksgiving Lull hits!

peak_season.jpgIt 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.

July 14, 2014

LP Magazine - Age over Beauty? Marketing a Law Firm's Anniversary

2014-july-august-cover107x139_jpg_imagep_107x141.pngIn 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.

April 22, 2014

LinkedOut and MisTweeted: Ethical Uses of Social Networking in Marketing Your Law Practice

PBI.pngIt 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.

Course Description:

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.

April 21, 2014

Lawyers Shifting Facebook Strategies

fb-like.pngLike and Like. This is like two Facebook posts in one.

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.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I did not invite you to find my personal page on Facebook and be sure to "like" my Facebook company page as well. Or Twitter. Or, of course, LinkedIn.

April 16, 2014

Marketing for Law Firms: Priorities, Purpose, and Pay Grades

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.

March 14, 2014

The Marketing Value of Work-Family Balance

workingmother.pngPerhaps 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:

TRAILBLAZER MOMS

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

ESTABLISHED MOMS

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