Dear MAM: An attorney I work for recently was named to Philadelphia Magazine’s Super Lawyers list. He thinks it is a big deal and wants me to heavily promote it. What are your thoughts on this, and what would you do with it? Sincerely, Name Withheld, Philadelphia, PA
Dear Nameless in Philly: Aaahhhh, the great lawyer ego stroke. It is big, big business. There are so many great honors for lawyers to buy advertising and books for-super lawyers, top attorneys, super-duper lawyers, unbelievably great lawyers, Who’s who of “name your practice” in “name your state”…I could go on and on, and I’m sure you can check today’s mail for a related solicitation of some kind. The attorney probably has at least one ballot on his desk to nominate peers and cast a vote as well.
I certainly do not want the folks at SuperLawyers to think that I’m picking on them. They are doing what you can find in those special advertorial sections of almost every legal magazine these days. Putting together a survey, naming as many lawyers at as many law firms as possible, and selling those great self-congratulatory ads. One colleague told me how he personally called everyone on the nomination ballot to make sure he got as high a score as possible on this recent PA SuperLawyers survey. I perused the list and saw plenty of people that I know are very good and some that are very lame. It is not that exclusive a club-for Pennsylvania, 1500 lawyers in 50 practice areas were named SuperLawyers. You’ve got to make sure you get a bunch of lawyers from every big firm, so you can get a big ad sold.
Here is my advice. First, certainly send out a press release and promote it on your web site. That costs nothing. Second, be sure to point out to the attorney that 1500 people “won”, so do not expect the local TV station to rush out for a full-feature profile. Third, always encourage filling out those surveys. Again, it costs nothing. You might as well get on the list, and use it for promotional purposes. In terms of buying the paid listings or ads, you will notice that very few of the 1500 buy the paid listings or place ads. If you believe that an ad in Philadelphia Magazine hits your target audience, it may well be worth it. I subscribe myself, if that means anything to you. (It should not.) Overall, be wary of anyone that demands money in exchange for a great honor. In my weekend Philadelphia Inquirer, there is an ad for the ten leaders of criminal defense law in New Jersey. If you look at the fine print, you will find that the 10 bought the ad.
Finally, remind the attorney that this is not a Philadelphia Magazine feature. It is ad space bought by a company that sells stuff to lawyers. It is not like the well-known Top Docs section that the magazine runs every year. Be sure that you adhere to state ethics rules if you use any of these designations for marketing purposes. And if you think buying the ad or doing a press release is going to help you keep your job or get a raise…by all means! Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY