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We invite you to read our weekly Public Reputation tips which integrate various marketing disciplines including media relations, marketing strategy, creative focus and web/technology/2.0.  Please send us your comments or questions and join our conversation.

Public Reputation Tip of the Week

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July 23, 2014
Keith Ecker

573-289-3558

We here at Jaffe talk a lot about the evolution of the legal industry, but change is not unique to our marketplace. In fact, the entire English language is a constantly shifting construct. A sentence construction or word choice that our grade school teachers might once have considered grammatical sacrilege might now be the acceptable status quo.

As a legal marketer, it’s important that you are up to date on the latest in sentence structure, word choice and punctuation rules. Not only will your knowledge ensure accuracy in your business communications, but it also will facilitate the principal purpose of writing – to be clearly understood by your audience. That’s why I am providing you with examples of English grammar rules that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

  • Two spaces good, one space bad: The issue of how many spaces to use after a period is so contentious that I have seen editor friends of mine become enemies in the blink of an eye. The truth is, however, that one space after a period is the proper format. While it was true that two spaces were the norm, that was literally more than 40 years ago. If you are still double-tapping the spacebar after you complete a sentence, you need to try to break that habit.
  • “Because” should never start a sentence: I abhor this rule that my teachers instilled in me in grade school. You certainly can start a sentence with “because.” Granted, it should be used in a dependent clause that is joined to an independent clause via a comma. For example, “Because I sprained my ankle, I could not run in the race.” See? Perfectly acceptable in a grammatical sense, and it creates an interesting structure.
  • Always use “more than” instead of “over”: This is a new one, though for many of you, the original rule was probably unknown anyway. But the truth is, according to the AP Style Guide, you formerly should never have said “over 1 million served” or “over a billion metric tons.” Instead, a writer was supposed to use “more than.” However, as of this year, the AP changed its attitude and decided to become agnostic when it comes to the use of these two phrases. So feel free to use either “over” or “more than” interchangeably.
  • Impact is exclusively a noun: While it will annoy grammarians if you use impact as a verb – as in “How will our marketing strategy impact sales?” – the truth is that it has become commonly accepted for people, particularly those in a white-collar business setting, to use impact either as a noun or a verb. That said, if seeing “impact” used as action language unnerves you, you can always exchange it for “affect” instead.
  • Passive voice is always wrong: There is no arguing that passive voice is not the ideal sentence construction at least 90 percent of the time. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and you find them frequently in the legal context. Specifically, if the thing that is being affected by the action is more important than the ones doing the action, then passive voice can be acceptable. This is often seen in write-ups regarding new legislation or legal decisions, as in “The bill was passed by Congress” or “The decision was made by the Supreme Court.” While you could flip both of these sentences around to give them an active structure, it could be argued that leading with the bill or the decision is the better option because of the emphasis the writer wishes to express.  

Do you have any grammar rules that you think are ready to be put out to pasture? Are business communications ready for “LOLs” and emoticons? Leave a comment or send me, Keith Ecker, a message at kecker@jaffepr.com

July 9, 2014
Joi Scardo

850-830-2356

Every lawyer, practice group and law firm has a brand. The savvy among us understand the importance of controlling our brand’s image and devote appropriate levels of budget, staffing and investment time to brand planning, strategy and implementation. To be truly effective, however, an additional step is required: ongoing brand monitoring.

Years ago, when people talked about our brands, it was behind our backs, and we almost never found out about it. Today, the speed and reach of technology means most of these conversations are happening right before our own eyes, as well as those of our clients and prospective clients. The number of locations where our brands might be mentioned is mind-boggling, and the conversations are occurring – regardless of whether we consent to them or even know about them.

We can hope that the conversations about us are positive, but unhappy clients and even our competitors can be less than kind in an instant, with nothing more than a single blog post or tweet. We’ve all read the horror stories of brands for which such comments spiraled into a disaster. While the brands of law firms and lawyers might not have the same public profiles as, say, Taco Bell, one could argue that the repercussions of unchecked negative comments could be more devastating.  

On the other side of this coin, brand monitoring can give you an opportunity to personally thank those who have made positive comments and provides intelligence about where your targeted audience is engaging.

7 Tools that Monitor Law Firm Brands

For years, lawyers have monitored their clients, the clients’ industries and their competitors using online tools. Do not overlook using those same free and easy-to-use tools to monitor and protect your reputation.

Google Alerts: These alerts will search the entire web for mentions of your brand, including some social networks. Set up an alert for your name and your law firm’s name. Include typical variations of each, including at least one for the key areas in which you practice.

Twitter: To keep up with tweets about your brand, run a search using Twitter’s advanced search tool, and save the search for ongoing monitoring. As an alternative to remembering to run your saved search, Tweetalarm keeps track of Twitter conversations for you. With this tool, you also can track who is tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL like bit.ly.

Facebook: If you maintain a Facebook page for professional, rather than personal, networking, use the search feature to view mentions in different areas of this network. Make use of search filters to see results in specific areas such as public posts, posts in groups, pages, etc. If you have one or more groups dedicated to your professional brand, remember to set up notifications for postings.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is recognized as the leading social network for professionals and should be one of the tools you regularly use to network and to monitor your brand. Simply run a search for your name and your firm’s name through the search box at the top of the page. You can narrow search results to include only mentions by people in their profiles, group mentions and mentions in LinkedIn Answers.

Google+: While not yet as widely used as some other social networks, Google+ continues to gain in usage and has a search box where you can find anything about your brand happening on its network. Narrow your search from “Everything” to just Google+ posts to see updates that mention your law firm and lawyers’ names.

YouTube: Thanks to the ability to record videos from webcams and post them immediately, YouTube should not be overlooked in brand monitoring. Use the site’s main search box to find videos about your brand. Any videos resulting from your search can be sorted by number of views.

HootSuite: If you participate in more than one social networking site, you might want to use a tool such as HootSuite to monitor social media. HootSuite allows you to track and manage multiple accounts, including those on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. It is free for up to five accounts and has a mobile app.

Don’t Fear the Commitment

So, you run a search on your brand using one or more of these tools and find that the insightful article you published last month has been retweeted numerous times and the free counsel you provided to your favorite charity has been mentioned on its blog. Nice. Your brand is in fine shape.

Right?

Just because the results are good today doesn’t mean they will be the same tomorrow or next month. Creating and keeping a positive online brand for your law firm and attorneys is an ongoing process, and one you should not neglect.

What are you doing to monitor your law firm’s brand? Do you need assistance in putting a monitoring program in place? Leave a comment below or contact Joi Scardo at jscardo@jaffepr.com.

May 21, 2014
Vivian Hood

904-220-1915

It’s done: the tentative discussions, the intense negotiations, the signed agreements, the handshakes. Your law firm is proud to have a new lateral hire – a partner with fresh promise and possibility.

The success and satisfaction of a lateral hire has a strong correlation to a firm’s commitment to an integration process, as a March 2014 lateral partner satisfaction survey confirms. Aric Press, editor-in-chief at American Lawyer Media, wrote in his news story about the findings that, “They wanted specifics on matters ranging from cross-selling their practices to announcing their arrivals …”

How does your firm prepare for an announcement of a new attorney? Here are a few questions to consider.

  • Does the firm have a standard plan of action or checklist to be used every time a lateral joins, or has this been an ad hoc process?
  • Is there a media relations plan in place targeting relevant national, local and industry trade publications for the new lateral?
  • Is the news about the new lawyer, or group of lawyers, worth considering for an advance news story? Depending on the experience, public personage or value of the lateral growth, it might be appropriate to secure media interest in advance with the promise of an embargo. This can go well with reporters with whom the firm has a good and trusting relationship.

Beware, however: The idea of announcing a lateral before the deal is done is risky. I will never forget a firm that, years ago, forged enthusiastically ahead with a news blast on a Friday to make the Monday print news cycle. Unfortunately, over the weekend, discussions fell apart and the high-profile lawyer walked away from the firm. It was embarrassing for all the parties when the news broke on Monday morning about his move to the firm and quickly turned into news about him not joining the firm. All things considered, it’s best to wait to announce until after all parties sign the arrangement.

  • Will the new lawyer be available for media interviews after the announcement, or is she going on a “no email” two-week vacation? If she will be absent, wait for her return. The news doesn’t have to be released on the exact date of the signed agreement.
  • How can your firm’s social media platforms be effectively used for the announcement?
  • What is the plan to continue leveraging the lateral’s news announcement? What profile opportunities exist for local, regional or industry trade press?
  • How will you approach the announcement internally? Ideally, the first internal communication to the firm – in advance of sharing it with media – should mention how the new lawyer can benefit the firm’s existing clients and other firm practices for immediate cross-selling opportunities and introductions.

While these communications-related tips for announcing a new lawyer are only one part of a larger integration plan, law firm marketing professionals should be prepared with a consistent approach. A law firm’s growth strategy depends on the success of these lateral movements, and each firm needs a strategy that fits the firm’s overall business goals.

For tips on strategic and effective announcements about lateral hires, please contact Vivian Hood at vhood@jaffepr.com

May 7, 2014
Michelle Samuels

917-975-1280

What attorneys can learn in their media relationships from how we treat our mothers

Perhaps you buy your mom flowers and send her a card. Or you take her out to brunch. Maybe you and your kids (her grandkids) make something homemade for her. Or maybe you don’t believe in “Hallmark holidays” and feel Mother’s Day should be all the time, not just on a Sunday in May.

No matter what Mother’s Day philosophy you subscribe to, the bottom line is you are supposed to make mom feel loved and appreciated, right?

Keep that philosophy in mind when dealing with reporters. Reporters may not expect brunch and flowers this Sunday, but they do appreciate when you, as a source and resource for their publication’s coverage, treat them with respect and appreciation. Here are five basic tips to keep in mind for maintaining a strong attorney-reporter relationship. (Your mom wouldn’t mind if you followed these guidelines in your relationship with her, too.)

Return phone calls: Seems like a no-brainer, but if reporters call with questions (whether an interview has been scheduled or not), call them back. If you are asked questions you can’t or shouldn’t answer, just tell the reporter you can’t talk about that and, if possible, find the right person at the firm who can. 

Keep your appointments: We are all busy and may need to reschedule things once in a while. However, if you have plans with a reporter for lunch or for a phone interview, try to keep them. If you need to reschedule, do so with enough time so it doesn’t inconvenience the reporter too much, and confirm an alternate time as soon as possible. If you must reschedule at the last minute, you’d better have a good excuse.

Show you are invested in the relationship for the long term: Providing a heads-up to a reporter on an interesting case currently being decided or regulation going into effect shows you are trying to help him/her, even when the benefit to you is not entirely obvious. Same goes for offering to discuss an issue on background to educate the reporter or connecting a reporter with a client on a specific topic if requested.

Be interesting: Getting quoted is about sounding concise, relevant and interesting. Talking to a reporter as though he/she is your law firm associate or taking too long to get to your main point usually kills your chances of being quoted. As in any conversation with a time limit, impart the information in an easy-to-understand way, and make sure you explain why the topic is interesting or why people should care.

Respect boundaries: Some reporters are fine with running quotes by attorneys for an accuracy check. However, accuracy doesn’t mean turning a one-line quote into a full-blown paragraph of legalese. If a reporter is courteous enough to let you review a quote for accuracy, only review it for factual accuracy, and turn it around quickly. The reporter is often on deadline at that point and needs to submit the story to his/her editor for review. Turning quotes around quickly shows you are a reliable source and respect the reporter’s needs.

What are your tried-and-true guidelines for maintaining a good relationship with a reporter (or your mother)? Do many of the same rules apply? Leave a comment below or email me at msamuels@jaffepr.com.

May 4, 2014
Joi Scardo

850-830-2356

In today’s world of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest Tumblr, Flickr and all the other social platforms, networking for lawyers is easier than ever. If you are using one or more of these tools to engage clients and prospective clients, congratulations! According to a Fast Company article published in November, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 age bracket. The 45-54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+. Given these numbers, it only makes sense to engage through social media.

Just like traditional networking, social networking for attorneys is all about engagement — communicating, building your following, connecting with your online audience and creating relationships. These platforms are free and quick, and they provide tools to target your message to key audiences and to track results.

With all the benefits afforded by social media, one might start to feel a false sense of “connection.” For lawyers, maintaining an active face-to-face networking calendar remains an important part of law firm business development. Because legal services are professional services, prospective clients hire the professional who has their trust and confidence, and with whom they feel comfortable.

Three Tips for Re-energizing Your Networking

If you too value in-person contact, here are a few pointers to help you reinvigorate your networking efforts. 

  1. Make it easy. Re-energize your in-person networking program by first inviting clients with whom you’ve recently worked. Given that your relationship is current, you likely will have an easier time finding topics of conversation. You might even consider asking the client for feedback on your recent engagement.
  2. Make it comfortable. Select a restaurant with an atmosphere and noise level suitable for a private conversation. Arrive early to make certain your table is in a quiet, low-traffic area of the restaurant. Silence your cellphone, and devote your attention to your guest.
  3. Make it a habit. Set a calendar reminder for taking one client, prospect or referral source to lunch once a month. If you commit to a certain date, say, the second Tuesday of the month, you are less likely to sacrifice the date to another meeting.

Social networking is a great tool for attorneys to increase revenue, but it should complement, not replace, one-on-one interaction. Rather than checking in via Facebook at your favorite lunch spot tomorrow, call a client and invite them to meet you there.

Do you have your own in-person networking tips for lawyers? Leave a comment, or contact me at jscardo@jaffepr.com

May 1, 2014
Kimberly Alford Rice

609-458-0415

Thirty-four gigabytes. That’s how much data it’s estimated each American consumes daily via all forms of media: TV, newspaper, Internet, radio, you name it. Statistically, this volume of data comprises 100,000 words on average.

These statistics illustrate how noisy our world has become, particularly in the last five to 10 years as emerging technologies place us in the middle of broad communication networks that span the globe.

Recognizing that our world is indeed a very noisy place with essentially infinite data and media messages bombarding us at all times requires that we are highly sensitized to our communication styles if we ever want to be heard and perceived as effective communicators, persuaders and people others seek out.

The Steps to Mastering Communication Skills for Lawyers

Below are six concrete steps lawyers can take to step up their game to communicate effectively. After all, with more than half of a lawyer’s job relying upon the spoken word, perfecting your communication style is a wise investment in your future.

  1. Think before you speak. No, really. Human beings have a tremendous capacity to listen, absorb and respond to messages at a relatively high rate. Because of this, it is very tempting to get caught up in the fast-paced process (depending on what part of the country you live), and instead of actively listening and absorbing your audiences’ messages, you volley back and forth in the interaction, sometimes faster than your mind can compute.

    To become a more effective communicator, you must demonstrate a disciplined approach in your oral communications. Before you pop off a quick response, stop yourself to consider the impact of your words, verifying whether or not it is in your or their best interest to respond so quickly. Pouncing too quickly to respond can short circuit the communications process and/or cause you to suffer the consequences of an ill-timed response.

    I recommend adopting a 20-second rule. Before you respond, take 20 seconds (at minimum) to consider the implications of your words. Remember, what goes around comes around. You have a choice; make the right one. 
     
  2. Consider your audience. Just as important as it is to be mindful of your words, so too should you be mindful of your audience. The same message is not appropriate for every audience. What do I mean by that? As a practicing lawyer, what you say to a referral source about your practice would be different than what you would say to a client or client contact about your practice. Because we create impressions — and yes, visual images in the minds of our listeners — you must be purposeful and careful of how you relate to your audience with your words. Practice is required to perfect this skill. 
     
  3. Listen first and second, then speak. We have all heard that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Simply put, we do not learn when we are speaking. It is imperative that as professional services providers you actively listen to clients, colleagues, referral sources, networking partners, and so on, to learn how you might support and help them (e.g., business opportunities). Impossible as it is to spew out all the ways we are qualified to “help” others, it is just poor form to do so before understanding what the needs are. Listen up, and you’ll be surprised at what you might learn and the opportunities that present themselves. 
     
  4. Mind the communications gap. Too many miscommunications occur when we “think” we told someone (message sent) but find later either we did not or the listener did not remember it (message received) the way we intended. It matters not where the miscommunication occurred, but rather how to avoid miscommunications. First, refer to tip #1 above: Think before you speak to ensure that you are in control of your message. Second, to become a more effective speaker, it is advised to confirm with your audience that the message received is the message you intended to send.

    How do you do this? Ask for feedback, e.g., “Are you with me?” and “Does this make sense?” Adapt these feedback questions to your natural communications style, and you will likely see eyes light up when you speak. 
     
  5. Accentuate the positive; look inside first. When we choose to lead with the negative we often are talking only to ourselves. Nobody wants to listen to negativity, especially when there is so much that is negative coming at us in the media. To become a more effective communicator, check that you are not guilty of spreading negativity to others in your conversations, presentations and in networking situations. The positive approach can be learned via disciplined practice and/or having a pal send you a signal if you go off the “positive” reservation. 
     
  6. Make every word count. KISS — keep it short and simple. Do not belabor a point. Do not offend your audience by offering too many examples when they understand your point in one. Treat words as the golden charms that they are. There is no glory in pontificating your message to feed an ego or to merely fill space. We simply have too many words in our day to waste the excess unnecessarily. 

Becoming a more effective communicator requires a concerted effort on your behalf that entails practice and a willingness to adapt to new ways of thinking. Few things have more of an impact than to present your well-crafted message and to be understood through the spoken word across all platforms. Making a presentation to an audience of clients and trade contacts and moving people to action based on your words, that is success.

Have your own ideas about effective communication skills for lawyers? Leave a comment or contact Kimberly Alford Rice at krice@jaffepr.com.

April 23, 2014
Melanie Trudeau

970-376-7746

It’s not easy keeping pace with changes in law firm digital marketing. As soon as we get comfortable with a strategy, something new and shiny appears. Search engine optimization (SEO) itself may not be new and shiny, but it continually evolves as Google updates its search algorithm. Most of the time, SEO strategy is reactive to updates, but occasionally the search giant provides advance glimpses of future updates, giving us a chance for proactive action.

Early this month, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, released a video with a heads-up on a soon-to-be-released algorithm update. (Scroll down to view the video.) This update will most likely impact SEO for lawyers and law firms.

Cutts explains how Google is getting better at identifying “authorities” in particular industries. If the search engine determines that a person or a site is an authority in a certain subject area, that person’s content or website will rank higher. As your authority increases, so will your search rankings and, by extension, your website traffic.

Obviously this will have an impact on attorneys and law firms who are considered authorities in their areas of practice. This means that it will be more important than ever to ensure your professionals are positioned as authorities and to retain that authority status.

How does Google determine authority?

Google doesn’t employ subjective judging standards like Olympic figure skating or beauty pageants do. Rather, objective mathematical indicators, i.e., key metrics, determine which sites are authorities.

Link profiles: When a high number of quality websites link back to your law firm’s website using key industry terms in anchor text (i.e., the link text), this indicates to Google that your website must be a trusted source for information. The principle behind this is fairly simple. If a bunch of credible sites are pointing to your site, there is a higher likelihood that your site is also credible. Link-building continues to be an SEO staple but has evolved from a quantity game to a quality game.

Co-citation: When two names are mentioned together on other websites without using links, a relationship is established between the two co-cited names. Let’s say your law firm’s name and the US Department of Labor are mentioned together in a Cornell University Law School blog, a page on the American Bar Association website and an article in The Economist. This co-citation by third-party sites (your firm name beside the US Department of Labor name) creates an association that tells Google your firm is connected to subject matter similar to that of the Department of Labor. Since the Department of Labor is a trusted authority, your firm’s website will inherit that authority by association. 

Co-occurrence: This is when a company or person’s name occurs a high percentage of the time alongside industry-specific terms. This association, seen with high frequency across quality sites on the Internet, informs Google that your name must hold authority in that subject area.

How to adjust your law firm SEO strategy accordingly 

  • Set up Google authorship for your content contributors. Creating the connection between an author’s Google+ profile and his/her online content is step one for letting Google know who you are and what you write.
  • Publish high-quality, relevant content that informs or analyzes subject-area material specific to your law practice. Provide your perspective and analysis to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Include links to relevant, high-authority sites in your content. If your content is picked up by other websites, they might link to or name your website and the sites you link to.
  • Don’t link to low-quality sites in your content.
  • Share your content via social media for exponential reach to increase your chances of increasing backlinks, co-citations and co-occurrence.
  • Leverage PR opportunities to get your content in front of reporters. In-depth reporting often naturally builds links and creates co-citations and co-occurrences.

Don’t delay! Position your law firm and attorneys to leverage this expected Google algorithm update. If you need help or want to discuss SEO specific to your firm, contact me at mtrudeau@jaffepr.com or connect with me on Google+.

 

April 9, 2014
Terry M. Isner

302-519-8895

The law firm marketing landscape is changing rapidly, and the Legal Marketing Association is doing a good job of keeping up with the new tools and best practices when it comes to measuring the best of the best in our industry. In fact, the LMA has a terrific program called the Your Honor Awards to showcase your law firm’s marketing and PR successes.

The awards program happens annually at both national/international levels and at certain regional levels and covers several categories, such as advertising, recruiting, websites, community relations, branding and collateral materials. It also separates big-budget marketing campaigns from those with shoestring budgets. And, yes, you can enter the same campaigns in both regional and national levels.

Not only does the program recognize creative and strategic legal marketing and PR initiatives, but it also allows us to learn from peers and showcase work challenges and successes. And winning gives you some ROI and accolades to share with management, which should lead to more marketing support, both financially and with management and executive committee buy-in.

I have been lucky enough to win several times, and here at Jaffe we have won back-to-back years (2013 and 2014) for our law firm client work. I also recently moderated an LMA best practices panel discussion in Chicago, where we discussed what judges are looking for and how to better understand the submission process. The following are some of the lessons my experience has taught me about winning a Your Honor Award.

How to Win a Your Honor Award

Get your hands on a good writer: The biggest takeaway from the Chicago panel discussion was to work with your writer or have your legal vendor’s writing team craft your entry into a compelling story. The judges do not have the extensive knowledge of your marketing that you and your team have, and the word count for submissions is limited, so using good storytelling to sell your entry is very important.

Don’t let a small budget deter you: Small budgets with big goals aren’t a bad thing. They can be challenging, but I find the challenge sometimes results in a strategy that is more creative and more impactful than big-budget projects.

Don’t feel limited by the usual marketing tools: We used an Etch-a-Sketch and a View-Master last year to bring attention to an office move, and not only was the creative and strategy planning effective, but the campaign also won in its category.

Give thought to format: With so much more online marketing, LMA did a great job of showcasing the winners on iPads and monitors, including our submission of a series of videos, so attendees could experience them in their native electronic formats. But print is not dead. I was impressed with several printed entries, from annual reports to brochures.

Bring in a vendor to manage the process: At Jaffe we work with our clients to position them for a Your Honor Award win. We share the cost of entry and, in most cases, write the submissions. If specific visual files are required, we will create those, too. We are just as interested in winning as our clients are, as it gives great credibility to the work we create together. And, of course, it also is a great business development tool.

Advice for Next Year

  • Set your goal to create marketing initiatives that use industry best practices, hit the goal and show results.
  • Be strategic and creative! Planning and brainstorming are so important to a winning marketing campaign.
  • Don’t get caught up on budgets. Once you set the goal, you can then find effective, efficient and unique ways to reach it.
  • Partner with your vendors and include them in the strategy, creative and budgeting process.
  • Put a method of measurement in place. This is very important in the YHA submission process.
  • Finally, be prepared to tell your story in a limited, short-form manner so that the judges can truly understand and experience all that you and your team put into the project.

Good luck! You can review the 2014 YHA winners here. And if you’re interested in learning more about how Jaffe can help position your firm for a Your Honor Award win, email me at tisner@jaffepr.com.  

March 26, 2014
Randy Labuzinski

773-405-7583

Ah, spring! It’s a time for new beginnings, along with overdue cleaning and removal of clutter around the home or office. I’ll leave the cleaning tips to someone else – perhaps your mom can help. But what better way to get energized and rejuvenated than by springboarding your law firm public reputation efforts into the 21st century, particularly if you or your law firm are among the late adopters.

Spring also is a time for reflection, so I thought it might be useful to take a look at five predominant trends in legal marketing as they relate to media and public relations. Many or all of these overlap and involve multiple tactics, so I’m offering just one or two takeaways from each for your spring renewal. Even if you step up your game in only a few key areas, you’ll be on your way to making measurable strides toward enhancing your attorneys’ and law firm’s public reputations.

Shift to Mobile and Social

Lawyers, clients, business partners and the media are moving further away from their desktops and increasingly sharing information via their mobile devices. Therefore, it’s important that your law firm’s website be optimized for mobile viewing and interaction. Also, if you want to continue to get your messages directly and quickly to your stakeholders, your attorneys and law firm leaders should be fully using social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There are many tactics for using Twitter for public reputation management. To start, find your audience. Follow colleagues, clients, prospects and others on Twitter who are influencers in your industry. Many will follow you back, so you’ll be able to share and keep them engaged with your insights and other valuable information. Twitter also is an increasingly viable channel for reaching key reporters who cover your practice area. Connect with them to increase the odds they may seek you out as a source.

Content Marketing

We’ve been talking about law firm content marketing for a long time now. If you haven’t heard us, it might be because the movement requires a paradigm shift, and that means significant new investment of time and resources. In keeping with the theme of taking baby steps this spring, think about how you can dip your toes into elevated content marketing to help generate brand visibility and get yourself or your firm noticed by prospective clients and influential media. Read our article on law firm content marketing in the February issue of ALM’s Marketing the Law Firm to get a sense of how you can leverage media articles, client alerts, white papers, webinar videos, practice area news and events that your firm can create and post to your website, as well as push out via social media. Why not start out by developing and maintaining a practice area blog? You’ll want to choose subject matter that ideally differentiates you and then commit to producing high-quality content that will keep readers coming back while making the case for your leadership in your field. A word of caution: Don’t start unless you can commit to blogging regularly (at least once a week, if not more frequently); otherwise, it’s better to stay offline until you can.

More-Compelling Images

This speaks for itself. Again, with the trend toward social and mobile, audiences are more in tune with visual representation of the information they receive. Make a concerted effort to incorporate photos into news blasts about law events and people at your firm. Every announcement can benefit from the power and storytelling layer of a photo. Even amateur shots can translate well to social media. Also, think about this: Is there any news or information website today where you cannot instantly access video that adds visual interest? If your answer is yes, and it’s your law firm’s site, then consider these tips for developing a law firm video strategy.

Make It Personal

Don’t just report your happenings or insights like a New York Times news brief – draw your audience in by telling them what it means to you and your law firm beyond the mere facts. The informality and brevity of social media is well suited for this type of dialog. And it really is a dialog because you want your readers and followers to engage and respond back. The key is to always at least try to tell a story to help readers emotionally connect with whatever content you produce. Even in the span of a tweet, there’s room for teasing a story and inciting interaction. And, by all means, avoid using programs that automate tweets. Also, get in the habit of responding to anyone who engages directly with you, whether it’s through a tweet, blog post comment or direct email.

Anytime, Anywhere

As dictated by the evolution in media, technology and communications, today’s news cycle is 24/7. We need to be able to react for our clients at any time of the day or night. If you’re not psychologically or hardware-equipped to be virtual (accessible away from your desk), you may be giving up ground to competitors. At Jaffe, we have been working as a virtual company for more than three decades, all of us spread around the country and working in home offices. Our past may also be the future of legal PR – at least to a greater extent than ever before.

For tips on managing a virtual team or for on-trend best practices in legal marketing and PR, contact me at rlabuzinski@jaffepr.com.

March 19, 2014
Lisa Altman

301-943-9948

As a public relations professional and mother of two young children, I’ve learned that managing expectations is essential to building strong relationships. With my children, setting expectations is as easy as reviewing the day’s schedule in the morning or providing a five-minute warning before it is time to leave the playground. With my law firm clients, it involves letting them know when I won’t be available to respond to a media inquiry and whom to contact in my absence.

Setting and managing client expectations is a critical component of the service provider-client relationship, yet it is often difficult to achieve. The more time you invest on the front end in planning, the more effective you will be in the long run. If client expectations are not set appropriately from the get-go, the relationship will already be in jeopardy before the work even begins.

Here are five steps to incorporate into your law practice to help manage your clients’ expectations.

  1. Be honest – Ask yourself if your clients’ desired outcomes are obtainable. The truth may be a hard pill to swallow, but your clients will appreciate your honesty.  For example, I am often forced to tell my clients if a topic isn’t newsworthy, even if they are expecting top-tier national media coverage of it.
  2. Communicate – Direct and transparent communication creates a foundation and builds trust with clients. At the onset of a project, provide an outline of how you and your client will work together. Identify how often you will meet and whether the client prefers to catch up via phone and/or email. By collaborating to develop a plan and identify measurements for success, clients know exactly what to expect from a relationship. 
  3. Offer alternatives – Clients are more satisfied when they have some control over a process. Be creative and innovative in suggesting alternative ways to meet a goal. Take the example above: If a client’s topic isn’t going to work, offer alternatives that could lead to results.
  4. Report back – Delivering weekly or monthly reports provides a clear explanation of work completed and goals reached. These don’t need to be elaborate – a simple email detailing tasks completed shows your clients what they’re paying for. At the end of a project, provide a report showing how the results measured up to the original goals. 
  5. Follow up – After a project is completed, follow up with clients and request feedback. Ask questions, such as, “Did we meet your expectations?,” “What did we do well?,” and “How could we have done better?” This information will help you better serve your client on future projects.

How do you manage your clients’ expectation? Leave a comment below or email me at laltman@jaffepr.com.

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