As a legal marketer, watching “Mad Men” is more than entertainment. It is a history lesson and a window into marketing and business development from days past. While business is conducted differently today, some of the themes that the show identifies are still relevant.

In an episode that aired on April 19, Don Draper was grappling with how to write a speech for Roger Sterling, discussing the client’s vision of the future. He was trying to find a way for the vision to be both achievable and inspired – more than the status quo. When Peggy Olson revealed that her vision was to create something of lasting value, Don scoffed, saying incredulously, “In advertising?” Of course, the irony is that “Mad Men” itself is something of lasting value.

But what can we learn from Don’s challenge? As law firm media relations professionals, how can we develop a vision for the future?

Dream big … and bigger

Strategic planning for law firms is essential. It is impossible for an attorney, practice group or firm itself to launch successful legal marketing or media relations campaigns without first taking stock of strengths and weaknesses, both internally and of the competition.

Use that knowledge to create a vision of the law firm’s three-, five- and 10-year plans. But don’t get stuck in the weeds: Think of the ultimate vision and then work backward to break it down into a series of sequential goals. Are the goals revenue-driven? Do you want the firm to grow its headcount? Look at every angle of the firm and think of how to use marketing and public relations as a vehicle to get there. If changes in infrastructure are indicated, identify what is needed and present a plan for how the investment will pay off.

But you need to pick a place to start. Vivian Hood’s article here does an excellent job of outlining the process to follow to develop a strategic media relations plan that fits your vision for the future.

Who is Your Audience?

“Mad Men” enjoys the luxury of loyal fans who will tune in (or download) to catch every last minute of the final season. Most law firms can’t say the same. When considering your vision for the future, think about who your audience is now. Is that your target market for the future? If so, how do you keep them engaged? If not, how can you shift your focus to engage a new demographic?

Tag – You’re IT

To define the tactics necessary to take the firm to the next step, take stock of the firm’s taglines and key messaging. Are they aligned with the strategic vision of the your law firm? Are they broad enough to allow the firm to grow and change, but not so broad that the firm is left without an identity?

Successful taglines reflect the firm’s culture and are used to frame the canvas of its marketing activities. A good one can be applied to everything the firm does – from client presentations to charity sponsorships. Make sure that yours works for you.

You also want to avoid generalities and clichés. Recently, at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference, keynote speaker Dan Pink discussed the importance of law firms defining their brands in terms that are truly unique, as opposed to generalities. You want to avoid lingo such as “full-service firm” or “mid-sized firm with Big Law talent.” Think back to your big vision to better define who you are.

If you are looking for assistance with creating your law firm strategy, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Stephanie Holtzman, at