Archive for the ‘Branding & Marketing’ Category

Social Media Bible for Lawyers

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

A few weeks ago I met Miranda Sevcik  of Media Masters, while we were both speaking at the Texas Minority Counsel Program. Miranda, who helps lawyers with crisis communications and other media-related issues, has posted a  helpful “Social Media Bible“.  Read it for a good summary of everything from social bookmarking to wikis. Last but not least, watch for Miranda in the news; she’s working with the lawyers of Dr. Conrad Murray, the former doctor of Michael Jackson. Now that’s guaranteed media coverage!

Learn from Young Bloggers in the Middle East

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Middle Eastern youth are blogging up a storm. Whether blogging about politics, terrorism, or even marriage prospects, young people are speaking their mind in an unprecedented way.  In the process, they are trouncing barriers of gender, age and religion.

Earlier this week I heard journalist and Middle East specialist Mona Eltahawy speak about this profusion of young Middle Eastern bloggers (particularly in Egypt; for more, read I blog, therefore I am), and how this is impacting world opinion about the region. These young bloggers are reaching a worldwide audience thanks to the Internet. The result, according to Ms. Eltahawy, has been that journalists (and others) are gaining new and critical insights, and  revising their Middle Easterner stereotypes.

As an international lawyer, you  can learn a lot from these Middle Eastern teens.  As these young bloggers know, blogs reach readers across boundaries imposed by culture, geography and politics.  Similarly, lawyer blogs (or articles posted on the web) are a great way to reach far and wide. Okay, if the content isn’t scandalous, riveting or shocking, you may not  get millions of hits.  However, with well chosen key words that maximize your SEO,  you are more likely to attract desirable readers.

Just as the blogs are allowing  Middle Eastern teens to express themselves to politicians, religious leaders and even teens of other genders (despite cultural and religious restrictions),  so can lawyers’  blogs speak to clients that are hard to reach.

If you are looking for another marketing path, research those hard-to-reach clients, and figure out their pressing needs and interests. Then publish some blog posts or Web articles about these topics, suggesting solutions to the potential clients’ needs.

Blogging and/or article writing isn’t a magic bullet to developing geographically-distant clients.  But blogging is one more easy-to-use (and inexpensive) tool in a savvy lawyer’s marketing tool chest.

Positive Press for International Law Firm’s Part-time for Partners

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Leave it to the Brits to take the lead in creative lay-off alternatives–and get positive press for it.

LegalWeek reported that the London-based global firm of Norton Rose has proposed  a “radical flexi-work scheme” instead of layoffs. It would  allow all staff (including partners) to work 4 days per week for 85% of their salary, or taking a lengthy sabatical for 30% of salary, starting May 1. Most notably,  Norton Rose is the first major firm to include its partners in the pool of staff being offered part-time work and pay.

And given the very favorable comments that follow this LegalWeek post, and other positive press, Norton Rose has created a stir. One comment labeled Norton Rose as “apparently one of the few who seems really to care about its staff” by encouraging partners to reduce their salaries, too. Compliments to Norton Rose for turning a bad situation into positive press.

Take-away: if your firm is faced with bad news (like layoffs), handle the issue honestly and express care and concern for staff. You may actually earn praise.

Make Your Message Stick in Prospective Clients’ (and Employers’) Minds

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Competition is fierce nowadays for viable, solvent clients. As a coach, I see my lawyer clients looking for ways to make their messages stick in prospective clients’ (and in prospective employers’) minds. So, I revisited a book I’d read with tips for making ideas memorable. 

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by brothers Chip and Dan Heath gives great insight into message “stickiness”. Working with the acronym SUCCES[S], the Heath brothers set out the qualities of sticky ideas:  Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories.

This is helpful for lawyers who often speak in abstract, analytic terms. Instead, lawyers should try to make their messages: easy to understand (NOT complex and convoluted); have an element of surprise (NOT predictable); concrete (NOT abstract); credible; emotionally moving in some way (NOT purely analytical); and embedded with anecdotes and stories.

These are some of the techniques that top professional speakers–and trial lawyers–use to make their concepts stick with the audience. All lawyers can use this approach to improve everything from elevator speeches, to CLE presentations, to beauty pageant pitches–to cocktail party conversations.

One thing that I really like about the book is that it shows readers how to ramp up stickiness. The authors reprint sample language–and then improve it using their “SUCCES” formula. They also explain that although you can’t “unstick” a bad idea, you can combat/overwhelm it with another stickier message.

Lawyers working internationally would need to adapt this technique for cross-cultural communication. For example, any anecdotes must be understandable and appropriate in the client’s culture. 

There’s no special expertise necessary to make this strategy work.  As the authors note, “there are no licensed stickologists.” (p. 18).

Grab a Reader’s Attention by the Throat

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Why bother to write an article if no one reads it?

Too many lawyers think that merely writing and publishing an article somewhere–anywhere–helps their rainmaking.  These lawyers delight in checking off  “write/publish article” from their Rainmaking To Do List. 

Yes, publishing articles can boost client development–but only if the articles attract the attention of potential clients. Just getting published is not enough. By analogy, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it…does it really make a sound?

Earlier this month I listened to a panel of journalists talk about how law firms can interact well with the media and attract coverage.  The panel shared lots of good suggestions: customizing story pitches to each publication; contacting, but not pestering, journalists; and making sure that a story idea is truly newsworthy, up to date, and timed right for the particular media outlet (e.g. whether daily, weekly or monthly).

Panel member Mary Flood, a lawyer turned journalist, shared some witty insights with the audience. According to Mary, lawyers, law firm marketers and PR firms too often pitch stories devoid of interest. Instead, lawyers and their staff should try to pitch (or, during an interview, let the journalist uncover) story ideas that are really novel, interesting, unusual and off-beat.  Those are the stories that will capture a journalist’s (and a reader’s) imagination.

You can use that same principle when writing your own articles for publication. Don’t just dryly report facts. Try to take a new and interesting approach to your subject, even if you are writing on an esoteric topic for fellow lawyers. Interject stories, quotes and anecdotes to add interest.  Try to find an unusual twist to your topic.

Perhaps most important, engross your reader from the get go. Make your title so intriguing, unusual or shocking that you grab each reader’s attention by the throat, so to speak.  Mary Flood, who used to write for the Wall Street Journal and now writes for The Houston Chronicle (including in her Legal Trade blog), chatted with me about this after the panel discussion. I was flattered to know that Mary had read my blog several times–when a blog headline had caught her eye.

Headlines are the critical point of entry for any reader; if titles are too boring–or too offensive–readers may bypass your article. For lawyers working across cultures, make sure that your titles and content are culturally appropriate for your readership.  What’s considered clever, engaging and engrossing in the States may be confusing, misunderstood or wholly inappropriate abroad.

Any writer has but a few seconds to ensnare a reader. So, crown your articles with enticing titles; grab your reader’s attention by the throat; and then don’t let go.