Leveraging Your Reputation: Small steps to a bigger & better legal business

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs.  Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

As America continues the healing process from this recession, many firms are hesitant to make big changes and grand plans for next year. But don’t let fear hold you and your firm back from moving into 2011. If you’re not ready for a big change, then start with some baby steps.

Walk before you run with social media

When babies learn to walk, they don’t begin by bounding around the house at high speeds. They steadily put one foot in front of other and built on it each day. Follow their lead when it comes to social media – don’t think you have to jump on the technology bandwagon and immerse yourself in every platform and tool available. Choose one or two that you (a) understand and see value for your firm, and (b) can reasonably keep up with when it comes to consistency.

(Taste) test website changes

Often times parents will taste-test their children’s food before they eat it. They want to make sure everything – taste, temperature, texture – is just right before their children shove it in their mouths/throw it all over the kitchen. If you want to add some spice to your website but aren’t ready for a complete overhaul, do “taste tests” and make small changes over time. Consider adding flash video to your homepage, including endorsements and testimonials from your most recent clients or displaying links to your social media profile(s). Take the baby steps approach to plan and add one thing at a time, so you are not overburdened in revamping your website’s look and feel, but are still adding value for your firm – and for your website’s visitors.

Polish up your industry ABCs

Just like baby steps teach us how to walk, the ABCs give us the tools to communicate. Ask yourself, “What are my industry ABCs and how can I brush up on them?” Only you can answer the first part of that question, but I can give you some suggestions for the second part. Search for local business groups that have networking luncheons and/or informative meetings, where you can attend to connect with fellow industry associates and stay abreast of new trends and challenges for your firm. If you can’t attend a meeting, often times you can tune into a webcast or read a follow-up report online. Also the Internet offers an opportunity to find free webinars or reading material that is essential to your industry, but doesn’t require you leaving the office. Don’t forget the e-newsletters of the industry websites, and also free trials of leading industry publications. All of these simple, easy tactics are strides toward staying on top of the legal world without adding too much to your firm’s schedule or budget.

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