Leveraging Your Reputation: Stay professional

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.

Even though competition is becoming fiercer every day, it’s always important to do the best job possible and represent yourself and your firm in the most professional way. I was thinking about this when I recently saw examples of attorneys who produce cheap commercials that use gimmicks and stunts, or express extreme emotions, such as bitterness and anger. Some attorneys use clichés, such as posing as superheroes beating the villainous bad guys, while others use silly or tacky images that they think will get them more clients.

One firm that handles divorce advertises their services on billboards with half-dressed women and men to motivate people to hire them if they’ve become dissatisfied with marriage. They’ve even started selling merchandise with those images. They’re probably making money, but at what cost? It cheapens their image.

What is unfortunate is that attorneys have gotten a lot of education to get where they are, yet they are behaving in such a way that reflects barely any education or sophistication. Marketing gimmicks are a great way to create buzz, and controversy will get people’s attention, but it’s a short-term fix.

Here’s something to think about: Do you want to make money at any cost, or do you want to maintain your professional reputation and the respect of your colleagues and peers? You should always consider what kind of image you want people to walk away with, and I think it’s best to avoid crazy tactics to reel clients in. It’s better to behave like a professional because cheapening yourself won’t help your reputation in the long run.

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