Tag Archives: Company Website

Leveraging Your Reputation: Are you ready for a crisis?

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.

You’ve probably been busy at work, in addition to dealing with all the responsibilities that you have. But have you ever thought about what you would do in a crisis? It’s not good to wait until something bad happens; you should be prepared in case you have to deal with an event that can negatively affect your reputation. Here are a few things to think about to get a plan in action:

1 – Put together a team. Some people on your crisis communication team can include your firm’s senior partner or one of the other partners, your public relations specialist, the leader in your firm who is closest to issues, any outside counsel you may use, and your online communications expert. You should also choose someone to be the dedicated spokesperson if an incident occurs.

2 – Consider your audience. In order to prepare for a crisis, you should think about your potential audience, which is internal and external: employees, government agencies, the community, vendors and suppliers, clients, and of course, the media. Because your audience is varied, think about how you could effectively communicate with each group. Develop important media connections, and strengthen your existing ones inside and outside your firm.

3 – Prepare your online presence. You most likely have a website that anyone can see, but prepare a “dark” section of your website that is not public, which can go live in case you need to communicate with the public during a crisis. Some possible sections could be a newsroom and a place to post statements, links and special contact information. Also decide which social media platforms you will communicate through and how you will communicate internally with your staff. Analytical tools for your online networks are also important to have ready, in addition to someone who will be responsible for analyzing online activity from other sources.

If you are prepared, you won’t get blindsided if something horrible happens. Information moves rapidly, and you want to be ready to respond just as quickly.

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Leveraging Your Reputation: Get active

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 you’re busy, you should take advantage of opportunities where you can actively find new clients, instead of waiting passively for someone to request your services.

The following are three ways to proudly represent your firm:

Make a Speech

Speaking engagements are multifold in terms of the benefits you receive from them. First, when you are a speaker at an event or conference, you are revered as the expert. People will look to you as the most knowledgeable on the topic about which you are speaking. You will also have the opportunity to directly interact with potential clients. Being friendly and responsive to questions and comments will demonstrate that you care, which never fails to resonate with people.

Participate in the Community

Nowadays, the world wants to know how you are helping others and contributing to worthy causes. By connecting with members of the community, you give your firm a great reputation. Some firms create a team that participates in charity walks, which is great exposure for a firm’s name. It also is a good way to improve internal public relations, which helps establish external public relations as well.

Put Your Face (and Voice) on the Web

Offer options to your website visitors; they may respond more favorably to video or audio rather than just text. If you decide to include video or audio on your website, do not have it play as soon the page is opened. Rather, give visitors the option of clicking on it to hear your message.

When you think about who your firm is and what it does, you need to think about what you know, offer, understand, supply, or do better than anyone else. So actively seek out clients and opportunities, and more meaningful connections will be made.

Leveraging Your Reputation: When a crisis strikes

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 mid-sized 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.

At some point in your legal career, you will experience a problem. Why do I say that? Because it’s inevitable. The seriousness of that problem can vary, of course — whether it involves a client who spoke out-of-line or an attorney who secretly leaked information to the media or the entire firm being in the midst of a scandal.

Thinking about such potential problems begs the question: What can you and your firm do reactively when a problem arises?

Tell your own bad news

If a crisis strikes at your firm, always be the first to tell your own bad news. Setting up a separate website page addressing the crisis or problem creates a simple way for concerned clients and media to get in touch with you and receive information about what has happened or is happening – in your own words. Assure your current clients that they are still in good hands. If you don’t want to create an entire webpage, the least you should do is issue a statement and send it to local and potentially national media. Make the crisis your primary concern and clearly communicate what you are doing to resolve it.

Take the high road

In the fast-paced world of internet communication, it’s likely there will be at least one reporter, one blogger, one website, or one Twitter user that seeks to tarnish your image, especially in the face of a crisis. When this happens, stay true to the legal brand you’ve built and assure your clients, followers, supporters and friends that you are taking steps to make it right (even letting them in on what those steps are). Resist the urge to attack your attackers, because THAT will truly tarnish your image. Instead, reach out to those reporters and ask them what information they would like to know. Helping them understand will help you ease tension and criticism.

Get by with a little help from your friends

As you work to solve the problem(s) and find that your plans A and B are not working, ask for help. Gather teams internally to think of potential workable solutions and resolutions that you might not have thought of yet. Additionally, being open with the entire firm about the problem reinforces a “we’re-all-in-this-together” team mentality which will help keep employee morale steady. Before you know it, your firm will have overcome the crisis and you will be participating as an expert in a panel titled “Responding to Legal Crises: the Do’s & Don’ts.”

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.

Leveraging Your Reputation: Big ideas, big reward

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 mid-sized 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.

When we work with our clients, we always try to think of new ways to help get the key message across and make a bigger splash. Some of our suggestions might require more time and resources, and may make you a little nervous at first, but it’s these big ideas that we encourage you to implement. Remember – big ideas can bring big rewards.

Set Up a Microsite

Creating a website is no small task. And even though “microsite” technically means “small site,” the payoff of creating one can have a big impact. A microsite is a unique web page (or pages) that highlights a particular event, issue, campaign, case – basically anything you want to draw specific attention to. It’s a customized page with a unique URL that is separate from your firm’s main home page and can stand alone for parties interested in just one specific issue. It gives you the opportunity to have a control center for all news and information related to a specific issue, which can make it easier for your clients and the media to find the info they are looking for. Consider the recent Domino’s Pizza campaign – “Show Us Your Pizza.” It has a unique web page that is clearly intertwined with the Domino’s brand, but focuses on only one of the company’s many campaigns and offerings.

Get In Front of the Video Camera

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth double that. Capturing video during events, presentations, demonstrations and even day-to-day activities can bring your reputation to the next level and provide a memorable and visual link to your firm and brand. Quality matters when it comes to video, so depending on the purpose of the video, investing in either reliable equipment or an experienced videographer can ensure that your videos are viewed – and viewed frequently. For example, if you want to capture footage from an event, having a durable hand-held video camera with a good zoom feature should suffice. But if you’d like to create a video for your website that includes client testimonials and requires advanced editing, it would be wise to hire a professional. Either way, utilizing video and the Internet (sites such as YouTube or Vimeo) will benefit your brand-building efforts.

Utilize the Mobiles

Next time you’re on the train, count how many people are using their mobile phones. I’d bet a lot of money that at least one person is. With all the smart phones out there nowadays, there is a high demand for mobile applications and mobile web browsing. Mobile marketing is the next step in the grand marketing scheme of things. We’ve gone from delivering messages in print, radio, television, Internet, billboards and now, you can disperse your brand message directly to cellular phones. You can effectively utilize mobiles by making sure your website is mobile-friendly so anyone can easily and conveniently access it on the road. You can also use or create mobile applications and send text messages to personalize your connection and send quick updates with vital information, “from the trenches” event updates or legal industry news. Really, how much closer can you get to potential clients than being inside their pockets and purses?

Summer cleaning

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 mid-sized 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.

Over time, we all have joined numerous networks online, opened up various accounts, updated different profiles, added ourselves to groups and lists, and published content related to ourselves and our firms. But how often do we check on all of those accounts and all of that content?

“Cleaning” and updating your online information should happen at least three or four times a year – usually more, now that we create and share information in real time. This post will give you a checklist to make it an easy, painless process, free of Lysol-fume-induced headaches.

For your firm and/or personal website:

  • Homepage – Give your website visitors a reason to come back often. Have a news teaser on your homepage that links to your news page. Sync your blog to a section of the homepage so content is always changing – as long as you regularly “clean” and update your blog. Consider adding some personality to your site by incorporating a “sticky” idea that engages visitors (we use a Post-it note on our site).
  • News – The news page should be updated monthly at the minimum. This is where you can highlight recent media attention or your current activities as it relates to your practices or your geographic region. Letting this get two or three months out of date paints a sloppy picture to website visitors, who may include potential clients.
  • Bios – Often times, we write our own website biographies as soon as we are hired or as soon as the website goes live. Then we leave it stagnant for years. Just as the news changes, so do you! Update your bio at least once a year, highlighting new achievements and new interests.

For ALL your social media accounts:

  • Pictures – Most social media accounts allow you to upload a picture so that people can identify you. It is wise to use the same one or two pictures across all platforms to stay consistent, not to mention it helps friends and connections recognize you and reinforces that you are active across multiple platforms.
  • Profiles – With profiles, you need to decide which nuggets of information about you or your firm are the most important and make sure that information is readily available on EACH profile you have. This is an important part of maintaining your brand. As with a bio, this information changes over time, so be sure to revisit each profile at least once a year to make updates.
  • Alerts/Privacy – Every platform has different settings for privacy and notifications. Take 15 minutes to log in to the programs and applications you use and see which settings you may want to change. Do you want to know when someone starts following you on Twitter? Do you want all of your friends to know when you commented on something on Facebook? These are all easy to control, so make sure you know what power you have.

PR-Induced Firm Growth

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 mid-sized 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.

A public relations plan executed properly can propel your firm to the peak of prosperity (how’s that for alliteration?). The communications industry has been around for a long time, although its true value is not always realized. In addition to managing your firm’s reputation and highlighting your cases in the media, the goal of public relations is to ultimately increase your firm’s business. And it is possible.

Getting online.

Of course getting situated online is no longer an option— the current age demands it. Why? Because it’s where your current and potential clients are. Expanding your online presence takes time to make connections, build a following and capitalize on strong new business leads. It won’t happen overnight, but the leads are out there. Think about all the platforms available that you can be a part of: the World Wide Web as a whole through your firm’s website with a clear picture of who you are, what you do and why you do it; a Twitter account to highlight media coverage, give real-time updates of cases, and provide links to other pages that demonstrate your expertise; Facebook to personally connect with firm “fans;” and LinkedIn to associate and connect with peers and prospects and further establish professional relationships (even ask for referrals). Also consider Flickr to share photos of firm personalities and events or Wikipedia to create a landing page of information on your firm on a third-party site.

Getting answers.

Business does not happen in a vacuum; you need to know the answers to many different questions. What are your competitors doing? How do clients view your firm? What’s happening in your firm’s industry? What’s going to happen in your firm’s industry? What are the leading media outlets in the legal industry and your practice areas? The answers to these questions are invaluable to you as you then use them to develop public relations tactics. Laying this foundation is necessary to help you develop the right messages to reach the right audiences and ultimately, reach your firm’s objectives.

Getting in front.

Complacency is the enemy of firm growth, so don’t settle for being average—get out in front of the pack. Keeping an eye on breaking industry news will help you stay in front and be one of the first to comment as an expert or thought-leader. Participate in legal industry events, either by attending or by being the featured speaker. Often times programs are planned a year in advance so remember, if you want to stay ahead, you have to think ahead. Capitalizing on these opportunities will build your reputation as an expert, give you and your firm exposure and connect you with potential clients.