Tag Archives: Google

Leveraging Your Reputation: Don’t Let Your Reputation Sink

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.

Some people want to appear on the first page of a Google search, but only if it’s good news. Imagine if your clients are not happy with your work, and their negative opinions show up in online searches of your name. That can make your reputation sink very quickly.

While some complaints can make even the most respected attorneys look bad online, it really has to do with how someone builds his or her image through internal and external public relations. If you want to manage your reputation and keep it in a positive light, even when it may be darkened by clients’ complaints, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Reputation is connected to character: Character is who you are when nobody is looking. If a firm has  a culture where attorneys can admit mistakes to partners and to clients, then the firm and individual attorneys will come out ahead in the reputation game. We all make mistakes; the key is how quickly we address them and how we go about correcting the matter above the call of duty.

But it’s not just about mistakes: if a firm has developed a negative reputation for not billing fairly, then attorneys and other employees should be allowed to point out such discrepancies. After all, you don’t want your firm to get a negative audit in addition to dissatisfied clients, because your reputation would spiral downward even further.

2. Character is connected to consistency: What you do repeatedly is how you are remembered over time. Do you avoid making the same mistake more than a few times? Does your firm empower various employees to make reputation-saving decisions on their own? Are people in the firm being honest about billing and accountability to clients who are paying a lot of money for effective legal representation? Consistency is important when every document counts, whether a case is large or small. It’s also important in the daily actions we all take.

3. Consistency will always get you better “rankings” online and offline: The Internet is a dominant force in assessing someone’s reputation, and its influence probably won’t diminish over time. However, traditional word of mouth trumps everything else. A potential client can do an online search and read about you through words, but when he or she simply talks to someone who has used your services, it results in a more personal and immediate assessment.

Think about it: building your reputation from the inside out will help you and your firm stay the course, no matter what a client has experienced.

The blending lines of 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 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 I think back on my first art class as a child, I remember learning about the primary colors – red, yellow and blue. I was amazed that all the other colors came from only three shades. How was it possible that in different quantities, they could create any color across the spectrum, but still be their own individual hues?

In some ways, the primary colors represent the new way to think about the 21st Century legal business model, specifically marketing, public relations and business development. These three practice areas can combine to create a new and vast array of opportunities, while still maintaining their own basic principles. To be a true legal business artist in 2010, it’s necessary to not only know the three primary colors – marketing, PR and business development – but to be a master painter and blend their strategies and tactics to move your law firm forward.

Grab your smock and easel – let’s get artsy.

Have an artist’s vision

Do you think Michelangelo started painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel without having a plan or an idea of the end result? Blending marketing, PR and business development is impossible without first having a vision for where you want to go and how you want external audiences to view your practice. Develop and commit yourself to one overarching message that will guide your efforts – a message that will drive your marketing efforts, your communications strategy and your sales tactics. Start by making broad strokes with the vision and mission of your firm and what you value.

Upgrade your basic paintbrush

Integrating technology into the move to blend marketing, PR and business development can take you from crayons to Kandinsky in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Whether you sit across the hall or across the country from a team member, use technology to link up different offices and stay connected. Video conferences via Skype, live documents via Google Docs, and brand communications via a firm blog enable any artist to avoid being isolated from the rest of the blended team.

Make a masterpiece

Communicate the main message and vision, and give the marketing, PR and business development teams the green light on the best way to work together. Each firm is different, so it may be weekly check-ins, a solid internal communications system, or posters around the office with the brand promise on them. Giving the teams ownership of their synergy will truly make your firm a timeless classic.

Reputation management

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

Picture this scenario: A verdict is rendered. The opposing side goes to the media with misleading information about the case. The media reports stories containing this misleading information. Your firm’s and your client’s reputations suffer due to these stories. What do you do?

You roll up your sleeves and get down to business, that’s what. With online news easily accessible and streaming in real-time, the misleading stories have a good chance of popping up first when your firm’s name is typed into a search engine. Take control of your reputation and consider the following crucial steps to enact in order to counter the potential effects of misleading information and bad publicity.

Research

The first step is to find each article that contains the misleading or factually inaccurate information. Using Google News or Yahoo! News is a good starting point. Collect all the articles and compile the reporters’ names and contact information. Often a reporter’s e-mail appears at the bottom of an article. Also, it may be appropriate to go above and beyond tracking the existing stories and research other media outlets where a counter story would be suitable. Think radio, television or podcasts. It never hurts to reach out to media who did not initially cover the story and give them the correct information on your case.

Release

After the media list and reporter contact information has been assembled, we need to tell them what really happened. Consider writing a press release that addresses the misleading points or incorrect information in the story and counter these with the real facts and your own valid assertions and analysis. Sending this release with a personal message to each reporter will help give them all the information they need to write a counter-story. Also, you MUST get the original reporter or his supervisor on the phone to make sure he understands inaccurate information was published and new, correct information is on its way.

Write

It is imperative that you use every medium possible to make your voice heard. Consider social media outreach via your company website, blog, Facebook or Twitter. Make sure all your posts are searchable through Google, Yahoo! and RSS feeds. This increases the likelihood that your story appears first on search engines. Contact other legal blogs about the story and perhaps they will support you in your efforts. It is also a good idea to e-mail all your personal contacts about the issue, clarifying the information currently out there and sending them your press release.

When you’re in the middle of a reputation crisis, it’s essential to act quickly and with integrity. Understand that a story can be negative towards your firm or client but still factual, in which case it’s important to contact the reporter and give valuable information that only you can provide, or your “side’s” analysis. Monitoring and managing your reputation takes some effort, but it pays off when your firm’s or client’s name needs to be clarified or cleared. We’ve all heard the adage “reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy,” so roll up your sleeves and take charge today.

What is public relations worth to a law firm?

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.

Lawyers want to know that when they make an investment, they receive an equal or better return. Being the public relations representative for many lawyers and law firms over the years, I have made a point to show them exactly what public relations efforts are worth and how we can measure their ROI. The following are ways to ensure that the money you put into public relations is money well-spent.

  • One easy calculation is to compare the cost of advertising to the exposure you received. For example, if you were featured in a one-page article in a high-profile trade magazine, that would be the equivalent of purchasing, on average, an ad worth $6,000.  The same calculations can be made for radio and TV interviews as well as online publicity. However, public relations is twice as effective as advertising because the exposure generates awareness through a third-party which is worth more and looks better.  Then after you’ve made a public relations hit in a media outlet you can advertise to keep the momentum going.
  • Another way to measure is to set a goal for number of placements at the beginning of a public relations campaign and the type of media outlets that should be targeted where your business prospects are the audience. If the public relations agency secures the number or goes beyond, and achieves placements in the right outlets, you will feel confident that your money returned good results. Going one step further would be to monitor the new clients that come in during or after a public relations campaign. Even asking those clients how they heard of your firm will allow you to know for certain whether your media exposure resulted in new business.
  • Gauging online media has also become simpler due to programs that allow us to see the effect that public relations efforts have on voices in the e-world. You can see real-time statistics and figures that monitor your online exposure in blogs, microblogs, chat rooms, news sites, other social media platforms, and even the Google Analytics of your Web site. The goal is to start a positive “groundswell,” meaning a rumble of online chatter that will have potential clients knocking on your door and or visiting your Web site, measured against a previous baseline.