Tag Archives: Mobile

Socially Phobic? What would YOUR Agora say?

Debra Pickett is president of Page 2 Communications (www.page2comm.com).  A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media.  Reach her at deb@page2comm.com.

Six LCD screens dominate the reception area of mobile phone maker Nokia’s corporate headquarters in Finland.  They call it “Agora, after the Greek meeting place where people came together to discuss things and learn from each other,” according to Tom Libretto, VP consumer engagement for Nokia, quoted here.

The screens feature web and social media content produced by Nokia — and its customers, fans and critics.  It’s unfiltered and posted in (almost) real time so that employees from all around the company can see exactly what people are thinking and saying about their products — a great reminder of how their work translates into real world, real life experiences.

So, imagine, for a moment, that you have an Agora system.

OK, maybe your firm isn’t a brand with worldwide recognition.  And, yes, yes, OK, maybe your “lobby” would be a little cramped with six big screens, at least some of which would be, quite possibly blank.  But let’s just go with the idea for a minute.  Imagine.

And, since we’re in fantasy territory here anyway, let’s also imagine that your Agora system includes not just social media references, but real, live comments that come out of other people’s mouths.  What would be captured on those screens?  What would people be saying about your firm, your work, the services you provide?

Our immediate, reflexive answers to these questions are not always accurate.  Sure, you WANT to believe that people are buzzing away about that expensive magazine ad you bought.  And raving about what you were able to do for them in handling a difficult matter.

But the things people really pay attention to — and talk to their friends about, whether in real life or virtually — are often far more subtle.  The things worth mentioning, in fact, very frequently are the “little things” — the small details of daily interactions that make them just a tiny bit better than we might have expected them to be.  Non-irritating (or, dare to dream, interesting) music or programming while on hold.  A patient, helpful explanation of a complex transaction.  A smile.  A really good cup of coffee.  An assistant who goes out of his way for a client.  A personal greeting that doesn’t try too hard to sell anything.

Agora was intended as a marketing metric, but the thing that it ends up demonstrating is that the best marketing/promotion/PR/reputation-enhanacement/whatever-the-really-expensive-consultants-are-calling-it-these-days is Not Marketing.  It’s getting the small things right and treating people well.  And, of course, this has always been true, but the social media megaphone just amplifies it all the more.  Nobody tweets about the thing that precisely met expectations.  They’re either complaining or raving.

So, which is it?  What’s popping up on your Agora screens these days?  Do you like what you see?

Land of Linkin’ – Apps for Illinois Lawyers

Debra Pickett is President of Page 2 Communications (www.page2comm.com).  A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media.  Reach her at deb@page2comm.com.

Vicki Steiner, at UCLA’s Law Library, assembled a fantastic guide to Mobile Apps for Legal Research and News.

She includes a pretty comprehensive set of national resources, from the ABA Journal’s free app to the $54.99 iPhone, iPad and Android-friendly versions of Black’s Law Dictionary, which are well worth checking out.  (Android users will also want to explore DroidLaw, a free reference that has evolved significantly since Steiner listed it.  And downloaders on all platforms all well-advised to steer clear of LawBox, which Steiner describes as a free app, but which has recently dramatically changed its interface and moved all of its most useful, state-specific content behind a pay wall.)

For Illinois attorneys, there are a number of locally-based apps to use and explore, too.  Consider:

Illinois Statutes ($5.99) – iPhone listing of all 67 Chapters of Illinois Law, including the Illinois Vehicle Code, the Illinois Criminal Code and the Code of Civil Procedures.  Updates when the law changes.

Illinois Compiled Statutes ($29.99) – Same basic content as above, but with superfast searching and offline access (for those no Wifi, no 3G courthouses) and a more user-friendly set-up.

Illinois Pro Bono (FREE) – Created by Illinois Legal Aid, this easy-access directory lists volunteer and training opportunities across the state, organized by area of interest.  (Incidentally, the group has also created a Legal Aid app for non-lawyers.  It’s an easy-to-understand field guide for those dealing with divorce, child custody matters, small claims, evictions and foreclosures.)

Finally, for lobbyists, or, really, anyone interested in “how the sausage is made,” legally speaking, Cohen Research Group’s Illinois+ ($4.99, for iPhone) and IllinoisPro ($29.99 for Blackberry) are must-have tools.  These interactive lists of contact, staff and biographical information on Illinois legislators connect you quickly to the folks making decisions in Springfield.  Incidentally, their well-known guide to Capitol Hill is called Congress in Your Pocket.  I’m assuming they didn’t want to call this one “Illinois In Your Pocket” because the listings for state senators and representatives do not include PayPal links to make contributions to their campaigns.  Perhaps that’s coming in an update.

Have fun downloading and exploring this stuff and let me know what you think.  While I can’t promise you’ll love these new tools, I can assure you that it will be a more valuable use of your smartphone than, say, tweeting insults about opposing counsel.

If Jurors Are On Facebook, Should You Be There, Too?

Debra Pickett is president of Page 2 Communications (www.page2comm.com).  A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media.  Reach her at deb@page2comm.com.

In December, the Sarasota, Fla., courtroom of Senior Circuit Judge Nancy Donnellan saw yet another smart-phone equipped juror run up against the usual rules and expectations of courtroom decorum.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, after the first day of proceedings in a personal-injury lawsuit from a traffic accident case, Donnellan instructed the jurors “with the normal warning not to discuss the case with anyone and not to use the Internet to find more information about the case.”

But one bored juror, surfing on his phone, decided to look up the people in the case on Facebook to see if he knew them.  He ended up sending a friend request to one of the defendants, who happened to be “an attractive young woman.”

After being admonished by the judge, he was dismissed from the jury.  Naturally, he quickly posted, “Score … I got dismissed!!” on his Facebook page.

The expectation that courtrooms – and legal proceedings generally – will somehow continue to exist in an Internet-free bubble is fading fast.  Reporters, jurors and interested members of the public routinely tweet, text and post at speeds far faster than a banging gavel.

What to do, then, with the traditional sense of propriety that has kept attorneys and other legal professionals largely off of social media sites?

It is possible – even desirable, at this point – to live a Facebook-free life without being labeled a hopeless Luddite.  The site’s growth – the addition of new users – has been slowing in the U.S. and some recent studies show it losing ground as a venue for communication and networking.  Other tools, though, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, are demonstrating surprising staying power.  Missing out on the opportunities they present for marketing, coalition-building and information-sharing would be a real loss.

It might take a while for courthouse rules to catch up with the ubiquity of social media and there are sure to be more tense exchanges like the one in Sarasota to come.  But, eventually, judges, jurors, the media and the public will find a way to balance the desire for information (and the electronic means to transmit it) with the need for confidentiality and impartiality, just as they have with the advent of television cameras and laptop computers.

Meanwhile, lawyers can make use of social media technology without running afoul of traditional expectations for confidentiality.  The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6 [Trial Publicity] lays out specific guidelines for extrajudicial statements, noting exactly what information can be publicly shared without posing “a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding.”  Following this rule, attorneys are free to publish the claim being made in a matter, to share information already in a public record, to state that an investigation is in progress and/or to announce the scheduling or result of any step in litigation.

Attorneys can join social media and participate, ethically and effectively, in the robust public conversations it facilitates.

But they probably shouldn’t do it from their smart phones.  In court.

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?