Tag Archives: Online Resources

Leveraging Your Reputation: Remember the marketplace

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.

There is a lot of competition to get attention for your firm, and even though you’re busy, it’s important to remember that you still have to think of ways to market your practice. You don’t have to take a lot of time out of your day to think about the direction your marketing is going; these few ways will get you started:

1)      Pay attention and act quickly. When there’s an accident, people notice, and attorneys have a potential case to handle. So an accident can affect and influence many people, and give the attorney the opportunity to let others know what area they specialize in. In terms of marketing, you don’t need just an accident for something to require your attention and effort. Even attorneys who work in areas like real estate and intellectual property can take the time to find out how new laws and regulations can be a disaster for their clients, and then proactively publicize their expertise to those markets. It’s important to do something as soon as possible, before someone else is positioned as an expert.

2)      Promote thought leadership, not sales. When marketing your firm, it’s easier to attract new clients if you post thought leadership white papers on your website instead of posting sales and marketing copy about a particular business-to-business legal issue. In addition to your website, what would enhance your long-term marketing plan is writing articles for business publications that clients and prospects read. It also helps you stand out from your competition.

3)      Create more communication channels. It’s not enough to have just a website and a printed brochure, and then assume that “interactivity” means sharing drinks with clients and colleagues at a conference. Attorneys should discover which channels of communication work best for the firm, and then master the most effective ones to show clients and prospects that they are progressive when it comes to law and communication.

Overall, the way to succeed and thrive in the competitive marketplace is to put forth a concentrated effort and a solid investment to move ahead and stay top-of-mind.

Keep reading and learning about legal marketing (and the Internet)

J. Nick Augustine J.D., “The Law Publicist,” is the principal of Law Publicist Communications, an ALR/PRA, Incorporated agency. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations, marketing and practice management. Nick shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Attorneys in transition spend significant time grooming their online profiles. Websites, social networking sites, professional listings and the like are important tools in your legal marketing and public relations strategy. There are things you can do on your own. There are plenty of resources available online. They keep changing so you have to keep up.

Here are 7 tips and resources:

1.       Mashable

Mashable.com is a great resource for all things social media. From news, blogging tips, website and social network information, Mashable is the current industry standard. If you spend some time reviewing the articles, you will find something that peaks your interest. This publication focuses on industry professionals and users alike, so if you find a good idea, save it then find someone to help you execute.

2.       SEO practitioners

Rule #1: You cannot be an expert at something beyond your control that is constantly changing. Even the people who work at Google do not know the secret to page rank. What you can learn from SEO practitioners is the current themes and objectives to appearing in search results. If Mary is looking for a traffic lawyer, there’s a good chance she’s looking to hire one. The SEO practitioners publish frequent content suggesting you can attract Mary to you. Remember, SEO practices change. What is thought to work today might not be true tomorrow, so check back for updates and tips.

3.       Copywriter resources

Copywriting and legal writing come from different planets; in practice, not as much as in theory. Yes we were all taught in law school to write in “plain English” yet we are often verbose. The biggest challenge in shifting to copywriting (for your marketing and public relations activities) is learning succinct writing. Just like the SEO practitioners, there are copywriters who publish online resources instructing on some tips of the trade. One of the keys to good copywriting is learning to create a simple message that people will like and remember.

4.       Linking exercises

Remember the SEO practitioners? They used to preach keyword optimization. The game has changed. Today, while keywords are very important, links are just as crucial. The search engine “spiders” crawl your content, read, and continue on by following links from your page to other pages. Choose your links carefully. You want to link to, and be linked by pages and sites with valuable content and good page rank. The “spiders” don’t know you but they can determine if you have quality links. Again, the SEO practitioners have information on point.

5.       Profile updating

If you update your online profiles, you will attract the “spiders.” I have no proof for this statement but I do have experience noting that sites I frequently update appear more frequently when I search myself or my agency in Google and other search engines. Adding photos and videos to your search engine listings is a good way to generate activity. Sharing links with happy clients who leave positive reviews is also a great way to update your online profiles.

6.       Survey your prospects

Say it with me, “It’s not about me, it’s about them.” If you are a family law attorney writing about the new civil union law, you should make a “why do they care?” list. Your content has a better chance of being rated well when it provides real answers to your audience’s questions. What do they want to know? Instead of guessing, search online for frequently asked question sites. You might be surprised that the information in demand might be some of the real basics.

7.       Start again

This is sure a long list including several assignments. The only way to keep up is to start over, from scratch, from time to time, and you just might learn some permanent skills. Legal marketing and public relations skills are key. If you learn these skills now you can take initiative on your own. You will also know what you’re talking about when someday you hire a firm to take the reigns.

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.