Friday, April 22, 2016

Do Client Reviews Affect my Avvo Rating?

By Gina F. Rubel

When we wrote recently about the lawyer rating website Avvo, and what it means for a law firm’s practice, one of the follow-up questions we heard repeatedly was, “Do client reviews affect my Avvo rating?”

It’s a logical question. An Avvo profile includes space for client reviews and ratings, and even has a feature whereby attorneys can email clients to request that they submit a review. If the website goes to such lengths to encourage client input, it would seem to follow that that input would affect an attorney’s numerical rating.

According to Avvo, however, client reviews do not affect an attorney’s rating.

As we previously discussed, Avvo uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate a numerical rating for an attorney on a scale of 1 to 10. The formula takes into account the professional information that an attorney has entered into his or her Avvo profile, including career history, scholarly writings, speaking engagements and industry-specific memberships and awards. Each of these types of information in the profile contributes to an attorney’s overall rating.

Reviews from other attorneys do boost a lawyer’s rating. Those from clients do not. Avvo says: “Peer endorsements do affect your Avvo Rating, though client reviews do not. This is because peer endorsements – one lawyer endorsing another’s skills and experience – are a way to assess industry recognition, which is a factor in how we calculate an attorney’s Avvo Rating. Client reviews do play a very important role for people looking to hire an attorney, but we have chosen to not include that information when calculating the Avvo Rating.”

That doesn’t mean that attorneys should ignore client reviews. Particularly for lawyers in some consumer-facing practices, such as family law, reviews from past clients can influence a potential client’s choice of attorney. Avvo’s client rating is a way for an average consumer to rate how they feel their attorney handled their case. And consumers seeking an attorney often consider input from previous clients to help them decide which attorneys to approach regarding a similar legal issue.

As with any rating a consumer gives to a service or product online – think Amazon, eBay, or TripAdvisor – a client review can be superb or not so superb. Avvo’s client ratings are displayed as stars on the attorney’s profile page, with five stars being the highest and one star being the lowest.

So what is Furia Rubel’s advice regarding Avvo client ratings? We do advise lawyers to claim their Avvo profiles and fill them out as completely as possible in order to boost their rating. (Avvo invests heavily in marketing and Avvo profiles tend to appear high in search engine results.) For attorneys who work primarily in-house or who deal with corporations, municipalities or other entities, soliciting client reviews may not be worth an investment of effort. For lawyers who work directly with the public, however, positive client reviews can help influence a consumer’s buying decision, and seeking them out may be worth the time and effort, regardless of their lack of influence on Avvo’s overall lawyer rating.

Monday, April 04, 2016

April Fools’ Day Marketing Pranks Gone Wrong (and Right)

By Megan Quinn

On April Fools’ Day, brands as large as Google put their marketing prank skills to the test. Some jokes were up to par, but for others, it was a swing and a miss. Below I’ve compiled the only guide you need to the 2016 April Fools’ Day marketing missteps and victories.

Google’s Mic Drop Minion

Let’s start with one of the worst. Google’s "Drop The Mic" animated gif of one of the beloved minion characters from the Despicable Me movie franchise was added to Gmail in place of the ‘send’ and ‘archive’ buttons, attaching the gif to sent mail. In concept, I’m sure the idea seemed cute. However, this proved to be in poor taste for people who sent more serious emails such as prayer requests and resumes for job interviews.

After much backlash, Google felt terrible about the whole ordeal and issued an apology reversing the feature. To be fair, an initial warning did pop up, but it proved to be futile.

“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page,” Google explained.

Time hop to the future

This was one of the best. Instead of showing users their past social media posts, Timehop’s app produced several fake future posts — and they’re amazing.

One predicted Facebook post from 2039 reads, “Impressed by President Kanye’s socioeconomic knowledge and policies…” And another showcased a 2025 Instagram post of a “Fast & Furious 17” poster (which is not out of the question at this point).

The prank posts, which looked exactly like typical Timehop posts, made plenty of lofty predictions too. One Facebook post from 2025 says, “Filed my taxes via Snapchat for the first time, WHAT A RUSH!”

This year’s prank predictions seemed not to be too far out of reach (minus President Kanye West), but for Timehop regulars, don’t worry — your usual past social media posts can be found below the app’s April Fools’ jokes.

#AerieMan Campaign

Aerie’s April Fools’ Day attempt was a major head-scratcher. After the company had recently started to make strides with unretouched female models, Aerie announced that this should also apply to male models. The Internet freaked out accordingly, but with thunderous applause.

So it came as a major disappointment to find out that their #AerieMan campaign was nothing but a parody launched to raise awareness about body diversity. The brand had become a major positive body image advocate, and now they were making fun of it. Their message was certainly mixed and it felt like a poorly executed PR move.

American Eagle Outfitters, Aerie’s parent company issued a press release on Friday for the big reveal. "American Eagle Outfitters proves once again they're not afraid to take a risk and have a laugh in support of a good cause.”

"This announcement marks the brand's pledge to forego retouching its male models in its underwear and swim images beginning holiday 2016." Furthermore, "American Eagle Outfitters has donated $25,000 to NEDA, a non-profit that supports those affected by eating disorders and an ongoing partner with Aerie," they proclaimed.

While their donation and pledge are commendable, it left many wondering why this was parody at all. Why did the campaign have to be a parody in order to raise awareness?

Quilted Northern ‘Made to be remembered’

Quilted Northern said on Friday that it would release the first small batch toilet paper, Quilted Northern Rustic Weave. The joke included a transformation of QuiltedNorthern.com, social media and the addition of deadpanned video commercials for the big reveal.

"The demand for simple, handcrafted, heritage products is stronger than ever, but no toilet paper satisfies this growing sector," a company press release states. "The teams quickly realized that in order to create the next breakthrough innovation, they needed to go back to the drawing board to create something more bespoke."

Luckily, this well-executed April Fools’ prank will never become a reality. The company used the prank as a platform to launch its real Mega Roll products. On Twitter, along with a short video, the company announced, “Artisanal bath tissue seemed like a great idea. Then we tried it. Now we're happy to introduce new Mega Roll instead.”

Which April Fools’ pranks were your favorite? Which pranks left you guessing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What Instagram’s Newest Change Means for Communicators

By Sarah Larson

Instagram this week announced a major change that expands its video capabilities and marks another milestone in the continuing shift toward visual communication.

On March 29, the social network said that it would expand the allowed length of videos posted to the site to 60 seconds. That quadruples the time from the app’s current cap of 15 seconds.

The new video capabilities are being tested with small groups of users (New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was one of them) and are expected to be rolled out to all users “in the coming months,” according to Instagram.

The move is driven by one simple factor: popularity.

“In the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 percent,” Instagram said in its announcement.

What does this change mean for professional communicators? Several things.

First, of course, it means more time to tell your story. Whether you’re promoting a fundraising event, sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of your company at work, or announcing a new initiative, having more time gives you more opportunity to shine.

Just because your videos can be longer, however, doesn’t mean they should be. Strong editing will remain key to success. Though digital marketers still love to debate the “ideal” average length for online video, nearly all agree that viewership and engagement decrease as running times increase.

It also doesn’t mean that writing is irrelevant. In fact, powerful writing is vital to the creation of a powerful video. Tight voiceover scripts that choose just the right word and thoughtful onscreen text that reinforces key messages are just as important as the wide shots and graphics. (Some argue that writing is actually the most important skill for broadcast.)

If it weren’t already clear to organizations that their communications strategies should include video, this move by the world’s most popular platform for sharing still photography should erase any remaining doubts.

How are you incorporating visual storytelling elements into your marketing and public relations plans? Share your experience in the comments.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Do You Set Up a Free WordPress Blog?

By Laura Powers and Heather Truitt

Do you have the urge to write and publish but don’t want to invest time and resources in establishing a full-blown website? A WordPress option allows users to set up a blogging website, for FREE. Just follow the steps below and you’ll be on your way to blogging in no time.

Step 1: Visit Wordpress.com

Click “Create a Website” or “Start a Blog” (both have similar results).

NEXT PAGE: Type in the name you have determined for your blog; this is the web address people will use to find your blog. The name will be appended by .wordpress.com, so your site name will be yoursitename.wordpress.com. WordPress will let you know if that address is already taken.

Choose a username and a password and type in the email address you want associated with the WordPress account. This should be an email that is monitored frequently. Click “Create blog.”

NEXT PAGE: Check your email to complete your registration. Your account is now active.

Log in to your blog account with your username and password. In the black menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Dashboard.” Select a blog title and tagline that will display at the top of the blog. These should be search-engine optimized to reflect the topics and subject matter of the blog. These can be edited at any time during the life of the blog.

Step 2: Activate Your Theme

Navigate to the “Themes” menu on the left column. Click “Customize.”

There are free themes to select from if you navigate to the right-hand side and click the bar that says “all” and select “free.” After selecting a theme, click “try and customize.” Using the left hand side menu, you can change colors, backgrounds, fonts, the header image, menus, and add widgets (see Step 3).

Step 3: Add Widgets

Navigate to the “Widgets” menu on the left column. Click “Widgets.”

Widgets enhance the design and functionality of your blog. On this page, you will choose what functional options you want the blog to show readers. The most common widgets are an Email Subscription form (a widget called “Follow Blog”), Categories, Archives, and a Facebook like box. It is recommended that you also add a Meta box so you can easily log in to your site.

Once you’ve decided which widgets to use, select them to add them to the list. Drag and drop widgets to move them around your blog layout. Feel free to experiment here.

When you’re satisfied with the layout, click on the “save and activate” button.

Step 4: Publish your first post!

Have you set up a free WordPress website or blog? How was your experience?

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