Thursday, December 16, 2004

Holiday Cards: To Sign or Not To Sign - That is the Question

Every year there is a debate among marketers and PR practitioners as to personalization of holiday cards. Some actually question if they're worth sending at all - my answer is, NO, not if you don't plan to sign them by hand. Case and point: this year our firm sent out nearly 500 cards to colleagues, clients, prospects and media (yes, media). Each card was handwritten (we did not handwrite the labels). We also ordered the cards back in June and began the personalization process in September. Does it take a long time? YES! Is it worth it? YES! To date we have received accolades from card recpients in person, by letter and via e-mail. All have said thank you for the card and for taking the time to handwrite them. One former client called and asked for a meeting to begin working together again. A long-time prospect called and asked to meet over lunch.

Now I also mentioned that we sent holiday cards to members of the media but I need to clarify: we only sent cards to members of the media who we deal with regularly and who know one of us very very well. We did not send cards to people we just want to get to know. Remember, as with anything, would you pick a person's name out of a hat and send a card? NO! So be smart when sending cards to the media. Make sure you actually know the person (and they know you)!

So - all that said, Happy Holidays from eachof us at Furia Rubel Communications and from me, Gina Rubel, The PR Lawyer!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Yet another great article on blogging appears in the Law.com Law Technology News section at http://www.law.com/jsp/ltn/pubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1102340119344 written by an affiliate blogger.

Monday, November 08, 2004

A Great Article on Blogging
Blogging And the Bottom Line - Lawyers Weekly USA Practice Management 2004

For a great article on lawyers and blogging, go to www.lawyersweeklyusa.com Practice Management 2004 Supplement. For starters, the author, Robert J. Ambrogi defines blogging as "a web page with frequently updated content arranged in reverse chronological order, much like a print log or diary. Each entry is stamped with the author's name and the date and time it was made." Ambrogi goes on to talk about the benefits of blogs and provides a ton of great blogging resources.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

As a lawyer, it's always been my dream to be a journalist or newspaper columnist and I've often hear other lawyers say the same thing. Writing your own Blog allows you to do this and you don't have to learn about syndication, corporate publishing politics, or who's "in the know." Simply type in your thoughts about a particular topic - be careful of course not to give legal advice that any reader might rely on - and then publish your thoughts instantly on the Web. The beauty of most free blogsites is that you don't need to know any computer programming language - just type,click and go. Blogs then help to establish you as a legal authority in your area of practice - be careful never to say "expertise" - and to generate a buzz about your biz.
If you're looking for great tips about blogging - the Legal Blogging guru - or so I say, is Kevin O'Keefe of http://kevin.lexblog.com/ and he includes some great stuff on his site about adding Blogs to your public relations mix (http://kevin.lexblog.com/cat-lawyer-blogs-for-public-relations.html).

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Are you blogging? We want to hear from you! Email: info@furiarubel.com.

The PR Lawyer declares November 2004 Law Firm Blogging Month. All this month, we're going to post tips for bloggers.

Tip 1: You can find a list of guidelines for coporate blogging at http://scoble.weblogs.com. It's excellent!

Tip 2: www.blogger.com is an excellent way to get started. Others include www.livejournal.com, http://radio.userland.com and www.typepad.com

Tip 3: About.com has tons of blogging basics at http://weblogs.about.com.

Look for more tips coming soon!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Getting Air Time - The Audition and the Interview

Read what publicity expert, Gina Rubel has to say about what it takes to wow a television or radio producer to give you air time in the September 2004 issue of ExpertPR.

To read the full article, click here.

Online Press Rooms

Online press rooms should always contain your press releases regardless of whether they were picked up by the media. It is also important to make sure there are words in the title that will help with search engine optimization. You can also use the press room for “SAVE THE DATE” notices if you want to get the word out about a charity event, speaking engagement, seminar, etc. Another great use it to include articles that members of your firm have had published and/or media coverage – of course after first retaining reprint permissions.

Depending on the size of your firm, an online press kit can be quite helpful. It should contain a backgrounder, fact sheet, list of partners who are available to discuss specific topics with the media, key bios, areas of practice, and any other information the media might seek to learn.

Without regard to content, make sure everything has been scrutinized against your state's rules of professional conduct, which, in Pennsylvania, will change on January 1, 2005. However, you must alse keep in mind that if your firm is multi-jurisdictional, you will need to consider all the states’ rules witin which you practice. If you want to err on the side of caution, follow Florida's rules. They are by far, the most conservative.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I was asked to post the name of one of my favorite listservs so here goes - Legal Marketing Association - http://www.legalmarketing.org/- it is very resourceful, however, it is a membership based list.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Five Suggestions for Finding the Best PR or Marketing Partner

1) Get References: Find other law firms whose programs you admire and then call the Director of Marketing or the firm's Administrator and ask what company the firm uses. Get their feedback. Then narrow this list down to 4-5.

2) Create an RFQ (a request for qualifications): Contact the 5 agencies or consultants and explain to them what your firm wants to do. If they past muster on the phone, send them an RFQ. This should include a short list of questions requesting information on their skills, experience, expertise, etc. It can be done via email. Keep this short! The goal is to see if they have the basic qualifications for you to take the time to meet them. You may want to ask for referrals and samples. Many firms or consultants have capabilities packages ready to send immediately.

3) Meet the players: Narrow down the list from 5 to 3. Ask the 3 firms or consultants to come to your office. Ideally, the meetings should include you and one other decision maker. The goal of this meeting is meet the prospects, get a feeling for how they will fit within your corporate cultures, see if they understand the nature of your business and make sure they understand the sensitivities of legal marketing. Give them a chance to ask you questions. A good firm will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.

4) Request a Proposal: After having met all 3 firms, you should have a pretty good idea which ones you would like to work with - ask the companies that you liked to write a proposal, (don't waste yours or anyone else's time by asking for a proposal from a company that you know you won't use). Be specific about what you need to see in the proposal. Remember, price is important, but it should not be the sole decision making criteria as you may not have provided enough information for them to understand your budget.

5) Meet the front-runner: Pick the firm that you would like to use. Before hiring them, have them come in to meet the Managing Partner and other important attorneys in the firm. It's important that this happens for two reasons; it allows the consultant or agency to know who they will be working with. If for some reason there doesn't seem to be a fit, it's best for everyone that it is discovered sooner rather than later. Second, it gives you one more change to ask questions you may not have discussed in round one and their reasoning for the strategies and tactics they present in the proposal.

The bottom-line is that you should hire a qualified consultant or agency that you can trust. Hiring a marketing or public relations consultant is just like hiring a law firm -- at the end of the day your hiring people (as opposed to buying a product). Being able to trust those people is essential -- you'll be leaning heavily on them to guide you safely through the process and deliver the expected results.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

LAWYER VS. ATTORNEY - Which do you use?

Today, on my favorite ListServ, there was banter about the usage of "lawyer" versus "attorney." The answer was as follows:

According to the Associated Press Stylebook (which journalists and PR professionals defer to when making copy decisions):

attorney, lawyer entry:
"In common usage the words are interchangeable. Technically, however, an attorney is someone (usually, but not necessarily, a lawyer) empowered to act for another. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney in fact. A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney at law."

lawyer entry:
"A generic term for all members of the bar. An attorney is someone legally appointed or empowered to act for another, usually, but not always, a lawyer. An attorney at law is a lawyer. A barrister is an English lawyer who is specially trained and appears exclusively as a trial lawyer in higher courts. He is retained by a solicitor, not directly by the client. There is no equivalent term in the United States. Counselor, when used in a legal sense, means a person who conducts a case in court, usually, but not always, a lawyer. A counselor at law is a lawyer. Counsel frequently is used collectively for a group of counselors. A solicitor in England is a lawyer who performs legal services for the public. A solicitor appears in lower courts but does not have the right to appear in higher courts, which are reserved to barristers. A solicitor in the United States is a lawyer employed by a governmental body. Solicitor is generally a job description, but in some agencies it is a formal title. Solicitor general is the formal title for a chief law officer (where there is no attorney general) or for the chief assistant to the law officer (when there is an attorney general). Capitalize when used before a name. Do not use lawyer as a formal title."

Just some good food for thought!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Defining the E-zine

E-zine is short for “electronic magazine” or newsletter and typically they are sent out to subscribers who voluntarily sign-up to receive them (opt in). The main purpose of an e-zine is to inform readers about topics that are of interest to them. E-zines are niche oriented and therefore they are a great way to reach your target market with a very specific message. E-zines also help to position you as an expert in the field.

If the thought of starting your own e-zine is not appealing to you or you do not have time to invest in one, don’t worry. There are other ways to get involved, such as writing articles and submitting them to an e-zine that relates to your niche. Editors of e-zines are usually open to and interested in receiving articles from outside sources. This is largely due to the fact that many e-zine editors have other full-time jobs so they are appreciative when they receive quality articles.

Tips about E-zines:

• Provide quality content regularly
• Strive to build relationships
• Have fun with your message
• Create a persona that’s yours alone
• Allow the readers to contact you with questions or comments
• Post questions and comments when appropriate and with permission
• Be yourself because you’re the expert
• Be different
• Teach and preach benefits – based solutions
• Be resourceful

For a directory of legal e-zines, go to:
http://ezine-universe.com/s/Reference/Law/

For free legal articles to add to your e-zine, go to: http://ezinearticles.com/?cat=Legal

For a content writer with legal background, go to:
http://www.contentxperts.com/home.htm?legal.htm~mainFrame

For content that you can license, go to: http://www.netforlawyers.com/index.htm

Friday, August 20, 2004

Selling Yourself in 30 Seconds

A 30-second pitch (a/k/a the elevator pitch) is a short, concise, compelling and creative summary of who you are and what you do. It is used when you meet people for the first time and they ask about your business. It is used as your outgoing voicemail message. It is used by others who refer business to you.

One of the most challenging things to do for many business professionals, however, is to produce a solid 30-second pitch. Every professional should have a 30-second pitch that you have prepared, rehearsed, and are ready to give whether you are networking, contacting the media, or talking to a prospective client or employer. The following tips will help you to prepare a 30-second pitch.

DO’s
•Do remember, every word counts
•Do engage the listener, grab her attention, and get her excited
•Do think in terms of benefits to the listener (what’s in it for them)
•Do concentrate of what the listener wants and needs and tailor your pitch accordingly
•Do keep in mind your tone of voice, be enthusiastic but not salesy
•Do invest time on a regular basis to revise your pitch to keep it current and original
•Do incorporate your tagline if appropriate
•Do remember to deliver a business card for future contact
•Do keep it short – most people have a very fleeting attention span
•Do follow up

DON’TS
•Don’t talk all about you
•Don’t summarize your job description and call that your pitch
•Don’t use general language in your pitch, be specific
•Don’t use jargon or legalees
•Don’t speak in a monotone voice
•Don’t memorize your pitch word for word
•Don’t cross your arms and look down at the floor while speaking
•Don’t compare your company to your perceived competition
•Don’t appear rehearsed

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Photos Add Impact to Press Releases

Attaching a photo to a press release can provide a great deal of impact, not only for the readers of the publication (if it gets picked up), but also for the editor when deciding which stories to cover. If you have a good photo of a person or event that you can attach to a release you should. It cannot hurt your chances of getting coverage – it can only help.

Why attach photos to a press release:
· A press release with a photo attached is four times more likely to be read.
· Small publications generally like to receive photos with press releases because it enables them to include photos in their publication without having to send a photographer or reporter to cover it and take the pictures.
· Larger publications also like to receive photos because it helps the writer authenticate the story/event to the editor.

Tips to remember when sending a printed photo:
· At the bottom of the press release provide a “photo caption” which should provide the following information: what the photo is of, the names of people in it and where it was taken.
· Be sure to include the same caption on the back of the photo. Often the press release is separated from the photo.
· If you cannot send a photo to every publication then just send it to a few that you feel are most likely to incorporate the photo. Then for the other publication provide a caption at the bottom of the release stating that a photo is available upon request and provide them with your contact information.
· If you are sending a headshot do not forget to include the persons name, title, and company name on the back of the photo (especially if you are sending more than one photo, otherwise this can cause some confusion).

Tips to remember when sending a digital photo:
· Most publications require a 300 dpi, 5 x 7 digital photo. Make sure to use a universal format like jpeg or gif.
· Title the photo in its digital format. Do not have it saved as DVR_0001 or whatever format your camera saves it as when downloading to your computer. Use the name of your company, event, or person pictured.
· Make sure the editor or reporter accepts attachments before e-mailing, as many spam filters, and virus software programs reject attachments.

Monday, July 26, 2004

What we learn from our marketing predecessors

When starting to work with a law firm as their in-house marketing director or agency, it is important to ask some very specific questions of your predecessor when possible. When taking over the helm of a marketing department, you should ask:

-Who has the final say on all projects? Firm wide? Practice area specific?

-Who thinks they have the final say? What alliances are there with vendors that must be preserved?

-What is the firm culture, not apparent in the collateral communications?

-What has been tried in the past and has been perceived as valuable?

-What has been tried in the past and is perceived as worthless?

-How have past efforts been measured and tracked?

-What are the most common stumbling blocks to getting work completed and approved?

-What are the perceptions of the marketing department? 

-Who finds the marketing department valuable and who sees it as unnecessary?

Of course, there are many more questions to ask, like "why are you leaving, where's the nearest restroom and where's the best local restaurant . . . ." But all things considered, if you have solid answers to all the questions listed above, you are better able to plan how to work with the firm and how to anticipate stumbling blocks and turn them into opportunities.

 



Tuesday, May 18, 2004

DailY PR Tactics for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Recently I spoke at the Early Stage East Venture Conference as the PR expert and one of the things I learned is that most entrepreneurs and small business owners equate the words "public relations" to "press release." What they learned, however, is that press releases are only .01% of public relations. Some of the things that are public relations that all business owners can do better or do more of are:
- Standard e-mail signatures for all employees (including tagline
- Energetic voicemail messages recorded with your own voice
- Your daily enthusiasm with friends, family, employees, neighbors, etc., with regard to your business
- Becoming a resource to the media on topics of interest and expertise
- Participating on industry and nonprofit boards
- Taking part in local fundraisers (walks, 5-K's, jail breaks, etc.)
- A news or media page on your Web site
- A pdf media kit on your Web site
- Track trends in your industry then follow up with news reporters for second-day stories
The list can go on and on. What's important is that you realize that public relations tactics are employed every day. If you are speaking to someone about your business, you're conducting public relations.

Friday, April 30, 2004

YELLOW PAGE ADVERTISING FOR LAWYERS

According to the Yellow Pages Publishers Association’s estimates for 2000, lawyer-advertising expenditures in domestic printed Yellow Pages were estimated at $809 million. The “attorneys” category is the highest revenue category for Yellow Page directory publishers.

But to be successful, a firm’s Yellow Page ad must be well thought out, command attention, convey a single focus, be eye-captivating, differentiate itself, look professional and address the need of the audience. Remember, if someone is searching for a lawyer in the Yellow Pages, he/she already needs an attorney. It’s much different than trying to advertise something a consumer might want but is not particularly in the market to buy. An excellent guide to creating winning Yellow Page ads is, Effective Yellow Pages Advertising for Lawyers, by Kerry Randall, published by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association.

As both an attorney and a legal marketer, I can tell you that I've had great success particularly with YellowBook in the Pennsylvania region. The are the largest independent yellow page publisher in the world and my family law firm with which I practiced and advertised has been able to track a 1000% return on our investment.

And it's not the size or location of the ad that necessarily matters, it's the quality of the content and how well that ad differentiates your firm from all the others. It's not about saying "Call Us if You've Been Injured in an Accident" anymore! Think niche! Think experience! Think consumer! Think personal! And you don't have a great headshot, then don't include it in the ad.

Media Training Tips for Lawyers

In today’s legal arena it is necessary for lawyers to have media relations training if you plan to talk to reporters. If you know how to effectively communicate with the media you can generate a great deal of publicity for yourself and your law firm. The following are some useful tips that lawyers should remember when dealing with the media:

• Formulate three key messages prior to speaking to the media. Determine the most important points that you want to get across to the media and write them down. This will help you prepare your thoughts so that the interview is a success.

• When being interviewed, once you have made your point do not be intimidated by silence. Silence is not a bad thing during an interview, it’s a tactic used by reporters to get you to talk, in the hopes of getting you to say something that you shouldn’t have.

• When speaking to the media be concise and thorough and tell them everything that you can. You do not want them finding out information on their own and then confronting you when you are not prepared to answer their questions.

• Do not panic if you are asked a question during an interview that you do not know the answer to. Be honest and tell them that you do not know the answer but that you would be happy to look into it and get back to them. Never attempt to make something up.

Never say “NO COMMENT” to the media. When a lawyer says this it is perceived by the public as though you are hiding something or not telling the truth. If something is confidential then tell them that, but do not say “NO COMMENT”.

• There is no such thing as “OFF THE RECORD” when speaking to the media. If you say it then there’s always a chance that it will end up in print, or broadcast. If you don’t want it repeated, then just don’t say it.

• When you talk to the media use the reporter’s first name, try to relate to him or her. The more you get to know the reporters and become a resource and the more they get to know you, the more likely they are to give you good coverage.

Research reporters before interviews so that you know what type of reporters they are and their style. This will help you anticipate what types of questions they may ask and better prepare you to answer their questions.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Public Relations Begins at Your Computer
By: Gina F. Rubel, Esq. and John Miriello

Public relations begin at the office, at your desk and at your computer. Public relations is not just a strategic way to get your firm noticed, it’s a mindset and a management style. Public relations is not just sending press releases to the media when your firm lands and groundbreaking verdict or settles a multi-million dollar case. It is sending an e-mail without a computer virus attached, understanding the capabilities and limitations of e-mail correspondence, and knowing how to protect your firm, clients and colleagues from cyber-attacks.

Like a tax on liquor, the effect of technology is bittersweet on our lives and there are certain risks. But ask any intelligent businessperson, and the likely analysis you will receive is the real benefit is in minimizing the risks. So how do we get along with technology and minimize our risks to put forward our best public relations? Take the necessary precautions. For one, subscribe to a worthwhile e-mail alert system that will advise of new threats and the latest trends in the cyber-world. One such system that users can sign up for is The National Cyber Alert System which is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security (http://www.us-cert.gov). According to the Web site, “The National Cyber Alert System provides timely information about current and emerging threats and vulnerabilities as well as advice about protecting your computer and networks.”

Other ways to stay one step ahead of the game when securing your computers, clients’ information, and electronic correspondences include:

• Purchase and install antivirus software on your computer or have a technician install it on your entire network. And UPDATE your antivirus software on a regular basis (daily). People rarely get old computer viruses. They only get the new ones that are spreading.

• Install a reputable spam blocker on your computer. Some spam blockers are actually unsafe and put your computer information at risk. Ask your computer support staff or on-call technical consultant about which are helpful and which are harmful. One such program is QURB, which works well with certain systems.

• Never open e-mail attachments from unknown senders. The most dangerous virus programs come disguised as otherwise friendly looking e-mails.

• Never download software that a Web site indicates you “must have.” Often, these are “spyware.” As the name indicates, spyware is software that installs itself on your computer and reports all of your Internet habits back to a company.
• Separate business computing from family computing. This is particularly important to small businesses.

• Do not download music from sites that claim free or reduced charges. These sites have been deemed illegal. Additionally, much of the music files are riddled with viruses and spyware components. Often there is little to do to fix an infected computer and the cure may involve the expense of having a technician “scrubbing” your computer clean and reinstalling all of your programs.

About the Authors
Gina Furia Rubel, Esquire is founder and president of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. (www.furiarubel.com) which offers corporate communications services to the legal industry. A Philadelphia lawyer with more than a decade of integrated communications experience, Gina Rubel is focused on her passion for proactive, integrated communication for lawyers. For more information call 215-249-4977 or e-mail gina@furiarubel.com.

John Miriello, MCSE, MCT is a partner in Intrepid Technology & Consulting (www.intrepidtc.com) and has more than 15 years experience in computer security and network design. Formerly a security officer and computer auditor for a variety of Philadelphia and New York Financial institutions, he now concentrates on the technology development of Philadelphia-area businesses. For more information call 215-453-6663 or e-mail jmiriello@intrepidtc.com.


Sunday, February 01, 2004

Public Relations through Computer Technology

Staying current with the rapid advances in computer technology is essential for today’s public relations practitioners. Not only does it help to make the job easier, but it also provides solutions to many problems in today’s business world.

As a result of new technologies, there are new media outlets and communication strategies available to public relations professionals. Internet technology specifically, has immensely affected public relations in several ways:

• The Internet enables effective communications regardless of international boundaries

• E-mail, due to its easy access, has become the preferred means for communications, and continued improvements enhance its usability compared to face-to-face communication

• Search engine technologies have made the Web a valuable research tool

• The potential to target columnists who cover cyberspace creates new media resources for public relations practitioners

• The Internet is becoming an increasingly popular and effective marketing tool compared to conventional media

So staying abreast of Internet technology is extremely important for public relations practitioners if you want to maintain a competitive advantage.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Cyber-etiquette techniques which bode well in the world of public relations.

Just as you send a business on letterhead, with a date, greeting, well-crafted message and salutation (among other components), you should also follow some basic rules of thumb when trying to put your best foot forward via an electronic medium and still maintain that same level of professionalism:

• If you do get a virus, contact the sender immediately. Many computer users can be caught unaware that their computer is not only infected, but that it may be infecting others as well.

• Never forward a “virus warning” e-mail unless you know it is from a trusted source. Chances are, you may be spreading spam or a virus yourself.

• In your e-mail address book, add the name “AAAA” and give it an invalid e-mail address “AAAA%1234.” If you open an e-mail with a virus that sends e-mails from your address book, this should cause an error message to appear and send up a big red flag for you to shut down your computer and seek IT assistance.

• Never use all caps in an e-mail – it’s perceived as screaming.

• Use punctuation correctly and wisely.

• Always include an electronic signature with your name and contact information at the end of the e-mail.

• Always include the e-mail you are responding to or forwarding (especially if you’re not going to answer the original inquiry directly as you would in a handwritten and mailed correspondence).

• If you are sending the same message to many recipients, use the “BCC:” function – And use “CC:” sparingly.

Like putting your best suit on for trial and smiling for the television cameras after you receive a favorable verdict, good computer safety and etiquette equates to great public relations.

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