Friday, June 30, 2006

Working with the Media

When the opportunity to work with the media arises, follow these guidelines in order for your experience to run smoothly and effectively.

- Expect the development of relationships with the media to be long-range efforts. With this in mind, have a designated spokesperson. This provides media representatives with a consistent point of contact and a basis upon which to build a working relationship.

- Your primary mode of communication should be face-to-face or telephone contact. When speaking with representatives of the media, be honest and accessible. Also familiarize yourself with the publication, show or style of the individual reporter.

- When the media contacts you, be sure to return calls promptly and be sensitive to their deadlines. If you’re not prepared when the media approaches you, offer to call the reporter back before deadline.

- When you contact the media, accept that they’re busy. Be concise, get to the point and use plain English. Never patronize, but at the same time never assume that they have in-depth knowledge about your issue. Leave concise and specific voice mail messages and give them plenty of lead time

- Maintain control of the conversation. Ask questions, assume that nothing is ever “off the record” and don’t let the reporter put words into your mouth.

- Interactions with the media need to be a strategically planned effort. Think before you speak and know in advance the points you want to make. "No comment" is a comment; "I don't know" is not a sin.

- You can ask to see a story before it's published, but don’t expect the answer to be yes. It depends on the outlet and their policies.

- Be sure to follow up and thank the reporter if the story is even remotely good. Complain only if the story is factually wrong but remember to always act professionally. It’s seldom worth it to fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Publishing a Good Newsletter

Newsletters, done correctly, can be an effective part of your marketing efforts. Not only do newsletters display skills, talents and timely stories, they also can create buzz, open opportunities and bring in new business. No matter what type of newsletter you are producing, meaningful content is essential if you want it to be read. Here are some important things to consider:

- Since a newsletter is a niche publication, be sure to use a narrow focus and keep them specialized.
- Use timely, well written stories about developments important to your clients.
- Write stories from your clients’ perspective using appropriate jargon or explanations.
- Publish newsletters regularly.
- Humanize your stories. Stories about people are usually the most interesting.
- Customize your newsletter to make it stand out.
- E-mail is the fastest and cheapest way to get a newsletter out to your clients. However, e-mails can be mistaken for spam, so give the option of sending a hard copy through the mail.
- Pick your mailing lists with thought.

Sticking to these guidelines, newsletters can demonstrate expertise, establish credibility and create reader loyalty. These three aspects lead to trust and a trusted company has power. The next time you’re searching for an inexpensive way to boost your marketing efforts, consider a specialized client newsletter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Understanding the Attorney You’re Trying to Market

By Gina F. Rubel, Esq.

When an attorney in your firm wants to know how to be more successful, it’s important that you give her the tools to succeed. However, in order to provide tools, you first have to know what she’s trying to build.

Business development, marketing and public relations tactics works for attorneys and can be done ethically and professionally – but it’s first important to gather a bit more information about the individual. Engage her in an initial dialogue to find out what she might enjoy getting involved in based on who she is in life and in business? Get her to answer:

-What are your personal goals and objectives regarding your book of business?

-What industries do you most enjoy working with?

-What are your business goals for the coming year?

-Have you reached out to your referral base and network of colleagues recently? If so, how? If not, are you interested in reaching out to these thought leaders with X? [X being whatever your firm does to nurture the low hanging fruit.]

-Do you enjoy writing articles for trade, news and industry publications? If so, what are some of the topics you’re most passionate about? Where would you like to see your articles published?

-Do you enjoy presenting / speaking at trade, news and industry forums and/or seminars? If so, what are some of the topics you’re most passionate about? Are there any venues you’d be interested in attending as a speaker? Is there anyone you’ve been trying to meet? What industry associations does he/she participate in?

-Do you currently participate in pro bono or volunteer work? [Depending on the answer and how full her bucket is:] Would you be interested in taking on additional pro bono / volunteer work?

-Are you involved in any industry / trade associations? Then find out to what extent she’s involved and what else she can be doing [especially with Young Lawyers groups] to network herself among colleagues and peers.

People are most successful when they participate in business development, marketing and public relations tactics that fit within their personal likes and dislikes. There’s always an opportunity lurking around the corner – especially when one is passionate about what they do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why Aren’t You Blogging?

Blogs aren’t just for personal journals anymore. A blog is a useful way to present thoughts and ideas to a wide audience, exercise a passion for writing, market a law firm or practice, network, gain press, provide a great public service, boost your presence on the Web and/or communicate your expertise and services.

Law-related blogs emerged around 2002 and now more than 1,500 have been created since. At least 80 percent of those sites are still publishing daily, weekly and monthly commentary. Law firms of all shapes and sizes, law professors, law students, librarians, legal technologists, and paralegals all take part in blogging.

Blogging can be an inexpensive and effective way to target your desired audience. Therefore, it is important to first establish who you intend to reach. Most lawyer blogs either attempt to update present clients, establish a relationship with prospective clients, share timely information with other lawyers in the same practice area or expose themselves to the general lawyer population as a whole.

It’s important to realize that blogging is indeed a time commitment. Devoted bloggers should be prepared to post as often as possible. Thus, if writing is not an enjoyable task for you, blogging can be trying. Realize that infrequent or poorly written posts can reflect badly on you and your establishment.

Before you embark on your blogging journey, ask yourself a few crucial questions:
- Are you willing to take your writing and marketing efforts to a new level?
- Do you have the time and commitment to keep up with blog entries?
- Are you interesting in providing valuable, meaningful content for Web users?
- Would you like to boost revenue while increasing your search engine visibility?

Useful Blogging Software:
- TypePad (http://www.typepad.com/)
- Movable Type (http://www.movabletype.com/)
- LexBlog (http://www.lexblog.com/)
- BlogJet (http://www.blogjet.com/)
- FeedBlitz (http://www.feedblitz.com/)
- Feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com/)

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