Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wikipedia Battens the Hatches – Social Media and the Law

As a regular blog contributor to The Legal Intelligencer Blog - I contribute articles regarding "media and the law." This could mean media relations, social media, high profile cases, trial publicity or how changes in communication and public relations are affected by the law. My latest post is about Wikipedia and their soon-to-be-launched editorial review for people profiles.


After the article appeared, I received a link from my father, Richard Furia, who is an attorney in Philadelphia. Dad shared this: Click here: John F. Street - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia regarding false information about the city's former mayor as Bozo the Clown. A follow up article was posted on http://www.phawker.com/ titled "Some Ass Clown Punks Da Mayor On Wikipedia ." A fine example of how wikis can be misused and abused. Thanks Dad!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Facebook Changes Privacy Policy

The BBC reported today that "Facebook has agreed to make worldwide changes to its privacy policy as a result of negotiations with Canada's privacy commissioner." To read the full story, click here.

Collaborative Wiki Manuals in the Army

Posted by Amanda

I recently blogged about the news of the United States Marine Corps banning social media sites from their network. In sharp contrast from this decree, the Army has been successfully embracing social media networks. Recently on the Web site for the New York Times newspaper, I read an article that I wanted to share with The PR Lawyer audience.

In the article, “Care to Write Army Doctrine? With ID, Log On,” Noam Cohen writes about another interesting initiative by the Army – Wiki-edited military instruction manuals.

If you’re not familiar with the term, Wiki or the Web site, Wikipedia, check out the link here. In short, a Wiki is a collaborative Web site where viewers can edit, remove or add information they see.

Through the pilot program, Cohen writes that, “The Army began encouraging its personnel — from the privates to the generals — to go online and collaboratively rewrite seven of the field manuals that give instructions on all aspects of Army life.” Basically, the Army is making an effort to update field manuals and training doctrines through the use of Wikis.

Cohen describes, “Not surprisingly, top-down, centralized institutions have resisted such tools,” like Wikis and other collaborative Internet efforts. Within an institution based around authority and command, there is a feeling of loss of control through the use of these collaborative tools. Sadly, within the first six weeks of the pilot program, it is noted that very little editing was done by soldiers.

Wow, what a concept though! I think the Army has made leaps and bounds to harness social media for all soldiers and their organization. It will certainly be interesting see how the Army tackles this social media challenge. If successful, this collaborative effort will enable Army leaders and soldiers of all ranks, jobs, specialties and corners of the United States to connect through the eyes and ears of those on the ground and the analysts behind desks in Washington, D.C.

I understand that change comes slowly, but I definitely think this is a step in the right direction in keeping everyone in the military effectively up-to-date with the ever-changing playing field and happenings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Women Want...from Social Media Sites

As a female business professional working for a woman-owned PR firm, blog topics and research on female motivation in the business and social media realms always seems to catch my eye. A very interesting article was published last week by eMarketer.com and it analyzed what women want from social media sites.

What do you think women want from social media sites? Everything, dependability – all depending on their mood that day…I can freely make these comments as a member of the gender.

Well, here is what eMarketer.com found. “Women who are core social network users expect a lot, according to ‘The Power of Social Networking For Women Research Study’ from female-oriented social networking site ShesConnected. Survey participants were recruited through several social networks and were encouraged to share it with friends. ShesConnected respondents were heavy users of social networks: 59% reported visiting such sites multiple times per day.”

The study found that Facebook was the most popular site with 83% of the survey participants having profiles on the site. Nearly three-quarters (73%) were members of LinkedIn and 55% were on Twitter. Almost one-half of respondents (48%) reported belonging to four or more social networks which was the most common response.

Professional networking and staying up-to-date with friends were found to be the most compelling reasons to visit social networks for females. Other motivators for using social media sites were researching products and services (79%) and finding deals and discounts (64%).

However, the group of surveyed female social network users expressed concern about privacy issues of these social media sites. 93% of respondents said control over privacy settings is very important to them. The ability to block specific users from contacting them is a major factor to 96% of the users.

This feedback was also reflective when the topic of social media marketing was brought to the table. A majority of the survey participants were fine with social networks displaying advertising, but the prospect of the sites selling data to advertisers was another story. More than four in 10 respondents said they would not be comfortable with the idea, and 36% of the survey participants said they would refuse to use a site that sold their data.

I find it so interesting to understand the dynamics between different genders and their needs and demands in regards to everyday personal and professional resources. Check out the full article by clicking here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NewsGator Goes Google Reader for RSS

I received the following from NewsGator (if you're a user - you will want to read this):

"You spoke and we listened: in response to customer demand, NewsGator's best-of-breed consumer RSS applications now work with Google Reader. Google Reader will become the online companion to and the synchronization platform for our award-winning RSS reader applications – FeedDemon and NetNewsWire.

In conjunction with this announcement, NewsGator is making changes to several of its consumer RSS Readers. NewsGator will continue to support all its individual end-user applications for enterprise customers. However, NewsGator will continue to develop and support only a sub-set of these applications for free consumer use. FeedDemon and NetNewsWire have new versions for consumers that we encourage you to download as soon as possible. NewsGator’s other individual end-user applications will not continue to be supported for free consumer users after August 31, 2009. Again, all of NewsGator’s individual end-user applications will continue to be supported for paying Enterprise customers.

As part of this transition, NewsGator Online users will need to migrate to Google Reader by August 31, 2009. In addition, NewsGator will no longer support the free versions of NewsGator Inbox, NewsGator Go!, and NewsGator’s RSS features (Shared Clipping Feed, Blogroll, Ratings, Headlines, Browser Toolbar, and Desktop Notifier). NewsGator will also continue to support FeedDemon (for Windows) and NetNewsWire (for Mac and iPhone) for all customers – free or paid. If you have questions as to whether or not you qualify as a paying enterprise customer, please contact your account manager.

With these product changes, we recommend that you take the following actions (to assist you, we have a list of recommendations, step-by-step transition instructions, and informative FAQs on our website):

FeedDemon – you may continue to use your current version (synchronization won’t be supported after August 31, 2009). However, we recommend that you download the latest version of FeedDemon and sign-up for a Google Reader account for synchronization. Please refer to our transition instructions for assistance.

NetNewsWire for Mac – you may continue to use your current version (synchronization won’t be supported after August 31, 2009). However, we recommend that you download the latest version of NetNewsWire and sign-up for a Google Reader account for synchronization. Please refer to our transition instructions for assistance.

NetNewsWire for iPhone Customers – a mobile RSS Reader requires synchronization and a new version of NetNewsWire for iPhone that supports synchronization with Google Reader will be available soon. We will notify you when it is available so that you can download the latest version of NetNewsWire and sign-up for a Google Reader account prior to August 31, 2009.
NewsGator Inbox – we will no longer support NewsGator Inbox nor release new versions of the product. You may, however, continue to use your current version (synchronization won’t be supported after August 31, 2009). Please refer to our transition instructions for assistance.
NewsGator Online – NewsGator Online will not be available after August 31, 2009. Please transition to Google Reader by August 31, 2009. Please refer to our transition instructions for assistance.

NewsGator Go! – NewsGator Go! will not be available after August 31, 2009. Please transition to a new mobile RSS Reader by August 31, 2009. We have included alternate RSS Reader recommendations in the transition instructions on our website.

NewsGator’s Shared Clipping Feed – this feature will not be available after August 31, 2009. Google Reader will now provide you with this capability. Please see our FAQs for more information.

Blogroll, Ratings and/or Headlines – these services will not be available after August 31, 2009. Please remove these components from any blog or web site. Please see our FAQs for more information.

Browser Toolbar or the Desktop Notifier – these features will not work after August 31, 2009, nor will we offer new versions of these features. Please see our FAQs for more information.
Bottom line for you: We keep improving our FeedDemon and NetNewsWire applications, and you now can sync with and use the web based RSS reader you've been asking for. We've been working with the Google team to make these changes as smooth as possible, and they are thrilled to welcome all NewsGator users to the Reader family.

For more information, check out our blog or Google’s blog."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Marine Corps Bans Social Media, Agree or Disagree?

Posted by Amanda Walsh

As social media continues to grow, inevitably some organizations are going to have backlash to the real-time, easy sharing of information to “followers” or more importantly family and friends across the world.

Reported on August 4 on CNN.com via wired.com, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) banned social media sites specifically Facebook, Twitter and MySpace on its network.

Policy changes were made in an effort to protect against “malicious actors” who could find “information leakage” via military personnel using social media sites.

The ironic part about this new policy mandate for the USMC is that the United States Army recently allowed social media on all of their USA posts excluding overseas posts and other armed forces. On June 10, Noah Shactman writes on wired.com about a private decree issued in May allowing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to be allowed for soldiers to be able to “tell the Army story.”

Now with these recent changes in the USMC policy, Shactman posted on July 30 about the fear of a military-wide ban on social media. According to Shactman’s U.S. Army source, “We fought so hard for this. This is a huge step backwards.”

An article found on Ragan.com, reiterates the use of social media in the Army’s communication strategies. Their dedicated efforts have proven valuable and they are determined to continue using social media resources. The Army held a “top solider” competition that resulted in “more than 47,000 views of photos on their Flickr site, 18,000 views of their blog entries, and countless retweets of their announcements” in just four days!

This op-ed piece on huffingtonpost.com by Andy Sernovitz also provides great links to various news outlets covering the ban. I agree with Sernovitz when he says, “Social media is not a new security risk.”

He points out the fact that if troops are going to release data to outside sources, they could do so through telephone or e-mail just as easily as through a Facebook account.
Sernovitz suggests one way to combat misuse or information leakage is to increase trainings and communication of written policies.

My overall goal in reporting this news story was to convey to our readers the opposing arguments and views on social media. The USMC is going against the use of these social media vehicles while the Army has had a lot of success with them. Why do you think there is a difference in the branches?

My opinion lies with other social media users who advocate for more training for all military personnel to help familiarize them in the correct use of social media, but I’m interested in hearing yours too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Editorial Guidelines for Guest Bloggers

From time to time, Furia Rubel Communications and The PR Lawyer will accept relevant blog posts from guest bloggers.

Here you will find the link for our Editorial Guidelines.

The Morgan Stanley Intern in London was Right!

Posted by Amanda Walsh


A few months ago, fifteen-year-old, Matthew Robson, a Morgan Stanley intern in London eloquently wrote a report about his friends and their social media use in the UK. Check out my post about it here.

He simply said, “Teens don’t use Twitter” creating a media frenzy and a lot of debate in the blogging world about his basis of research. The report was anecdotal and based on his group of friends in the UK, but recent statistical research has shown, he had a point!

This report posted on Mashable.com via Business Insider and the Nielson Company with actual numbers to support the statement that “Teens don’t Tweet.”

According to the Nielsen report, users under the age of 25 only made up of 16% of U.S. Twitter users in the month of June.

Check out this graph from The Nielson Company (below) and to read more click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PR Headaches Avoided through Social Media Engagement

Posted by Amanda Walsh

This article, For Companies, a Tweet in Time Can Avert PR Mess found on TheWallStreetJournal.com is a great resource on strategies and tactics for social media engagement. Writer, Sarah E. Needleman specifically focuses on the use of social media by corporations to converse in crisis communications.

Needleman sites a few examples of successive use of social media to “Avert a PR Mess” including this one from automotive industry giant, Ford. Last December, Ford's head of social media Scott Monty, became aware of online comments criticizing Ford “for allegedly trying to shut down a fan Web site, TheRangerStation.com.” He wasted no time in finding out the story behind the criticisms and quickly tweeted about it. Later, he spoke to Ford’s legal team and then tweeted that the dispute was settled.

Through quick, effective response and monitoring of social media, Monty was able to take control of the situation happening on social media networks. Professionals are now writing case studies about the Ford situation and how Mr. Monty handled it in a prompt and appropriate way.

PepsiCo experienced a similar situation involving a controversial commercial. Through the process of listening to the public and issuing quick responses, the situation was defused via social media outlets. PepsiCo’s competitor, Coca-Cola Co. is vamping up social media efforts as well by focusing on accounts on Twitter. Other industries including airlines like Southwest and technology companies like Microsoft are following suit.

Companies are now beginning to train staff to engage in their overall corporate social media efforts. Effectively using social media to avert a crisis in PR is a big and challenging task. To read more from the article in the Wall Street Journal.com, click here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Guest Blog: How to Gain Publicity When You’re an Attorney

Guest post by Kat Sanders

Any business needs its share of publicity if it is to thrive – you cannot expect to set up shop in a dark corner under the staircase and wait to be discovered. So when you run your own law firm, you need to ensure that you’re doing all you can to sell it to the people out there so that if they ever need the kind of services you’re offering, you’re the first person they call. If you’re looking for ways to gain publicity when you’re an attorney, here’s what you need to do:

· Establish your credibility: Not many people would speak the words attorney and credibility in the same breath, but the fact is that almost everyone needs their services at some time or the other. And the way they choose the person who will represent them when they need legal recourse depends on how credible they think you are. Attorneys and firms who follow transparent billing policies and practices, are upfront about fees and who have a general reputation of not taking their clients to the cleaners are always in demand, because their credibility is high.

· Treat your clients well: When you treat all clients equally and fairly, your reputation precedes you. The best form of publicity is word of mouth, not because of the target audience that it reaches, but because of the trust that automatically goes into the message that one client sends to a potential other when talking about you and the services you provide. No amount of money can buy trust, something a client must have in a lawyer. But one satisfied client can do wonders for your business by talking about you to others who need your services.

· Build your reputation: It’s important to build a good reputation because, as I said before, your reputation precedes you. And to do this, you need to achieve success in most of your cases. No one wants to go to a lawyer who is not skilled or who struggles to find clients. So you need to go all out to prove yourself and cement your place firmly in the niche law category that you’ve chosen to practice.

Some attorneys equate notoriety and fame and put them on the same pedestal – they think that any kind of publicity is free advertising. While this may be true for film stars and other kinds of celebrities who just need to keep their names in the media in order to stay alive in the minds of the people, it does not hold good for lawyers who depend on their acumen and legal skills to represent clients and see that their rights are protected. In fact, when you’re a lawyer, bad publicity could effectively kill your career in one stroke, so avoid it like the plague and focus on building your business with the various blocks of good publicity options.

This post is written by Kat Sanders, a guest blogger for The PR Lawyer. Kat regularly blogs on the topic of court reporter training at her blog, Court Reporter Schools. The postings by Kat Sanders on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Furia Rubel Communication’s positions, strategies or opinions. Comments and questions regarding this post should be directed to katsanders25@gmail.com.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Above the Law – A Parody in Law Firm Names

I received an e-mail for a colleague telling me that my blog on law firm names from The Legal Intelligencer was quoted on Above the Law.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with AboveTheLaw.com, their site says this: AboveTheLaw.com takes a behind-the-scenes look at the world of law. The site provides news and gossip about the profession’s most colorful personalities and powerful institutions, as well as original commentary on breaking legal developments. Above the Law is published by Breaking Media.

It’s considered the Huffington Post or Drudge Report of the legal industry.

Kashmir Hill is the associate editor for the “legal tabloid” (their words not mine). Hill quoted my eight reasons why I believe shorter is better – in the context of law firm names. She then went on to applaud Morrison & Foerster for using MoFo calling it simple and brazen. It certainly provides fodder for what comes next.

Hill then said, although I believe in parody, that “perhaps [law firms] should shorten to a couple syllables. MoFo conveys a sense of personality – forceful – that "Morrison & Foerster" does not. What opportunities do other firms have to rebrand themselves by going short?”

After giving a few examples, contributors came up with a few of their own. They are a hoot to read – although if you find sexual innuendos and opinionated commentary a waste of time – then you should avoid the comments altogether.

However, in response to Comment 13 where the anonymous guest says that in his “experience, these ‘experts’ [alluding to law firm marketing experts] don't really know that much about the practice of law or the marketing of a law firm to existing or potential clients” and “who cares what some former Philadelphia trial lawyer thinks about law firm branding? Her view is not relevant,” I say my business results speak for themselves. But more importantly, I want to thank commenter #120 who says:

“#13 - Don't generalize about legal marketing experts. Gina Rubel is one of the best at what she does and you might learn something if you actually paid attention to the content. The good legal marketers – inside and outside the firm – are actually helping law firms increase revenues and teaching thousands of attorneys how to grow their practices. They rarely get enough credit for their contributions but don't underestimate their talents.”

#120 – whoever you are – thank you for the accolades. I’m honored. And speaking on behalf of those legal marketers who have practiced law, managed law firms and kicked A$$ in legal communications by averting crises, garnering national media attention, keeping clients out of the media when necessary, advocating on behalf of the unknown to influence key thought leaders, increasing revenues, and building brands and businesses – I thank you!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Social Media Engagement Best Practices

Posted by Amanda Walsh

One aspect of the World Wide Web that I appreciate most is the ability to read news from other parts of the Unites States and around the world. Today’s blog is inspired by a news article from The Portland Business Journal out in Oregon.

The article, “Rushed Facebook, Twitter efforts can easily backfire” by Courtney Sherwood, outlines tips in regards to using social media effectively. Sherwood interviews many professionals working strategically within the social media realm.

Many companies are realizing the importance of an ongoing commitment to maintain social media communications. “You have to commit resources and you have to be dedicated to keeping concepts fresh,” says Rebecca Armstrong, managing director of North, a Portland creative agency.

Along with commitment, it’s important to have fun and enjoy social media. Understanding how to use social media in the best way is crucial as well. “Real estate agents who post every listing they have or businesses that use Twitter like paid advertising, are being boring,” Armstrong said. “You can’t bore your customer into buying.”


Some great takeaways from the article are:


  • Companies need to understand that the social media world is different than traditional marketing campaigns.
  • Social media is best used for client relationships and cultivating new connections.
  • Time and manpower are required in order to keep social media connections active and growing.
  • Most importantly, engaging in conversations is done through listening and responding to your “followers.”

My favorite quote from the article was from Kelly Feller, Hillsboro, Oregon-based social media strategist at Intel. “If Twitter is like a global water cooler, Facebook is more like a family backyard barbecue,” said Feller.

It is important to engage many different social media outlets, for that reason! Each provides a different way to reach a variety of audiences. Also, take a look at one of my recent posts on The PR Lawyer called “Social Media Engagement = Big Bucks? One Study Shares Findings” about the top social media brands. The post examines a study that connects big brands with dedicated employees and teams assigned to monitoring and engaging social media and their annual revenue.

These two posts reiterate that successful companies are realizing that not just having a million social media accounts, but using them effectively is the key to listening to customers’ needs and complaints. The goal of committing to and maintaining social media outlets is a growing, worthwhile investment of staff, time and money.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PR for Lawyers Legal Tip of the Day: Preparing Your Image for a Public Appearance

In a recent Lawline.com online CLE, Megan Kristel of Kristel Closets shares with attorneys the importance of playing to the public's perception of how attorneys should look in order to market themselves effectively.

Check out the clip below for more.

The Debate Continues on Shorter Law Firm Names

Here is Gina's latest post on The Legal Intelligencer Blog where she weighs in on shorter law firm names.

Tips on Online Content & Legal Protection

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Today’s post relates to a recent post I wrote concerning “Social Media Faux Pas.” In the post, I wrote about the libel lawsuit against Amanda Bonnen, a woman from Chicago who is being sued over a tweet she posted on her Twitter account. Bonnen’s tweet read, “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay." Her former realty management company, Horizon Group Management, then sued her for “publishing a false and defamatory tweet” on May 12 about their company. The suit claims that Bonnen’s remark went out to the world because her Twitter profile was public, although she only had 20 “followers” at the time. The suit was filed for $50,000 in damages!

I then stumbled across this article from Ragan.com called, “Online content: What—and whom—does the law protect?” by Michael Sebastian which provided tips for those worrying about the legal consequences of social media engagement.

Sebastian consulted with Bruce Johnson, a defamation attorney from Seattle firm Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP.

Below I included three interesting tips from Johnson marked in bold with my corresponding comments:

1. “You are not responsible for user-generated content on your Web site. But if you take an active role in producing third-party content, then you can be held responsible for it.”

a. Meaning you are not responsible for defamatory comments left on your company’s blog by outsiders because you are not the writer of that content. But if in the comment section, you ask for specific feedback to questions as opposed to having a blank section for comments, then you could be held accountable.

2. “The courts protect anonymity.”

a. In order to find out the identities of anonymous commenters, a company must prove to the court there is “good reason” to know their identity (i.e. that their comments broke the law.)

3. “Internal communication is protected from defamation lawsuits.”

a. This was a point I did not take into consideration. If the message is not intended for public view, (i.e. something written in an internal publication) it is probably protected against lawsuits.

To read more from the article by Michael Sebastian and attorney Bruce Johnson, check out the article here.

PR for Lawyers Tip of the Day: Legal Communications Ethics

Gina Rubel,Esq. recently presented an online CLE on behalf of Lawline.com, in which she encouraged lawyers to familiarize themselves with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to ensure that they are in compliance when speaking publicly about legal matters.

Watch the clip below for more legal public relations tips and tactics from ThePRLawyer.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Breaking News: North Korea Pardons U.S. Journalists

According to NPR.org, "North Korean leader Kim Jong Il issued a "special pardon" for two jailed American journalists and ordered their release at former U.S. President Bill Clinton's request, North Korean media reported Wednesday."

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Beware: “Social Media Faux Pas”

Posted by Amanda Walsh

When beginning to engage in social media, remember to proceed with caution and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or guidance from professionals along the way – being vigilant may just save you from headaches in the end.

In fact, if you are signing up for social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or the like, it is important to remember that what you are putting out into the public domain is just that – viewed by the public!

Some “gaffes” made by Americans from all walks of life have been summed up in this ABC News report. I’m posting these blunders not to discourage people from engaging in social media but to encourage new users to learn from others’ mistakes, as technology and social media are certainly the tools changing our world today.

Two concerns should be kept top of mind when using social media tools. One concern is being aware of what you post and its effect on your personal reputation. Another concern is how your posts reflect the company that you work for.

Some users have learned the hard way in regards to tweeting about a company. Recently, a case against Twitter user, Amanda Bonnen, was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times. The coverage highlighted that a lawsuit was filed against her for libel after posting a tweet about the former management company of her apartment in Chicago. Bonnen’s tweet read, “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay." Horizon Group Management then sued her for “publishing a false and defamatory tweet” on May 12 about their company. The suit claims that Bonnen’s remark went out to the world because her profile was public, although she only had 20 “followers” at the time. The suit was filed for $50,000 in damages!

I will keep you posted on new updates in regards to this case as the results of the lawsuit become public.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Social Media for the Entrepreneur

I will be presenting Social Media for the Entrepreneur at Women's Business Forum on August 5, 2009 in Doylestown with Laura Powers. We plan on a fun and interactive program focusing on how to use social media for marketing, public relations and business development. http://htxt.it/1zmI

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