Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weighing In On Generation Y

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Generation Y (or Millennials as they are also known) are the 18-24 year old set, up-and-coming in the work force and are being talked about all over the blogosphere. Regardless of what you label them, it seems that this generation is one both marketers and human resource experts are having the toughest time of figuring out how to sell and manage.

A recent article, 10 Things Social Media Marketers Should Know About Millennials, was featured on SocialTimes.com. Written by millennial Jackie Lampugnano, the post provided a firsthand account of the 18-24 demographic in terms of their preferences, personality quirks and preferred work style.

Lampugnano presents 10 traits that marketers should keep in mind in order to understand the psychology of Generation Y.  There are a few points that I agree with such as “we love technology”, “we’re oversharers” and “we have short attention spans.”  These traits are all fundamental to figuring out what makes GenY ‘tick’ in order to find a successful medium to reach us.

For additional insight we spoke with client, President of the Human Resources consulting company K HR Solutions, author, and generational expert, Kim Huggins.  Kim agreed with many points Lampugnano’s post concerning the millennial generation and discusses many of them in her book, GENerate Performance! Unleashing the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce. The book is the quintessential guide for navigating the challenges of managing a multigenerational workplace.

“I think Jackie’s first point is one that I agree with most about the importance of getting to know each millennial on an individual level.  I tell my clients this all the time.  There is no shortcut, especially for leaders of teams, they must get to know their employees on a personal level,” said Kim. “To find out what motivates, frustrates, and ultimately gets the best results from employees in this group it is essential to put energy into getting to know them.  This can be uncomfortable for some leaders who grew up during a time when the work environment was more impersonal and people were afraid of or discouraged from talking about their life outside of work.”

“Today, employees not only want, but actually expect, their managers to know about them on a more personal level,” she continues. “That means that you have to talk to your employees about what they need and expect from you, the company, etc. – and then do something about it.”

From my own GenY point of view, Kim is spot on with her analysis of the ways generations work together in the workforce. Whether marketers are targeting us or bosses are trying to communicate with us, GenerationY seems to present new challenges and bring different characteristics to the workforce.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Working With CEOs To Eliminate Jargon, Buzzwords

Photo Credit:
http://www.e-gineer.com
Posted by Amanda Walsh


A Ragan.com article by Matt Wilson titled, The war on jargon: For best results, use a scalpel, not an ax, gives some helpful tips on guiding the company CEO to write more effectively and eliminate some overused buzzwords.


As we near the end of 2010, many bloggers and news makers are examining the past year as a whole. We are all looking at the biggest media gaffes from the worst "sound bites" to clichéd buzzwords that everyone is tired of hearing. 


Communicators need to act gingerly when editing and proofreading a manager's writing.  These tips can help a communicator clean up language and cut through the unnecessary jumble --doing away with clichés, overly verbose language and hackneyed business-speak like “leverage” “synergy,” etc. In the end, the outcome should be to streamline a communication piece. Good communication is like art, good communicators therefore, should become masters at crafting and molding language that resonates with the target audience.


* "Establish who the audience is and what response you seek." Once this is ironed out, a CEO is more apt to listen to suggestions


* Engage the CEO by asking, "how can we make this more effective?"


* "How will this wording get the point across? Why is this phrased the way it is?" Instead of automatically saying, this needs to be edited which may offend.


* “Use their favored phrase, and follow it up with a second one in layman’s terms” This technique is used to explain and drive the point home for readers.


* What may be considered jargon to a communicator could make sense to a specific audience.  It is important to outline what is considered jargon and to whom and how to bet effectively communicate with an audience using words they understand.


* Make sure there is a human element to all communications.


* Providing examples of clear communications from other companies and company CEOs to illustrate your point.


A valuable resource for all communicators is the book, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are given a piece from the CEO that is tricky to proofread.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Facebook: A Documentation Of Our Lives

Posted by Amanda Walsh

I came across this heartbreaking article today in the Washington Post, A Facebook story: A mother's joy and a family's sorrow, that got me thinking about Facebook and how it plays an integral part in many people's lives as a documented way to preserve memories.

Shana Greatman Swers, a 35-year old married consultant from the Washington DC area was accustomed to posting updates on her Facebook from her iPhone. The Washington Post article gathered some background information along with her Facebook status updates to give readers a personal peek into her life. She announced the happy news about her pregnancy through to updates about the birth of her son all on the social media platform.  After her son' birth, updates still playing out on Facebook, medical complications forced Swers back into the hospital several times and finally, an announcement of her sudden and tragic death last month appeared as a status update.

As sad as this story is, it got me thinking about Facebook and how it really is an internet-based documentary of our lives. Depending on how engaged you are with the platform, Facebook provides a 'play-by-play' of many of aspects of our daily routine including pictures or status updates about special memories or tragic moments. Many families have been known to post pictures of their children or anecdotes of the darnedest things they say to share with friends and family near and far. We are living in a time now where, as these kids grow, Facebook has become a virtual 'baby book' so to speak or a memory book for those to remember loved ones that have passed away.

Facebook documents the important, the mundane, the big days and the not-so-big days of our lives. For many in the 18-24 set or even older (if someone decides to use a scanner), the hazy moments from our college days that we wish we could erase, remember or re-do can often still be dug up in the Facebook archives. Working at Furia Rubel Communications, a PR and marketing firm specializing in legal communications, we think about the implications of social media in the legal sphere. Facebook is non-discriminating in its collection of snippets of our lives- meaning the good, the bad, or the unethical, it's all out there. For lawyers collecting evidence it can be a valuable tool.  For attorneys fresh out of law school embarking on the job search, it can become their Achilles heel.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a virtual scrapbook of our lives- documenting the happy, the sad and all the in-between. It allows us to keep in touch with friends, honor someone's memory, showcase pictures, remember a special moment or an entire era of our lives.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Science Of Blogging Tips From Dan Zarrella - Part Two

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella shared so much interesting data in his webinar the other day that I wanted to write another post highlighting a few more findings from his research. Zarrella offered insight into driving traffic to your blog and increasing visibility through Facebook and Twitter. Check out my first post about the webinar.

When should I post?
• Post in the morning, around 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. because readers tend to read blogs in the morning.
• Links to posts increase around 7 a.m. and comments are highest around 8 a.m.

How often should I post? 
• Frequency is important. Blogs that produce posts more than once of day, of course, are creating timely news-type stories and receive more traffic.

When should I tweet or put my blog post on Facebook?
• Tweeting your blog post later in the afternoon is a good idea. Retweets peak around 3 p.m.- 4 p.m.
• Facebook sharing is optimal late morning and again in the early evening.
Zarella advised posting in the morning but sharing your post on social media outlets later in the day.

What day of the week gets most blog views?
• Post blog posts on Monday because that day tends to get the most views and links, but readers tend to post comments on Saturday mornings. The same stats are true for social media sharing – the weekend is best for sharing blog posts.

ROI
• Measurement is key to determining success of social media. Google Analytics provides a lot of interesting data that will help you determine what is working and what is not working for you and your blog.

Knowing your audience will also play into when you post. Women read more posts via email; men tend to read blogs late at night and more than once a day. This information should help you determine when and how often you post. Good luck and happy blogging!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Science Of Blogging Tips From Dan Zarrella - Part One

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Last week, I tuned into “The Science of Blogging,” a free webinar hosted by Hubspot and Dan Zarrella, HubSpot's social media scientist. Zarrella presented a lot of data from surveys and research on optimizing content on your blog, Twitter and Facebook. There was so much valuable information that I have written two posts. I’ve included a few takeaways from the presentation below.

• You should have a blog. People are reading them and not just once a week, typically once a day or even more.
• Readers want to know who you are and why they should follow you.  Identify yourself authoritatively on your blog. Zarrella discovered that words like founder, expert and speaker increase your following.
• Positivity sells. This may seem like a no-brainer but obviously happy messages are shared more.

Why do you read blogs? What makes you want to read a certain blog?
• Zarrella’s findings revealed that readers wanted to learn about the insights and opinions of that specific blogger. People liked the blogger’s analysis of information and their unique point of view.
• People want to hear from you not about you.  Zarrella presented some interesting findings about Retweets (RTs) on Twitter.  He found that self-references in tweets do no increase RTs. He advised sharing useful information with your followers.

Should I post videos or pictures? 
In order to figure out what you should use on your blog, you need to assess what your goals are. These goals will dictate the type of media you produce.
• Videos are shared more on Facebook than Twitter.
• Videos get more links, but photos get more comments.

Give your readers a call to action. 
If your goal is increasing RTs on Twitter, why not ask for others to pass the information along? If you want comments, ask for them.
• Most viewed words: Insights, analysis, answers
• Most linked to words: recent, insights, on, answers
• Most commented-on words: giveaway, recruiting, gifts, job, money, comments
• Most shareable words on Facebook: “why, most, how” Zarrella explains that people want the bigger picture and also sited that news story-type headlines are effective on Facebook as well.

Lastly, content is still king.  Zarrella’s surveys not so surprisingly revealed that readers want to read good, quality content.  Excellent bloggers should foremost be excellent writers. Use correct grammar and punctuation, always. Period.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Facebook Redesign News: What Do You Think?

Posted by Amanda Walsh

It's been a full week with the new Facebook profile redesign. If you haven't heard about or noticed the changes, I put together some screenshots and links for more information.

Below is a screen capture of my new profile page. Notice at the top there is a film strip of my photos and on the left-hand side my friends are listed.



The new redesign puts your information at the top of the page including where you work, where you studied, where you live and birthday.  In addition, randomly-chosen, tagged photos have been moved to the top of the profile page as well.

When you look at a friend's profile, the share bar (below) pops up. In order to write on their wall, you need to click "Post".  This may be an extra step in the process of writing on someone's wall, but I don't find it too annoying.


I personally like the new redesign. I believe it streamlines profiles and put interesting information about a person at the very top of the page where it catches your eye. I've noticed on some blog comments that people aren't thrilled with the change. Some say that where you live and work is information that your friends should already know about you. Also, users are commenting that status updates are most important. Many don't like the random photos that come up in the filmstrip at the top.

In the past, when Facebook has made changes to design, there has inevitably been a backlash from some users. Time will tell how Facebook weathers another design change and the opinions of its millions of users.

Here are some links to learn more about the changes to the Facebook profile page.

* Sixty Minutes Broke the News on Sunday December 5. CEO Mark Zuckerberg did an on-camera interview with Lesley Stahl.
* Facebook Blog Breaks the News About the New Profile
* PCWorld gives Facebook Redesign Tour

What do you think about the new redesign?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Happy Holidays From Furia Rubel Communications!


Wishing you serenity, prosperity and abundant success today and always!

Happy holidays from the marketing, public relations and social media team at Furia Rubel Communications

Gina Rubel
Laura Powers
Leah Ludwig
Brandyn Bissinger
Amanda Walsh
Katie Noonan

Monday, December 06, 2010

Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings & LinkedIn

Posted by Amanda Walsh

The other day, I came across this article on LinkedIn called, "Showcase your legal expertise on LinkedIn with Martindale- Hubbell Lawyer Rating." Written by Carlton Dyce, VP of Peer Review Ratings and Client Review Services at LexisNexis, on their recently launched lawyer ratings application on LinkedIn.

He announced a new application integrated in LinkedIn "Lawyer Ratings by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell." Now lawyers who showcase their rating on www.martindale.com® and www.lawyers.comsm can also display their peer recognition within LinkedIn.  This application also allows clients a way to fill out a "Martindale Hubbell Client Review" on LinkedIn.  How convenient!


Instructions for how to download the application and more details about this new service on LinkedIn can be found here. http://blog.linkedin.com/2010/12/02/lawyer-ratings-linkedin/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ABA Journal Blawg 100 Nomination - TaxGirl.com

The fourth annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 has nominated, TaxGirl, for its niche blog category. The Blawg 100 represents the best legal blogs as selected by the Journal's editors. Each year, they select a variety of the best law bloggers out there for a vote by its readers.

TaxGirl features sections to get to know Kelly, what her blog is about and opportunities to ask her tax-related questions. The comprehensive archives are sure to have an answer to just about any tax issue you may have. I believe it's an excellent resource for a myriad of people on complex legal tax issues. She is a friend and trusted colleague of mine and I love her blog.

Please take the time to vote for TaxGirl over at http://www.abajournal.com/blawg100/2010/niche

Congratulations on your nomination, Kelly!

Court Rules Social Media Sites Discoverable

I thought you might find this court opinion of interest. It is from the Court of Common Pleas in Jefferson County, PA, and seems to be the trend regarding discovery of social networking sites.

In McMillen v. Hummingbird Speedway, the court allows the defendant to gain access to the plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace social networking sites during discovery concluding that “Where there is an indication that a person’s social network sites contain information relevant to the prosecution or defense of a lawsuit, therefore, and given Koken’s admonition that the courts should allow litigants to utilize “all rational means for ascertaining the truth,” 911 A.2d at 1027, and the law’s general dispreference for the allowance of privileges, access to those sites should be freely granted.”

A link to the opinion is included below along with some of the key language from the opinion.

http://www.padisciplinaryboard.org/documents/McMillen-v-Hummingbird-Speedway.pdf

Facebook, MySpace, and their ilk are social network computer sites people utilize to connect with friends and meet new people. That is, in fact, their purpose, and they do not bill themselves as anything else. Thus, while it is conceivable that a person could use them as forums to divulge and seek advice on personal and private matters, it would be unrealistic to expect that such disclosures would be considered confidential.

Both sites at issue here do guarantee a modicum of privacy insofar as users may, with the exception of certain basic information, choose what information and posts to make public and which ones to share with only those persons they have identified as friends. Yet reading their terms and privacy policies should dispel any notion that information one chooses to share, even if only with one friend, will not be disclosed to anybody else.

....

Returning to the four factors identified in Matter of Adoption of Embick, it is clear that no person choosing MySpace or Facebook as a communications forum could reasonably expect that his communications would remain confidential, as both sites clearly express the possibility of disclosure. Confidentiality is not essential to maintain the relationships between and among social network users, either. The relationships to be fostered through those media are basic friendships, not attorney-client, physician-patient, or psychologist-patient types of relationships, and while one may expect that his or her friend will hold certain information in confidence, the maintenance of one’s friendships typically does not depend on confidentiality.

The Court cannot say, therefore, that the community seeks to sedulously foster friendships by recognizing friend-to-friend communications as confidential or privileged. No such privilege currently exists. Friendships nonetheless abound and flourish, because whereas it is necessary to guarantee people that their attorneys, physicians, and psychologists will not disseminate the substance of their discussions in order to encourage the type and level of disclosure essential to those professional relationships, history shows that the same guarantee is not necessary to encourage the development of friendships.

Furthermore, whatever relational harm may be realized by social network computer site users is undoubtedly outweighed by the benefit of correctly disposing of litigation. As a general matter, a user knows that even if he attempts to communicate privately, his posts may be shared with strangers as a result of his friends’ selected privacy settings. The Court thus sees little or no detriment to allowing that other strangers, i.e., litigants, may become privy to those communications through discovery.

The countervailing benefits, moreover, cannot be overstated. Take this case, for instance. McMillen has alleged significant and substantial injuries, some of which he claims may be permanent. Accessing only the public portion of his Facebook page, however, the defendants have discovered posts they contend show that McMillen has exaggerated his injuries. Certainly a lack of injury and inability is relevant to their defense, and it is reasonable to assume that McMillen may have made additional observations about his travels and activities in private posts not currently available to the defendants. If they do exist, gaining access to them could help to prove either the truth or falsity of McMillen’s alleged claims.

The same may be true in any number of cases. Millions of people join Facebook, MySpace, and other social network sites, and as various news accounts have attested, more than a few use those sites indiscreetly. See e.g., The Independent, Facebook can ruin your life. And so can MySpace, Bebo . . ., http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-can-ruin-your-life-and-so-can-myspace-bebo-780521.html (02/10/2008) (Discussing some of the potential social, career, and legal ramifications of inappropriate social computer networking). When they do and their indiscretions are pertinent to issues raised in a lawsuit in which they have been named,the search for truth should prevail to bright to light relevant information that may not otherwise have been known.

Where there is an indication that a person’s social network sites contain information relevant to the prosecution or defense of a lawsuit, therefore, and given Koken’s admonition that the courts should allow litigants to utilize “all rational means for ascertaining the truth,” 911 A.2d at 1027, and the law’s general dispreference for the allowance of privileges, access to those sites should be freely granted.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Facebook Creates New Mess for EDD: Messages - Add to Social Media Policy

I read on Law.com today that Facebook Creates New Mess for EDD: Messages. This is exactly why social media policies are so important for law firms and other professionals who deal with sensitive and confidential information.

Copyright 2010. Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Every law firm, accounting firm, medical provider, public relations and marketing firm, etc., should have a section in their social media policy relating to “Messaging Within Social Media.” In fact, if the social media is not part of the company's employee manual, then it should be included there too.

For lawyers / law firms, it should state something to the effect that "Social Media is NOT a platform for attorneys to converse with clients, judges, witnesses, jurors, opposing counsel, or any others regarding business matters. All correspondence MUST be handled via e-mail or traditional mail in order to preserve its integrity, maintain a correspondence log, and protect attorney-client privilege."

The policy should then go on to provide basic template language to empower attorneys and staff to respond to inquiries on social media platforms that should be handled via e-mail or otherwise. For example, the policy could say: "When you receive a message via social media that you would otherwise deem confidential, privileged, important to our business, important to a client matter, etc., use the following template language to respond: Thank you for reaching out to me here. In order to protect our correspondence, please send me your e-mail address and telephone number so I may reach out to you directly. In the alternative, please feel free to call me at {insert telephone number} or send me an e-mail at {insert e-mail address}."

Social media is not only changing the way we handle marketing, public relations and business development, it is also changing the way we conduct business. If your company doesn't already have a social media policy, I encourage you to add it to your 2011 high priority goals.

Monday, November 22, 2010

PRSA AMEC New Metrics Webinar: Thoughts

Posted by Amanda Walsh and Leah Ludwig

As members of the industry organization, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Furia Rubel team is frequently invited to participate in webinars. A recent webinar, broadcast from London, was especially eye-opening for us because it dealt with contested points within the public relations industry regarding PR campaign measurement and metrics.

Measurement and metrics is an area that has been debated for a long time within the PR industry and there is still no proven equation or metrics. This blog post is intended to give a bird’s eye view of what is currently going on in the public relations industry. As a PR and marketing agency, we believe that the way in which measurement and metric evaluations are communicated with clients depends heavily on the client’s industry.
The webinar marked a continuation of a conference hosted by the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) held in Barcelona earlier this year. The outcomes of that conference are proving to be groundbreaking for communications professionals across the globe.

The AMEC declaration of PR measurement standards are known as the Barcelona Principles and are included below:
1 Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
2. Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Outputs
3. The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
4. Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
5. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured
7 Transparency and Replicability

To gain more in depth knowledge of the Barcelona Principles, this article from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in the UK can be found here. Here is another summary from IPR.

The most revolutionary outcome was discontinuing the use of Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) when reporting media relations values.  During the webinar, industry pros attempted to answer some key questions concerning the evaluation of public relations campaigns. Specifically, the question many PR professionals ask is, “What are the validated metrics to be used instead of AVEs?”

Worldwide Director of Strategic Services for Hill & Knowlton, Ruth Pestana, presented some valuable visual charts that showcased PR efforts as a continuum beginning with output moving to outcome to impacting business results.

The grid demonstrated a simplified breakdown of PR efforts:
* PR Activity – Communications professionals tell stories and create key messages
* Intermediary – The message gets distributed through a third party to get message across to target audience (OUTPUTS)
* Target Audience Effect – How the consumer is affected by the stories and messages (OUTTAKE and OUTCOMES)

She urged PR professionals to look forward instead of back and to concentrate on evaluating outcome instead of output. She also stresses the importance of looking at each media hit critically when evaluating results. Measure the quality not necessarily quantity of impressions. She feels that AVEs are no longer accurate to use in reporting value because advertising is paid for and always positive. Earned media is uncontrolled and can result in positive, neutral or negative messages. This is why the AMEC feels that PR professionals must focus on how communications messaging is affecting consumer/customer behavior.

In addition, there is a thoughtful article on PRSA Philly Chapter News by Jacob Farbman, M.A. APR, writes why AVEs are no longer viable ways to calculate Return on Investment.

And the debate continues…

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: “Shut Up and Say Something” By Karen Friedman

Karen Friedman hits the nail on the head in her newly-released book, “Shut Up and Say Something.”

Right from the beginning with chapter one, “Zip It” to chapters “Talk to your Grandmother” and “Reality Check,” Friedman presents attention-grabbers.  “The backward Z-to-A format reminds us to keep the end goal (Z) in mind when faced with daily communication challenges that are frequently met with resistance and skepticism.” How clever.

“Shut Up and Say Something” is outlined with easy to read bullet points and relevant anecdotes from Friedman’s years in the industry from working as a news anchor and reporter to her experience in the communications coaching business.  She presents key points when dealing with the media and proves their importance through some cringe worthy real-life anecdotes.  She clearly demonstrates just how one sound bite or off-the-cuff remark can be linked to you and/or your organization forever.

As we know at Furia Rubel, excellent communications skills can make or break your success within an organization and this book is shaping up to be an excellent guide to training clients in media relations.  We recommend this for any level executive in a variety of industries looking to successfully navigate the often perplexing communications terrain.

According to the website, “Shut Up and Say Something is an entirely new hands-on approach to help professionals overcome daily communication challenges in order to quickly influence listeners and decision makers.” 

You can check it out at http://shutupandsaysomething.com/.

Great work Karen! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Goodbye SEO! Hello SMO?

Posted by Amanda Walsh


Recently, The Leading Voices section of Paidcontent.org featured a compelling article, "SEO is Dead, The New King is SMO" by Ben Elowitz that may be of interest to The PR Lawyer blog readers. Elowitz is co-founder and CEO of Wetpaint, a web publisher. I also noticed after reading this article that the blogosphere is buzzing with predictions of the end of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).


Elowitz explores the industry shift from putting utmost importance on keywords, paid links and engineering to valuing the creation of useful content for readers. He predicts that the recent partnership of Facebook and Bing will usher in a new era of Social Media Optimization or SMO.


As the most visited website across the globe, Facebook is at the pinnacle of search and content. According to Elowitz, the partnership with Bing will force publishers to re-focus on creating valuable content that will be seen and shared. Many users are already using the Facebook newsfeed as their go-to news interface for not only updates from friends, but news outlets as well. “Already sites at Wetpaint and other publishers are seeing more audience coming from Facebook than from search,” Elowitz notes.


He may be on to something here. Granted, good content and valuable information will always be king and creating something that will be shared and re-shared on various social media outlets including Facebook will inevitable drive traffic, but all of this depends on your target audience. Although Facebook may be “the most visited website across the globe,” the majority of internet users still go to Google to do things like research a company, look for a specific product, or search for specific how-to information, according to Furia Rubel’s VP of Marketing, Laura Powers.  It is important to keep in mind that Google is still a search-engine giant and coming up high on search results still is a wonderful thing.


Some supporting websites for further food for thought are BusinessInsider and TopTechReviews
(Photo credit: http://blog.socialmaximizer.com)

Friday, November 12, 2010

PRSA Philadelphia Event With Jeff Ansell – When The Headline Is You

Posted by Amanda Walsh

My colleague, Leah Ludwig and I had the opportunity to attend a PRSA Philadelphia chapter luncheon yesterday where Jeff Ansell, award-winning journalist, crisis communications veteran, and author of "When the Headline is YOU: An Insider's Guide to Handling the Media," presented insights and tips for crisis communications.  Leah and I enjoyed the event and wanted to pass along some takeaways to help you and your media training efforts BEFORE a crisis occurs.

Ansell discussed many points including the state of journalism today, why the media training model is broken and tips for facing bad news head-on.


The State of Journalism Today
The fact is that many journalists today are working with less time and resources. They need to tell the story the easiest and fastest way possible.  Today’s news has taken a turn toward sensationalism and emphasis has been brought away from thoughtful, public policy. Ansell comments that often it’s easy to cast characters and find the “village idiot.” We want to avoid having our spokesperson cast as that character.


Why the Media Training Model is Broken
Communicating with the news media can seem like “learning a new language,” so it’s important to train a spokesperson accordingly. Before, media training was all about communicating positive key messages or ignoring tough reporter questions – today we know that this is not always the best way to handle a crisis. If you’re not addressing their tough questions someone else may. The result? Your company loses control of the message and things typically start to spiral downward from there.


“You’re only as good as your worst quote” 
We’ve all seen it happen – the media frenzy that can make or break a company’s reputation and ultimately ruin their bottom line. Ansell notes the BP crisis as an example and the famous, “I’d like my life back” quote from BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward. 


Ways to avoid these gaffes:
1. Breathe.  The first reaction many spokespeople experience is holding their breath in a stressful situation. Breathing will help blood flow to the brain and increase clear thinking.

2. Acknowledge the problem. Pretending not to hear a question will not make it go away. Nor will repeating positive key messages help resolve the situation.

3. Frame the Story. It all boils down to how the story is framed. Ansell shares a story of two priests who are speaking with a monsignor. One says, “Father, may I smoke while I pray?” to which the monsignor replies, “of course not!” The other priest tries, “Father, may I pray while I smoke?” and his answer is, “Of course, my son.” A-ha!

4. Emotion Always Wins over Fact.  You can offer all the facts in the world in the face of a bad news story, but emotion will always win. Sometimes it’s ok to be honest and address the situation for what it is. When concern is high and trust is low, don’t shy away from using the negative words that traditional media training warns against using at all costs.

One of my favorite points of Ansell’s talk was that often times in the middle of a media frenzy, a CEO begins to only listen to the lawyer and the accountant. In order to effectively media train, it is important to get the lawyer’s buy in. Furia Rubel has a unique niche in this market because our CEO/President, Gina F. Rubel is a public relations and marketing expert AND a lawyer.

Ansell talked about a value compass and how to get to the root of the company’s values.  Meeting with decision makers and getting them to say out loud, what are we made of? What does our company stand for? Some examples of value words include caring, concerned, accountable, or maintaining high quality standards. Take into account how the stakeholders feel and how the company can enhance their well-being. Gaining buy in from all parties will result in proper training and provide opportunities to cultivate quality answers to tough questions.


To read more about this topic, check out Ansell’s book, When the Headline is YOU: An Insider's Guide to Handling the Media.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Facebook Posts and Free Speech

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has declared that Facebook posts are legally protected speech and that terminating an employee based on their comments and status posts regarding working conditions is unlawful.

However, think twice before airing your workplace greivances. According to the NLRB's Facebook page:

"When do Facebook comments lose protected concerted activity status under the National Labor Relations Act? A four point test applies: (1) the place of the discussion; (2) the subject matter of the discussion; (3) the nature of the employee’s outburst; and (4) whether the outburst was, in any way, provoked by an employer’s unfair labor practice."

Many employers today will search multiple forms of social media for an employee's profile to gain a better understanding of the person they intend to hire. So, although it may be legal, it's not always smart.

Read the full New York Times article...

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Revolutionary Email Based Reminder System :: Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Duct Tape Marketing is one of my favorite blogs. They always have great technology to check out. Here's a link to John Jantsch's review of Nudgemail - I'm definitely going to check it out. Revolutionary Email Based Reminder System :: Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Friday, November 05, 2010

Philadelphia Accounting Firm Citrin Cooperman Holds Wine Tasting Event

Posted by Katie Noonan

Below are photos from Citrin Cooperman's recent wine tasting event in Philadelphia. The event included many of Philadelphia's movers and shakers including football legend Vince Papale.


Laura Stegossi, Gina Rubel, Michael Zyborowicz, Sara Canuso and Pari Hashemi

Vince Papale, Gina Rubel, Roger Braunfeld and Mark Carrow

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Social Media Makes It Hard For Americans To Forget To Vote


Posted by Amanda Walsh


Without crossing the line of addressing politics, I wanted to highlight one Election Day Web 2.0 change that caught my attention today on Facebook.


This morning on the landing page, at the top of my news feed, a box appeared that read, “Today is Election Day.” This box featured a running counter of all Facebook users who had clicked "I voted" including a personalized running tally of my Facebook friends who had gone to the polls today.


Wow, what a nice reminder to voters. To make things more convenient, the Election Day box also had an embedded link for users to find out where the closest polling booth is in their neighborhood.


I checked out the headlines on CNN.com where I found this article, No dearth of U.S. voter resources online by Mark Milian. Milian reports on the Facebook reminder box and Politics Page, that is visible to even non-Facebook users (there are still some of you out there). The article continues and highlights Google's Election Center, which among other things, offers an Elections application that allows users "to search for election information by entering their home address."


With Election Day reminders all over social media platforms this year, as Milian notes, it will be unbelievable for many Web-surfing Americans to try the old "I forgot to vote" excuse!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Feldman Shepherd

Philadelphia personal injury law firm, Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig LLP, its staff and trial attorneys are committed to providing legal support to the community. The firm has donated at least $1,000 per year per attorney to legal services such as Philadelphia VIP, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Senior Law Center, Support Center for Child Advocates and others.

Each year, the staff raises money and gift donations for families much less fortunate. In fact, in 2009, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was the recipient of the staff’s efforts, receiving more than $500 in monetary donations and a bevy of items collected as part of a Holiday Wish List Drive. In 2008, the staff participated in the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia’s “Adopt-a-Family” program, which helps nearly 200 Philadelphia-area families in need each year. Through “Adopt-a-Family,” staff members, generously donated thousands of dollars in goods and gifts.

Feldman Shepherd also contributes one percent of all cerebral palsy case settlements and verdicts to a fund that sends families of children with cerebral palsy to Disney World. The firm has sent six families to Disney to date and anticipates sending many more.

“Our pro bono and philanthropic efforts are a large part of the law firm culture,” said Alan Feldman, co-managing partner of Feldman Shepherd. “We work on pro bono cases, volunteer at many of the region’s public interest organizations, and give back to those less fortunate.”

Virtually all of the Feldman Shepherd personal injury lawyers provide pro bono legal services to those who are unable to afford to hire an attorney. The firm is also a proud supporter of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s “Raising the Bar” campaign, which helps fund more than 30 public interest law organizations that serve Philadelphia’s neediest citizens.

“Raising the Bar” was started by Alan Feldman during his year as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2006 and has become the Philadelphia legal community’s most significant institutional effort in support of the Bar Foundation and their network of non-profit legal service providers. More than 100 local law firms participate annually, and their pledges since 2006 have totaled more than $4 million.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Curtin & Heefner LLP

Curtin & Heefner LLP takes pride in the quality of representation that it provides, not only to clients who are able to pay for legal services, but also in its participation in pro bono and community-based work.  As committed members of our community, the firm supports and encourages its attorneys to provide pro bono services.

Attorneys at the firm sign up annually through the Bucks County Bar Association to provide pro bono legal services which may involve representing a party in a protection from abuse (PFA) action, estate claims, landlord/tenants issues, driver’s license suspensions or employment issues.  While pro bono representation in these areas fly below public recognition or awareness, the trip back to the office after a few hours spent working on PFAs or helping someone recover their right to drive is one filled with satisfaction. This type of pro bono work helps everyday people with real needs and results in a true sense of personal fulfillment. It is very rewarding to know that someone may be safe from abuse or able to return to work or have a roof over their head as a result of our pro bono efforts.  Helping a pro bono client may not end with providing legal services. Pro bono clients have also been recipients of Thanksgiving food baskets, which is an annual project of Curtin & Heefner LLP.

Since Curtin & Heefner LLP is a firm comprised of specialized practice areas, often representing businesses, large corporations and banks, there are many types of pro bono cases that the firm cannot accept. As a result, attorneys are encouraged to find other areas where pro bono legal assistance can be provided. Firm attorneys have provided legal services to local families affected by the tragedies of September 11, 2001, have been involved in military programs such as wills for soldiers, and have helped with insurance issues when the Delaware River overflowed its banks in nearby Yardley, Pa., destroying and damaging homes and businesses.

In addition to their pro bono efforts, members of the firm also commit a great deal of time to community service. They traveled to the New Orleans area after hurricane Katrina and helped with rebuilding, serve on non-profit boards while assisting with legal issues that arise, and give back to the community. In fact, many local Bucks County and Montgomery County charities have been the recipients of pro bono work from Curtin & Heefner LLP attorneys in drafting by-laws, reviewing legal documents and providing legal advice as the needs arise.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Willig, Williams & Davison


Willig, Williams & Davidson is a union-side labor law firm committed to helping working individuals and their families resolve a wide variety of legal issues. The firm realizes, however, that legal assistance is not always affordable for some people. We feel strongly about helping individuals, who cannot afford legal counsel, to obtain and reap the benefits of this protection.

One such avenue where Willig, Williams & Davidson is able to contribute to this end is through Philadelphia’s Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP). VIP provides civil legal assistance to less fortunate individuals. Several of our attorneys commit their time and donate their legal services to Philadelphia VIP. For example, our attorneys have helped individuals to save their homes in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. This program was created to give homeowners of single-family residences, who are losing their homes in foreclosure, an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the lender’s attorney, to see if they can save their homes. Armed with a pro bono VIP attorney, a homeowner has a much better chance at saving their property, than if they attended these conferences without representation.

This type of pro bono representation is very important, because it is usually due to a financial hardship that these individuals are losing their homes. Many people in this situation do not have the money to try to get their loan current, much less to obtain legal representation. So, in this instance, pro bono representation is invaluable.

I have had the opportunity to help many individuals through this program. One such individual was a hardworking union roofer who had been laid off due to budget cuts with his employer. The strain caused by this loss of employment affected him both personally and financially. His marriage fell apart, and he was at risk of losing his home which had been in his family for generations. His property was on the verge of Sheriff’s Sale, which brought him to the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. Through Philadelphia VIP, I was able to negotiate a resolution with his lender, which kept him in his childhood home and gained notoriety for Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in the New York Times. This was incredibly rewarding for both of us.

Pro bono work is the gift that gives back. In offering legal assistance to someone who could not normally afford it, you are helping to put this person on an even playing field with someone of greater financial means. At Willig, Williams & Davidson, we strive for equality and justice, and doing pro bono work plays an integral part in achieving this goal.

Kristine A. Phillips is a partner in the Legal Services Department of Willig, Williams & Davidson. The firm maintains offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Delaware County, Pa., Montgomery County, Pa., and Camden County, N.J.  

Legal Tabloid Blogging With David Lat

I had the pleasure to hear the entertaining and informative David Lat, Founder and Managing Editor of Above the Law, speak in Philadelphia yesterday. Here are some interesting facts and takeaways from his discussion about the popular legal blog:

Readership:
The blog has between 200,000 to 300,000 page views on any given day. This number can jump as high as 700,000 with a really popular story.

In-House Counsel: To expand the blog's perspective regarding in-house counsel, they will be adding two new bloggers to their roster soon: one in-house senior lawyer and one in-house junior lawyer.

Audience: Although their audience is mostly large firms, they recently introduced a new column with content targeted toward small firms.

Geography: The blog's largest reader base is in New York and D.C., with Chicago and the Bay Area close behind.

Text Tips: You can now text tips for news items to the blog at (646) 820-TIPS.

Submitting News: They do accept press releases, but tend to favor news submitted by readers because it is more organic. They try to add value and context on the blog with the stories they post.

Follow the Above The Law blog team on Twitter at @ATLBlog, @DavidLat and @ElieNYC, find them on Facebook and sign up for e-updates at the blog.

Thanks to the Delaware Valley Law Firm Marketing Group for organizing this event.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Back on September 17, I wrote a blog post asking for participation in this week’s National Pro Bono Celebration. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is sponsoring the celebration again this year from October 24 through 30, 2010. 

At Furia Rubel, we provide professional public relations services pro bono to clients such as Elephant’s Eye Studio Tour, Philadelphia VIP (Volunteers for the Indigent Program), and Deep Run Mennonite Church East.

This week, we will be showcasing some of the legal pro bono efforts of our law firm clients. Check back for a post each day this week about Willig, Williams & Davison (Wednesday), Curtin & Heefner LLP (Thursday), and Feldman Shepherd (Friday).

The National Pro Bono Celebration is being celebrated all over the country.  To find an event near you, check out this interactive map.

Monday, October 25, 2010

QR Codes: Innovative Mobile Marketing And The Uses For Professional Service Providers

Posted by Amanda Walsh


You’ve probably seen them around town, maybe on a billboard or flyer. They are those funny barcode-looking symbols that can be scanned by a barcode reader on a smartphone and will take you to a website or special application.


These are called QR Codes (Quick Response Codes or QRCs) and they have exploded in popularity in Asia. Now, they are hitting America and can be used in a variety of ways for marketing.


At Furia Rubel, we niche in marketing and public relations for nonprofits, B2B companies, and professional service providers including lawyers. When new technologies are introduced, we discuss the relevancy of these technologies to our clients, the opportunities they present, and how we can put them to use for our clients in order to add value to their marketing and PR efforts.


Some ways that law firms can use QR codes include driving traffic to their websites or promoting events such as seminars, sponsored programs or association conferences. They can also be used to announce new products (such as scholarly publications or white papers), new services (such as new practice areas), or class action law suits. With a class action, a firm can quickly provide valuable information to prospective class members – especially when dealing with consumer issues.


If a business is a major sponsor of an event, adding the QR code on every piece of signage can drive attendees to a webpage specifically thanking them for participating and providing them with an opportunity to sign up for such things as eNewsletters and eAlerts targeted directly to them.


In addition, QR codes can be used in trade industry and business publication advertising to drive readers to a website where they can learn more about the advertiser, their offerings and/or special promotions. Companies can use them in conjunction with launching a new website, brand or blog. One caveat however, is that the targeted webpage where users are being directed MUST be smartphone-friendly.


I asked our VP of Marketing, Laura Powers, what she thought of about QR Code use. "One of the best things about using QR Codes in advertising is that they provide us with another tracking tool to use on marketing pieces such as print advertisements and direct mail," she said. "If someone uses the QR Code, we know that the ad was viewed. That’s important when it comes to tracking results and measuring Return on Investment (ROI) on a campaign.”


Using QR codes does not provide a one-size-fits-all approach, and though they may lend themselves to consumer-oriented promotions, with some innovative thinking, they can also be used for professional service firms and nonprofits. Some additional resources to read more include:
QR Code credit: http://2d-code.co.uk/

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