Friday, May 27, 2011

SoMeBizLife Conference Next Week In Doylestown

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Next week I will be speaking at the SoMeBizLife Conference to educate others about how social media can be used for business and everyday life.

This one-day conference begins at 7:30 a.m. with more than 30 professionals speaking during individual sessions until the conference closes at 5:00 p.m. This conference will be helpful for job seekers, students, and professionals who are looking to use social media to grow their business, market themselves or develop new skills, ideas or insights. The networking possibilities are endless and it will be an event not to be missed!

I will be speaking on the closing panel, “Social Changes Media, Changes Lives,” with local journalists and professionals. During the panel, I will share my insights, both personally and professionally, as a Generation Y social media user. As the Social Media Coordinator at Furia Rubel, I use social media to share the stories of our clients and help foster a personal connection with others in the online community. I often engage with journalists and newspaper outlets online via social media. I use social media strategically with public relations and marketing efforts for our clients. To learn more, come to the SoMeBizLife Conference on June 1.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Android Devices Prone To Leak Account Information

Logo credit:

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Many of us at Furia Rubel have Android-powered smartphones and were disturbed to hear of recent news about the possibility of our devices leaking private account information!

According to an article by Christina DesMarais, despite the recent release of Andoid 2.3.4, “devices that sync with Picasa web albums will transmit sensitive data through unencrypted channels.”

Public Wi -Fi zones can prove to be a hot bed for attacks, as well. When a user logs into their Calendar, Twitter, Facebook or another type of account on their phone, an “authentication token” is produced and is valid for 14 days. If a hacker were to intercept that token, they could easily log in to the user's accounts.

Google says it’s aware of the problem with Picasa, but the search giant faces issues with getting cellular partners to be sure to upgrade to the latest OS versions. Another disturbing point noted by Dan Goodin from The Register is that many Verizon customers are using the Android 2.2.2 system with vulnerabilities that have been known for some time now. Verizon urges customers to use secure networks, but says “it will provide customers with an updated version of Android.”

Until that time, be sure to check your phone settings and only use secure Wi- Fi connections.

Lawyers and Cloud Computing - ABA Says Beware

Lawyers and law firm administrators take heed. The ABA's Commission on Ethics 20/20 has issued proposed changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct regarding the use of Cloud Computing technologies.

According to The Connecticut Law Tribune's article, Attorneys in the Cloud May Get ABA Wake-Up Call With Proposed Rules, by Marie Grady, "Proposed rules would require lawyers to take reasonable steps to stay abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology used by Dropbox and other popular cloud computing services."

As digital communications continue to infiltrate the practice of law, it is important to remember that the rules regarding how attorneys conduct business remain ever steadfast and confidentiality is at the top of that list.

While Cloud Computing has its own set of risks, so too does storing any information on any computer that has an Internet connection. In today's age of spyware, malware, viruses and hackers, it is critically important that law firms take every step necessary to secure and backup client information - don't get stuck with your head in the clouds.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Smear Campaign Perpetuates PR Stereotypes

Posted by Amanda Walsh

There has been some dubious news from Silicon Valley recently. USA Today just reported that Facebook, the social networking giant, was caught in partnership with international PR firm, Burson Marsteller, to spearhead a smear campaign against Google.

Burson reached out to well-known bloggers and other publications on behalf of a ‘mystery client’ to help draft and place op-ed pieces speaking out against Google’s invasion of user privacy. One blogger in turn published the email correspondence, cracking the story wide open.

Dan Lyons of The Daily Beast reported that when Facebook was confronted with the evidence of hiring the PR firm, a spokesperson outlined the company’s reasons for doing so. “It believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.”

According to Lyons’ article, the latest conflict between Google and Facebook is regarding “a Google tool called Social Circle, which lets people with Gmail accounts see information not only about their friends but also about the friends of their friends, which Google calls ‘secondary connections.’ Burson, in its pitch to journalists, claimed Social Circle was ‘designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users—in a direct and flagrant violation of [Google's] agreement with the FTC.’”

It’s interesting that in recent years many social media sites have come under fire for their privacy policies, including Facebook. News such as this comes to light at a time when the company has been trying to position itself as “trustworthy.” What bothers me even more is that political campaign-like smear tactics are executed on behalf of for-profit businesses. Such tactics perpetuate negative PR stereotypes like “flack” and “spinster.”  As one who entered the industry with a high regard for ethics in our profession, I am disappointed by, what we call around here, PR Bullying. At Furia Rubel, we believe that proactive communications are about delivering great products and services and then telling that story in a way that creates a true competitive advantage. It’s never necessary to lodge a smear campaign. And as my boss, Gina Rubel, likes to say, “It’s all about radical transparency.” I’ve never liked the negativity in politics and I certainly don’t like it in public relations. A great place to start with strategic PR planning is to review the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Ethics.

Eight Tips For Solid Radio Interviews - The Legal Intelligencer Blog

Gina Rubel, Esq. gives some tips on how to prepare for a radio interview in her latest Legal Intelligencer blog. To read more, check out here:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It Gets Better Project Featured In Google Chrome Ad - Brilliant

As many of my friends know, I don't watch a lot of television. I watch the news every day, and when it's live, I watch American Idol with our kids. During last night's Idol, a commercial was aired by Google Chrome for the It Getss Better Project. I was extremely moved by the brilliance behind the campaign - especially the way it incorprates all forms of media including advertising, social media, media relations, and marketing. This is what integrated marketing is really about.

Here is the commercial:

The It Gets Better campaign, which you can follow on Twitter using the hashtag #itgetsbetter, was launched by Dan Savage in 2010. According to the website, the "project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better." 

And they are making a difference!

Contributors' videos are shared on the It Gets Better YouTube Channel. There are contributions from a number of high-profile people including Ellen DeGeneresKathy Griffin, Anne Hathaway, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and, as seen in Google Chrome video, Woody from Toy Story.  

You can also follow along with the conversation on Facebook at  and hear what the folks at LinkedIn have to say about the project at

Just remember, if you know someone who is being bullied, for whatever reason, tell them that "it gets better" because it does.

Monday, May 09, 2011

State Bars & Testimonial Advertising - Ethics For Lawyers

Guest post by Josh King

Some state bars – like Florida, Indiana and South Carolina – have, in their zeal to over-regulate attorney advertising, flat-out prohibited testimonial advertising. Never mind that the FTC has consistently called on the states [pdf] to minimize restrictions on testimonial ads, or that there’s no empirical evidence that testimonial advertising is uniquely problematic. These states think it is bad, so they reflexively bar testimonials from attorney advertising.

One issue that perennially crops up is how attorneys can use their Avvo profiles in these states. The concern is that Avvo includes a forum where clients can leave reviews of attorneys, and these reviews could be construed as “testimonials” that violate the state ban on this advertising technique. The question crops up regularly with respect to client reviews on Avvo, Yelp reviews or endorsements on LinkedIn.

When this question arises, I tell lawyers to quit wringing their hands about it. There are two very basic reasons why:

1. Client feedback is not “testimonial advertising.” Sure, if you put it up on a billboard it is – because then you are taking editorial control and paying to have it published.  But when a client leaves a review on Avvo, the attorneys are not in control of the review. The client decides whether to write a review, and what the tone will be.  They might even leave a negative review. And while you can comment on the review, you cannot modify or delete it. Even Florida recognizes that this makes a big difference; that state’s “Guidelines for Networking Social Sites” explicitly note that attorneys are not responsible for third party reviews on sites like Avvo.

And that is a good thing, because besides the obvious common-sense distinction, there is a statutory consideration as well: 47 U.S. § 230 precludes any attempt by states to hold lawyers responsible for online content that they did not create.

But even more importantly . . .

2. Prohibitions on testimonial advertising are not legal. There is little question that the testimonial prohibitions in Florida, Indiana and South Carolina would be swept from the books if challenged in federal court (as has already happened in the last year with similar restrictions in New York and Louisiana [pdf]). Attorney advertising regulation is subject to the First Amendment, which means it must be narrowly applied and materially advance important state interests. And the state carries the burden of proving this is the case. Outright bans on testimonials cannot clear this bar. They are too broadly restrictive of free speech rights. And there is no chance that a testimonial prohibition covering independent client reviews could meet the narrowness requirement.

There are a lot of things attorneys need to worry about these days – generating new business, providing responsive service, zealously advocating for clients. But the advertising implications of postings left by your clients should not be one of them.

Josh King is general counsel and vice-president, business development for Avvo, Inc. He is a frequent writer and speaker on First Amendment and professional ethics issues in the practice of law. He can be reached at or (206) 734-4113.

All the opinions reflected in this blog post are those of the author. This guest post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Furia Rubel.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Lawyers, Ethics and Social Media

I had the pleasure of presenting a Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE on Legal Issues in Advertising with Jennifer Ellis (aka @JLE_JD) from Freedman Consulting in Lansdale, Pa., Paul McGinley and Jack Gross from Gross McGinley in Allentown, Pa., and Todd Denys from Porzio, Bromberg & Newman in Princeton, N.J.

Among the topics covered – all documented on Twitter with the hashtag #PBIADV – was the ethical issues related to lawyers engaging in social media and online advertising. Some of the materials from the program can be found online at

Here are some of the key points from the Twitter stream and from my notes in 140 characters or less:

- Need to track your image online - try Google Alerts they are free.

- Lawyers need to be aware of rules of ethics - they apply to social media use and always apply to advertising.

- Solo lawyer in Virginia got in trouble for marketing as “and Associates” under ethics rules.

- Blogs are great way for lawyers to be thought leaders online - follow ethics rules.

- Lawyers need to watch what they say on social media; check out Paul Mirengoff news.

- LinkedIn is a great place for lawyers to start with building their social media presence.

- When creating a social media profile, use “lawyer” and “attorney” in your profile for SEO.

- LinkedIn recommendations are not permitted in Indiana for lawyers - considered unethical.

- Watch who you friend online as lawyers- see @Philabar Guidance Opinion 2009-02 relating to 3rd Party Witnesses.

- Facebook has approx. 650 million active users - great place to engage - be ethical.

- Rules of ethics apply to all online advertising including social media sites used by lawyers.

While lawyers continue to seek ways to grow their businesses, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 is examining advertising issues as they relate to:

- Online Social and Professional Networking Services (such at LinkedIn and Facebook): Identifying the Line Between Personal Communications and Lawyer Advertising; Inadvertent Lawyer-Client Relationships; Lawyers “Friending” Judges; and Gathering Information Through Networking Websites

- Blogging and Discussion Forums

- Paying for Online Advertising, Referrals, and Leads

- Lawyer Websites: False or Misleading Statements on Websites; Inadvertent Lawyer-Client Relationships; Giving Legal Advice; and Confidential Information on Websites

According to the ABA, "The commission is considering what, if any, guidance it should offer to lawyers who operate or participate in blogs, discussion boards, and other sites (like JD Supra) when their intent is, at least in part, to develop clients."

It is difficult to fathom the extent to which some governing committees are going to go to regulate legal marketing. Suffice it to say that it was only 33 years ago when commercial free speech for lawyers was first established in the landmark case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977). At that time, a shingle on Main Street, a “calling card”, and showing up at religious services was enough to keep a law firm afloat, while “social media” was the conversation one had while walking her dog in the park.