Monday, April 30, 2012

Managing Digital Profiles After A Death

Image courtesy of
Posted by Amanda Walsh

I had an interesting conversation today about social media networks and what happens to profiles after someone passes away. It is a painful subject to think about, but should be considered, especially since social media and other online presences have really become a part of the estate planning process for people across the United States.

A January 26, 2012 article on, “Facebook After Death: What Should the Law Say?,” shares that “the Uniform Law Commission recently approved a study committee on fiduciary power and authority to access digital property and online account during incapacity and after death.”

The approval of this study showcases the need for clear law on dealing with online communications and social media profiles after a loved one has passed away. The article author, Alissa Skelton, notes that “lawmakers have been slow to enact legislation related to digital property after death, and social media companies have relied on terms of service to guide them.”

At the time the article went live on, there were five states with laws governing digital asset management after death. They include Oklahoma, Idaho, Rhode Island, Indiana and Connecticut.

In Oklahoma, lawyers now encourage someone who is crafting a will to explain how he or she wants online accounts to be handled upon their death. In Oregon, lawyers prepare a virtual asset instruction letter (VAIL) for clients to leave in a safety deposit box.

Tools for Managing Your Online Life After Death” on explains some additional resources to consider:

  • Email: By providing a death certificate and proof of power of attorney, relatives can order a CD full of messages for a deceased user’s account on Hotmail. For Gmail, the same paperwork is needed plus a copy of an e-mail from the deceased sent to the petitioner.
  • Social networking: Family members can choose to take down a deceased user’s profile or keep it in “memorial state,” meaning that status updates will be removed and only confirmed friends can view it and post comments on it.
  • Photo-sharing: Flickr will keep an account up and mostly open to the public, but if photos are marked as private, family and friends cannot access them.
  • Passwords: There are companies that offer encrypted space to store account information and passwords to give to designated recipients after a user passes away.

It’s important to encourage loved ones to have a secure document of passwords or explain clearly what survivors should do with their online presence in the event that they pass away. This all begs the question, how do you want your online profile handled when you pass away?

Friday, April 27, 2012

LinkedIn to Launch Company Page Targeted Updates & Follower Statistics

By Leah Ludwig

You learn something new every day, right? Well, this is what I learned today:

Back in February, LinkedIn created a LinkedIn button that businesses can embed on their websites to make it easier for users to follow their companies – as seen on the Furia Rubel website homepage (I knew this part already, by the way).

Now, according to Mark Walsh and, the professional networking site is offering a service that allows businesses to tailor content sent to followers according to industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees and geography. Companies will also have direct access to an analytics dashboard showing follower engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and the proportion of those interacting with targeted content – along with providing followers’ demographic data.

These new LinkedIn amenities are currently being rolled out with companies like AT&T, Dell and Microsoft. In the coming months, the more than 2 million companies in the LinkedIn network should have complete access.

So, what’s the catch? Or at least that’s what I thought. What’s the cost of these new service offerings? The good news is that they are free to members with a LinkedIn company page. Walsh, and the rest of us at Furia Rubel, acquiesce in the notion that this is clearly LinkedIn’s attempt at competing with Facebook and Twitter as a social media marketing platform for businesses.

So, that’s what I learned today. Stay tuned for our next blog post alerting you when these services have been launched and are available to the public.

Friday, April 13, 2012

RFP Management – Tips from Pros

By Leah Ludwig

A few weeks ago, I attended a Delaware Valley Law Firm Marketing Group program titled, “RFPs: Meet the Experts.” If you play any type of role in your firm’s communications efforts, I’m sure you have dealt with writing and/or answering an RFP (also known as a request for proposal).

Wikipedia describes RFPs in this way: “An RFP is issued at an early stage in a procurement process, where an invitation is presented for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service. The RFP process brings structure to the procurement decision and is meant to allow the risks and benefits to be identified clearly up front.”

Many people dread the RFP process. This was echoed by the extensive panel of law firm marketing professionals including: James T. Austin, director of publications at Pepper Hamilton LLP; Cheryl Disch, senior manager of marketing information systems at Duane Morris LLP; Sharen Nocella, director of marketing at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP; and Katherine L. Rebechi, marketing coordinator at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

The panelists discussed how to evaluate an RFP; how the marketing department can help in the RFP process; elements of a winning RFP response; what to do after the RFP; and some common problems professionals encounter during this process. Some of the helpful tips that I took away from the discussion were as follows:

• Read (really read) an RFP in its entirety before deciding if it is a good fit for your firm.

• The quality of the RFP (meaning the incorporated details, the organization of the document and scope of work, etc.) should help your firm decide if working with that company would be a good fit.

• Learn from past experiences and trust your gut. If the company has issued you various RFPs, all which you have not won and that tend to be won by another firm, take a hint and save yourself some time.

• Do not hesitate to call the company requesting responses and ask questions of the company. The answers to these questions will often provide you with key insight which may help your firm in deciding if you will move forward with providing a response.
- Ask how many other firms were included in the RFP process.
- Ask detailed questions about the scope of the work requested.
- Gauge the tone of the conversation, and the spokesperson’s willingness to provide information, etc.

• Make sure that your firm does not have any conflicts with the company before taking the time to respond.

• Create some sort of template system – index standard RFP question responses.

• Respond to the RFP precisely as requested – follow all guidelines and adhere to criteria.

• If you do not win the RFP process, call the company and ask what your firm could have done better – use this as a learning process.

• Record time spent on RFP responses and RFP success percentages and be ready to share feedback with upper management.

I found the DVLFMG program and the panelists’ feedback to be very helpful and I hope that these take-aways help you streamline your next RFP experience.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Press Releases: Cutting Through Clutter and Sharing Useful Content

Posted by Leah Ludwig

No matter the industry, if you want to promote the good work of your business and its offerings you must be able to compile engaging promotional copy. One communications tool to do so is the almighty press release.

In the past few days, I have read a several blogs that collectively assist all of us promotional copy writers in getting to the point, catching our readers’ attention and trimming the boring content out of an otherwise average press release, to make it worthy of attention.

Starting with the headline of your release,’s Mark Nichol shared “8 simple, yet powerful types of headlines.” In his blog, Mark identifies different approaches to making your headline stand out and supplies some helpful examples – see a few of them below.

• Direct: Lawn Mowers on Sale
• News: Remote-Control Lawn Mower to Debut in April
• How-to: How to Select the Best Lawn Mower for Your Yard
• Question: Is Your Lawn Mower the Right One for the Job?
• Command: Go to Lawn Mowers R Us for the Best Deals

Bottom line: keep your headlines concise (no more than 10 words). Also, search for originality. Mark encourages writers to “copy and paste your final draft into a search engine. If it comes up, consider altering one or more words or starting over again.”

Andrew Hindes’ insightful article “PR With Benefits: What 'Mad Men' Can Teach Us About Writing Press Releases” shared in PR News helps us to really think about the overall message of release content. Andrew compares journalist messaging to advertisements and addresses how ad copywriters, as featured on the show Mad Men, have turned that kind of persuasion into both an art and a science.

The main point that Andrew drives home is that the benefits of a product or service are far more compelling to potential customers than its features. You may wonder, what’s the difference? Andrew explains that “features describe the positive qualities of a product or service. Benefits describe the ways those qualities positively affect the consumer—usually by making his or her life better or easier.” So, when writing your next release, make sure you clearly explain how your product or service makes your customers' lives simpler.

And last, but certainly not least, another struggle that press release writers face is keeping it short and simple.’s Laura Hale Brockway shared a blog about the “20 phrases you can replace with one word.” She talks about how circumlocution is the use of many words when one will do – which is so prevalent in today’s corporate writing. Check out her list of redundant phrases by going to her blog post.

So don’t forget: keep you headline short and impactful; make sure your content speaks to the benefits that you are bringing to your audience; and keep it concise and to-the-point.