Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Social Media and Electronic Communication Statistics Lawyers Should Not Ignore – The Legal Intelligencer Blog

In her blog post for The Legal Intelligencer, Gina Rubel discusses how social media and electronic communications are critical legal marketing tools that cannot and should not be overlooked by law firms and lawyers. She also explores statistics and trends about social media tools and electronic communications. To read more, go to the blog post: Social Media and Electronic Communication Statistics Lawyers Should Not Ignore.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

10 Things Small Businesses Can Do to Increase Awareness and Generate Business



There are many hands-on tactics that your company can employ to grow its business. Use them to increase your visibility among target customers, establish credibility and demonstrate leadership as experts in your industry. By consistently and effectively executing the tactics outlined here, you can increase your company’s bottom line for years to come.

1. Create a great website. Simply put, if a company does not have a website, it does not exist. Like bringing your cards to a meeting, a professional website is a business basic. If you don’t have one, get one. 

2. Make sure your website is seen. A website is useless unless people visit it regularly. Your site should be search engine optimized (SEO), so that it receives Web traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. Your Web designer can build some of this into the site, however, there are a few things you can do on your own. These include posting press releases and blog entries that use searchable terms and link to popular articles to increase your search rankings. 

3. Create an effective blog. Blogs enable you to demonstrate your expertise about a particular business area. You can link your blog to your website or integrate your blog directly into it. Make sure that your visual branding and message is consistent. That way, people will more easily identify it with your company.

4. Have a strong voice on social media. It’s almost impossible to think of a world without social media. Yet, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and a slew of others have only been popular for the last several years. Like blogs, social media enables you to demonstrate your expertise and you can engage with a wide audience. Don’t think you have the time? Make the time. The days of sitting on the sidelines are in the past – be part of the conversation.

5. Engage in public relations. Local newspapers, business journals, industry publications and the ever-expanding world of business bloggers will write about new business wins and mention new hires especially in senior management. They also generate great content for your online posts. Send a press release to the target publication that reaches your ideal audience and focus on something exciting about the person (e.g., awards, accomplishments, civic involvement, etc.). Or, offer your expertise as a quotable source for a reporter so that they will include you in their coverage. Working with the media requires some insight and forethought so you may want to engage a public relations professional if you plan to go this route.

6. Share your articles. So, you got some media coverage in a feature story? Send it to your friends, business referral sources, clients, prospects, partners and employees. You can do this through social media, your blog and website; post a link in your email signature, or create reprints and include them in sales presentations.

7. Have a great voice mail message and email signature. It may sound like a no-brainer, but think about it. Your message is often the first time someone “interacts” with you. Make it friendly, energetic, informative and compelling. Say your company name and what it is you do. The same goes for your email signature. Restate your company mission, add a favorite quote, place links to your social media profiles and news articles about your company or just add your logo. Make sure to include your contact information, but skip the fax, it is obsolete.

8. Sponsor events. No matter your industry or interest, sponsorship opportunities abound. From sporting events to ethnic festivals, sponsorship can get you quality direct exposure with your target audiences. But don’t just sponsor – attend and have a branded presence so that people remember you.

9. Be an active member of industry associations. Professional associations can help you to gain credibility and name recognition. It is important for your peers to identify you as an expert for referrals, so be an active participant, speaker or volunteer. Your association will have resources to promote its members including press releases, member emails, blogs, social media sites and special events. Find out what resources are available to you and use them.

10. Identify business listing opportunities. Update your company’s business listings yearly. Many online listings are free and the more places that your company is listed, the higher your site will rank in search engines and the easier it will be for your audience to find your business.

Bonus Tip: High quality head-shots will help you and your staff to stand out in your social media and public relations activities. Make the investment – it is worth it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gina Rubel Featured in New Delaware Valley Business Publication - Region's Business

Gina F. Rubel, was recently featured in Region's Business, a weekly publication covering politics and business news in the Delaware Valley. Specifically, the publication's September 13 edition included an in-depth look at Governor Tom Corbett's sliding poll numbers, community banks dealing with the Dodd-Frank bill, advice gleaned from the journey from employee to CEO and more. To read Gina's article titled, "From Employee to CEO: What I've Learned," click here or read the full article below.

Things I’ve Learned: From Employee to CEO
By Gina F. Rubel, Esq.

I have been thinking about the lessons I’ve learned along my career path: lessons I’ve learned on my own and others that I’ve been taught by former colleagues and bosses. Those lessons have been both good and, let’s just say, things I never want to emulate or repeat. So I decided to share a compilation of lessons as they relate to running a successful business (no matter if it’s a law firm, marketing agency, accounting firm, public relations agency, etc.) Here are just a few things that I’ve learned along the way which have become guidelines that I try to live by.

Set up systems and templates. Systems need to be adopted from the start of a business lifecycle and updated and refined regularly. I have met with firms time and time again which do not use business management software but think they are ready for strategic business development and marketing initiatives. I have been known to tell them to think again about adopting an aggressive and strategic marketing strategy without foundational systems as the company will eventually implode.

It’s not about you. I’ve been heard saying this too. Marketing and public relations is not about stroking the ego of the professional seeking to be the next correspondent on a major news network – it’s about strategically, methodically, systematically and frequently reaching your target audience on their terms, where and when they want to be reached with the messages that they will hear and respond to. So if your target audience isn’t watching that network news program, the time and energy spent landing the spot isn’t going to make that big of a difference. And if your target audience could care less about your new product or take offense to the messaging and campaign, you’re dead in the water. Just look at Bic’s most recent product blunder with the “Bic Cristal for Her,” a pastel ballpoint pen that costs 70 percent more than identical regular pens and has been criticized as having “sexist labeling.” 

Keep it real. Flattery and overkill may land the client but it certainly won’t create a foundation for a long-term business relationship. I remember meeting with a prospective client (executive director of a national nonprofit organization) who asked me, “What tickets to which major sporting events are you going to give me if we work with you?” My response: “None.” From that moment on, I wasn’t interested in the business because I knew the executive was always going to believe the grass was greener somewhere else.

It’s okay to say no. Business development is much like dating – you don’t always like or believe the other person you are interacting with and/or you cannot always fulfill their needs. There’s nothing wrong with either. Keep your relationships real. Don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not and certainly don’t promise to deliver something that you have no clue how to handle. It’s okay to turn down the second date and hand the prospect off to someone who may be a better match.

Lead by example and practice what you preach. It always blows my mind when a person cannot follow his/her own advice. While the statement is certainly cliché – there’s no better way to put it. If you’re going to be an absentee boss, you can expect to have distracted and absentee staff. If you expect your staff to give 100 percent, then you have to do the same. If you want your employees to be honest and forthright, then you have to be an open book. Your employees and clients, just like your children, will emulate your behavior over time.

Provide sound reasoning and data. When you give someone advise or direct someone to do something, you need to explain why. Teach people your reasoning and back it up with sound data. As a marketing strategist, I give clients advice every day. The advice that is the most readily accepted is the same advice that is backed up with sound reasoning and data. It’s no different when you’re giving a directive to an employee or client. Teach them what they need to know so they can embrace the counsel rather than have it fall on deaf ears. And with that said, I will conclude with:

Choose your battles wisely. This is a lesson that took me more than 30 years to learn. As a youngster growing up in South Philadelphia, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and always thought I was right. I would go to battle over a political topic, a little white lie someone may have told me just to keep the peace, or the passing insult that had no real meaning. Since then I have learned to choose my battles wisely and if I’m going into combat, I’m going to back it up with sound reasoning and data, practice what I preach, know when to say no, keep it real, remember that it’s not about me, and in the end, walk away unscathed.

Gina F. Rubel, Esq., is the president and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., a strategic marketing and public relations agency located in Bucks County, Pa. Gina and her agency have won many awards for communications, public relations, websites and graphic design, corporate philanthropy and leadership. An author, strategic thinker and visionary, Gina enjoys sharing what she has learned in business and in life. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nonprofits: Putting Pinterest to Work for Social Good

Posted by Leah Ludwig

Image from Mashable.com

As many of you know, Furia Rubel Marketing and PR is dedicated to supporting our agency's local community and the nonprofit organizations within it. In fact, our agency is closing out our 10th anniversary year and along with it, our “10 for 10” Community Service Campaign – in which we participated in community service programs and supported, through pro bono PR and marketing services, several local and regional organizations. We are always looking for new and inventive ways to support nonprofits near and far.

Gina Rubel recently shared a nonprofit Pinterest best practices article with me from Mashable.com. The article highlights UNICEF and how the organization set up a fictional Pinterest profile from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl from Sierra Leone. Instead of sharing images of rich desserts and the newest fashion trends, the organization uses this page to share images of things a girl from Sierra Leone may covet such as a handful of rice or a rusty water faucet. Each of the pins then link to a specific UNICEF Web page where the organization hopes to drive Pinterest users to in order to source donations to provide food or clean drinking water to those in need.

I personally think this Pinterest strategy is brilliant. Images tend to effectively drive home messaging to a variety of audiences and to additionally link each image to a correlating donation Web page for UNICEF – you have a captive audience, what more could you ask for? And, in general, these strategies help to bring awareness to Pinterest users about the needs that exist in other countries and what UNICEF as an organization is working to do. Having traveled to Honduras myself for two different mission trips and having seen first-hand the need that exists in developing countries, I applaud UNICEF and its strategy to put things into perspective for other Pinterest users – in a very practical and visual way.

The Mashable article also includes what other global organizations such as Amnesty International USA, the World Wildlife Fund and Operation Smile, to name a few, are doing on Pinterest for social good. More specifically, Amnesty International USA, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, shares a human rights reading list. World Wildlife Fund, a conservation organization working to protect the future of nature and reduce threats to the natural world, has a board of cute animal e-cards that individuals can send to friends. Operation Smile, an organization that provides safe and free cleft lip and palate repair surgery to children around the world, shares images of new smiles – before and after photos of children that have been helped by the organization. To see more of the examples shared in the blog, go to 10 Non-Profits Using Pinterest to Better the World.

Please share this post and nonprofit Pinterest best practices resource with community organizations that may benefit from it – and help us to pay it forward.

Monday, September 10, 2012

ABA Adopts Changes to Model Rules of Professional Conduct

The House of Delegates of the American Bar Association approved a series of changes to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. The recommended changes address four areas – confidentiality when using technology, use of technology in marketing, outsourcing, and changes relating to the need for lawyers to change jobs and relocate to new jurisdictions.

Regarding confidentiality issues raised by new technology such as “cloud” computing, tablets, and smart phones, the ABA adopted the following changes:

    - Add to the comment on Rule 1.1, Competency, that a lawyer’s duty of competence includes keeping abreast of changes in benefits and risks associated with new technology.

    - Add to the comment to Rule 1.4, Communication that a lawyer has a duty to respond promptly to all “client communications,” not just “telephone calls.”

    - Add to Rule 1.6, Confidentiality, a new subparagraph (c) requiring a lawyer to make reasonable efforts to protect client confidences from inadvertent or unauthorized access or disclosure.

    - Add to Rule 4.4, Rights of Third Persons, language clarifying that the obligation to notify the sender of the receipt of inadvertently sent documents applies also to electronic information.
As to issues regarding technology in client development, legal marketing and communications, the new provisions include:
    - Extensive additions to the comments on Rule 1.18, Prospective Clients, offer guidance to lawyers on how to use new forms of Internet-based marketing, such as pay-per-click ads and social networking sites, without inadvertently creating a prospective client-lawyer relationship.

    - Amend Comment 5 to Rule 7.2, Advertising, to clarify how the prohibition against paying others for “recommendation” applies to online lead generation services.

    - Clarify the language of Rule 7.3, Solicitation, that the rule’s prohibitions apply to anyone, not just “prospective clients,” and amend Comment 1 of that rule to define solicitation as “a targeted communication initiated by the lawyer that is directed to a specific person and that offers to provide, or can reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal services,” as opposed to communications with the general public.
On the subject of outsourcing, the following changes took place:
    - New Comments 6 and 7 to Rule 1.1, Competence, discuss circumstances under which a lawyer may retain or contract with other lawyers outside the lawyer’s own firm in the provision of legal services to a client. The lawyer should ordinarily obtain informed consent from the client, must reasonably believe that the other lawyers’ services will contribute to the competent and ethical representation of the client, and should consult with the client and with each other about the scope of their respective services.

    - Changes to Comment 1 of Rule 5.3, Nonlawyer Assistants, require reasonable efforts to ensure that the services of nonlawyers outside the firm are provided in a manner that is compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations. New comments 3 and 4 deal at length with such obligations. Examples include the retention of an investigative or paraprofessional service, hiring a document management company to create and maintain a database for complex litigation, sending client documents to a third party for printing or scanning, and using an Internet-based service to store client information.

    - A sentence is added to Comment 1 to Rule 5.5, Unauthorized Practice of Law, reminding lawyers that they must not assist anyone in the unauthorized practice of law.
Noting the need for lawyers to have mobility in changing jobs and relocating to new jurisdictions, the ABA approved changes to:
    - Propose new model rules on practice pending admission and admission by motion (reciprocal admission).

    - Amend Rule 1.6(b) to add a new Subparagraph 7, allowing lawyers to reveal information to detect and resolve conflicts of interest between lawyers in different firms arising from the lawyer’s change of employment or from changes in the composition or ownership of a firm, but only if the revealed information would not compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client. New comments 13 and 14 to the rule discuss the disclosure of information for detection of conflicts at length.
The Model Rules are advisory, and the changes do not alter the enforceable standard of conduct for lawyers in other states unless and until they are adopted and incorporated into each state’s rules of professional conduct.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Thoughts on My First Week as MarCom Director

Photo by Allure West Studios
Posted by Jonathan Morein

They say that when you start a new position, you should take plenty of notes.

Well, on this, my first week at Furia Rubel Communications in Bucks County, I’ve taken pages. Books even. So, for my first blog post, I thought I’d boil down my thoughts and share what I’ve learned so far. First, I have to say, this is going to be a great job! I’m amazed by my colleagues. They are organized and detailed and will challenge me to perform at my very best.

Second, I felt I knew the company, its philosophy and its team before I even got started. For a boutique integrated marketing agency, Furia Rubel has a powerhouse presence. Their posts about marketing have influenced my thinking for years. This speaks well for a company that practices what it preaches when it comes to the power of thought leadership.

Third, Furia Rubel is extremely well organized in its thinking and its programs. I’m amazed at the sophistication of our strategic planning processes. My first assignment is to prepare an assessment for a strategic marketing plan for a new client. I’ve conducted brand assessments many times before – or at least I thought I had. This one is like nothing I had ever seen. Comprehensive is an understatement, with dozens of questions on everything from their business model to their work style.

Why so much detail? I think it’s because Furia Rubel leaves nothing to chance. We’re building a blueprint for communications success. From great plans spring successful marketing and public relations campaigns. I’ve read through hundreds of strategic plans and these are the most detailed and well-integrated that I’ve seen in a long time.

Furia Rubel defines its process as “Communications Made Simple.” Achieving simplicity is hard work. It’s like being the proverbial duck gliding across the water. The smaller the ripples on the surface, the more furiously it’s paddling below.

Looking forward to paddling with you in the months ahead.

All the Best,
Jonathan Morein

By the way, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanmorein or on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/JonMor to share your thoughts.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Sexist Branding: Learning from Bic’s Mistake

Image from www.thedailymusing.com
Posted by Leah Ludwig and Rose Strong

A Ragan.com article draws attention to a brand social media faux pas – one that we all know well and may use every day – Bic. The “Bic Cristal for Her” is a ballpoint pen that comes in pastel colors and touts an “elegant design—just for her!” Interestingly enough, these Bic pens cost 70 percent more than identical regular pens – according to Jezebel.com. Recently, Amazon’s users have taken to bashing the product or making snarky remarks about the sexist labeling of this product. Samples of these reviews can be seen within the Ragan.com article, on ABC News and by visiting Amazon.com, of course.

Shockingly, with all of this buzz, Bic has remained silent – especially within the social media sphere. More specifically, comments on the Bic Mark-It Facebook page have gone unanswered and the company has no Twitter presence. Communications experts weighed in with commentary in the Ragan.com article, stating that this is the exact opposite reaction of what a company should do in our social media age – as Bic is essentially allowing the public to shape and tell the story.

According to the article and our own social media thought leaders, a brand – especially one in the consumer lime light – should be ready to actively engage and respond to any sort of feedback from its customers. Bic could even join in on the conversation with clever or humorous responses to the snarky comments being made, which would at least give the brand a voice and demonstrate that it's actively listening. At this point, however, the brand has remained silent for far too long.

The bottom line is that this brand catastrophe could have been avoided. Echoing the Ragan.com quoted experts; by running the brand idea by focus groups and through test markets – individuals that would use their product daily – Bic would have found that putting time, money and so much more behind this targeted product could have been avoided entirely, and Bic as a brand could have kept its integrity intact.

We also dug up a few other stories (listed below) on sexist branding campaigns and products for your inquiring minds:

•    15 of the Most Sexist Marketing Campaigns from the Past
•    How sexist marketing sold America on the automatic transmission
•    Little Girl Calls Out The Sexist Marketing Ploys Geared Toward Kids
•    Dr Pepper's 'not for women' ad campaign: Sexist?

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