Monday, December 23, 2013

Top Words of 2013: What Ones Do You Use?

By Rose Strong

As a self-professed word geek, I find I look forward to the words of the year that are collected by publishers of dictionaries, newspapers and websites. As a marketing company that uses both traditional and social media for our clients, Furia Rubel Communications keeps tabs on the trends in modern linguistics.

One of the most anticipated annual announcements is from the Oxford English Dictionary, which crowns a “Word of the Year” as each year comes to a close. For 2013, the honors go to “selfie.”

I had a party this past fall and my niece and her friends grabbed me and a few of my friends and said something about taking a “selfie. ” One of my friends asked, “What did she say?” Another friend said, “I don’t know, just come over and smile at the phone!”

Why wouldn’t the word win such a place in our global lexicon? First we saw Pope Francis take a selfie in August with a group of young people and it went viral.

Then, just recently there was all the hullaballoo over President Obama partaking in a group selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

I don’t think it was so much the taking of the photo as it was the occasion that made it possible for three world leaders representing their countries at such a public and solemn event; Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Selfie is an abbreviated way to say self-portrait. In our techno-fanatic world of text messaging, IM’s and social media that limits characters; it only makes sense to crunch the letters down into a sort of public domain shorthand or as acronyms burned into our memory.

Other entries that made it onto the list of top words in 2013 included:
  • 404: it isn’t really a word, but these numerals are used for an error or not found message on the Internet;
  • Filibuster: that means a debate has been carried out extensively in a legislative body that delays a vote on bill. Not necessarily a new word, but heard quite often in response to the government shutdown this year, making its use on social media force it into our nearly everyday usage; 
  • @Pontifex: just happens to be Pope Francis’ Twitter handle in English
  • Olinguito: a newly discovered carnivore and the smallest relative in the raccoon family found in the mountainous regions of Equador and Columbia;
Another new addition to the list is binge-watch: watching successive episodes of a TV series at one time. See also: "putting Netflix to good use."

I’m not sure how often I’ll use the word selfie or any of these others, to be honest, but knowing the meanings of a new word is important in our fast-changing society. Sometimes they’re used as a topic of conversation around the water cooler because of a genuine curiosity about society in general, but where do these words start?

The OED’s blog indicates that the word selfie was first used in 2002 on an Internet posting in Australia. So, it isn’t necessarily that the word is new, but its utilization throughout society, i.e., use in all forms of the media and how common it becomes in our every-day language. 

National Public Radio’s now defunct program, Talk of the Nation had a show in March of this year discussing how dictionaries define and track their readers by the words they look up. Interestingly, how the news and the digital age has an impact on our research of words as events take place.

What do you think of the Oxford English Dictionary choosing the word selfie as its word of the year? Is there another word you think should have been chosen instead? Let us know in the comments.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 12 Days of Legal Social Media

By Sarah Larson

Social media can be a field of landmines for lawyers and their marketers. It's all too easy to tweet a statement or post a blog piece that ends up running afoul of ethics rules for legal marketing.

That's why so many legal marketing agencies, Furia Rubel included, spend so much time advising attorneys and their marketers on the ins and outs of social media. We field questions from clients and colleagues and write about both the opportunities and the things to be wary of when attorneys and law firms turn their attention toward social media.

In honor of the holidays, the Legal Marketing Association Social Media Special Interest Group has pulled together some amazing resources in their 12 Days of Social Media list. The 9th day's list is a handy compendium of legal marketing blogs that should be on everyone's daily reading list. Furia Rubel was honored to be listed among them, but there are plenty more to check out.

To see which legal bloggers are leading the way in thought leadership, check out LMA's website.

While you're at it, be sure to check out the previous days' offerings. From advice on using LinkedIn to funny videos of LMA leaders to 12 Tips for Twitter, you'll find plenty of great information to help you make some new year's social media resolutions.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Top 10 from The PR Lawyer – Vote for Your Favorite

Radio and TV stations, magazines and websites all are compiling “Top Ten” lists of something as 2013 comes to a close. As a marketing and public relations firm, we are always interested in measurement and analysis of the work we do. Our clients span many industries, but each one comes to us searching for the right combination of marketing and public relations in today’s ever-changing world.

Our team makes it our mission to keep up with new technologies, fast-paced social media outlets and search engine optimization rule changes. We then share that information with each other, our clients, and even here on The PR Lawyer. Each week, we write about new or updated technologies, information we think our clients could use or sometimes just a topic we find interesting and hope others will too.

So as we close the year, we decided to create a list of some of our favorite blog posts from the past year. In no particular order, here is our list of Top Ten 2013 Blog Posts:

Top Emotional Post: U Could be Liable 2 

Which one is your favorite? We’d love to hear from you what topics or information you would like to see in 2014. Meanwhile, we wish you a happy, healthy New Year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Intern’s Takeaway: Crisis Communication for Nonprofits

By: Maggie Quinn

Last month, Gina F. Rubel presented a training seminar at the Catalyst Center for Nonprofit Management entitled "Crisis Planning for Nonprofits: From Minor Events to Disasters." As the token intern, I had the opportunity to attend the seminar with the task of passing on what I learned.

First and foremost, when it comes to planning for your company, don’t ask if there will be a crisis, ask when. In the last few years we've witnessed many “pristine” national brands taking public relations hits including Susan G. Komen, Boy Scouts of America, and even Food Network superstar, Paula Deen. Some of these cases ended up more favorable than others, but much is to be learned from each situation.

Though not many nonprofits have crisis communication plans, every organization should have one in place. No matter the size of a nonprofit or organization, crisis is inevitable and will vary in size and scope. Toss in the immediacy of today's social media outlets and you have the perfect storm for crisis, forcing a minor incident to explode online into a would could become a disaster.

The time to plan for a crisis is before it hits, so below I share some portions of a crisis plan to consider applying to your nonprofit for 2014.

Important plans to implement:
  • Your first shot at framing the issue with the public is your best one. You know what people say about first impressions - they are lasting. In a crisis, be the first to present timely yet accurate information, taking into consideration the well being of any victims or parties involved.
  • Transparency is the first step in rebuilding trust in your brand. Never say “no comment.” That in itself is a comment, and it forces audiences to ask what else the organization is hiding. As a crisis unfolds, it is imperative to keep audiences informed. The Susan G. Komen foundation made this mistake when, in 2012 after defunding Planned Parenthood, a social media frenzy began without response or acknowledgement from the foundation until it was too late. If you cede messages to be formed by your critics, you lose the PR battle.
  • Have someone monitoring your social media daily. Many organizations don’t. There is no more denying the importance of social media as a crucial means of communication. In 2013, Facebook reported more than 1.15 billion total users and Twitter hosted more than 500 million total users. With such an extensive reach, nonprofits must have someone ensuring that social media profiles stay relevant. Twitter and Facebook are opportunities to keep your audiences informed with any recent developments - crisis or not.
  • Designate a Crisis Response Team. Your team should include a decision maker, legal counsel, internal, and external communicators. Legal counsel is especially important when developing talking points for multiple levels of your organization and the public. Since bad news does not get better with time, make sure your team is ready with swift and direct responses to any crises that can be spread down the chain of command so that all employees are informed.
  • Adopt a Social Media Policy for your company. When adopting a social media policy, tailor guidelines to the needs and culture of the organization and highlight your team’s need for common sense and good judgment. In the event of a crisis, remind the team to respect the social media policy so that communication is left to the Crisis Response Team.
  • Make sure the organization’s 990 forms are up-to-date. Another important issue for nonprofits is the dreaded 990 form. Set reminders to review your organization’s mission and purpose in the 990 form so that it aligns with current operations. Media and donors will critically review these forms, and every nonprofit should plan who can speak about it on behalf of the organization.
Crisis does not come in a “one size fits all” package. Each scenario has different stakeholders and audiences, weaving a complex communications web to be addressed. Still, the basics hold true for nearly all crises: plan, anticipate, train and repeat.

Now that you expect the shoe to drop, be ready to catch it. What’s in your crisis kit?

Monday, December 02, 2013

To Be Anonymous or To Not Be Anonymous on LinkedIn: What are the reasons?

By Rose Strong

Have you ever wondered how you can view someone’s profile on LinkedIn without them knowing you’ve been rooting around their information? I recently did and after a bit of digging on the Internet, I found out how it can be done and learned a few things in the process.

I often check to see who has been looking at my profile, simply out of curiosity. Sometimes, instead of a person’s name and title, I see ‘LinkedIn Member’ or ‘Someone from XYZCorp’ viewed your profile. Wondering how that could be done, I did a Google search for how to be anonymous on LinkedIn and viola! Found my answer. I followed the directions by Emily Co in her post on and I was suddenly invisible on the professional social media site.

So, off I went to lurk for a bit.

Why would you want to be anonymous on a social media site set up for professionals to network with each other in an open forum? For several reasons.

1. It’s great for researching everything from job applicants to would-be clients. Lawyers, managers, physicians, marketers, job-seekers, hiring managers, college recruiters - you name the profession and someone may have a reason to be searching for information on LinkedIn without their targets being able to identify them. LinkedIn makes it easy to review someone’s professional affiliations and check directly on their employment experience.

2. It’s also useful for checking out the competition. See what your competitors’ companies and organizations are doing and to whom they may be connected. See what thought leadership articles they’re sharing and what kind of engagement their posts are eliciting.

3. Filling in details on the unfamiliar name left in a voice mail. If you can spell it, you can search for the person’s name to see if you know them and have an idea who they may be before you call them back.
LinkedIn’s privacy settings offer a range of options for displaying your identity. You can set up your profile for full disclosure, showing your name, the company you work for or the first line of your profile. You also can opt to share less information, displaying only your business type and title. Or you can go full cloak-and-dagger by hiding your identity completely. But beware; this article by Andy Foote, a LinkedIn management consultant and social business strategist, outlines some pitfalls when you operate on the site unidentified.

After a few days of exploring LinkedIn in anonymity, I thought I’d check out my own profile and see who had been viewing it. However, it seems if you’re not visible on the network, you can’t see who’s been looking at your profile! Here’s the message I saw when I opened my profile while still anonymous:

We only show you who viewed your profile when you browse under your full name. That means whenever you switch to anonymous, your viewer history gets erased. To see all your views, be sure to always browse as yourself. ~ LinkedIn

A blog post from Matt Hubbard at discusses the ins and outs of privacy settings on social media and LinkedIn in particular.  Hubbard’s article discusses a way to override the inability to see who has been looking at your own profile if you have a smart phone, but LinkedIn appears to have disabled that loophole on its mobile app.

It seems it is mostly frowned upon to be anonymous on LinkedIn, but anonymity can be used judiciously when needed; I won’t hesitate to poke around quietly on occasion. What about you?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Judge Anthony J. DeFino, a Great Philadelphia Jurist

Gina Furia Rubel & The Honorable Anthony J. DeFino, Beccaria Award 2008
The passing of The Honorable Anthony J. DeFino last night is a terrible tragedy.  The news reported that the Judge’s home on the 2500 block of 20th Street in South Philadelphia caught fire. The Judge did not make it out alive.

Today, the Philadelphia legal community mourns along with his wife Rose, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My heart and prayers go out to all of them.

Judge DeFino was known to so many people in so many different ways. He was a devoted family man and a zealous jurist. He was a community man and a proud Italian-American.

He was the founder of the Order of Brotherly Love, a past president of the Frank Palumbo Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America, and he was an Ex Officio member of the Board of Governors of The Justinian Society of Philadelphia.

I never tried a case in front of his honor, but I did have the pleasure to serve with him on the board of The Justinian Society. Every meeting was brighter and lighter when he was in the room. His smile was contagious.

One fond memory is from 2008. I was the Justinian Chancellor and we honored Judge DeFino with the Cesare Beccaria Award, the highest award given by the Justinian Society in partnership with the Criminal Justice Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

The Beccaria Award is given to an individual who promotes the cause of justice and the advancement of legal education, and who exemplifies the ideals of Cesare Beccaria, an Italian scholar whose writings would help lay the foundation for the modern legal system.

On that day, I quoted the late Honorable Lisa A. Richette, who said, “…it is clear that a voice like Beccaria’s is divinely inspired, and in turn, throughout the centuries, continues to uplift us to a vision of justice luminous with both humanity and discipline. Beccaria’s vision is a lasting memorial to the potential majesty of the law and to the beauty of the human spirit.”

And it was in the spirit of justice that we presented the Beccaria Award to our friend and longtime member, Judge Anthony DeFino, a man with a distinguished career in the field of criminal law.

La morte non ci porta via completamente la persona amata, rimane sempre il suo ricordo che ci incita a continuare. Coraggio. (Death doesn't take away completely a loved person whose memory lasts and induce us to go on with courage.)

May God rest his soul.

Photo credit: Mike Mountain.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Great Career Webpage = Great Talent

By Kim Tarasiewicz

Do you really want to hire the best talent for your company? Is your website HR friendly? Does your company career page invite applicants or turn them away?

For many companies, updating the career opportunities page isn’t high on the priority list, but it should be. While it’s true that there is currently a high number of people looking for employment, the number of top candidates looking for jobs has essentially remained the same. Investing time in improving your career webpage will help you attract great applicants rather than random resumes that don’t qualify.

Here are a few ideas to improve a career webpage:
  • Reflect the company’s personality. First impressions mean a lot – on both sides of the hiring fence so share your vision and history, but also why it’s a great place to work. By the time the prospect comes in for an interview, they will already love your company.

  • Make it easy to use. It sounds obvious but too many clicks to find the job posting could make the candidate loose interest. Be sure to have a link to the career page clearly visible on each Web page when possible and on the home page at the very least. Allow people to send resumes even if no positions are available; it will keep your talent pool current for those unexpected openings.

  • Use technology. In today’s digital world, 70 percent of job seekers use smartphones to search for positions, so be sure to have a mobile version of your website for them to access. Adding industry keywords to the career page also can improve search engine optimization for your company’s website, helping it land on the first page of search results.

  • Build social media links. Icons on the career page for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help increase networking and sharing of your job openings on social media platforms and provide free recruiting for the position. This is a powerful way to increase your company’s brand awareness and attract potential candidates.

  • Change it up. Look at most companies’ career pages and they all look the same. Adding something different to the page can keep people viewing it longer. An FAQ section, videos or the latest company blog will also create a positive experience for users.

  • Keep it current. There is nothing worse than finding the perfect job listing only to find out it’s six months old. Keeping old postings on your website will make your company look dated and leave a bad impression for job seekers.

Many companies still are conservative on hiring, so why waste time with an influx of resumes from applicants that don’t fit or are just going through the motions of sending out resumes with no real interest in your company? By using these tips, you can begin to cull the list of applicants before they even reach your inbox. Elevate your company’s image by finding the right talent the first time around and increase brand awareness at the same time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Do Google AdWords Work for Law Firm Marketing?

By Gina Rubel

We were asked recently about the efficacy of Google AdWords campaigns in marketing law firms, specifically to other businesses.

AdWords is Google’s paid advertising platform which can help drive traffic to your website. It takes advantage of Google searches, which people perform each day, and serves up advertisements for related products on the top and right hand side of the search results pages. It is called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, a name which speaks for itself.

Running an AdWords campaign may or may not work for your law firm marketing efforts. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. This form of paid advertising has both advantages and disadvantages; it’s more complicated than just telling Google that you want an ad to appear, since more than 1 billion searches are conducted on the site daily.

It is also important to understand that there are various types of AdWords campaigns. For example, a “Search Network – Standard” targets your ads to high-potential customers searching for your services but does not allow for use of AdWords’ advance settings. More specific details about the features available for each campaign type are available on Google’s AdWords > Help > Setup and basics page.

Advantages of Google AdWords for Law Firm Marketing:
  • AdWords ads give visibility to businesses whose sites are buried behind other companies’ pages on Google search results. This provides businesses with the opportunity to attract new customers.
  • As with most Google products, AdWords is user-friendly and offers step-by-step instructions to create an advertisement with options tailored to your needs.

  • The quick set up process and ability to set a maximum budget can be financially beneficial if the marketing budget is tight and the business does not have enough content (yet!) to appear on the first page of Google search results without paid help.
  • Your advertisement has the potential to appear on thousands of other sites across the web, depending on how you set up visibility options. Remember that this may increase the expense of ads, but knowing your audience and anticipating how they conduct their web searches will allow a higher return on your investment.
  • In a short amount of time, AdWords will help you identify the keyword phrases that are most effective for your firm, which can then be used in your organic search engine optimization efforts. No other keyword research tool compares with the data you will get from running an AdWords campaign.

Disadvantages of Google AdWords for Law Firm Marketing:
  • Not all clicks are good clicks, so there is a chance of wasting money. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, a broad keyword search can rack up a hefty cost-per-click bill in a short amount of time.
  • There are no competitors to Google AdWords; therefore, there is no other company with which to compare data. Google has a monopoly on this one.
  • You have 70 characters to sell your business. This line would be it.
  • Since AdWords is a money maker for Google, the company is interested in resolving issues. Still, Google is an enormous company, and customer support may be spotty; you may have to “google” for help instead of calling someone directly.

AdWords for Law Firms Considerations

Ask yourself what type of return you want to get from your investment. Determine how much money you would need to invest in AdWords to accomplish that return. Tailor your AdWords campaign to reach a very specific target audience (assuming that target audience is finding legal services through advertising and the web).

As far as its efficacy for B2B marketing, it depends on the purchaser of your services. For example, if your law firm handles government contracting, the likelihood of AdWords being advantageous to your business development efforts may be very slim. On the other hand, if you are a person injury, workers’ compensation, family law or criminal defense law firm, AdWords may prove valuable.

In any event, it may be more advantageous to launch an organic search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Leveraging your law firm news, press releases and blog posts; creating content-rich videos that appeal to your target audience; engaging in media relations; building relationships; sharing valuable content via social media networks such as LinkedIn; and presenting online CLEs are just a few tactics we execute for our clients to boost their visibility in online search.

Remember, it is the organic, well-placed, relevant content that will remain on the Internet long after an AdWords campaign has ended.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Res Ipsa Loquitur: Showing Instead of Telling

By Sarah Larson

Twitter threw its 200-million-plus users for a loop at the end of October when it suddenly began embedding photos and videos directly into those users' personalized feeds.

The famously terse social media channel had remained resolutely photo-free since its launch in 2006. Users could upload a profile picture, but if they wanted to share photographs, they had to do so through links.

But as Twitter evolved, so too did its audience's expectations, growing amidst increasing pressure from the meteoric rise in popularity of visual powerhouses Pinterest and Instagram.

One of today's leading social media services, Twitter first gave voice to millions of over-sharing narcissists who then turned their streams into their own personal newswire services. From there, Twitter quickly developed into the Internet's de facto breaking news service, and now is the primary source of news for a whopping 8 percent of U.S. adults.

Not bad for a 7-year-old.

Twitter, though, soon found itself in much the same position as a storied news icon - The New York Times. Though the nation's paper of record printed its first photograph in 1896, The Gray Lady stubbornly held out for decades against the everyday use of color photography. It wasn't until 1997 that the first color photo appeared on the front page of the Times.

The Times, and Twitter, both yielded to a principle that science has shown to be true; the human brain processes visual information faster and stores it deeper and longer than it does textual information.

Twitter touted its new "rich tweets" as a way to bring one's followers "closer to what's happening," but it's difficult to escape the implicit concession from the Model T of microblogs: textual content no longer can be relied upon to hold an audience's interest, even when that text has been whittled down to bursts of no more than 140 characters.

So if we know a picture really is worth a thousand words, what does that mean for those of us who market professional service firms? Great photos on Pinterest might help Nordstrom sell more clothes and crowdsourcing campaigns on Instagram might be right for Red Bull but how does that apply to my law firm?

Creative and effective use of visuals is just as important for professional services organizations as it is for retailers. Engaging visuals can do everything from create a mood to evoke a positive connection to present industry-specific data in an engaging manner.

Not sure where to start? Here are 5 easy ways to start showing, not telling.

1. Send a photo with every press release. 

Were your attorneys named to a "Best Lawyers" list? Be sure to send a photo of the attorney when you issue the press release. Did your office get voted a best place to work? Gather everyone near the (branded) sign and snap a group photo, like Citrin Cooperman's Philadelphia office did here after being named among the Top 100 Places to Work.

2. Hire a professional photographer for events. 

Is your firm sponsoring a charity event, or hosting a grand opening, or having an open house to celebrate an anniversary? Hire a pro to document the occasion. The cost will pay off in the long run when you have professional quality images to share in all of the marketing tactics you surely are implementing to capitalize on the event. When the Hepatitis B Foundation renamed its research institute in honor of Baruch Blumberg, the man who discovered the hepatitis b virus and developed the test and vaccine to combat it, foundation leaders turned to Allure West Studios to commemorate the event. Its future marketing campaigns now have access to photos like this one, of Blumberg's son-in-law Mark Thompson, CEO of the New York Times Co., with the medical bag Blumberg used on his research trips - a bag that helped save millions of lives.

3. Illustrate blog posts.

Many law firms these days have discovered that writing relevant articles about facets of their particular legal niche for a blog page can help them develop into thought leaders in their fields. The writing is just part of the campaign, though. People will spend more time on your page - and in fact are more likely to be drawn in to read it in the first place - if a relevant photo or other illustration accompanies the words. But don't just rush to Google images and take something from there. Be mindful of intellectual property when choosing photographs. You'll be on safer legal ground if you invest in a stock photo or two rather than hope no one notices you stole a photo from a newspaper or other blog.

4. Embrace video.

More than 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day. Its 1 billion - with a B - users turn to it for everything from learning how to unclog a sink to checking out the newest preview for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The next time your accountants are speaking at a conference or your attorneys are presenting a CLE, arrange for video recording, like the Philadelphia personal injury firm of Feldman Shepherd did when two of its attorneys demonstrated how a house fire that killed two young boys started in a dryer, leading to a products liability lawsuit.

5. Invest in infographics.

The rise in popularity of infographics is no accident. A good infographic takes a jumble of data and reorganizes and presents it in a visually pleasing manner. People who wouldn't invest the time to read paragraphs of information will scan an infographic simply because it entices them to look. Take this example on private attorneys vs. public defenders from Criminal Justice Degree Schools.

As marketing and public relations continues to shift towards visual communications, it becomes even more vital for professional service firms and their marketers to adapt and evolve, too. Thinking visually while executing your next marketing tactic will improve the return on the investment in your marketing efforts, leading to more referrals and business leads and, in the end, increased business development and revenue.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Offensive Ads and Stereotyping: When Your Marketing Can Cause a Crisis

By Rose Strong

Words and images: Can’t advertise without them. However, when those two things are used indiscreetly by creative marketers, an offensive campaign will sink faster than a pig in quicksand!

A recent column by Bill White in the Lehigh Valley’s newspaper, The Morning Call sparked my curiosity about distasteful and offensive ads. White referred to a local business hosting a Halloween fright night with the theme “Psychopath Sanctuary.”

The advertisements, which ran on local radio outlets, speak of missing residents in a local town being tortured after mental patients escape the state hospital and hide in an abandoned barn.

There has been criticism from the community and the local group of the National Association of Mental Illness, citing the lack of compassion and understanding for the disease of mental illness and those who suffer. In my opinion, the advertising and the attraction perpetuate a troubling stereotype about individuals suffering with mental illness.

The controversy has been somewhat lost on the owner of the business, who at first responded quite harshly and tried to downplay the issue saying what a great country we live in where people have little else to complain about than radio commercials. He has since offered to take the complaints under consideration for future advertising and expressed that he had no intention to cause any hurt or inconvenience.

All businesses need to understand that their messages and images can be taken in a way that was unintended or insulting. I watch television and complain about sexist and racist ads all the time, even when they seem harmless or cute. It is important for creative folks and the businesses they serve to remember the diversity of their audience.

Are women the only ones who want their homes to smell nice or be clean? Swiffer, I’m looking at you! How about the bachelor pad or the college dorm room instead of the homemaker image that completely portrays sexism?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that these ads are meant to target a particular buying audience within the general population, usually based in consumer data, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be perceived as offensive to some.

A Harris Interactive poll article on distasteful advertising gives a breakdown of how folks make purchasing choices based on their feelings and the demographics involved in those decisions.

These ads from yesteryear, posted by, although perhaps not considered offensive by the standards of the day are, by comparison to today’s attitudes, quite repulsive.

On occasion, though, there are those companies who haven’t learned the lessons of the past.

On the Quality Logo Products (QLP) blog, Jenna Markowski shared 12 Offensive Advertisements You Shouldn’t Mimic Under Any Circumstances. Her list is on the mark and offers good advice to anyone needing to pitch a product or service.

Does any company want to make an apology and lose customer trust while cleaning up the mess? It’s best to make an effort to consider all audiences before creating the need to manage a crisis.

Just ask the big-time advertisers mentioned in a New York Times article by Stuart Elliot and Tanzina Vega about how hip and cutting-edge ads can be cutting off the customers.

Have you seen an offensive ad lately?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Are You Viral Ready? - Succeeding on YouTube

By Kim Tarasiewicz

Anyone who has posted a video on YouTube would love to see their video go viral. Let’s face it, free advertising is good, and YouTube's 1 billion users make tempting targets.

But of course, in the world of marketing, there are no guarantees, and competition is fierce. About 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute - and only 1 percent of all videos posted will go viral. That means most of our videos will be seen only by those who are looking for them.

There are, however, ways to increase visibility for your videos. Here are a few:

Create high-quality videos that do not appear to be advertising. Great production value can increase the time your audience is willing to spend viewing your post. The video doesn't need to be long; in fact, 2 to 3 minutes should be the limit to increase viewership.

Support your video by using keywords in your titles and creating unique content. Be sure to include a high resolution thumbnail image that can be seen easily, as larger percentages of viewers are now searching on their smartphones.

Capture interest by writing content with defined keywords for best search results. Words, not necessarily videos, will show up in search results,  so it’s important that the text entices a viewer to click on your videos. Only the first 160 words will appear in the search results so use the first sentence as your “teaser.”

Google recently released a new search algorithm called Hummingbird which searches by the user’s intent rather than just keyword results. This will change the way results are listed for videos, requiring people adding keywords to use more conversational search words.

Promote yourself - and let others help along the way. Be sure to allow access to your video when posting on YouTube so it can be found. Use social media like Twitter and Facebook to promote your video and ask colleagues to comment and share it on their networks to increase viewers. Ask viewers to subscribe to your channel and then use that list to send new video links when you post them.

But even with all these tips, the best advice is to produce great content. Focus on creating stimulating videos that will attract your target audience. Make it interesting, and they will come. Provide viewers with content they need or will enjoy to keep them coming back to your channel.

Once you’ve got great content, paying attention to details and using social media to promote it will increase your chances of earning new views on your page, thereby increasing visibility for your brand.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Beyond Facebook and Twitter: Using the Conversation Prism to Guide Your Social Strategy

By Sarah Larson

You've launched a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, and you've got a few hundred followers on each. Maybe you even monitor and update them regularly.

All the firm's principals are on LinkedIn and properly connected to the firm's page. (You have created a LinkedIn page for your firm, right?)

Congratulations: that's a good start.

Traditional social media now is entering its second decade, as measured from the launch of the seminal social site, MySpace, in August 2003. In early years, social media was seen as the Internet's crowded community promenade, safely sequestered away from the "serious" business and media websites that once defined the Internet's popular profile.

Today, social media has grown up. Instead of being a place your kids hang out, social has evolved to become the default mechanism for public interaction between any two - or more - parties online.

Whether the conversation is between a store and its customers, a TV anchor and her upset viewers, or a firm and its (prospective) clients, social is virtually always the medium.

As you might have guessed from this post's title, that medium has grown well beyond the marquee names of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Those forums remain incredibly important, to be sure, but it's not enough to plant your firm's flag there and call it a strategy.

If you're not really sure what your next social step entails, The Conversation Prism, released this summer by Washington, D.C.-based design firm JESS3 in collaboration with digital analyst Brian Solis, might help you get your bearings.

The Conversation Prism organizes the social Web based on types of services, encompassing everything from social marketplaces like Etsy and LivingSocial, to location-based apps such as Foursquare, review sites such as Yelp, livecasting services such as Livestream, photo sites such as Instagram and 500px, and curation sites such as and Pinterest.

It's true that many of the platforms shown on this infographic predate and challenge what we've come to think of in the past few years as "social media," and that's the point.

The graphic demonstrates, in a powerfully visual way, how social media is no longer something we do, it is the way we live. It is not a fad, it is not going away, and its influence is transforming the way we do business.

First released in 2008, the Conversation Prism has changed over the years, reflecting the evolution of the social Web it monitors. In the latest version of the graphic, 122 social media services have been removed, and 111 new ones added.

One aspect remains constant, though. At the center of the prism is "you," the person or business looking to make their latest social move and choosing platforms to meet their goals. 

Whether that goal is listening, learning or adapting social for your company's use, the Conversation Prism can help guide a social media strategy, reinforce a strategy already in place, or inspire management teams to think about social in a new way.

What social media platforms does your company use? Have you identified any new platforms you would like to use? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Note: Click on the graphic to enlarge it for easier viewing.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Well-Crafted Holiday Greeting – Marketing Tool, Holiday Message or Both?

By Rose Strong

It’s that time of year again; the time when retailers start putting out holiday decorations and pushing us into the season faster than we may care to travel. If you have a difficult time looking at Halloween in one aisle and Christmas in the next when temperatures are still in the 80s, you are not alone.

However, just as in retail, the marketing and public relations world must plan ahead. The calendar may say "fall," but it's time to start thinking "Jingle Bells" and hot cocoa - and examining what your approach to the holidays can do for your business.

A holiday card can do much more for a business than simply convey the best wishes of the season. Proper preparation and planning can transform a business holiday greeting card into a subtle but effective marketing tool that will reap a return on the investment all year long.

A holiday greeting gives a company the opportunity to thank contacts for a year of good business and wish them a new year filled with prosperity. It is also a chance to reinforce company brand to clients, vendors, referral sources, friends or potential clients.

The first thing to consider is timing a campaign so cards arrive in contacts' mailboxes as soon as possible after Thanksgiving. You want your card to be the first one they receive - which is likely to create a stronger impression and allow for a longer display time.

That makes it even more important to choose a card design early. Drafting animated or custom holiday cards takes planning and coordination, but the results are well worth the time and effort.

A carefully designed greeting can convey a message of holiday cheer and support an overall corporate brand. An article by Angela Bright for explains this theory well and gives tips on how to craft a greeting that will set a company apart.

For some, the idea of a printed card is an environmental taboo. In that case, a digital greeting could be a good alternative. A article by Kate Freeman includes an infographic showing the effect of printed holiday cards on the environment and how switching to electronic delivery can be more environmentally friendly.

Here at Furia Rubel, we start planning for the holidays in late September, brainstorming card concepts, updating contact lists and discussing gift-giving ideas. We also work with our clients to help them plan their own holiday cards and gifts for their clients.

So when you walk into a store for office or home supplies and see the giant, light-up lawn decorations, ask yourself whether you've planned for your business holiday greetings. It’s really not too early to start.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tips for Managing a Social Media Crisis

By Kim Tarasiewicz

We've all heard it or seen it – a social media faux pas, a bad Tweet, an offensive picture on Facebook, a bad review on Yelp. But what happens when your business’s social media campaign hits a nerve and becomes a crisis? It can happen in an instant, and how you respond can affect your company’s image immediately.

Here are vital tips for keeping a social media meltdown from becoming an inferno:

Plan Ahead: Before a crisis occurs, assign a point person to deal with internal and external problems. Meeting with your team ahead of any situations can minimize damage done to your corporate image. Knowing who will handle all social media outlets (search engine optimizations, reviews, networks) will allow you to respond to negative criticism faster. Provide employees with guidelines and brand-approved messages and encourage them to share on their personal social media communities, if they are comfortable doing so.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor: Every business should be checking its social media networks often, as quick response can make all the difference in damage control. If a comment is made on social media about your business, it often can be taken offline and resolved without much commentary. By the time comments begin to elicit the responses and posts are dropping at lightning speed, it’s too late. All companies also should use a monitoring system such as Google alerts to see what people are saying about them.

Address it Immediately: All responses should come from a single point of contact. Alert employees to the problem but ask them not to respond on their own social media networks. Respond to each post and track back to the source to resolve what began the string of comments. This will show your business cares about the situation and would like to fix it.

Hold all Auto-posts: Companies often schedule automatic posts as part of their ongoing marketing, but during a crisis is not the time to be marketing. If the situation is serious enough, cancel or suspend all scheduled social media posts until you can assess and address the problem. You don’t want customers thinking you are not taking the situation seriously or sending something else out to compound the problem.

Remain Calm: Social media travels quickly, but the good news is, most of the time it ends quickly, too. Keeping a respectful, conversational tone and remaining calm will help you control the situation without getting pulled into a different argument. Do not get caught up in ugly remarks or argue with commenters. Begin new posts whenever possible so not to carry along the previous posts.

Assess the Damage: When the worst seems to be over, take a deep breath and determine how to move forward. Consider drafting a post to apologize but be sure to let readers know this will not happen again. Keep in mind, a few people may continue to post and you may never be able to please everyone, but the incident likely will die down.

Return to Social Media: Monitor all social media platforms to be sure negative posts have stopped. Begin new posts with a non-controversial, positive feel to them. Keep it light to create neutral response and determine if it is a good time to continue.

Evaluate and Adjust: After the crisis is over, determine what worked and what did not. You may be able to see a better way to alert the team of a crisis in the future. Look at what you learned and ask the team to evaluate the situation. A different perspective may help avoid similar mistakes in the future.

While social media crises require attention, they don't have to turn into catastrophes. When addressed properly, your front page posts will become yesterday’s news.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rein in Your Inbox: 7 Tools for Email Efficiency

By: Maggie Quinn

“There he goes again,” I think as my dad trudges into the basement to answer emails. “He’s never coming back. Well, at least for another few hours.”

Since its popularity skyrocketed in the early 1990s, email has transformed from a streamlined form of communication into a facilitator for distraction. The problem has worsened in recent years, now that email follows us through every daily activity on the mobile devices in our pockets. How can business professionals tackle what seems to be this overwhelming task?

Many experts advise tackling problems in “just 20 minutes a day.” Well, just 20 minutes of exercise, just 20 minutes of meditation, just 20 minutes to prep dinner – it all adds up to consume a large portion of a day. Given our busy lives, those 20 precious minutes do not need to be spent organizing your inbox each day.  Instead there are pragmatic approaches to keep your inbox nearly empty at all times, an approach known as “Inbox Zero.”

For many professionals, reaching Inbox Zero, seems like a fantasy that will never be achieved, and anyone who suggests the possibility is the Don Quixote of the office. A few nights ago, frustrated with various aspects of my life coinciding in my inbox, I decided to take a crack at Inbox Zero. The tools I came across in my quest are well worth sharing.

1) Boomerang

Why it is useful: With this application, you can schedule emails to be sent during a later time or date. For example, a message drafted at 2:00 a.m. may be set to send at 8:00 a.m. during normal business hours. Additionally this application can act as a “snooze” button for emails to reappear in your inbox. This feature is useful for night owls, companies that operate in different time zones and follow-up reminders.

Used on: Gmail

Cost: Free for 10 messages a month, $4.99/month unlimited, $14.99 for businesses

2) Unroll Me

Why it is useful: Think about the average amount of junk mail received each day. When it becomes second nature to delete certain messages, something must change. This site allows users to scan an email address for subscriptions. I was surprised as to how many listservs I had accumulated over the years, ranging from department store coupons to group newsletters. After the scan, the site gives the option to unsubscribe from lists or “add to roll.” Instead of separate emails for each subscription, you will receive one daily digest “roll” email with all of your subscriptions at once.

Used on: Most email addresses

Cost: Free

3) Pocket

Why it is useful: Have you ever had an email that sits in your inbox because it includes a lengthy article or interesting video that you want to enjoy later? This application allows users to forward such emails to a virtual “pocket” to be read when time allows. Commuters, anyone with future downtime or media junkies will find this valuable.

Used on: Any internet browser, smartphone or tablet

Cost: Free

4) Rapportive

Why it is useful:  This is a networker’s dream. An excellent client management tool, Rapportive displays a picture, Twitter feed, and social media links of your email contacts. Users even can add personal notes to each contact to remember for the next meeting or follow-up email.

Used on:  Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers

Cost: Free

5) Follow Up Then

Why it is useful:  Call it a senior moment or too much on our plates, the reality is that sometimes we forget things. Follow Up Then serves as a virtual secretary to send friendly follow-up reminders. Simply compose or forward an email to yourself to be read in the future such as events or client reminders. Send the email with when you want the email to appear to @followupthen (i.e.,

Used on: Any email provider

Cost: Free

6) Inbox Pause

Why it is useful: Sometimes emails have to wait, but the temptation to check your inbox is too great.  Inbox Pause halts messages from entering your inbox at work until you are ready to handle more emails. This is especially useful if you are working on a project, out to dinner, with a client or on vacation.

Used on: Gmail

Cost: Free

7) The Email Game

Why it is useful: Someone finally had a sense of humor regarding email and developed “The Email Game” to make the process more fun. A timer challenges users to beat the clock while reading and responding to messages in order to tidy up inboxes.

Used on: Gmail and Google Apps

Cost: Free

These tools – along with email basics such as creating proper folders to sort mail, using color-coded tabs, and defining reasonable goals – can help make Inbox Zero a reality. My father can attest to the fact that this process works. Together this past weekend, we trimmed his unruly 4,000-message inbox down to a mere 18 by switching to Gmail and employing some of the aforementioned techniques.

So invest in your inbox today and relieve your email angst.

Do you have any methods to successfully manage email influx? Share your Inbox Zero tips in the comments.