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?