Friday, April 17, 2015

10 Post-Event Tips to Get the Most Out of Conference Attendance

By Gina F. Rubel

What do you do to follow up with people you met and things you learned about at a meeting or conference? Do you just take the business cards that you received and stuff them in a drawer or do you do something with them? Do you take the conference materials and put them on a shelf?

This past week, I spent several days in San Diego at the Legal Marketing Association International Conference (#LMA15) where I had the opportunity to both teach and to learn. I co-presented a program with three other experienced legal marketers: Roy Sexton of Trott & Trott (Ann Arbor), Heather Morse Geller of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger (Los Angeles) and Megan McKeon of Katten Muchin Rosenman (Chicago). We discussed collaboration and coexistence among marketers and lawyers, touching on law firm culture, the generations in the workplace, how to communicate effectively with lawyers, and much more.

After a long, cross-country journey and time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, I took time upon my return (that I had set aside) to follow up and process information I had acquired. Here are some of the things that I do to get the most out of the conference after attending:

1) Connect with everyone that I met for the first time on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter.
2) Send hand-written notes to people with whom I want to follow up.
3) Add select individuals to my personal contact database and CRM system and update contact information for those who are with new companies.
4) Download all important materials and review them for a second time.
5) Share conference take-aways with my marketing and public relations teams.
6) Make notes on the restaurants we visited (and perhaps rate them on TripAdvisor) in the event we end up back in the same city for a future conference or meetings.
7) Capture the Twitter stream using TweetArchivist.com (assuming I remembered to set one up pre-conference) and review it for trends and nuggets of important information.
8) Send thank you notes to anyone who took the time to do something special such as invite me to dinner or pay for a taxi.
9) Download and begin using valuable apps that I learned about at the conference.
10) Follow up and schedule meetings with people who I said I would follow up with.

While these 10 post-event tips to get the most out of conference attendance seem simple, it takes hours to complete them and most people say they are simply “too busy” to do anything once they return to their offices. Take the time to capitalize on all of the great relationships you developed and information you learned. Otherwise, it all just falls on deaf ears.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Social Media Policies for Employers, Employees and their Counsel

By Laura Powers

In October, I had the pleasure of speaking at the 2014 Bench-Bar & Annual Conference held by the Philadelphia Bar Association. I was joined by Ryan Gatto, Global Director of Compliance at Sungard Availability Services, and Justin Moriconi, Senior Associate at Segal McCambridge.

During the conference, my fellow speakers and I discussed the importance of putting social media policies in place for businesses and the rationale behind having a designated social media expert (or even more than one).

Here’s what we learned:

There is Power in Social Media

Social media can be wielded as a powerful marketing and business development weapon if properly harnessed. It can be used effectively in regular communication with external audiences such as past, existing or potential clients, customers and employees, the media, government officials and referral sources as well as in crisis communications.

In crisis, for example, many companies used their social profiles, which had followings, to communicate during Hurricane Sandy because they didn't have email service and some did not have phone service, either. Social media has become a primary channel not only for regular outreach, but also for critical communication during a crisis.

For recruiting purposes, social media gives us a look inside the culture and environment of a company. A website can only take this so far; social media allows us to take it further. For example, office parties, office pets, event photos or sponsored 5K races are snapshots into the daily interactions of coworkers and that is so critical to recruiting, especially for younger generations that place a lot of value on a job’s flexibility and life balance.

How to Benefit – Educate Employees

Most employees don’t start their day with the intention to damage the company they work for. They most likely haven’t been properly informed enough to understand the effects of their online behavior because the guidelines and expectations about company-sanctioned behavior have not been correctly communicated. It should be up to the employer how it provides this education.

Clearly, companies shouldn't be taking the “head in the sand” approach to social media. To deal with possible crisis issues, employers need to take the time to develop a thoughtful policy. And since technology often outpaces the law, that policy needs to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Once social media policies are created, they should have a proper firm-wide roll-out to management and staff.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

This is why having a team internally, or externally, like an agency, is critical. I can’t tell you all the things we've found that employees have posted, including a lawyer’s post one day from court that said “Justice is so slow. Wish this judge would hurry up,” and, “Bored to tears in this NJ CLE class.”

A branded platform that does not look like it is abandoned by the company but looks like it is cared for every day will emphasize an employee’s perception that they are being watched and promote conservative use. Consistent branding, messaging and positioning for a company on the platforms that are sanctioned for use also will make a difference.

Marketing & Communications – What’s Necessary and Obvious

In 2013, more than 92 percent of companies reportedly had one staff member for whom “social media” was a requirement according to a Forbes article by contributor Ken Makovsky entitled ‘A Snapshot Of Social Media 2013.’

Of those social media experts, 18 percent report directly to the CEO, indicating that social goals and strategies are gaining traction in the boardroom. There is still discrepancy between the dedication to social and the belief within a company’s leadership that it is actually effective, but measurement and effectiveness is another conversation.

Leadership cannot rely solely on the marketing staff to handle policy management and social media engagement. A social media committee can be set up to monitor and manage everything and hold each other accountable if there is no designated social media expert or if your company is too big for just one expert to handle.

The team setups we see vary based on the culture of the company and its attitude, which also depends on the generational demographics in the company. In open environments, social media is accepted as the norm and everyone can be a brand ambassador and share information online. However, that doesn't lessen the need at all for monitoring and management.

Does your company have a clear social media policy or designated social media expert(s)? Share your experiences or thoughts in the comments section below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

De-Cluttering for Your Desk and Your Mind

By Rose Strong

Maybe I was pushing spring, since we’ve had more than our fair share of snow and freezing rain here in the Northeast; the days of walking on ice in my backyard with my over-the-boot ice cleats are getting old. I’m done with winter. So, in an effort to force some movement to a more gentle time of year, I did some early spring cleaning a few weeks ago, starting with my office desk drawers.

Straightening up my desk drawers is one of the last chores I have time for during my workday, but the contents therein are essential to much of my work. Making time to go through and clean out the nonessential debris that seems to overtake these little, slide-out boxes that reside on either side of me would be beneficial to not only my daily tasks, but to my state of mind.

Last year, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project.” We all want to be happy, right? For the most part, I thought the book was full of great ideas, stellar research and mostly simple solutions to some long-standing problems common to us all. One of her theories is how clutter can be a significant inhibitor of a peaceful and productive life. This article from Lifehacker.com reveals the scientific proof and as one who tends to pile “stuff” on nearly every flat surface or keep needless ”stuff” on a shelf, in a closet or in a drawer, I can attest to that.

Although I can be lazy when it comes to making serious changes to my life, Rubin’s “Ten Tips to Beat Clutter,” from her blog are really terrific, and I especially like her one-minute rule, which I find pretty amazing when I stick with it. It’s a very simple action philosophy that rewards big.

Let’s get back to my desk drawers and their interesting contents. Since I’m the office administrator, much of my desk items are things all the office staff uses, like a box of refill staples, envelopes, priority mail and certified letter supplies, a label-maker and refill tape, postage stamps, Band-Aids, packing tape, the storage room key, and desk and file cabinet keys. Anyone may access these items, so it’s pretty essential that they are easily available.

My right-hand drawer is home to my favorite local Chinese menu, various business cards, a Mason jar with ketchup packets, a bottle of White-Out, Chapstick, a nail file, a Starbucks splash stick, a bottle of Ibuprofen, paper clips, a magnifying glass and some sticky notes, binder clips, a ruler, and a lint roller. Although people may need items from that drawer, it is relatively private. I use these things pretty regularly, but I tend to toss stuff into the drawer, making it a disarray of nearly unidentifiable objects.

After cleaning out the drawers and trashing items that I couldn’t recycle or use, it inspired me to declutter my desk as well. Now, I’m amazed at how clear my mind feels and the effect has even given me considerable motivation to work on those tasks I procrastinate most.

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times by Pamela Druckerman gives insight into why clutter is suddenly a first-world problem and how both clutter and the lack of it can affect our minds.

How about you? Are you the clutter type or a neatnik? What do you do to keep your mind and your surroundings clear and organized?

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Explain Public Relations to Friends and Family: Part I

By Megan Quinn

For the longest time, I've had difficulty explaining the public relations industry to friends and family members. 

I would regularly field questions and comments such as, ‘So you’re a member of the media?’ or ‘Maybe *insert random celebrity here* should be one of your clients!’ or ‘So you’re in human resources?’ 

That would be a NO to all of those. 

A recent article on PR Daily got me thinking that there must be an easier way to explain my job. 

At its core, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

That definition comes from the Public Relations Society of America, and is a good, simple explanation of the overall field. But it doesn't do much to explain what we actually do on a day-to-day basis. So here is what I came up with:

The kind of public relations we practice at Furia Rubel is business to business, aka B2B. You know how movie stars and professional athletes have publicists? We are like that, but we’re publicists for businesses. We don’t represent individuals and we certainly don’t go to movie premieres – though we would be happy to accompany Bradley Cooper on the red carpet any time.

We don’t represent just any business, however. We further refine our particular area of practice to professional services. Our clients include law firms, legal service organizations, accountants and tax providers, financial institutions, and more.

In today’s world, public relations can encompass many tactics. One of the tried and true mainstays is media relations. We have offered our clients as experts for print articles, radio features, television interviews and other forms of media.

We work with journalists to provide appropriate sources for their stories. We bridge the gap between the journalists and our clients, working to coordinate interviews, photo opportunities and commentary on issues of the day. To work well and benefit everyone, this requires long-standing relationships with the media and a detailed understanding of how they work. 

We believe in the power of targeted public relations. Blasting out a press release on a distribution platform to hundreds of journalists across the country will do nothing but anger and alienate the journalists for whom that topic is inappropriate.

Instead, we work with our clients to analyze their business and define their target audience, then do research to determine what media that audience commonly consumes. We compile very targeted and specific media contact databases for each client, tailored to reach the audiences that are most important to their bottom line.

We also work with publications to coordinate article submissions from our clients, when the client has expertise that would be valuable to that publication’s audience.

Not only do we keep our clients in the public eye, we also do our best to keep them out of it in times of crisis. When something goes wrong - or has the possibility of going wrong, if not handled correctly - we are the folks working behind the scenes to make sure our clients quickly and accurately respond to the situation to minimize harm and begin rebuilding as soon as possible.

We may not have the simplest job description in the world, and what we do can change by the hour or minute, but any way you look at it, public relations professionals get to share their clients’ interesting stories with the world. That has to be the best part of our job!

This is the first installment of a three-part series of posts explaining the art of public relations. In my next post, I will address media monitoring and reporting services.

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