Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And the Winner Is…

By Karen Preston-Loeb

Entering your company into awards competitions is an important aspect of your company’s marketing plan. Awards programs administered by reputable third parties bestow recognition on your company and help position your executives as leaders in their fields – all of which helps validate your business to existing customers and can help attract new customers.

While the daily grind can push entering awards contests to the back burner, making the effort to complete awards applications boosts the chance that your business brings home a shiny new trophy. Multiple entries can raise your chances of winning, as long as the entries are smart and well thought out. Undeniably, awards entries are time-consuming and can seem costly at potentially hundreds of dollars per entrance, but the benefits generally outweigh the labor involved in completing the application or nomination.

Benefits of award submissions
  • Increase name recognition: Whether you win or not, if you are among your competitors in appropriate awards categories, your name gets out there as a credible member of the industry.
  • Retain and acquire employees: Gaining accolades boosts employee morale and entices potential future talent.
  • Generate great public relations: If you win a particular award, a press release can be distributed to generate free publicity for your company. Don’t forget to post it to your company’s website to drive traffic and further spread the news. 
  • Gain customers: The free publicity generated can lead to new customers and more business—especially if you win.
  • Improve industry positioning: Once you’ve won an award, your company’s marketing language should incorporate such descriptors as “award-winning,” which again acts as validation when seeking new business or retaining existing customers.
Awards submissions sometimes may be greeted with an inter-office groan, as they can be perceived as “extra” work that is outside of daily tasks. Though they can be time-consuming, awards entries can be tackled more easily when your company has an awards submission plan.

Tips to make your contest-entering process less daunting:
  • Plan your award strategy by researching the types of awards your company would be suited to enter.
  • Once determined, make a list of due dates, submission requirements and entry fees for each award.
  • For annual awards, keep a calendar of due dates and set reminders as submission dates are approaching for the following year.
  • Throughout the year, maintain a folder of projects that would be appropriate to enter into awards competitions. By saving PDFs of media coverage, marketing collateral, reports, data and other supporting materials, the amount of work needed to track down the items needed for entry requirements at submission time will be substantially lessened.
  • Evaluate the impact of your initiatives once the awards have been announced to determine future award submissions.
When your company does win, take advantage of the PR opportunities to announce your achievement. In addition to distributing a press release to local media and posting it to your website, share the news in email newsletters, congratulate your company on social media platforms, and display your trophy or certificate with pride in the office for co-workers and visitors to view.

The awards-submission process may seem daunting but the payoff is worth the investment of time and effort. And remember – you can’t win it if you are not in it.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

5 Social Media FAQs for Lawyers

By Gina Rubel

We recently discussed the top social media trends that we are likely to see in 2017, many of which apply to organizations that have been active on social media for some time. Still, we field questions all the time from lawyers and law firms about whether social media should be a part of their marketing plan. During a recent legal marketing webinar hosted by MyCase, I addressed the basics of digital marketing for lawyers. Here are links to a full recording of Digital Marketing for Law Firms along with a MyCase recap of the webinar on their blog.

This program discussed the reasons why lawyers should be engaging on social media, in blogging and what types of content draw the most attention. Here are answers to some of the most common legal marketing questions that came up.

Should companies that have various office locations make separate profiles for those locations, particularly on Facebook?

For companies such as franchises, the answer to this question is yes, and there is a framework in Facebook that allows users to do that. There is a Facebook discussion on the issue at Can you set up multiple locations for a business’ Facebook page?

For law firms, however, I do not recommend setting up separate social media profiles for each office location. The bottom line is that it dilutes the firm’s brand, increases marketing costs unnecessarily and decreases marketing productivity, thus diminishing the return on investment in marketing.

How often do you recommend lawyers update social media?

Social media is just that, “social.” Pick one platform to start with and make sure it’s the one that is used by the majority of your clients and referral sources. Remember, people do business with those they know, like and trust. Then spend 10 to 15 minutes each day updating your profile, connecting with people and sharing relevant information. That’s it.

If I’m posting on LinkedIn, do I really need my own blog?

If you are publishing on LinkedIn Pulse already and you are sharing that out, you do not necessarily need a separate blog. LinkedIn Pulse is essentially a blogging platform, but remember that it is not branded for your business nor does it have a URL that is unique to your practice area or location, which helps with search engine optimization.

Is there an application that will allow you to post on Facebook and Twitter at the same time, for efficiency purposes?

At Furia Rubel, we use Hootsuite for some clients and CoSchedule for others. There are many other apps that allow you to share on multiple sites and schedule your shares. Keep in mind, however, that when scheduling your social media shares, if something happens in the media, your posts can be easily misconstrued. For example, you don’t want to be advocating for Second Amendment Rights on the same day as a mass school shooting.

What is a reasonable ‘investment’ in SEO? Recommended budget figures seem to vary widely.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in many forms. “Organic” SEO is supported by creating and sharing content such as blogs, images, videos, and making website updates, distributing online press releases, garnering online media coverage, and just about everything we do at Furia Rubel for our clients. Organic SEO is a strategic byproduct of well-thought-out marketing and public relations initiatives. On the other hand, there is paid SEO services, which vary greatly from company to company, practice area to practice area, and region to region.

A good place to start in determining your SEO budget is to read “How much should you spend on SEO services,” published on Search Engine Watch, which provides more technical and detailed information about search engine marketing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Multi-jurisdictional Law Practices and the Rules of Ethics

By Gina F. Rubel

As the rules regarding legal marketing have evolved over the years, lawyers have had to brush up on the ethics of marketing their law practices. One of the areas in which we field many questions is on the ethical implications of marketing a law practice with offices in several jurisdictions.

There is a great deal of guidance written about multi-jurisdictional law practices and ethical issues. General guidance suggests that attorneys must first be in compliance with their home state’s rules and in the states where the law firm maintains offices.

U.S.-based law firms should, at the very least, be in compliance with the ABA Model Rules.

I often advise lawyers that if they prefer to market conservatively, defer to the ethics opinions and rules of New York, New Jersey, Florida and Indiana. For example, review Marketing Your Practice - Attorney Advertising, Business Development and Ethics in New York state.

Other resources include:

Lawyer Marketing: An Ethics Guide (Hypotheticals and Analyses) by Thomas E. Spahn, McGuire Woods LLP.

ABA CLE Program: Multi-jurisdictional Practice -Major Ethical Issues and Trends by Lou Conti, Secretary/Treasurer, The Florida Bar, Business Law Section and Merritt A. Cole, Former Chair, The Philadelphia Bar Association, Business Law Section

You may also wish to read about virtual law offices and the ethics that apply.

A relevant and detailed article can be found in Law Practice Magazine: Watch Where You Set Your Virtual Foot – Advice on Dealing with Varying State Rules by Daniel J. Siegel.

For more information on the ethics of legal marketing, contact the marketing and PR professionals at Furia Rubel Communications.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Top 2017 Social Media Trends

By Caitlan McCafferty

Whether your business is already firmly established on social media, or whether you are just getting started, social media should be a top consideration for your B2B marketing plan for 2017. Here are some of the most important social media trends to consider in your social media marketing planning for this upcoming year.

1. Live Video

Social media users are increasingly interested in vicarious experiences. People don’t want to just see what their friends are doing, they want to feel like they’re there with them.

Snapchat’s success and popularity has encouraged other social media companies to incorporate live video into their platforms. Snapchat is likely to grow in 2017, with increased messaging services and real world glasses that capture a user’s world view.  Facebook and Twitter have also incorporated livestreaming into their platforms with Facebook Live and Periscope, respectively.

Due to the increasing popularity of the feature, brands should consider incorporating livestreaming into their social media marketing to reach their target audiences. Livestreaming would be a perfect social media tool to engage with your audience about grand openings, customer appreciation events, or product announcements.

2. Employee Ambassadors 

With LinkedIn’s Pulse feature, employees can be brand ambassadors for their companies. Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of Hootsuite, suggests motivating employees to post about the company on a regular basis. Employers should make it simple to share and allow the employee to edit the post to suit their audience.

Employee advocacy is digital "word of mouth" that allows a company’s brand and message to reach more people, with no cost to them. If the content is shared by the employees, the content then can be shared by the employee’s network, building an enthusiastic, engaged audience for your brand.

3. Facebook and Targeted Ads

Facebook’s audience is changing rapidly. It is no longer the favored social media platform for millennials. A survey from 2016 found that 41 percent of millennials still use Facebook every day, but Facebook is more popular among non-millennials. Simultaneously, Facebook has changed its algorithm making it more difficult to build an audience organically.

In 2017, targeted advertising will be the best way to push your message to an audience. The change in the algorithm might seem disappointing, but targeted ads provide better analytics to understand the ROI of a communications campaign.

4. Influencer Marketing 

EMarketer predicts that digital advertising will surpass TV advertising in 2017. With this new development, companies have more opportunities for Influencer Marketing.

A survey found that 47 percent of consumers block advertisements, so influencers are becoming the best way for brands to reach an audience. Influencers have established credibility with their audiences, and now they are using that credibility to vouch for a company’s brand. Using their own personal brand and voice as support, influencers can bring increased visibility and awareness for a given brand.

5. Chatbots for Customer Service  

Similar to the Influencer Marketing trend, consumers are craving a personal connection with their favorite brands. A way to service that connection is Chatbots for customer service.

With the evolution of messaging services with each social media platform, and the popularity of Chatbots like Slack and Skype, customers are interested in more conversational experiences.  This allows marketers to engage with their consumers on a regular basis. "Conversational Commerce" will only grow in 2017, and it will allow brands to provide their audiences an easier way to access their products and services.

The preferred social media platform for any given audience continues to evolve, but one thing remains consistent: consumers want brands that are easily accessible and personable. Incorporating these trends into your 2017 social media strategy will ensure that your brand stays ahead of that changing landscape.

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