Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.17.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Straight Talk from General Counsels on How to Win Their Business

Far too much of corporate law practice marketing is predicated on what the firm wants potential clients to know, rather than what general counsels are actually looking for and how they conduct their searches. I came across a gem of a video on the Corporate Counsel section of Law.com that provides a glimpse of what general counsels actually care about when identifying and vetting outside firms.

  • Strong word-of-mouth is a great equalizer; gets you on the short list.

“Be good at what you do. We tend to interview the people we’ve heard about a lot, and we’ve heard about them a lot because they’ve had success in the past. And it doesn’t mean that we’re the kind of company that defers to the absolutely “blue chip” [or] “name brand” in a certain area because that’s an attorney the board will be comfortable with…If you are good at what you’re doing, whether you’re small, new emerging, well-known, we tend to be able to find you.”

Eric Whitaker, General Counsel, Tesla Motors

 

  • It doesn’t matter how good you are if you’re also an ass.

“Can I get along with this person, will they get along with my [internal] clients? Getting along with me is important, but it’s much more important to get along with the clients, because the clients are going to see you in the long term, every day basis. If the people who have to work with you on a daily basis in that transaction can’t stand you, that’s not going to reflect well on me nor is it going to get you repeat business.”

Robert Shives, Senior Director & Associate General Counsel, Fujitsu

 

  • Forget quirky videos and personal narratives; make website attorney bios more search-friendly.

“I absolutely check out bios, because we are frequently vetting new counsel. I look at representative clients, I look at representative matters. One of the things that makes me crazy is when the sites aren’t easy to maneuver. So how you’ve coded your website to be able to sort. Try and do it yourself, as if you’re an outside counsel trying to get to a person with this expertise in this location.”

Renee Lawson, Associate General Counsel, Zynga

 

  • Think rifle, not shotgun.

“One of the things that’s sort of interesting is that a lot of firms describe [themselves] as the everything to everyone. I’m usually looking for something very specific, so if you are an IP/anti-trust/transactional/product liability/labor and employment/estates and trust lawyer – which I have seen – you’re probably not the attorney I’m going to hire. So think about how you’re portraying yourself to the outside world.”

Renee Lawson, Associate General Counsel, Zynga

 

“It’s a credibility issue as well. When one sees that long list of “you’re an expert in every field,” you just pass. You take a pass on that person.”

Megan Pierson, Senior University Counsel, Stanford University

 

  • You’re competing against in-sourcing.

“I hire a lawyer and expect that they’re going to give me 2,000 hours a year for a $200,000 salary — I’m paying them $100 an hour. In reality, if you’re working with me at a high growth company you’re working 3,000 hours a year, so it’s even less [per hour]. My blended rate from law firms for the most part — big law firms — is still $400-$500 an hour.

“It’s simply a situation where, for the most part, law firms have priced themselves out of a whole bunch of work I used to have them do. It’s that simple. When I started in ’99 I would send contracts to law firms, I’d send license agreements to law firms, I’d send some employment issues to law firms. I just don’t do it anymore.”

“If work is going to repeat at all, I’ll bring the expertise  in-house. My in-house teams have simply gotten much bigger, and my outside counsel use has gone down, and it’s a direct result of the economics of it.”

Eric Whitaker, General Counsel, Tesla Motors

  • Billing reviews can be moments of truth.

“I don’t bring everything up with my outside counsel, but I do bring certain things up because we are early in a relationship and I want to set expectations. If I ask you to look at something on a bill, I expect you to look at it, and I expect you to get back to me promptly. And frankly if it even has the slightest appearance of being inflated, wrong, I expect you to say, “I’ve taken care of it,” and I expect you to do it right away.

“If I have to battle for a write-off with you, after I’ve given you the courtesy to bring it to your attention and reviewed your bills that you should have reviewed, you’re not on my list anymore.”

Renee Lawson, Associate General Counsel, Zynga

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.15.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Law Students: 3 Reasons Why Journalism and Social Media Are Lousy “Safety” Careers

It’s too late for some grads, but it’s finally dawning on current law school students that there might not be a job as a lawyer for them when they finish.

Pragmatic law students are keeping their eyes on the prize (a career in law), but also identifying alternative career paths where their training will be valued and utilized. Despite what law school placement offices, purveyors of hosted blogging services for lawyers, and the publication that runs the law school ranking cartel say, pursuing a career in journalism or social media after law school would be like doubling down on a bet in order to win back half your money.

  1. Going from bad to worse: There are fewer salaried journalism jobs than there are salaried law jobs, and journalism’s numbers are declining faster. The few remaining journalism jobs are likely to be in niche segments where a legal background is not an advantage.
  2. Stiff competition: An interest in writing, and some desultory blogging and tweeting will not be enough to get you interviewed, let alone get a job. Even graduating journalism and public relations undergrads will have more direct experience with basic skills like writing for daily deadlines, knowledge of website development (HTML, XML, CSS) and social media monitoring platforms like Radian6. You’ll also be competing with unemployed/underemployed mid- and senior-level practitioners who will have even more experience and insights.
  3. Adjust your salary expectations downward: As the infographic below illustrates, salaries for entry-level social media jobs (without relevant work experience you’ll likely only be considered for those) don’t pay well, and salaries don’t ramp up into even the low six figures for several years (and that’s if you’re lucky). With undergrad AND law school debt to service, you might not be able to afford to chase your back-up dream.


One Bright Spot

As content marketing picks up speed in legal marketing, the demand for legal content — and therefore ghostwriters/paid contributors — is growing. Judging by what I’ve heard from former lawyers who are now full-time legal website copywriters, they get to do what they love for better pay than toughing it out as a solo.

 

Social Media for Law Firms: Ignite Internal Collaboration with Yammer

On last Friday’s #LegalChat on Twitter, the topic of using social media for internal collaboration came up. Several of us mentioned Yammer as a platform worth considering for large and multi-location firms.

Although the companies are not affiliated, a simple way to describe Yammer is a private version of Twitter.

“Enterprise social networking empowers employees to be more productive and successful by enabling them to collaborate easily, make smarter, faster decisions, and self-organize into teams to take on any business challenge. This new way of working drives business alignment and agility, reduces cycle times, increases employee engagement and improves relationships with customers and partners.”

If you’re open to a SaaS solution for enhancing organizational effectiveness and improving client service, Yammer offers some powerful capabilities:

  1. Connect subject matter experts and facilitate real-time online conversations across the firm.
  2. Create a dedicated team workspace for a matter, a practice area or a cross-functional group.
  3. Use it with, or as an alternative to, a content management system to share, store, and manage documents, presentations, images and videos.
  4. Create a secure external network to communicate/collaborate with clients and vendors — fewer phone calls.
  5. Stay connected through mobile devices — just like Twitter.
I expect data security paranoids will dump on this idea, but as social media-based solutions for law practice management go, Yammer is pretty slick and worth considering.
I’d love to hear from any law firms currently using or considering Yammer.


Content Marketing for Law Firms: More, More, More

Blogging has moved from top billing in social media marketing to an ensemble role. A blog is still an important player in the markting ecosystem, but it now shares the stage with other major and minor players in a much bigger, more robust production called content marketing.

The following BlueGlass Interactive infographic illustrates the variety and range of content types and distribution models. BlueGlass executive Chris Winfield notes, “Instead of just investing in their blog and blogging strategies, [companies are] investing in content people will actually want to share. Even if it’s not directly related to selling something, it’s still branding.”

The top 20 content marketing tactics according to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey:

  1. Articles
  2. Social media
  3. Blogs
  4. eNewsletters
  5. Case studies
  6. In-person events
  7. Videos
  8. White papers
  9. Webinars/webcasts
  10. Microsites
  11. Print magazines
  12. Traditional media
  13. Research reports
  14. Branded content tools
  15. Print newsletter
  16. eBooks
  17. Podcasts
  18. Mobile content
  19. Digital magazines
  20. Virtual conferences
WARNING: This does not mean use ALL of these tactics. Rather, it suggests that your marketing program can benefit from thinking beyond the usual suspects: blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Greater depth, breadth, variety, ubiquity and frequency of content will generate more opportunities to be discovered.

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.09.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

WordPress for Law Firms: Must-Have Plugins for Your Blog

With an abundance of massively useful best practices, tips and “how-to” guidance, sites like WordPress Jedi make a compelling case that you’re probably wasting a lot of $$$ on a hosting service for your blog (since they’re likely hosted on WordPress already).

One of the great things about WordPress is that critical functionality like maintenance and security can be added without specialized programming knowledge (or paying a Web developer), through plugins.

What are your recommendations for the “must-have” list?

 

Content Marketing for Law Firms: Don’t Get Sucked Into Storify

The I Can’t Blog, But This App Can Daily is out!

Look familiar? Twitter is awash with that headline formula, which announces/flags (depending how you look at it) auto-generated posts posing as curated content.

One of the more credible “curation” platforms is Storify, which “lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative.” Although Storify is more authentic than Paper.li, Summify and other curation platforms insofar as it requires the user to actively choose and arrange the content samples, like its app spam counterparts Storify has no compelling value proposition for content marketers. In fact, Storify could end up making you look like a social media dilettante. 

As Ramon Ray unironically commented yesterday on the Small Business Technology blog, “If you are looking for an easy to way to compile online content, but don’t have your own content to share, Storify can help.”

Seriously?

If you don’t have your own content to share, then you shouldn’t waste your time on social media.

 

So what’s the harm in using Storify?

  • It takes as much time to research and assemble a Storify “story” as it does to write a blog post.
  • If you make the time to caption each of the elements in your story, you might as well be creating multiple short posts on your own blog.
  • It’s even more difficult to develop a Storify following than it is to build traction for your own blog.

In contrast, Larry Bodine takes the right approach to curation with his “Best Practices in Lawyer Blogs” posts on the Martindale.com blog. He features a few  interesting/useful posts from other sites/authors, providing a précis and link for each.

For my part, every Wednesday and Friday I cull and present without comment or embellishment seven strong “how to” posts from various sources in my RSS feed, all under the heading “Endeavor to Be Useful.”

Are you trying your hand at content curation? What content marketing tactics are working/not working for you?

Social Media for Law Firms: LinkedIn vs. Facebook Smackdown

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have momentum and partisans in legal marketing. As time and experience go on, we’re better able to move from faith to data as the foundation for our respective positions.

If you’re already dubious about Facebook for law firms, Sam Glover’s scorched earth take on Lawyerist offers support. However, the pro-Facebook for law firms faction will find some consolation in an interesting infographic from Bop Design, which is discussed today on SocialMouths.

Consider the arguments, factor in your own experience and let us know where you net out.