Most of time we are swamped, so any time we have a slow day it’s a welcome relief. It can feel a bit odd, though, when you get to the office and there’s nothing urgent that needs to be done. What exactly are you supposed to do all day?
Slow days are an opportunity to catch up on some of those forgotten-about marketing tasks—the items that need to get done eventually but keep getting put on the back burner. They can often be accomplished in only an hour or two, but their impact can be huge. Here, we’ve narrowed down some of the top rainy day marketing tasks from Lawyerist.
This year’s Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Western District Conference, held in Riverside, CA, covered a number of emerging issues in public relations. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of a couple of the panels.
These days, the professional services landscape is a buyer’s market – there are so many great options that people often fully research different agencies and make a decision before even reaching out to a company. With this glut of choices, differentiating your business is harder than ever.
In his session on successful differentiation, David Arvin, President of The Visibility Coach, discussed the importance of determining the practice area or service your company has that puts it ahead of the rest – the one thing that you do better than your competitors. It’s also important to determine what question or problem your brand is the answer to. Otherwise, it’s almost impossible for consumers to pick out one good option from all the other good options populating the market.
In his keynote address, Jim Lin, SVP and Creative Director at Ketchum Digital, covered best practices for working with influencers and shared his perspective on how influencer marketing fits in with public relations and marketing as a whole.
An influencer is a person or group with the ability to influence the behavior or opinions or others, and who has a significant effect on a consumer’s purchasing decision. Influencer marketing is the act of incentivizing influencers to spread awareness of a product or service to their audiences, in the hopes that these audiences will be inspired to try the product themselves.
Though influencers may sound similar to journalists you’re hoping will write about your clients or company, don’t make the mistake of conflating them with the media. While it’s true that influencer marketing, like media exposure, contributes to the overall perception and visibility of a brand, influencers’ objectives are fundamentally different. Journalists report on stories because it’s their job to do so, whereas influencers need more incentive than just a story, as they are working to build their personal brands and names. This incentive usually comes in the form of free products/services, as well as additional payment.
Another common misstep companies can make when leveraging influencers is the failure to properly vet an influencer, and to take their audience claims at their word. Always take the time to research an influencer’s social media follower counts and engagement to ensure that they and their audience are the right fit for your brand.
This year’s U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey has just been released, and the results are hardly surprising. Like virtually every other legal industry survey that’s come out in the last few years, the Legal Needs Survey shows without question that online research, particularly on mobile devices, plays a major role in which law firm clients choose. If your firm hasn’t already seen the impact of online research, it will soon.
If you need to step up your online presence, here are three critical places to start:
Embrace online profiles and reviews. According to the survey, one third of consumers say that the internet was their main source of information when deciding to contact a lawyer. That’s up 14 percent from just two years ago. And before you think, “But we’re doing just fine with word of mouth!” the influence of in-person referrals has actually declined by 12 percent in that same time period. Now more than ever, it’s critical to claim your online profiles and encourage clients to leave their (positive) feedback online.
Know your keywords. Okay, so you’ve accepted that there’s no turning back on online research. The next step is to understand the keywords that potential clients are using to search for you. Make sure your website is optimized so it shows up higher in search rankings, and you may even want to include some money for paid search in your marketing budget. Researching common keywords can also help you discover more relevant online directories—which 41 percent of people say they use—where you can list your firm. Using keyword marketing ensures that you get in front of the right audience.
Use social media. If you’ve been struggling to commit enough time and energy to keep your social media accounts up to date, maybe this finding from the survey will help motivate you: information found in blog posts, videos, Facebook updates and tweets from attorneys all grew in importance to consumers by 10 percentage points. That’s a big jump, and it’s only going to increase. This year, 28 percent of consumers used social media, compared to 20 percent last year. Even if you’re not doing anything particularly groundbreaking on your social media accounts, just keeping them current, informative and appealing can make a huge difference.
Let’s face it: creating and maintaining an effective digital marketing strategy is hard. It’s mostly because the digital landscape is always changing. New trends, social media platforms and viral campaigns are popping up all the time, and it can be difficult to know where your business fits in, which trends to jump on and which ones to skip.
However, now that digital has secured a permanent place in every marketing plan, there are some common digital marketing concepts that have proven to be useful no matter what hashtag is trending. Here’s 10 of them courtesy of Convince & Convert:
When done well, public relations has an exponentially positive impact on commercial real estate firms. PR is extremely cost effective, and it’s often considered more trustworthy than traditional advertising. Plus, earned media placements can be leveraged in so many ways, from sharing on social media to posting on your blog, long after they’re originally published. By harnessing the third-party credibility of the media, you can help increase the public’s trust in you.
Whether your firm is new to PR or you’re looking to ramp up your existing PR efforts, begin with these four steps to ensure that your strategy is successful.
Step 1: Hire a PR team.
Alright, I may be biased here, but there’s no getting around it: the next three steps are made significantly easier when you have an experienced PR team doing the heavy lifting. Public relations just isn’t something you can keep on the back burner. If you want it done correctly, it requires an investment of time and effort. The right PR firm will take the time to create a strategy that fits your needs and, more importantly, actually works. If you have the budget, spend some time finding a firm that will understand your business goals and set you up for success.
Step 2: Keep your finger on the CRE pulse.
If you want to jump into the CRE conversation, not only do you need to know what’s being said, but also how it’s being said. Learn who the top CRE reporters are, what issues they’ve already covered and which topics and angles they seem to value the most. Most likely, your firm can speak to a number of industry issues and trends, but to secure media coverage, you have to present those perspectives in an enticing way. Understanding what makes a story newsworthy is the foundation of any PR strategy.
Step 3: Be prepared to show off your expertise.
If you keep up with the news, sooner or later a golden PR opportunity will present itself. Maybe there’s been a shift in the market or a new development has been announced, and you have an insightful, unique and authoritative perspective to bring to the conversation. But in the end, it all comes down to this: are you prepared to share your perspective with the world? That golden opportunity can easily slip by if you haven’t written a media pitch, built relationships with reporters and gone through media training ahead of time. If you’re prepared, you can make the most of those breaking news stories.
Step 4: Be patient.
Scoring a major media placement is exciting, but that’s not where the work ends—in fact, it’s more like where it begins. Public relations is an ongoing effort to build and strengthen relationships with reporters and find new ways to demonstrate your value as an expert. There’s always another angle to pitch, a different outlet to be published in and a fresh news cycle to take advantage of. Sit tight—you’re in it for the long haul.
You’ve probably heard of “generalists” and “specialists,” and you might have a sense of what each of those types of employees do. But what exactly are the differences between them? What roles do they excel in? And which one should you have more of at your firm?
Generalists are the people you can count on to understand and manage any problem, since they know a little bit about everything and see the higher-level connections between issues. Startups and nonprofits are often filled with generalists, because they can take on a number of roles when the budget is too tight to hire more specialized employees. Younger hires tend to be generalists, which gives them space to explore their career options and interests before becoming more specialized. And it’s particularly important for managers to be generalists, because they have the transferable skills necessary to lead people effectively in any industry.
However, being a “Jack of all trades and master of none” has its downsides. Generalists may overlook details because they’re focused on the bigger picture, and they often lack the deep knowledge that’s necessary for innovation. Plus, by definition, they are common and, therefore, easy to replace (sorry, generalists!).
Bottom line: If you need a great manager who’s capable and dependable in a number of areas, hire a generalist. These are the people you can count on to get the job done pretty well—or at least figure out who they can ask for help to get the job done well—even if it’s in an area they’re not overly familiar with.
Specialists, on the other hand, know a ton about one niche area. They’ve probably spent a lot of time in school or had specialized training. They tend to be less common because of this, but their knowledge is often essential to the organization’s success. Basically, specialists are the competitive advantage, the magic, the secret sauce—and their paygrade usually shows it. Older, more established companies usually hire more specialists because they have the need and the money to do so.
But in a way, specialists paint themselves into a corner. Take them out of their environment and they might not have the skills or experience necessary to succeed. As specialists move up, they have to be cautious about learning new things while maintaining their unique advantage. The company takes a risk in hiring a specialist too, because if they leave, it can be very difficult to find a suitable replacement.
Bottom line: Hire a specialist if you need a thought leader. These are the employees who bring something special to the firm, so take advantage of their exceptional skills and knowledge.
So which work style is the right one? Several studies have been done, but they don’t conclusively show whether employers feel more successful with more generalists or specialists. Ultimately, it’s important for every office to have the right mix of both, and for every employee to have some qualities of each. Which category do you see yourself and your coworkers fitting into?
As a part of our Cultural Camaraderie program, the Berbay team was fortunate to take a tour of the famous Gamble House. The three-story home in Pasadena, California was originally intended as a winter residence for Mary and David Gamble of Procter & Gamble. After buying the lot in June 1907, the Gambles commissioned architects Greene & Greene to design their home.
The home remained in the Gamble family until 1966, when it was turned over to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture. Today, two USC students live in the house full time.
During the tour, I was in awe of all of the custom-built furniture and foreign features that the family fell in love with during their travels – like the glass Tree of Life design on the front door, which takes inspiration from the family’s time in Japan. Many of the home’s features are preserved in their natural form, from the original fixtures to the rugs – standing the test of time a century later.
Berbay’s recently launched its Cultural Camaraderie program with a focus on exploring the vibrant culture that is Los Angeles as a stimulus for innovative thinking and creativity, as well as encouraging team building.
Influencer marketing is a great way to reach a captive audience and leverage the trust that influencers instill in their followers. Wait…what? Influencer marketing? I digress. Influencer marketing is a buzzword in our industry to describe a form of marketing which is focused on key individuals to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. You are essentially hiring, or inspiring or paying an influencer to get the word out.
Let me give you an example. You have 1,734 followers on Twitter, which is nice and you are proud of it. Plus, it took you some time to get there. An influencer on the other hand, who reaches the same market, has 465,799 followers. It would be difficult for you to reach that number of followers and may take much time and effort. Instead, you hire, inspire or pay them. By connecting your brand to a trusted influencer, some of their credibility inevitably rubs off on you.
Now that we’ve covered that, I’ll continue. Like anything else in this world, this tactic can backfire. For every well-done influencer post, there are a dozen that are forced, nonsensical or downright tacky. And while influencer marketing might seem like it should be easy, Adweek notes that there is a science to developing good influencer content. Avoid the pitfalls of bad influencer marketing, and you’ll likely see strong engagement. Here are some considerations to make if you’re going to include influencers in your marketing plan:
• Do allow influencers to give their own opinions. To get the most out of influencer marketing, you have to be willing to give up some control. Readers can tell if a post is forced, and that will negatively impact your results. The most realistic, engaging and successful posts come from influencers who are allowed to be honest and creative.
• Don’t be misleading. All sponsored content has to have a clear disclosure statement. If you fail to meet their requirements, you could face consequences, including a fine from the Federal Trade Commission. Luckily, according to AdWeek, disclosure statements don’t deter viewers from reading and engaging with your content—in fact, they can actually increase positive sentiment.
• Do use great visuals. Photos and videos draw readers in and illustrate your point much more effectively than words can. Of course, you can supply images and your logo, but it’s also a good idea to let influencers take their own photos. Authentic photos, taken from the influencer’s perspective in their own style, will enhance the post.
• Don’t let branding get in the way of relatability. Most companies have strict brand guidelines, from naming standards to trademark usage. And while branding is important, working with influencers is one case when brand sticklers should relax. Insisting that influencers adhere to every brand standard completely can ruin a post’s flow and conversational tone. I am speaking to law firms on this one – no, it’s not necessary to include LLP, Corp, PC or whatever other extensions you have.
• Do offer readers a valuable takeaway. Ultimately, readers should gain some usable knowledge from your content, whether it’s sponsored or not. Encourage influencers to include a review, tutorial or easily saved and shared how-to guide as part of the post. Readers won’t mind the “sponsored content” label if they get something valuable from the article.
Law firm Twitter accounts often suffer from one major issue: they’re downright stale. That’s not a knock on the people who manage the; making the law sound exciting on social media takes a lot of time and practice, because there’s a fine line between sounding professional and sounding boring. And while it’s important to have an air of professionalism on social media, it’s okay to let loose a little. Try some of these dos and don’ts, and let your firm’s personality shine through on social media.
Law firm Twitter accounts often seem dry and robotic because there’s no humanity behind them, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You have a team of attorneys, each with their own expertise, perspective and opinions. Perhaps a few of them even have their own personal social media following. Pull back the curtain and take advantage of attorneys’ thought leadership by announcing who’s tweeting in your bio, or have attorneys sign off with their initials when a tweet comes from them.
Sure, it’s fine to cross-promote. But don’t set up accounts so the same message is posted on every platform you have. This is ineffective (and to put it bluntly, annoying) for a few reasons. First, it discourages people from following you on different platforms. If they’re going to see the same message, why would they follow you in multiple places? Second, the regular, constant posting that works well on Twitter can be irritating on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Hashtags are a great way to jump into an existing conversation or create a new one. That doesn’t mean just hashtagging your firm name, however. The trick is to create one that’s more general and based on a common topic or issue that people beyond your firm care about. Legal Marketing Review uses the example of a DUI lawyer using #nevertakeabreathalyzer. It works because it quickly explains what the attorney specializes in, and it’s universal enough that potential clients and other attorneys will want to use it as well.
Don’t clog up your Twitter feed by blindly following everyone who follows you—some of those accounts are spammy. Don’t waste your time by following a lot of million-follower accounts that aren’t likely to notice or interact with you. And don’t go on a following spree so that your ratio of “followers” to “following” gets out of whack. Identify and follow people who care about your practice areas and are more likely to retweet and favorite your tweets.
There’s a common misconception that business accounts should tweet as often as possible, but the quality of content often suffers under this strategy. If you’re grasping for things to tweet about just because you feel like you have to share something, your followers will notice. They don’t care if you tweet exactly five times a day, but they do care whether you’re posting content they like to read. It’s a 21st century twist on what your mother used to tell you; if you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t say anything at all.