Has Berbay moved you closer to what you wanted to achieve?
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. Berbay has helped me to be closer to what I wanted to achieve by making sure we are always on top of the trend and making sure we are always on the publication [unintelligible]. We constantly have maybe a pitch. We constantly have interviews with different media, like I said before, magazine publications. One of the concerns I have was with my unique community which is the Asian community and Berbay was also able to do that. So that was a great thing.
How has your experience been working with Berbay?
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. I love the people at Berbay. It’s really fun to work with them. They understand your needs. They try to tailor to your needs, especially with a small law firm like mine, we have budget [unintelligible] and they understand that and always try to work with you. [unintelligible] with their work. They always follow up. They [unintelligible] always reminding me if there’s a due date and every time when I get an interview with any reporter, they always try to follow through with the reporter and give me the update and status. So their response is always very quickly, very consistent with their work.
If you were to recommend Berbay:
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. If I was going to recommend Berbay, I would say go for it because they know what you need to tailor to your needs. They understand you so they’re working for you. So they make you feel like a VIP because everything is customized just for you and for your needs.
What has Berbay done for your firm:
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. Berbay has got our name out there and also me. One of the concerns I have was what we specialize with international family law. Berbay was able to [unintelligible] our first publication last year with a national newspaper and since then, we got a lot of contact through that and since then, we got even more interviews with many of the magazines for inside counsel recently about the technology often used, Daily Journal and many other, Washington Post, many other publication magazines and news that would like to know more about our firm and also the area of the law that we practice.
What would you want others to know about Berbay?
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. The Berbay staff is very responsive, very responsible. They’re always right there when you need them. They stand by you all the way. So when you say they’re going you out there and achieve your goal, they do.
Why did you engage Berbay?
Hi, my name is Evie Jeang. I’m the managing partner and founder of Ideal Legal Group. We have offices in Alhambra, San Francisco and New York. We specialize in family law, labor and employment law and immigration that deals with family petitions. The reason why I engaged Berbay was because we are a very small firm and compared to large firms in downtown Los Angeles or Century City where those firms have a lot of resources, it’s very hard to compete with them when this firm is pretty much me. So when I did my research, I was looking for a PR firm that can work with my needs, understand where I’m coming from and Berbay so far has been doing a great job on this.
Erica: . . . to the president of a multinational, $1 billion company in just under two decades. That entrepreneur is Kat Cole, President Cinnabon, Inc. Yes, I’m sure you can still smell those delicious cinnamon rolls. A key message that Kat evokes throughout her keynote presentation at the conference was if you don’t, someone else will. This really resonated with me after hearing that about 70% of legal work is being moved in-house, leaving just 30% of legal work available for outside counsel. With that margin tightening by the day, now is the time to be more vigilant than ever or else that remaining 30% of work will go to the next firm in line. As professionals, we must recite that line to ourselves on a daily basis and integrate it into every aspect of our work.
Welcome to our webinar and thank you very much for joining us. My name is Erica Hess, account manager with Berbay Marketing and Public Relations. Berbay specializes in working with law firms and other professional services firms to increase their visibility and enhance their credibility to fuel revenue growth.
Over the next about thirty minutes, we’ll recap some of the top takeaways from the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference held in Orlando, Florida, in early April. Each year, I attend the conference. Not only do I learn something new, but most importantly, a new technique to execute what I’ve learned. I invite you to replay the message “if you don’t, someone else will,” following each side and think about how it applies to your firm. Also, please feel free to submit any questions as we go and I will try to address a few of them at the end.
So we’re going to take a little virtual survey here and see how awake everybody is. Raise your hand if you think the perfect law firm exists. Raise it nice and high. O.K., so not a lot of people. I was enlightened to hear that it really does exist and it is obtainable for all firms. While these might seem like basic concepts, the lack of integration surprises me–and this was according to some clients at the conference. Honing the rudimentary components of our practice is a key driver to creating the perfect law firm experience and setting yourself apart from your competition and at the end of the day, doesn’t everyone want to have a perfect experience with a service provider?
Whether you are filing a lawsuit or handling a transaction, there’s no such thing as over-communication. By simply letting your clients know the status of a project or that you’re still working on something will help them ease what can sometimes be an unfamiliar process and let them know that you are thinking of them every step of the way. Do whatever it takes to fully understand their business. Make an impromptu visit to just walk the halls or take the in-house legal team out to lunch with the goal of knowing how to better serve them.
At the outset of your relationship with a client, find out how you can personalize your service as much as possible. Do they like to receive invoices via e-mail or via snail mail? How do they want their e-mails structured and how often do they want to be communicated with? Do they prefer to be contacted on their office phone or cell phone? These are all such little things that can make your client’s life just a little bit easier.
We’ll get into cross-serving in a little bit more depth, but on a basic level, help other lawyers and other practice groups in your firm understand your client’s business when cross-serving. The goal is to move the firm forward as a whole.
If you have published an inside counsel, quoted in the National Law Journal or you’re speaking at an industry conference, let your client know. You gain the credibility of being an expert by providing them with valuable information relevant to their company.
This is one of my favorite ones and something that we strive to deliver for clients and that is under-promise and over-deliver. There’s really no description needed here, but if you say you’re going to get something to your client by the next day, 5:00 p.m. the day before doesn’t cut it. Deliver them service that they wouldn’t expect and that they can’t find anywhere else. Bottom line, wow your clients.
By thinking outside the box in terms of how your firm can go above and beyond to impress clients, you can solidify the long-term relationship.
Garnering the attention of in-house counsel has long been an elusive game which will probably never change. Remember that 30% in work we talked about that is still available? That is what firms are competing for and should be held in the highest regard and fought very hard for.
It’s a given, but it must be said: Be responsive and timely. Whether it’s a day-to-day inquiry from your client or they’re facing a crisis, general counsel expects their outside counsel to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. I’ve heard a scenario time and time again when listening to general counsel where it would take one firm several days to get back to the client while another firm would get back to them in just a few hours, whether it was an e-mail or a phone call. Even if you can’t turn around what they’re asking for in a few short hours, assure them that you’ve received their e-mail and that you will implement the next steps to addressing their request.
Getting your marketing material in front of general counsel has become increasingly challenging in a cluttered marketplace. Whether it’s an e-blast or a marketing brochure, recognize that you only have their attention for maybe a split second if you’re lucky. Think about how you can get your message across in a clear, condensed and concise manner. For example, if you are sending them a long article as an e-mail attachment, recap in the body of that e-mail the three to five key takeaways that they will receive from the article. This not only saves them time, but shows that you are taking the time to provide them with the relevant information that they need.
By taking a 360-degree view on the company will help you understand the challenges that they faced in the past. Follow their executives in the media or elsewhere to see what they’re saying. What do they see as their biggest challenges? What have they faced in the past?
If you’re writing an article, what better way to promote your client than inviting them to co-author with you? This not only helps develop the relationship on a more personal level, but again gives you an opportunity to promote them and at the end of the day, don’t we all want the spotlight at some time?
Further, if there are any awards, recognitions or nomination opportunities that your firm receives, keep your client in mind when considering these, as they could be a fit for their in-house counsel or their in-house legal team.
If your client is involved in a merger or acquisition and the GC that you have relationship with leaves the company, follow them. The panel discussed how they might never hear from a firm again after a merger or acquisition and it really baffles them because that GC can potentially pop up at a new company and it was almost a no-brainer for obtaining that legal work down the road.
By the taking the time to demonstrate your understanding of general counsel’s every-changing needs, your firm has every opportunity to gain a competitive edge on security that remaining 30% of work.
Cross-selling is a term of the past. There’s a preconceived notion among lawyers that cross-selling is not their job. A lawyer might say if they decided to divulge their client list, “O.K., I told them what to do. Now, it’s their responsibility to get the business.” This is a wrong way of thinking. Cross-selling no longer falls on the shoulders of the individual going after new business, but the firm as a whole.
Cross-serving requires not only trust among the attorneys in the firm, but a desire among everyone to move the firm forward. Cross-serving should not be viewed as a sales pitch; rather, how can you as the relationship partner introduce other attorneys or practice groups in a more relaxed manner. For example, bring them along to an in-house CLE program you’re putting on or invite them to a lunch to celebrate a deal closed. By reducing the stress of pitching for business, you have the opportunity to familiarize the client with other services your firm provides in a less sales-oriented environment. Determine how you can seamlessly integrate your services by taking a full understanding of the practice groups and the services that are currently being provided to them. Know the legal challenges they faced in the past and what the outcomes where, their history with the firm and how they first became a client. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t show up to a major exam without first doing your homework. Cross-serving is no different. Know everything and anything there is to know about the client. Conduct a google search. Obtain their annual reports. What industry publications have they been in? Who are their competitors? If it’s an oil and gas company, what are their new products? Who are their past CEO’s? What financials did they put up the year prior? Again, you wouldn’t show up without doing your homework. Cross-serving can sometimes be stifled by a lack of knowledge in the firm regarding what the various practice groups do. By familiarizing your attorneys with each other, by planning events that are focused on building relationships, you can help promote cross-serving.
One event that I found very interesting was a firm that held an internal trade fair where each practice group set up a booth similar to what you would see at any conference you would attend and each attorney was tasked to go around to each booth and learn about what that group did. They had to get signed off at each booth to show that they completed the exercise and following the trade fair, the attorneys had to make three to five follow-up action items. For example, take John Smith, head of the real estate group, out for lunch and learn about his three top clients. No matter the method, focus on getting your attorneys in one room and conversation is bound to happen. Even better, if it’s something they enjoy such as a pizza party after work, you will potentially gain more buy-in for participation.
The aforementioned can only be done with an understanding that it takes time and it won’t happen overnight.
Are you ready for it because it’s around the corner? It’s what we as marketers refer to as awards season. No, I’m not talking about the Oscars or the Grammys. I’m talking about Superlawyers, Chambers and the list goes on. Rankings and awards are a key tool of engagement for many firms, but the flurry of award season can often cause stress and even tension within a firm. By streamlining the process and preparing in advance, you can list some of the burden associated with this period.
Creating a calendar not only helps you keep all of the nominations and rankings opportunities organized, but it can also help give you a bird’s-eye view on what’s coming up so you can get jumpstarted on longer submissions that might require very detailed case information. You can also use this calendar year after year by simply just updating the deadline dates.
Dealing with politics within a firm can be a major stumbling block and sometimes a very sensitive issue. Each attorney or practice group may believe they warrant inclusion on a particular list, which may be true; however, submitting half your firm might negatively impact your chances and is typically frowned upon. Educate your firm on why this isn’t a best practice and why you should be strategic by starting with a small group of attorneys and growing that number each year as the publication becomes more familiar with your firm’s work. This is especially true for Chambers where submitting more than three to five people can basically void your submission.
As one of the most highly regarded publications in the legal industry, landing a spot on the Chambers and Partners list is coveted by many firms. For those of your who have dealt with Chambers before, I’m sure you will know that client references are a critical part of their research process; however, Chambers notes they receive a 4% response rate from clients. In lieu of sending in what they typically put out as the Excel spreadsheet where you list the contact information and that a researcher from the Chambers team will contact your client, introduce your client directly to the researcher at Chambers. Advise your client on what matter you’ve submitted them for, what the process will look like, what kind of feedback they need to give and help ease this for them. You’re likely to get a better response rate and move that 4% for your firm up.
If the intellectual property group were named to Intellectual Property Today’s top litigation firm, every practice group in your firm should promote their success. Whether it’s on Linkedin, in their practice group newsletter or by word of mouth, every practice group should promote every practice group. The goal is increase visibility for the entire firm and not just the group recognized.
Awards typically don’t draw a lot of media attention such as say a high-profile lawsuit. Leverage your recognition to the media in different ways. If you were named to National Law Journal’s mid-sized hotlist, pitch the matters highlighted in your submission as a bylined article or speaking engagement or was there a precedent-setting case that can repurpose into an industry forecast article?
We say a lot to clients that it’s great if you were quoted or if you were named to a particular list, but if you don’t tell anybody about it, it might as well be bird-cage liner the next day. So consider all of the platforms that you can do to leverage your firm’s recognition.
When a crisis happens, it’s like a boulder dropped into a serene pond and created a ripple effect. We could spend hours covering crisis communications, but we’ve boiled this down to what we view as the most important point. By having a few key core elements in place, you can equip yourself to take on a crisis at any time. Model for others what you want their behavior to follow. By remaining calm and having a sense of control, others in your firm will notice and follow suit.
You should have a spokesperson identified for your firm yesterday. You don’t want to be involved in a crisis tomorrow and you’re running around trying to figure out who your spokesperson would be. Regularly work with your spokesperson on key communication points for the firm. These communication points will never change; however, the scenario that they’re adapted to will change.
From the managing partner down to IT, establish internal communications. Don’t leave anybody in the dark. Whether it’s a crisis or a day-to-day media inquiry, each member of your firm should follow a certain protocol when dealing with the media. Don’t focus on only your attorneys, as other staff members are likely the first point of contact for your firm. In one instance, the media was unable to get a hold of anyone from the management team. So instead, they started calling anybody who would answer their phone. The person they spoke with had heard several versions of what was happening and wasn’t aware of what they should and shouldn’t be saying to the media. You can only imagine how this could further a crisis situation.
All right, I’m going to test if everybody is still active out there. Raise your hand if you don’t have a cell phone. O.K., nobody. Not having a Linkedin profile is like not having a cell phone. It always amuses me when attorneys say, “I don’t need a Linkedin profile” or “It looks like they set up a profile five years ago and never touched it again.” According to a 2012 Green Target survey, 71% of general counsel are invisible users of social media. This means they rarely contribute, but they listen and consume. This is your opportunity to catch their attention by making sure you have not only a robust profile, but that you are actively engaged on social media. According to another study, when looking at Linkedin profiles, general counsel’s eyes were most drawn to the headline and headshot of the profile. Your headline should reflect key words about your practice rather than your actual title. For example, “litigation focusing on counseling professionals, corporations and directors and officers” rather than “partner at Jones, Smith Law Firm.” You have a limited amount of space to get your message across. In terms of your head shot, it goes without saying it should be a professional one, not one of you at a barbecue or one that you snapped on your I-phone five minutes before you uploaded it. These two elements of your Linkedin profile should serve as a standalone and reflect your firm and your story. Consider this as your first impression. You may never know why you’ve lost a piece of business, but it could be something as simple as your Linkedin profile.
Changing the culture in your firm might be compared to pushing a boulder up Mt. Everest which I’m sure we can all imagine is extremely difficult. This is a firm-wide approach for growing revenue. Your firm culture will naturally shift over time with the addition of new people and practice groups and the departure of others, but in order to drive substantial change within your firm, start with your leadership and start small. Before you can change your culture, you must first assess what your culture is and what it is not. Create dialogue within your firm and survey members to determine how your employees view the firm’s culture. Talk with those outside the firm such as colleagues and vendors to determine how they view your firm culture. Look for strengths and weaknesses among the feedback and align that with where you’re looking to go. You can’t change your firm culture in one day or with one person. Start with a small group who will act as advocates. Align yourself with leadership. Increase strategic alliances. By doing this you will be in a better position to drive change.
Be the champion and share your successes with everybody as your progress. By showing the process as having a positive impact on the firm, you will gain by and from other members.
There is always going to be the one person who’s going to drag their feet regardless of what it is or what you do. Hold their hand throughout the whole process and take them through each step. By showing them that what you are doing is having a positive impact on the firm, you will hopefully also gain their buy-in.
[unintelligible] This is all food for thought. These are the ideas and now it’s your turn to execute them. How you differentiate your firm is on the execution of what we discussed today. Apply the theory of if you don’t someone else will to every aspect of your firm’s work.
Thank you very much for joining our webinar. If you have any further questions or comments, I would love to continue the conversation and my contact information is displayed here. Thank you.
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I also don’t see too many questions. I do see one question that I’ll address real quick: Do you feel that law firms are losing business if they’re not utilizing social media? Absolutely 100%. Having a presence in the online world not only demonstrates your understanding of it, but again not having a Linkedin profile is like not having a cell phone. If somebody is google searching for you and types in your name on Google, the first things that are going to pop up will likely be your bio on the firm website and your Linkedin profile. This is your opportunity to set yourself apart and if a general counsel is only looking at Linkedin, we’ll then you’ve already lost the business right there if you don’t have a profile.
So I don’t see any other questions right. I’ll go ahead and wrap it up, but again if you’d like to continue the conversation, we’d love to hear from you and my contact information is displayed. Thank you very much.
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Sharon: Meet Joe. You all know somebody like Joe. He’s an average guy. He works in your area of professional expertise. He does exactly what you do. You see him at networking events and you like him. He’s a really regular guy. There’s nothing remarkable about Joe except that he is always being quoted by the media. He’s always in the L.A. Times. He’s in the L.A. Business Journal. He’s in Accounting Today. Whatever your professional trade publications are, he’s always there. He’s a talking head on T.V. He’s always being interviewed in your area of expertise and every time you seen him, you go “Joe, why are they talking to Joe? I know more than Joe. Joe barely passed law school. We do better deals, bigger deals, more interesting work. Why are they talking to Joe?” Well, they’re talking to Joe because Joe knows how to play the game when it comes to the media. He knows how to advocate for himself or he has somebody like us, a PR firm that advocates for him, but this is something that anybody can learn and that’s what we’re here to do today. We’re here to learn how to be your own PR firm and taking the five steps to getting the recognition you deserve. My name is Sharon Berman. I’m principal of Berbay Marketing and Public Relations. We create the visibility and credibility that fuel revenue growth.
A couple of housekeeping items first before we get going: You can submit questions—you have a little box there that can submit questions through and we’ll be answering those at the end and we’ll also have an audio and video available after the webinar that you can access.
Great, O.K. Let’s talk about why. Why do we want what we call visi-credibility? Why do we want increased visibility and reinforced credibility? O.K. Some of these are fairly obvious, but if you think about them a little more, you’ll understand why in today’s world it’s even more important. First of all, you want to create familiarity with your name. When somebody needs somebody, when a perspective client is looking for someone in your area of expertise and they go to a referral source of yours and say, “I need a CPA” or “I need a lawyer” and they say, “Well, you should call John Smith.” If the answer is, “I’ve never of heard of John Smith,” you are so far behind because compared to the person who is familiar, if they say, “Oh, yes, John Smith, didn’t I see him quoted? Didn’t I read an article of his recently? Isn’t he the guy who’s always speaking?” You are way ahead of the game. If they are already familiar with you, if there’s already that comfort factor, it puts you miles ahead and if the second referral source also gives your name, that increases the chances of you being the obvious choice. It creases them exponentially. So you want to be familiar. You want to be the one who immediately comes to mind. You want to immediately make the short list and you want to become the obvious source. So it’s like, “O.K., Harry said I should call John and Sally said I should call John. I’m done. I don’t need to do any more due diligence. We’re done. This is the guy to call.” Also, this is about substantiating your expertise and creating a body of work that immediately says you are the expert. We’ll talk a little bit more about that, but this is about—expertise is not—it is if you have a Ph.D. in something, but in today’s world, it’s putting the body of work together that says, “I am the expert” and that doesn’t require a Ph.D. and in today’s world, we have to be so much more nimble and flexible that “It’s O.K. I was an expert here this year, but now the market’s moved. I need to show my expertise in a different area.” And that’s what this is all about.
So the first step in all of this is doing your homework and laying your foundation. You all know what your target markets are, who they are. They first step here is putting together your target media list. If you want to be quoted by the media, if you want to publish an article, if you want to be a talking head on TV, you have to know where because if you practice family law, you might want to be quoted in Vogue Magazine, but for a lot of people, if you do project finance, what goes is it to you to be in Vogue. So you really want to target where you are. First you want to think about journalists across the board in print, broadcast and online—and I’m going to use the word “publication.” I use the word publication in quotes because when I say publication, I mean it can be online; it could be a broadcasting; it could be a blog, but it’s sort of a generic term here. You want to know who you are targeting. Who are the journalists who are writing about things in your field? Who are the editors who decide which articles get published? Who are the bloggers that you need to be in front of? And you want to be thinking about these in terms of different lists. For example, you might have a target list for your real estate media and you’ll have your general business list and maybe you’ll have your financial list if you’re a CPA and then maybe you’ll have a legal list if you’re a lawyer. So you might have multiple lists in different industries. Just like you would code your mailing list for client vs. referral source, you want to code—I’ll call it your database. You want to put this tailored list together. You also want to make sure you have their phone, their e-mail and hook up with them on Linkedin, have their Twitter address. In today’s world, this information is so easy to find via Googol. Everybody has their e-mail at the end of an article today, the mastheads in publications, but what you want to do is put together this very targeted and tailored media list.
You might ask, “Well, what about the news wires?” News wires definitely have their place, especially if you want to blanket the world. We like tailored media lists because the secret to getting in front of the media is the follow-up and we spend a lot of time following up. That’s what talks a lot of time and effort and you need to know who you’re following up with. So you want to have this tailored list. Sometimes it’s great to have the news wires when you want to blanket the world, but you don’t know who you’re following up with. So we prefer to work with very tailored media lists. So you want to put this list together so that you know exactly who you’re targeting and following up is the key. We’ll talk more about that.
The other thing is you want to know how they like to receive information and it might that you have the opportunity to talk with some of these people or you’re connection with them just through other means. One of the key questions you want to ask is how do they prefer to get information. Some reporters like phone calls and a lot of them don’t like phone calls. Most of them will not accept any kind of e-mail that has an attachment. That’s why we will paste a press release inside of an e-mail. So you want to keep that in mind. Sometimes a reporter will say, “Tweet me. That’s the best way to get a hold of me.” So as you’re putting this list together, you want to sort of track what’s the preferred mode of communication. O.K. step one.
Step two, what does the media want? What do you need to be keeping in mind? Let’s talk about that. This is what the media wants. They want news. They want to attract eyeballs and that’s why we have this eyeball. That is their job is to attract eyeballs because whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s prints, whether it’s broadcast, their job is to help to sell advertising in terms of having interesting worthwhile information that people want to read. So that’s number one. That’s what they want. They want news. They want a different perspective. For instance, if there’s something going on in the news and everybody’s talking about it but you can bring a different perspective, that’s very valuable to them. They’re very interested in trends. What are the trends that are going on? What are you seeing in the marketplace? They’re very interested in forecasts. This is the end of the first quarter. It’s a great time to be forecasting what you think is going to be happening for the balance of the year–and one thing about forecasts, a lot of times, professionals are reluctant to give a forecast because what if you’re wrong. Nobody ever goes back and looks at it. “Well, they were wrong. They said that there are going to be more bridges built and that didn’t happen” or whatever. For the most part, these are forecasts that are your —they want your professional expertise.
And we have the hum. These are the articles and the coverage—mostly the articles that you see over and over and sometimes when I see them, I go, “Oh my gosh, please don’t tell me we’re still talking about some of this.” For example, how to avoid a lawsuit or what do you need to know in a contract when you’re reviewing a contract or it could be how to write a press release. It’s not that these aren’t valuable; they’re part of like, “O.K., we have to keep publishing about this because different people are coming online at different times and how to write a press release might not have been of interest to you six months ago, but today it is. So we have to keep repeating this information.” That’s the hum. It’s not news, but it’s also very important.
And thinking about these things, if you work with a PR firm, these are the kinds of things that you want to be thinking about and bringing to them because it helps them do their job better. When a client comes to us and says, “I’ve been thinking about something and this is where I think the market’s going to go for the rest of the year,” that’s very valuable to us; otherwise, we may be asking but it’s something that might fall through the cracks and if something’s going on in the news and you have a different take on it, that’s also very valuable.
And really what this is all about, this is all about packaging. Everybody on this call has worthwhile information for the media. You’re all experts. You’re all professionals and this is really about taking what you have and packaging it in a certain way that makes it attractive and what happens is most of the time, professionals are just too close to their work and they really have interesting ideas. You may be in traffic and something that you’re thinking about, “Oh my gosh, it’s the second time this week I’ve had a client ask about that and I’ve never had somebody ask about that before. Well you’ve just had a trend. That you could be worthwhile in terms of going to the right journalist and saying, “Hey, this might be of interest of you” because once again, that’s news. They are looking for fresh material. They’re not experts. You’re the expert. They need that sort of thing. So it’s about taking what you already have and putting it together in a way that’s going to make it attractive. I would ask you to just—to be the word today is mindful. When these things, whether it’s in traffic or whether your kids’ softball game or whether you’re sitting at your desk to just think about these things. They’re the leading thoughts that if you can start capturing them, like “This is the second time this has happened. That’s different. I wonder what’s going on. This is what I think is going to happen in the market the rest of the year. That would make an interesting article.” Those are kinds of things you want to capture, you want to write down and you want to think about how you can make them work for you media-wise or to be talking to your PR firm about.
So there are going to be different vehicles, depending on what you’re trying to achieve and we’re going to talk about several vehicles here, vehicles to get media attention.
Number one is news. You have some news that you want covered. You have a lawsuit that you just filed or you want to file. You have a big deal that just got transacted and you want to get the word out. You just finished designing this really neat building. There’s news. So here, you’re going to use a press release and we’ll talk more about that and you’re all familiar with or somewhat familiar with press releases.
News is fabulous, but what happens is, for instance, a lawyer will say to us, “I only do two trials a year. So it’s not like I have news all the time.” And we understand that. There’s only news every so often and that’s why it’s news, but what you’re looking at is how do you insert yourself into the news stream, that’s what we’ll call it, the news stream. How do you get in front of the media at other times when don’t have news? One of those ways is to position yourself as an expert resource so that just like Joe has done, they come to you when they need a comment on something going on, a trend in the marketplace, a lawsuit, something about tax season. So what we use here, we call these media quotes and we use a media pitch. The other thing you want to be looking at is bylined articles. Bylined articles are articles that are written with your name as the author, whether you wrote it or it was ghostwritten. It’s with your name as the author and they are powerful marketing pieces because you are positioning yourself as the expert again and it’s something that you wrote and you authored and they also have a very long shelf life in terms of marketing because you can keep using them over and over. You also might be interested in a profile about you or your company. To a lot of people, this is the brass ring or the gold ring on the carousel. Having a profile that your firm is fabulous because all of this comes down to the fact that it’s a third party. This is about third party credibility and leveraging the power of third party credibility. Somebody else is saying that you are the expert. If you are quoted by this third party, the media, then you must be the expert. That’s why Joe’s the expert whether he knows anything or not because if you have an article published, you must know what you’re talking about. It’s a given. If there’s a profile about your firm, you must be the guys to go to. So that’s the power of all of this.
Let’s take examples one by one. Here’s some news. This was a lawsuit—actually, this lawsuit was not even filed. It was on the verge of being filed and it had an interesting twist because it was sort of a David vs. Goliath that was street artists vs. the Ritz Carlton. The news was the result that we were after and this is just one example of the news that we were after. This was the press release that we used. You’re all familiar with press releases. If you googol how to write a press release, you’ll get a million and one hits, but everything you learned if you ever took a journalism class, the who, what, when, where, why, how and you want to get that in very quickly because we know today how fast—the fact that nobody has an attention span and that you have to get it in within like the first five seconds or somebody’s going to move in. So this was the press release that we used for this. What do you do after you have this press release? You’re going to e-mail it out to your media list. You’re going to be very selective in who you mail it out to, meaning you want to know that you’re getting it to the right people. If there’s somebody who doesn’t cover lawsuits or who doesn’t cover artwork or who isn’t of interest to them, you don’t want to send it to them because you want them to know that you have done you research. You have followed them. You’ve looked at what they’ve written and that you know they are the right people to get it to. So you want to e-mail it. You want to paste it in your e-mail and you want to distribute it and then we can talk about the next steps.
A couple of things on this. I’m showing this as a sort of a semi-linear process—O.K., news press release, quote media pitch; you‘ll see as we go on. It’s a fluid process, meaning sometimes it’s a pitch that gets the news. Sometimes it’s a pitch that gets the quotes and sometimes it’s a pitch that generates the article idea. So you’ll see it’s a fluid process and one press release you’ll see can also generate multiple opportunities. So the important thing is to get the word out and to stay in front of your target media.
So we have our news coverage here. We have our press release. That was a vehicle that we used because we wanted to get the news covered. Now once again, it’s great to have news, but you want to stay consistently in front of your markets and in front of the media. So you’re going to do that through being quoted by the media and this is one example here of somebody who is one of our clients who was quoted by the Wall Street Journal and what we used is what we call a media pitch, positioning our client as an expert resource and I sort of broke this down into components here to give you some idea of how you want to structure it and what you want to be thinking about.
The first aspect if you want to grab the media’s attention–so here’s something thought-provoking about distressed gas stations. Now, that’s only going to be of interest to certain markets and if you’re not in the market, that might not be of interest to you, but in this market, it’s news and it’s interesting and it’s something that might attract the media’s attention. It’s thought-provoking. That’s what you’re looking for, something that’s different—the more provocative, the better. I realize that sometimes professionals are reluctant to go out on a limb, but in general, the more provocative, the better.
We also have credentials, like “why do you want to talk to this guy?” “Well, because he knows what he’s doing. He’s been doing it a long time” or “He was just named as a top or lawyer” or “the best place to work” or whatever. You want to substantiate why they should be talking to him and why he is an expert and then you want to give the media some ideas about what he can talk about because the medias needs your help. Their job is to generate ideas and if you can help bring ideas to them, you’re going to be positioning yourself as a resource. So here’s about four or five different ideas that he can talk about. He can talk about the unexpected variables that affect gas stations’ profit margins or solutions for lenders of defaulted gas station loans and very often, this generates other ideas, as you’ll see. So we have this media pitch went out. This Wall Street Journal reporter happened to be doing something on it and he ended up being quoted by the Wall Street Journal. Do we prefer that our client is quoted much more up front? Yes, but if he’s quoted, we’ll work with it no matter where it is in the article.
This bylined article opportunity also came through a media pitch. Sometimes we’ll just use an article pitch pitching an article as opposed to positioning somebody as an expert, but this media pitch generated an article opportunity which is what very often happens. An editor will come back to us and say, “You know what, we just did something on that, but we’d really be interested in an article on one of the subjects you mentioned. Would Sally be interested in writing an article on something?” And then when it comes to bylined articles, we prefer that before a client starts writing anything, we know which outlet is interested because that’s going to dictate how long it is, how long the article is, who the audience is, whether they want subheads or not. Every publication has its editorial guidelines. So what we do is we usually shop it around before we say to a client, “O.K., they’re interested.” A lot of times an editor will come back and say, “That’s a really interesting idea, but can they cover the national aspect as opposed to just the California aspect?” And if you’ve already written your article, it means going back to doing additional research as opposed to knowing that in advance. So this generated the editor came back to us and said, “Would Jane be interested in writing an article on one of these subjects?” And Jane was very interested. Sometimes our clients like to write the articles themselves. A lot of times we ghostwrite articles. We interview the client and then we’ll draft the article for them to edit which makes life a lot easier as opposed to staring at a blank screen. It’s really just a personal preference. It also is just a lot easier because it takes a lot of time to write a solid article, as I’m sure any of you who are listening who have written articles knows.
Just as I said, this is a fluid process. So press releases can be used for news coverage. We sent out this press release about a deal that was done and it happened to be that the L.A. Business Journal was doing features on private equity firms and they ended up profiling one of our clients, talking about how private equity firms who don’t have money in the bank are going out and looking for investors in order to do the investing. The timing was right and this is so much about timing and that’s why the consistency of staying in front of the media is so important because we often get calls months later like, “Sharon, you sent me something about an expert who can talk about A, B and C a few months ago and I wasn’t ready to do a story then, but I am now. Can you put me in touch?” That’s like with all marketing, it’s the consistency of keeping in front of your target market because you never know when that need is going to come up. We did this press release. It ended up in a great firm profile.
So you’ve sent out your material. What do you want to do in terms of making contact? As I said, following up is really the key. You want to be judicious about it. You don’t want to be a pest. When we follow up, we’ve sent out the release or the media pitch. We’ll wait a few days. Sometimes we get no’s right away which we appreciate because it means O.K., we can take you off our list. We’re not following up into the void and then we’ll start with the round of e-mails. Then maybe a few days later, we’ll do a round of phone calls and our job is following up. It’s also staying on top of the reporters who might say, “You know what, that’s interesting to me, but can you get back to me in a few weeks because I’m really busy right now?” It’s also, “Just talk to me a few months later.” It’s, “Take me off your list. I’m the wrong people.” So once again, it’s the following up, keeping your media list tailored and not being a pest. We don’t want to be a pest. So that there’s that fine balance about how much you follow up, but the key is in the follow up.
So when you follow up, if you’re following up with the media and you’re following up let’s say via e-mail, you want to consider your subject line when you send out the press release. Most of you probably know that the subject line is the most important part of an e-mail. It dictates whether that e-mail gets opened or not. So if you had one subject line when you started and maybe your first follow-up has that same subject line, you might consider a different subject line when you follow up. If you get on the phone with a journalist, you want to ask him if they’re on deadline because a lot of times, “Oh, I’ve got to get this out right away” or “I’m filing a story. Can I talk to you tomorrow?” So ask, “Are you on deadline?” And really important here, if you want to position yourself as a resource: so if you have the opportunity to talk with a journalist—and we’ll talk a little bit more about this—but if they’re going to interview you, you have to be willing to talk with them knowing that there’s a very chance you’re not going to get quoted. You want to position yourself as a source. “I am here. I can give you background. If you need more information, you want an explanation about how this market works, more information about lawsuits in general or whatever, please call me. I’m the person to call. I will take as much time as you need.” And just be willing to do this knowing that you may not quoted because ultimately you will and you’re positioning yourself as the go-to person.
When they call you, you want to be responsive. You want to get back to them right away because they move on to the next person. A lot of times, they’re under deadline. Once again, you want to show that you are the go-to person. Sometimes when a reporter calls us, we’ll put calls out to several of our clients who might fill the bill and sometimes somebody gets back to us right away, five minutes, and then sometimes two weeks later, somebody gets back to us and says, “Sharon, you left me a message about somebody who called. I couldn’t get back to you then. What was it about?” That sort of thing. It’s the responsiveness that’s going to put you in their “rolodex.” What’s their deadline? When do they have to get this filed by? What’s their deadline on this? Ask if you can have the questions in advance. Like what are they going to be asking about? These are the kinds of things we will ask on behalf of our clients, not just let’s get on the phone, but can you tell me what you might be asking about so I can think about it and speak knowledgably and succinctly about it?
And you want to be thinking in terms of sound bites. When you read these sound bites, for the most part, they didn’t just trip off somebody’s tongue. Somebody probably got off the phone and really thought about it and really honed their words. What the media needs is something that is fast, that’s memorable and that explains things succinctly. So you want to be thinking about all of that. When you get off the phone—and we’ll often work with our clients on this if they want to hone their communication points or if they want to sort of just go through some of the questions and give us their answers so we can just streamline it—all of this goes to positioning yourself as a resource that can provide information quickly, that somebody who is responsive and somebody who can talk in terms of what the media needs and that’s what Joe does. That’s why the media keeps going back to Joe because they know that he knows how to play this game. He’s not going to give them a lengthy, lengthy e-mail in legalese that they have to get out their legal dictionary to dissect, but he’s going to explain things really in layperson’s terms in a way that people can understand. If it’s for a legal publication, it might be a little bit different, but Joe tailors his response to the audience. So you need to be thinking in terms of that.
The other thing is too—now a couple of things. When they are calling you, Joe knows some of the ground rules and he is willing to play the game. When you are talking to a reporter—first of all, nobody’s out to get you. We’re not talking about investigative journalism. They really just want to tap your brain, tap your expertise and get on to the next story, but you have to remember that the only thing you control when you are talking with a journalist is you can only control what you say and after you have said it, you have no control over it. So that’s why you hear things sometimes, “I was quoted out of context.” You don’t hear that so much in the work that we do because once again, they’re tapping into expertise, but you do hear that occasionally. I mean you’ve all heard that from the politicians. There’s no such thing as off the record. I wouldn’t tell anybody, “Well, it’s off the record” because sometimes it gets on the record and then people are unhappy. Don’t make jokes because sometimes they may sound great on the phone, but when you see them in print, they don’t really reflect well on you. So you just want to remember that if you’re going to play in this arena, you can only control what you say and that’s why it’s so important to hone your communication points before you say them. That’s what media training is all about. Even if it’s just a quick conversation with your PR firm to say, “This is what I’m thinking about saying. How does that sound?” That sort of thing. You have to be willing to say it. That’s another reason that we like bylined articles too is because you can have so much more control. Occasionally the publication will change the headline on a bylined article, but for the most part, you have control over what you’re saying on that.
Let’s talk about magnifying your results. Being quoted by the media is fabulous, but the power comes from what you do with it. I always use this example. I mean I know how many times I haven’t had the time to look at the Wall Street Journal online during the day and I go home. I’m too tired and it goes into the recycling basket, but you might have been in a front page article today and maybe that’s something I needed to know, but if I didn’t see it, then how do I know that you were ever in the Wall Street Journal? You need to let the world know. You need to leverage this. This is where the power comes from.
So what are you going do? This is one example. You’re going to summarize what the article is about and maybe have a link to your article. You’re going to get it on your website. You’re going to put it on your Linkedin. You’re going to tweet about it perhaps. You’re going to use the article in your e-news letter. If it’s an article, you’re going to have reprints done so that you can put them in your lobby and then you can put them in your packets if you ever send out a packet that you can attach them to correspondence, attach it to e-mails. You’re going to use them in a variety of different ways. So what you are after is material that you can leverage. Social media, you want it in your newsletter. You want hard copies. We’ll talk about re-permission in a minute, but the power comes from how you use this material and sometimes clients will say, “I don’t know if I’m interested in being quoted by that publication. What’s the circulation?” More circulation is better than less circulation, but to me, it’s like who cares what the circulation is. We’re talking about the fact that you have third party credibility and we’re adding it to your body of expertise and it’s going to contribute to your search engine rankings because we’re keeping your website fresh and you have something to tweet about. It’s what do you with it. That’s the power of all of this.
A word about re-permission. You do not own the article that you’re quoted in and technically you do not have the right to just copy and paste that article and put it on your website the way it is. You do not have—and I’m not an IP attorney, but you do not have the right use the masthead of a publication. So where so many publications now are making a lot of money and as a revenue generator in order to get to reprints or e-prints, they’re charging and they’re making money from it and you have to balance out what are you going to do with the article. Is it worth the money? Can you perhaps just do a summary like I just showed you? This is why we have a summary here as opposed to having this whole article. How can you make your media quote work for you, sometimes with getting the reprint permission, sometimes without, but you have to consider the fact that whether or not you own the material. It’s not just yours to use. So you want to just keep that mind.
Let’s say you went through this process and you got quoted. It’s the first time through and you got quoted. You got quoted by Law360. You got quoted in the L.A. Times and that’s fabulous, but what you are after is this body of work that substantiates you as an expert. That’s why one quote’s great. Twenty quotes is better. Five articles is better than none. Twenty articles is better than five. It’s really you want somebody to come to your website or you want to see [unintelligible] to your Linkedin profile or to see all your material laid out at a conference and to say, “These guys know what they are talking about.” That’s what this is about—and I keep saying this body of work is a substantiation of what already exists. Your expertise is already there. You have that, but this is third party credibility saying, “This guy is an expert” as opposed to you can sit there all day and tell me what great experts you are, but we all know, we’re skeptical and we’re being sold to constantly. When you have somebody else saying, “Well, they really must know what they’re talking about,” that’s the power here.
The other thing is in today’s world, you might to be need to be an expert on Dodd-Frank today and tomorrow it’s on something else, financing and the technology realm, and it’s all material; it’s all an area cover, but it’s how you’re packaging things. Two years ago, three years ago, maybe it was Sarbanes-Oxley. “I got to really package myself—take all my expertise, package it as the person that knows Saurbanes-Oxley. Today, financing for tech startup companies.” You’re doing the same work, but it’s like you have to—you’re not going to go back to college and get your Ph.D. You have to take what you have and it’s legitimate. It’s just how are you packaging this material and next year, it might be something different. So I was talking with a lawyer recently who has done a lot of entertainment work and she was very interested. She saw the market going to the fashion realm and so she’s looking at how she can package herself, take what she’s done and repackage it so that she can position herself as a fashion lawyer and she really has done it very quickly because she understood that, “O.K., let me take the same material and just put a different twist on it.” This is presuming there is all substance behind this. I’m not saying present yourself as something you’re not, but I’m presuming that once you have this expertise, you can package and slice and dice it different ways and that’s what is critical here.
You’ve seen the five steps and I know that you are all professionals and that you all warrant increased visibility and if you put these five steps into play, you can get the visibility that you deserve. Once again, I’m Sharon Berman and with Berbay Marketing and Public Relations and I greatly appreciate your listening to this. I can take questions.
“What is the best way to find and create a targeted media list when you have limited resources versus using the tool?” If you have a PR firm, then they probably, like us, subscribe to several databases so that we can do searches, we know we need to find somebody; we need to build a media list targeting media who covers infrastructure or media who covers a certain area of finance or we need a private equity emphasis as opposed to, I don’t know, an M&A emphasis or whatever, we subscribe to several databases so that we can put these lists together as a starting point. We have to still tailor and hone and refine, but they make a great starting point. So if you have a PR firm, then you can definitely ask them about that because most likely they subscribe to similar databases. There are several of them. The way to put together the media list if you don’t have this is the way I described is really what are you reading, what are your clients reading, who are the reporters within those outlets that are writing about things that relate to your area of expertise and start following them. Become familiar with what they’re writing about because, as I said too, this is a fluid process and this is a process where you want to take us, your PR firm, out of it. You want the reporter to call you directly. Once they know that you are responsive and you give sound bites and they can count on you, we’re out of it and we’re thrilled. They will call you directly and you also then have a pipeline to them where the process becomes a lot less formal. The process is, “Hey, Dick, I thought you might really be interested in this” or “I had an idea for a story.” They know that you’re going to bring them worthwhile material and that’s the position; that’s where you want to get with them and with Google News and with just Googling Today, there are so many resources to putting together a list and setting your Google news alerts to follow what’s going on. It’s sort of just culling through the information.
“What are the best practices for managing an introduction or connection between the reporter, blogger and the expert?” First of all, there’s no one way to do this and everybody does it a little differently. Occasionally we’ll even just start out with an expert letter. “Hey, John, I just want to introduce Sally Smith who’s an expert in aviancy” and sort of similar to our media pitch “and she can talk about these things.” It used to be that an expert letter got response, but today with the media so inundated, we sort of skip the expert letter and the introduction and really have gone straight to a media pitch in terms of “Here’s the thought-provoking information and this is why you want to be talking with them and here’s what they can talk about,” just what I had mentioned before and that’s sort of the introduction and then it’s building that relationship from there. Today with social media, you can also build the relationship by following people, by tweeting to them, by following them on Twitter, Linkedin, building that relationship, commenting. It’s all about those interrelationships. As you can hear, there’s no one way, but there’s so many vehicles to do it today that you have to decide which way is most comfortable for you and that’s really what we do on behalf of our clients. We build relationships with reporters so that they come to us and they’ll say, “Hey, I need an expert in A, B and C” or “Do you know anybody who does this or that?” We try and position ourselves as a resource for them just as we want you to position yourselves as a resource for the media too.
Thank you very much for listening. I’ve available to talk about any of these aspects in more detail, so give me a phone call or an e-mail. I’d be happy to talk to you in more detail or answer these questions more fully. Thanks again for listening.
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Sharon: Why choose Berbay? There are multiple reasons to choose Berbay Marketing & PR One of them is tenacity. We’re tenacious and we follow up multiple times until we get a yes or no answer and we understand that a no answer today does not necessarily mean a no answer tomorrow. We stay on top of things. We also get an elite strike force. You don’t just get one person’s perspective; you get everybody at Berbay’s. You get all of our experience, our creativity and our expertise and because we work with so many professional services firms, we know the markets that you want to market to. We hit the ground running and get you results immediately.
Sharon: How do you track marketing results? Tracking marketing results can be notoriously hard to do, but you want to know where your leads are coming from. Capture as much data as possible. When you talk with a prospect, ask them how they heard about you and then track the information. It can be on something as simple as a tick sheet and then every so often, go back and look at the results globally. That information’s going to tell you where you want to put more marketing dollars.
Alex: The social media apply to me. There isn’t a professional today who wouldn’t benefit from having a social media presence. While you don’t need a profile on every social media site, we do recommend Linkedin for every professional. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube all have a place, but they may not be relevant for you. You may be resistant to social media, but many professionals are already on it. Get on top of your social media game and stay competitive in your field.
Sharon: I’m energized about getting results for you, creating the visibility and credibility that ensures your revenue gross. At Berbay, every day we’re proud of the results we achieve for clients just like you. For nearly twenty years, Berbay has been making sure that our professional clients, law, accounting, real estate and others get their share of the spotlight. We have a dedicated, experienced and tenacious team who wants as much for our clients as I do. Whether we’re ghost-writing an article, scheduling a media interview or enhancing your website, it’s our job strategically and tactically to make sure we’re getting you where you want to go.
Megan: Do you take on clients in the same practice area and is that a conflict? Each professional has different interests in different things. One professional may love to speak, but not like writing while the other professional who practices in the same area may be the opposite. Our focus and tactic vary from client to client. So we rarely encounter a conflict when taking on clients in the same practice area.
Megan: What is Berbay’s retention rate? Berbay has a very high retention rate although we haven’t quantified it. All we can say is that we’ve worked with some of our clients for several years and some almost a decade. Every year, our client list grows larger.