There is no doubt winning one of the credible legal industry awards can be wonderful for boosting staff morale while also raising your law firm’s reputation.
Welcome to our blog where we provide marketing tips to help your law firm grow
There is no doubt winning one of the credible legal industry awards can be wonderful for boosting staff morale while also raising your law firm’s reputation.
While legal technology developments would once have been dismissed as ‘boring’ by the legal press, it is now starting to gain traction as firms start embracing new technologies. For legal PRs this is a challenging situation: a story that might have been rejected because there wasn’t enough interest is now rejected because there is too much such news!
It’s results season in the legal profession, that time of year when firms make it clear just how well (or not) they have performed over the last twelve months. Across the profession, lawyers will be watching to see how their competitors have fared in comparison with their own firms.
For many in law firm management, however, headline figures are a part of a broader story that they are wanting to tell. The challenge is how to communicate that story and give an accurate picture of the firm’s wider development without giving away trade secrets.
Dealing with the legal press needn’t be difficult: just have something interesting to say
It is no exaggeration to say that in my time on The Lawyer news desk I dealt with hundreds of PRs and many thousands of press releases. Filtering the good, the bad and the ugly was a daily chore. Only the chosen few would succeed in grabbing my attention and, just perhaps, end up being published as a story on TheLawyer.com.
Over the years I developed strong relations with PRs and the firms they represented. Yet there were times that dealing with a press team could be frustrating.
Answering 15 calls on the same irrelevant subject in the space of two hours was tedious, my ears would become deaf to it.
The Kelso Consulting team has been joined by Katy Dowell, previously a senior journalist on the leading legal weekly magazine The Lawyer, as our Features Manager.
Katy first worked at The Lawyer as a senior reporter focused on litigation, then as news editor with overall responsibility for the scores of legal sector stories it publishes each week.
PR advisors Kelso Consulting are hosting a series of seminars and webinars for law firms on a range of business development, public relations, social media and thought leadership issues in the first half of 2018.
We'd like to invite you do join us at them!
Particular aimed at law firm owner-CEOs, together with sales and marketing directors, we will be hosting our seminars in London and, for Thames Valley businesses, in Newbury. For those that can't make them, we will also be doing them as webinars.
Huge amounts of work are put into creating legal directory submissions. But once submitted they are frequently tucked away in a drawer and forgotten about!
Members of the Kelso team have been working with law firms on thought leadership since before the term was used (20+ years!), so we've seen and solved a fair few problems in our time, many of them recurring ones!
Here is what you really need to know (but most PR guides don't cover)!
You've heard about the power of media, maybe your competitors are getting great coverage or perhaps you have a partner with a big ego who wants lots of press coverage. Either way, you have been tasked with getting lots for your practice, but neither you nor the partners have done it before.
That's not a problem as everyone has to start somewhere. But many law firm partners and their marketing managers approach media relations
Many law firms have great relationships with their PR agencies and have advisors who they stick with, not just for years but for decades.
We know from our discussions with numerous law firms that this sadly isn't always the case. Sometimes there's faults on both sides, sometimes there's faults on one side and sometimes its nobody's fault - one party simply no longer matches the other.
In the later case, the best thing to do is to have an open discussion and move on. However, in the other circumstances, there's lots that can be done to nip such problems in the bud.
I recently had an interesting and wide ranging discussion with Peter Scott (www.peterscottconsult.co.uk) who advises numerous law firms on strategy and management issues. Having previously run Eversheds for eight years as managing partner, he's certainly got great insights to share.
Both and neither! It all depends what you want the agency to do.
So, as Harry Hill used to say on his TV Burp! there's only one way to sort it out... fight!
It is very rare that letters from lawyers enter the "must read" category, so it is not lightly that I recommend the retort to Taylor Swift's expensive law firm Venable LLP from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
As Christmas edges closer, many businesses will be winding down hoping for a merry end to the year. By contrast for many in law firms this is instead a stressful period as the deadline for legal directory submissions looms.
Some firms have mastered the process of legal submissions. Their forms are filled out like clockwork, quickly and efficiently keeping their rankings, and nudging them up wherever possible. But for other law firms, it is a complex process where huge effort and angst is spent... often to little
Many of the law firms we meet struggle to know whether the amount of time and money they spend on marketing is producing an effective return.
It is a common problem, but it needn't be this way.
By contrast, many B2B businesses have good metrics and a clear idea of the effectiveness or otherwise of their marketing spend.
I used to strongly advocate lawyers putting effort into their profile, building up their network and using LinkedIn for communicating. It seemed on the verge of turning into a really handy mini-CRM for social selling.
But no more, all the useful functionality has disappeared without notice or warning.
Some of the important disappearances include:
Over the years I've observed many mergers at law and other professional firms.
Some have been stunningly successful, some have been failures and many somewhere in between.
Clearly they were all intended to be huge successes, but something went wrong for many. What was it?
Well, I'm not an M&A expert but my observation is that those that went wrong had two things in common.
In a few weeks time I'll be on a panel at the Law Firm Marketing Summit, discussing how to measure the return of investment for Thought Leadership activities.
It sounds an esoteric subject and immediately begs some specific questions like:"What is Thought Leadership?"; "What resources are being invested and how do I cost such inputs as non-billable time?"; and "What actually is the return I am looking for and how will I know when I achieve it?".
It's easy to start over-complicating things, so the key question lawyers and their marketing teams involved in Thought Leadership projects should be asking are:
"Successful marketing is all about storytelling" is an idea who's time has come... or a bit of a fad, depending on your perspective. Certainly the amount of articles about it seems to have risen exponentially in recent months.
It wasn't always thus. I remember an occasion some 12 years or so ago when my colleague told the CEO of a tech company that standing out and being memorable "was all about stories"... well, the blank look he got back certainly told its own story.
At our recent webinar I shared a straight forward 6 step process for getting your legal business to the top of Google, which is a hugely valuable place for any business to be, including those professional practices selling high value services.
I have found there are two sorts of attitudes amongst lawyers to the value of appearing prominently on Google.
There are those businesses that don't think it is worthwhile, do not spend much effort on it and, not surprisingly, this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy... with their website attracting little traffic and few relevant leads.
By contrast, there are those practitioners who consider it important, that invest a bit of time and effort,
Got a problem or need a supplier? The first thing most people do now is look on Google. You probably do too.
And it is not just people looking for holidays and plumbers.... it is businesses looking for high-value suppliers and solutions for complex legal, financial and management challenges.
If your law firm does not appear prominently on search engines when executives and other potential clients are looking, you are missing out in one of the largest markets for your service - people searching online.
Do you read the regular advice comments from John Timpson, the chairman of high street cobbler and key cutter Timpsons?
They appear in the Telegraph and elsewhere, and I am a big fan of his sensible advice for growing and managing a business... and given how ubiqtuous his firm is on Britain's high street, he has a track record of success to back up his advice.
Recently, in his column he dealt with a question about whether a firm should start doing press and PR activity to generate customers.
It is a question many law firms' partners have asked. At big firms it is a resounding "yes",
While Twitter and Facebook encourage strangers to become connected, LinkedIn is all about relationships. However almost daily I am contacted by strangers who are merrily ignoring the rules set down by LinkedIn that state you should only connect with people you know.
The strength in LinkedIn for lawyers is the relationships between people who connect with one another. It allows for recommendations and referrals that simply cannot happen between complete strangers.
In the LinkedIn jungle such predatory stranger invites from the so-called ‘LIONS’, or LinkedIn Open Networkers, who chase numbers rather than relationships. Others simply do not know any better and of course LinkedIn makes it hypocritically easy to connect with strangers too.
A wise proverb states ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, but in terms of LinkedIn We’d suggest it is ‘The friends of my friends are my friends’! The contacts of your contacts are going to be brimming with opportunities if you are in a law firm.
It follows the ‘people like us’ principle. Think about it, in your social and business circles you will quickly discover that you will have a network
Making the right impression when you want to build rapport with someone is vital, not least in business. Ever heard the saying: ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’?
Yet on the social media channel that means business LinkedIn the majority of introductions are abrupt and use the standard ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’. This undermines a potential relationship from the outset.
If you have ever been on Twitter you will have spotted those anonymous eggs that denote profiles that have not added a photograph and often flags a complete novice or worse a spam account. On Facebook the silhouette makes you suspicious and on LinkedIn, where it really matters, no photo means no business!
When I see the anonymous head and shoulders silhouette on LinkedIn it usually means it is a profile that lacks any attention and however professional the person is, you cannot help but make a judgement about a lack of attention to detail.
Picking the right photograph is important too! On Facebook a recent profile photo has me skydiving somewhere
Ambitious lawyers looking to establish a leadership position in their markets should have awards as powerful proof-points. If you don't have some, you need to get them!
It is easy to rationalise-away the importance of awards. Perhaps you say "They only go to big law firms"; or maybe "there's someone on the judging panel who won't like us", or "our clients won't want us to enter"; "we don't want to steal the limelight from our clients", etc etc.
Our recent article in Professional Marketing magazine covers nine common signs that a law firm's thought leadership campaign is doomed to fail from its early stages. It is based on our experience of delivering dozens of such campaigns (including picking up three awards along the way).
Do you have your ‘Company Website’ displayed on LinkedIn, literally? The default setting for the link with your contact info is to your company web address and at first glance this makes sense.
In fact the Contact Info button – just below your number of connections on LinkedIn, is where your connections can easily discover your email, Skype address and telephone number. Other information includes being able to list up to three web addresses, include your ‘Company Website’
It means nothing and no one searches for ‘Company Website’on LinkedIn any more than they do the web’s most popular hyperlink text of ‘click here’ on Google –which means nothing either! To be fair it does mean your company web address, but in an ideal world you would have more attractive language linking to your web collateral.
What does your headline say on LinkedIn? If it simple declares you to be a ‘Lawyer’, ‘Owner’ or ‘Managing Director’ then you are missing a major trick on LinkedIn; you should be using this to promote the difference you can make to clients!
Your headline is the text that appears immediately beneath your name and is a key part to getting you found on LinkedIn and driving people to engage. Equally it is your chance to appear dull and uninteresting – so get it right and use best practice for your headline on LinkedIn.
Did you binge over Christmas? No, we don’t mean third helpings of turkey or a bloat of mince pies (it should be the collective noun!). Did you gorge yourself on Netflix? Have you seen House of Cards? Or did you finally see Breaking Bad? How about Orange is the New Black?
With over three million users in the UK subscribing to Netflix for unfettered access to so many TV series and movies there is a good chance you have spent some time over the Christmas break streaming.
How much time does your firm spend on legal directory entries? And how does it compare to others?
If your firm spends under three days per entry then you are one of the speedy firms as nearly a quarter of respondents to our recent survey said it typically took them at least a whopping 10 days per entry!
A snap poll of 26 law firm partners and marketers who attended our recent webinar with Chambers Editor, Jonathan Rubin, found that around a quarter managed to get heir entries done in under 3 days of time, 54% spent took between four and 10 days, and 23% spent an eye watering 10-or-more day per entry.
Improving your ranking in a legal directory can be really beneficial to partners and their firms, so it is certainly worth investing quality time getting the best possible ranking.
Is it better to have a shop on London's Oxford Street or down a dark back alley?
For most professional firms, including commercial and private client law firms, being at the top of Google is like being on Oxford Street as 1,000s of "shoppers" will see you.
Of course this is a rhetorical question.
We all know that it's easier to sell clothes where there are crowds of people shopping for them. If only there was an Oxford Street where prospective clients go to buy legal services.
In fact there is! Nowadays we all look to Google to help find the solutions to our problems.
A while ago I penned a white paper entitled "Why some companies turn a crisis into a PR disaster .... and how not to be one of them" based on then recent cases such as Toyota.
The main point was that such disasters typically don't come out of the blue and the effective PR tactics for handling them are well known.
Yet experienced and competent CEOs and their management teams had been able to create a PR disaster of far greater magnitude through inept handling of the communications issues.
I revisited the paper in the light of the recent sad case involving Thomas Cook and its handling of the publicity around the recent inquest into the deaths of two children while holidaying in Corfu a few years ago. I won't be changing the white paper as Thomas Cook also exhibited all the wrong-headed management thinking it warns against.
Are you locked in a death spiral with your PR agency?
We often come across professional firms who have previously been sucked into the "PR death spiral" with their agency (and in-house too). Here's how to recognise it:
By contrast to the disastrous end, it all began so positively.
A new PR team had arrived, and make lots of sensible-sounding requests for articles, materials and other content from the partners to pump prime the campaign. It is quickly supplied by partners keen for coverage and wanting to play their part in a successful campaign. It is a great start and hopes are high.
Leading exhibition organiser Prysm appoints PR agency Kelso Consulting
We've just held a seminar looking at how to make professional businesses' sales pipelines work better.
Before it, our participants assisted with some research. It showed that many of them were already doing a lot of marketing, such as events and some sort of regular technical update or newsletters. They were for the most part pretty organised too.
Solicitors NeglectAssist, one of the UK’s leading specialists in negligence law, has appointed Kelso Consulting to help it secure prominent coverage in the national media – particularly their personal finance sections.
NeglectAssist, a trading name of Wixted & Co, one of the pioneers of “no win, now fee” arrangements in the professional negligence area, acts for people who have lost large sums of money through having been mis-sold investments– often costing them much or all of their life’s savings
Case studies of your law firm's great work and delighted clients are amongst the most effective and versatile forms of marketing.
They are also amongst the cheapest forms of marketing - yet many solicitors fail to make the most out of them (and some barely have any at all).Clearly this is a costly missed opportunity, not least because case studies can be created quickly and-re used in numerous ways, including:
Huge amounts of work are put into creating legal directory submissions.
But once submitted they are frequently tucked away in a drawer and forgotten about!
Don't do this. Your Chambers and Legal 500 entries are hugely useful assets and you can squeeze lots of extra value from them in 2015.
Here are some ideas....
Kelso Consulting's Tim Prizeman is presenting on PR & marketing for law firms at the Sole Practitioners - Practice & Profitability Conference, in December 2014. Full details about the event by clicking here:
We're going to be adding the tips from his presentation into this blog over the next few days (so please subscribe by clicking here, and we'll email you when they are ready).
As Christmas edges on closer, many businesses will be winding down hoping for a merry end to the year. Yet for law firms this can be a stressful period as the deadline for their legal directories submissions looms.
For some firms, they have mastered the process of legal submission as the same forms are filled out like clockwork to maintain the same high rankings as the year before. But for other firms, the forms can be a complex process trying to make sure the information used is accounted for and relevant.
Many law firms are dramatically increasing their reputation and sales using “thought leadership” campaigns to grab the attention of their clients – not to mention prospects, referrers and the media – with original, important and commercial ideas.
Others struggle, with their comment limited to technical legal matters such as legal update newsletters and blogs based on new regulations and topical cases.
This webinar, based on practical advice and real-life law firm examples, will provide the tools and know-how for your firm to significantly increase the effectiveness of its marketing through creating and publicising attention-grabbing ideas
Research consistently shows the over-riding request from businesses is that they want their lawyers to be "more commercial". Given this, using thought leadership to create ideas and commercial insights that grab the attention of your clients and prospects (and the media) is particularly important to stand out positively in the crowded legal market.