1 LAWYERS AND THE MEDIA PAPER 5.1 Recent Developments in Legal Marketing; Or, How Not to Be a Legal Lemming These materials were prepared by Susan Van Dyke of Van Dyke Marketing and Communications, Vancouver, BC; Doug Jasinski of Skunkworks Creative Group Inc., Vancouver, BC; and David J. Bilinsky of the Law Society of BC, Vancouver, BC for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, June This paper is based on a paper prepared for the 2011 CLEBC Solo and Small Firm Conference (March 2011) by Doug Jasinski and David Bilinsky. Susan Van Dyke, Doug Jasinski, and David J. Bilinsky
3 5.1.1 RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN LEGAL MARKETING; OR, HOW NOT TO BE A LEGAL LEMMING I. Introduction...1 II. Social Media Fast Changes, But Slow Adoption...2 III. The Emperor s New Clothes...3 IV. The Latest tips, Issues, and Ideas in Technology for Marketing...5 A. Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing...5 B. Online Directory Listings...5 C. Personal/Firm Profile Building...5 D. Video...5 E. Google Places (NEW)...6 V. Social Media Such as Facebook and Twitter...6 VI. To Blog or Not to Blog...7 A. Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/)...8 B. Slaw (www.slaw.ca) and Slaw Tips (www.tips.slaw.ca)...9 C. Erik Magraken (http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/tag/erik-magraken) D. Antonin I. Pribetic (http://thetrialwarrior.com) E. Adam s Law Blog (http://www.aglawblog.ca/) F. Jasinski on Legal Marketing (http://legalmarketing.ca/) G. Thoughtful Legal Management (http://thoughtfullaw.com/) VII. Conclusion...15 Oh, I m Twittering, I m Twittering, wow! Check your followers, I m following you starting now. Oh, I m Twittering, I m Twittering, wow! What else can I see? I hope you re following me Lyrics and music by Gabe Bondoc. I. Introduction The law is normally a fairly conservative profession and not given to fast change. However, the technology juggernaut has rolled over the law much like it has rolled over most other businesses and professions and in its wake, it has created new opportunities, broken down traditional ways of doing things and allowed lawyers to reach out to new clients, new markets and new opportunities. It has also lowered costs, eliminated barriers such as time and distance and created a host of ethical and professional questions regarding how to properly use all these new technologies. Accordingly, this paper (and associated presentation) will look at some of the more recent developments and outline how lawyers and law offices can jump on board and steer clear of ethical maelstroms.
4 II Social Media Fast Changes, But Slow Adoption The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. Dr. Seuss (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut) Early adopters they are not, but lawyers I have found are keen to learn. But as a group, it s the drive to action that s the biggest challenge, particularly if it cuts into billable time or doesn t have an immediate or positive impact that s within sight. I ve been talking a lot about social media to client firms and larger audiences for a while now and the results bring varying degrees of adoption. Anytime we try to coax a freighter towards a new course, it takes time and a healthy dose of patience. I recently recalled something my mentor told me a long time ago. Our law firms or, in my case, my clients require us to discuss, promote, and write about issues, people or topics of interest ad nauseam. Then, we ll do it all over again until we get the desired results. And then, when we think we ve even reached those in caves, someone will always ask, Huh, what was that? Social what? So, we start at the beginning again, shattering any illusions our lawyers will jump on the social media bandwagon in droves. With most things shiny and new, many lawyers will stand back and view it skeptically, examining it from this angle and that. Oh they ll listen, synthesize, ponder, consider and generally torture themselves over-thinking and analyzing all the ways they could possibly compromise their status among colleagues. OK, not all of them, but 99.9% of them. If you ask me, I m okay with that, especially if they continue to read, learn and ask questions. Baby steps still result in advancement, right? As I patiently wait, advise and coax those that only see risk, I realize that from a bird s eye view, the marketing landscape has shifted significantly over recent years. Marketing 2.0 is the new black and we may never go back. Here are just some of the things that have crept into our paradigm: 1. Our writing is more strategic. Smart marketing strategies and the lawyers for which they are designed, no longer luxuriate in waxing poetic on the subject du jour. Now we consider key words, reader reaction, whether it will be liked or not and so on. 2. Our online writing is amplified significantly and not only by our own steam, but by others whose own endorsements can push our content towards new audiences. But once it s online, you can t get it back. Ever. 3. Everyone s a publisher and timelines are measured in minutes, not hours. Print news media have a love/hate relationship with the online world. Conventional media will never win at scooping a story, but they will pick up resources, photos and quotes online. They will monitor comments on blogs to gauge reactions and news value of a story. And bloggers will take in news from multiple sources. They ll churn, season and present it for their own audience. It s a strange but sweet symbiotic relationship. 4. Google rankings and the degree of social media influence a person has will trump mind share. Mind share, or share of mind, is valuable space where consumers purchasing decisions are or were largely made. Competition is fierce among marketers who strategize to capture this top of mind position among target audiences. Those days are passing as Google rankings and a person s online influence is rapidly replacing our personal beliefs and experiences. How a professional is profiled online, how they rank in their field in keyword search results, how they articulate their knowledge and value, what others say about them is the new share of mind. My, how things have changed.
5 5.1.3 III. The Emperor s New Clothes I remember growing up there would be fads (probably still are, albeit I have long since aged out of those teenage angst years). I recall wanting to be part of the cool kids and wished to jump on some of those fads and try to at least to seem cool (I have long since realized that cool is an evasive and momentary target and one best left to others to chase. I never was and will never be cool just ask my daughter. But I digress ). Well, I recall trying to convince my mom to let me try or buy or do something that would lead to being considered cool. The answer, invariably, was: Well if everyone was going to be a lemming and jump off a cliff, would you do it too? While at the time I thought she was simply being a maddingly frustrating parent, in her way she was testing me to exercise my own judgment and consider longer-term goals and whether this latest fad met my goals or someone else s. Right now, Social Media seems to be one of these fads. That isn t to say that it should be ignored. Exactly the opposite. Like any new tool, it needs to be considered in terms of your existing business goals, strategy and marketing plan. In other words, all of us have to consider how not to be a legal lemming and just follow the crowd in jumping off the cliff. Drago Adam of the Adam Marketing Group of Vancouver, in one of his recent Monday Morning Motivator newsletters put it well and as such, I have quoted his article here (with his permission): The Emperor s New Clothes: This week we take a closer look at the social media marketing scene. If you are a business owner or marketing manager you are probably getting at least one person a day telling you that you need to be tweeting or cultivating friends and fans on facebook. The following message from marketing wizard Roy Williams echoes our beliefs so succinctly that after we read it our response was Amen Brother! We feel kindered with Roy because we both only get paid if our clients businesses are doing well and we have a different view on what social marketing is. I feel a bit like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Emperor s New Clothes, though I m not nearly so brave as he. You remember, don t you? Two weavers promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that will be invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a boy cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The Internet is the parade we re watching and Facebook is its emperor. I ve seen naked and this emperor sure looks it, but I hesitate to shout it out loud because this would be tantamount to a confession of professional incompetence. Let's face it. Those weavers have spun a pretty loud buzz with Facebook and Twitter. The first Internet buzzword was eyeballs. Any site that could generate a high number of unique visitors and page views was said to be overflowing with eyeballs and its creator was considered a genius. But eyeballs didn t translate into dollars unless you delivered a message to the brain behind those eyeballs that was judged to be highly relevant and sufficiently credible. Next it was about going viral. My office was deluged with a river of advertisers asking, How can we take our message viral? We want to go viral. Do you know the secret of going viral? I told these advertisers, Going viral is what happens when traditional word-of-mouth is empowered by digital technology. Do you have a relevant, credible message that contains at least one of the essential three word-of-mouth triggers? Eyeballs and going viral faded away due to a lack of success stories. I breathed a sigh of relief. Now it s Facebook and Twitter.
6 5.1.4 Internet acolytes say Facebook and Twitter in hushed tones like they re intoning a holy mantra. Gregarious extraverts say Facebook and Twitter like they re sharing the location of a keg party. Hungry business owners say Facebook and Twitter like they re asking for directions on a road trip. Aspiring young consultants say Facebook and Twitter with an air of condescension, as though it were Checkmate in a chess match. This time I m letting Lee Iacocca handle it: Talk is cheap. Where I come from, in the auto industry, you were held brutally accountable for your programs and products. The response to any idea was, Show me where it s working. - Lee Iacocca, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? ch. 3 (2007) Lee is right, kids. Talk is cheap. Show me where it s working. Google Facebook success stories. I did. Prepare to be underwhelmed. Facebook promises hypertargeting but this has been the promise of every media since the invention of advertising. Newspapers have been divided into sections for nearly a century. Do you want to target men in the Sports section, women in the Lifestyle section, or businesspeople in the Business section? Magazines were invented to allow us to target micro-groups that shared a common interest. Television and radio stations promise psychographic targeting through specific programming. Billboards promise tightly controlled geographic targeting. And each of these media is hampered by the same limiting factor as Facebook and Twitter. It is an inescapable truth: Response to your message will be dictated by its relevance and credibility, not by the vehicle of its delivery. There is benefit to be had through a presence on Facebook. Twitter is a quick way to blurt 140 characters to whomever will give you a moment s attention. If you enjoy these things, do them. Your business will certainly derive some benefit. But they are not the highest and best use of your time and energy. This whole Facebook and Twitter thing reminds me of a conversation I had with a client 14 years ago in Milwaukee. Working together we had grown his business 10-fold in just 5 years. That s right, one thousand percent growth. He was swimming in cash because he was tenacious, hard-working, had excellent judgment and his employees loved him. All I had done was help him focus his message and his ad budget. When he arrived in Austin for his annual marketing retreat, he said, This year I want to spend 20 thousand dollars of the ad budget for a country club membership. I really believe I can sell some product on the golf course. Knowing my client loved to golf, I said, Sounds like a great idea. How often do you plan to golf? Every Tuesday, he answered. I m okay with this plan as long as we agree that you re going to be the one responsible for selling on the golf course, not me. If you can t make it work, It s your fault, not mine. You okay with that? He was okay with it. He bought the country club membership, began playing golf every Tuesday, sold a little product on the golf course and he s still a client today. But his business is now more than 50 times the size it was when we first began working together. My client continues to golf every Tuesday but he doesn t pretend that golf is what built his business. If you like to golf, do it. Steal a few moments of your life for living. Make time for the things that give you pleasure. Facebook is a country club membership. If connecting on Facebook is your thing, go for it. But please, let s not pretend it s the highest and best investment of your time.
7 5.1.5 Thanks Drago (and Roy) for helping put Twitter and Facebook in perspective. So with this reality check, what ways are there to use Social Media in the marketing of your law practice? And who is really achieving marketing success using social media? IV. The Latest tips, Issues, and Ideas in Technology for Marketing It s perhaps best to begin with the big picture. In legal marketing, we continue to see an ongoing shift of focus and resources from traditional forms of advertising and marketing such as yellow pages ads and print brochures towards web-based offerings. During the 1990s and the first part of the 2000s these efforts were usually focused on the firm website itself (i.e., building a firm website and adding content or modifying its design). While a firm website continues to be the flagship for web-based marketing for most lawyers and law firms of all sizes, the increasing importance of the online channel has resulted in a multitude of additional online tactics and opportunities emerging. Because the web is now such a vast entity, the notion of build it and they will come with regards to law firm websites no longer holds true (if it ever did). In our experience, many lawyers and law firms historically tended to look at marketing via the web as starting and finishing with the development of a firm website. It was frequently seen as something of a necessary evil that took place as a short term project involving a few weeks or months of work with a designer/developer, subsequent to which the website was largely left untouched for 4-7 years until the process repeated itself. This approach no longer works. Lawyers who are effectively marketing their practices online are treating webbased marketing as an ongoing activity, and are using a variety of tools to expose their sites and services as broadly as possible. First, greater emphasis is now being placed on adding more depth to website content, and keeping it more current. Second, a great deal of activity now takes place outside of the parameters of the firm website itself. Actions that fall into this latter category include the following: A. Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing This involves using Google s AdWords program so that a text-based ad and link to your website appear for relevant search terms in Google Searches. B. Online Directory Listings Paying for online directory listings (e.g., through Yellow Pages online or legal-specific online directories such as Lawerlocate.ca and others). Many of these sites typically have high search engine rankings themselves, and if they include inbound links to your firm site, will also help raise your own site in search engine results. C. Personal/Firm Profile Building Building out personal and/or firm profiles on a variety of third party websites with high web visibility such as LinkedIn or JDSupra so that a Google search for the lawyer or firm returns not just a single relevant result (i.e., a static firm website page) but rather a cluster of different profiles and sites that together create a sense of an engaged, dedicated professional who is active in his or her area of practice and can bring specific skills and experience to a given matter. D. Video While video for websites has been available for several years, the ability to produce reasonable-quality video segments at relatively low cost is improving and video is becoming an increasingly important
8 5.1.6 element of the web across all industries (Youtube searches now comprise approximately one quarter of all Google search activity). While video on legal websites is not yet standard, it is becoming more frequent and we anticipate further growth ahead. Law firms typically embed video directly within their firm website, create a Youtube channel for their video content, or do both. E. Google Places (NEW) In late 2010, Google adjusted their search results for many searches to give greater emphasis to Google Place results. One aspect of Google Places that most lawyers are unaware of is that Google now auto-generates a webpage for your business that is in addition to and separate from your actual website. You have the ability to claim this page as the business owner, and to add information to and edit some parts of the page. There is also a portion of the page reserved for customer reviews of your business. Given the high visibility Google is allocating to these new pages, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with them and consider claiming your page to ensure accuracy of information. You can learn more about Google Place pages here: location-location-location- / V. Social Media Such as Facebook and Twitter Social Media has been the hot-button topic in marketing circles for the last year or two. Lawyers have largely been cautious about embracing this new trend, although some early adopters have embraced these new formats with zeal. While many lawyers maintain a Facebook account, in our experience most currently consider this a personal rather than professional tool. However, Facebook is currently the second most highlytrafficked website in the world after Google according to web information company Alexa s website traffic rankings, and there are more than 16 million active accounts in Canada alone. With such significant amounts of online traffic and users spending as much as 32 minutes on Facebook on a typical visit (again according to Alexa s statistics), we believe it is inevitable that the legal profession will follow the general business trend of devoting more time and resources towards developing and maintaining a professional presence on facebook in the future. But we do not believe that it should be the sole focus of your online marketing efforts. It must fit within the overall marketing strategy for your practice. Twitter is less familiar to many lawyers. Frequently referred to as a micro-blogging service, Twitter is a social networking website that enables its members to exchange messages called tweets. Up until very shortly the tweets were limited to 140 characters (deck.ly an add on for TweetDeck allows you to send tweets longer than 140 characters). There are several aspects to tweeting. First, you follow others (and are followed in turn) without any need to approve friends as in Facebook by acquiring a Twitter username. You can then use the Twitter website to follow the Twitter stream as it is called but increasingly, people are using third-party applications such as TweetDeck to organize the flow of tweets. TweetDeck allows you to create columns that sort the stream into meaningful groupings, typically by using hashtags as a sorting mechanism. A twitter hashtag (say #BCLegal) allows TweetDeck or other application to collect all the tweets that contain the hashtag into one column. In this way, #BCLegal will then aggregate all the tweets that users believe relate to law in BC. Twitter is used at conferences (by the creation of a conference hash tag) to form an on-line community of those who are present at the conference (who tweet using the hash tag for the conference) as well as the wider community that includes those who could not make it to the conference but who are following the tweets. It has been used by astronauts (who tweeted from space), movie stars and even by lawyers.
9 5.1.7 Lawyers have formed communities on Twitter using hash tags, by tweeting from conferences and by tweeting on areas of interest to them. A good example of this is the use of the hash tag #slaw_dot_ca or Twitter is the leading Canadian legal blog, created by Prof Emeritus Simon Fodden of York University Law School. Blog entries are tweeted using the slaw hash tag and using the slaw twitter address. Slaw has become a terrific community of Canadian (and other) legal minds and the conversations on current Canadian (and world) legal issues is simply first rate. Being a contributor to Slaw is certainly an indicator that you are recognized as a thought leader in your legal area. This builds your reputation and standing in the legal community. But it is not marketing at least not in the traditional sense. Lawyers are combining using Twitter with blogging, with being on Facebook and LinkedIn. In some cases they are using tools that allow the same tweet to be published on multiple sites (their blog, Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, as well as on Twitter). But Twitter helps you build a community of followers by tweeting in your area of interest, you build credibility and your reputation which in turn, leads to visits to your website and/or blog. Visits can translate to inquiries which can translate to relationships and progress to solicitorclient engagements. Twitter and blogging can bring your work (and thoughts) to the attention of a wider audience, in the same way that traditional marketing can. But the words of my mother come back to me: You don t tweet and blog to be cool you have to have a focus, a goal and a message to take out to the world at large with the idea that this will create (or reinforce) a market niche. VI. To Blog or Not to Blog These days not being found on Google or other search engines is tantamount to being invisible. At the very least you should have a professional website that provides contact information, a Google map view of your office location and a description of the services that you offer and to whom. How much effort should you put into your website? Look at your competition your potential clients will be doing the same and sizing up whom to come to for their legal services. At the very least this will let you know the bar that you have to jump over to better the competition. Consider having a blog rather than just a static website (blog from Wikipedia: A blog (a blend of the term web log) is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.) Participate in Twitter, on Facebook and other social media sites that are frequented by your potential clients. See what other successful lawyers are doing in terms of marketing their practices and seek to emulate their success. In particular, look at those blogs that are found on the list of Canadian Legal Blogs (http://www.lawblogs.ca). There are a number of award winning Canadian legal blogs that have done wonders for the careers of the lawyers who write them. Here are some examples:
10 5.1.8 A. Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/) A professor of law at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E- commerce Law. Dr. Geist has been an outspoken and considered voice on Canadian copyright, music issues and related legal matters. His site has a link to his new iphone app that features blog posts, tweets (he is very active on Twitter), videos and more.
11 5.1.9 B. Slaw (www.slaw.ca) and Slaw Tips (www.tips.slaw.ca)
12 Slaw and its recent project, Slaw Tips, are two Canadian blogs that involve multiple authors. Slaw has been recognized as a multiple award winning website and a world leader in legal blogs. It is certainly a must read for any Canadian lawyer. Slaw Tips is the most recent project and the first spin-off blog of the Slaw team.
13 C. Erik Magraken (http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/tag/erik-magraken) Erik is a Victoria, BC based personal injury lawyer who has been blogging since March His blog incorporates many of the current social media icons and links (Facebook, LinkedIn, JDSupra) as well as technological innovations such as Skype (for interviews and consultations). He uses a client satisfaction survey which is right on his blog. Erik describes himself and his blog as follows: This Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims.
14 D. Antonin I. Pribetic (http://thetrialwarrior.com) Antonin describes himself and his blog as follows: I am a Canadian trial and appellate lawyer committed to the rule of law and pursuit of justice. I also teach Advanced Legal Process at the University of Toronto at Mississauga- Rotman School of Management-Diploma in Forensic & Investigative Accounting (DIFA) program. The theme of this blawg is based upon an article I wrote for the Alberta Law Review a few years ago entitled: The Trial Warrior: Applying Sun Tzu s The Art of War to Trial Advocacy. If you are interested in law and justice from a strategic perspective, you may find the words assembled here of some value. My credo is: The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy, but why can t we be friends?
15 E. Adam s Law Blog (http://www.aglawblog.ca/) Adam Goodman, the author of Adam s Law Blog, describes himself and his blog as follows: Prior to being called to the bar in 2008, Adam Goodman studied commerce at Queen s University and then attended Osgoode Hall Law School. After articling, Adam opened his practice in Toronto with a focus on criminal law and general litigation. Adam has acted for clients charged with various criminal offences. Adam is a lawyer licensee of the Law Society of Upper Canada and is a member of the Criminal Lawyer s Association. In additional to criminal law, Adam has experience with both family and civil litigation files.
16 F. Jasinski on Legal Marketing (http://legalmarketing.ca/) I know that Doug, out of modesty, would not mention his own blog, but he is a noted Canadian authority on legal marketing, including blogging. Doug describes himself and his blog as follows: LAW, MARKETING, TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN are four subjects I am passionate about. At Skunkworks Creative Group Inc., I have the good fortune to be able to pursue all of these professional interests simultaneously. Skunkworks is a boutique marketing agency and web development firm that serves the legal industry, including lawyers and law firms ranging from sole practitioners to international law firms of 600+ attorneys. We also act for other stakeholders in the legal community such as law libraries, legal advocacy organizations, legal technology conferences and numerous legal vendors in the coaching, practice management, expert witness and recruiting sectors. I am also President of Access Legal Systems inc., which operates the LawOne online lawyers directory to connect buyers of personal legal services (such as personal injury or family law matters) in British Columbia with relevant lawyers in their community. Prior to founding Skunkworks, I practiced law for five years in the Vancouver market, first with one of the city s largest firms and later in an in-house capacity with the City of Vancouver law department. I have also worked in a variety of roles with a leading branding and marketing agency in the Greater Toronto Area.
17 G. Thoughtful Legal Management (http://thoughtfullaw.com/) Since I am not so modest as Doug, I will mention my own blog, which was created by Doug Jasinski and Skunkworks. It is devoted to all things related to law practice management, particularly technology and finance topics. VII. Conclusion So in conclusion, your online social media presence needs to be considered in context to your other marketing initiatives. To be sure, there are many lawyers who don t have a thoughtful targeted marketing message and as a result, they are left to random acts of marketing, to quote Susan Van Dyke of VanDykeMarketing.com. Consider the 5 P s of marketing. And ensure that your marketing plan is integrated into your business plan, into your budget and into your culture. After all, you want your social media presence to reinforce who you are and what you do and to pay dividends for the time and effort that you put into it.