As I sat last night watching the State of the Union (SOTU) address, that legal marketer in me kept popping out and wanting to play. So here are a few of my musings:

  • Define your target audience in advance. Know your target audience. Speak to your target audience. Don’t worry about everyone else. It was clear last night from the speech and the comments posted on Twitter’s #SOTU that President Obama wasn’t speaking to the Left, nor to the Right. He was making a conscientious decision to speak to the middle. His ROI from the speech will not be defined by his polling numbers going up from Democrats or Republicans, but from the undecideds.
    • Lawyers and marketers need to define their target audiences for each and every marketing piece that goes out of the office, every blog post written, and business development opportunity taken. This can, will and should change from day-to-day, post-to-post, opportunity-to-opportunity.
    • It’s not necessarily about your current clients, who has hired you in the past, and the work that you have done for them. You now need to reach out to those who have the business you want (which may or may not be the same as the work you have done in the past) and the opportunity to hire you in the future.
    • Speak to the teleprompter.

      Even the President of the United States can benefit from media training. I didn’t notice this until it was mentioned on Facebook by another legal marketer, but Mr. Obama looks at the left teleprompter, then to the right teleprompter, and back to the left telepromter. However, he never addresses the  audience in the middle, where the camera is focused. As such, he never engaged me as a viewer. He never locked eyes with me via my 42″ flat screen. I have a feeling that those who listened to the speech had a much different experience than those of us who were watching it on TV. A GOOD media trainer will FIX this ASAP.

      • Invest in media training. It will benefit you whether you’re going on camera, speaking to a live audience in a courtroom, or at an industry conference.
      • Never go on camera, or give a presentation, if you’re not prepared and ready. At the very least, have someone in your firm grab a video camera of some sort and tape your presentation, and then watch it with a critical eye. Within the first two minutes you will be able to identify areas where you can improve.
      • If you’re reading from prepared remarks, make an outline. Face it. You’re not the President of the United States. For most presentations it is not necessary to write out and recite every word verbatim. Prepare an outline of your remarks and engage the audience instead.
      • If you’re clumsy with PowerPoint, don’t use it. It will hamper your ability to engage the audience.
      • Speak to the crowd. Look around. Make eye contact.
    • Feedback today is live, and sometimes brutal. I was watching SOTU with my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and with strangers around the world via #SOTU. There’s no more hiding from the truth. There’s no more blowing smoke up someone’s ass. If the president or his handlers are interested in knowing how he did last night, all they had to do was listen. No need for pollsters on this one. The people were speaking loud and clear. I truly hope that someone has pulled the Twitter feed, and is actually reading all the comments under the White House Facebook page, under news posts, from opposition parties, and party stalwarts.
      • If the President of the United States cannot squelch or hide from honest and polarizing opinions, neither can you. Rather than try and prohibit, control or limit social media, embrace it … the good, the bad and the ugly.
      • If you’re speaking at an industry conference, arrange in advance for someone to live-Tweet the program.
      • Make certain that you are following the conversations around you via a Google search on your personal name, the firm name, your top clients.
      • You cannot silence Facebook or Twitter, so don’t try. Lead the conversation instead.
    • Lead by example. Kudos for the legislators who chose to cross the aisle and sit with one another last night. Whether they were sincere about it or not doesn’t matter. Sometimes you just have to act better than you feel, be an example, put your personal grievences to the side, act on behalf of the collective good, rather than just based on your personal benefit. I give a #fail to those who chose not to.
      • Every firm has its quirks, dysfunctions, in-fighting, feuds (I think you know what I’m getting at). Yet, the firm leadership needs to lead by example and not play into the divisiveness.
      • As a firm leader, you have to push your personal agenda to the side for the benefit of the firm as a whole. You are being watched by your other partners, by the associates, staff, clients, press. How you handle difficult personalities, practices working in isolation, greedy partners will be judged and critiqued by all those who look to you for LEADERSHIP.
    • It’s okay to be a Democrat, a Republican, or anything in between, you just have to shake hands and be polite. At the very end of the speech, the president turned around and shook hands with Speaker of the House John Boehner and then Vice President Biden. It would not benefit us as a country if the president was rude. While Mr. Boehner did not agree with every point the president made, he never threw anything at him or acted inappropriately. There were polite smiles and applause. There was decorum.
      • I wager that none of us lives in isolation where every member of our families, all of our friends, colleagues, clients, etc. are of a single political persuasion.
      • We should not have to pretend or ignore that our best client is not a “gasp” Republican “like me,” or our favorite vendor is not a “gasp” Democrat “like me.” It’s okay to not agree on politics. You just have to be polite about it.
      • I have mentioned before that my Facebook Wall is open to all to discuss politics, but we will discuss in a respectful manner at all times. My politics are known by all, but I have to admit that the best conversations I have on the “issues of the day” are with my political opposites.
        • If you persist in making partisan attacks on Twitter, Facebook or through your blog (I am NOT talking about asserting partisan opinions), at a certain point you will no longer be someone I know, like and trust. You will lose my respect, and eventually my business, not because of your politics, but because of your vitriol.
        • Look in the mirror before leaving the house. Seriously. I don’t know who the make-up artists were last night, but the president looked like an Ooompa Loompa. So did Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (what was up with his hair??). And don’t get me started on the Botoxed “smiles” in the gallery. Creepy.
          • First impressions are made within seconds of meeting someone. Dress well, always.
          • As more attorneys are NOT retiring at 65, but feeling compelled to compete with a younger generation, remember this: BOTOX IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.
          • No matter what your age, a bad dye job is BAD and everyone can tell.
          • You get what you pay for … this is true for leather goods, suits, haircuts, and jewelry (definitely NOT suggesting that you pay retail. I LOVE a good deal/sale).

        As for the speech itself? Well ….

        Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool (via Huffington Post)