Public Relations, Advertising & Directories

Linda HazeltonJust as we were getting ready to head out to the LMA Annual Conference, news broke that Chambers and Partners had been acquired by private equity house Inflexion. Today’s guest blogger, Linda Hazelton, Hazelton Marketing & Management, picked up the phone and spoke to Mark Wyatt, Chambers’ CEO.

Amongst the many services of Hazelton Marketing & Management is the writing of Chambers and other directory submissions on behalf of lawyers and law firms, so Linda’s insights to our community are very much welcomed, and I want to thank her for writing such a detailed post.


News recently broke regarding Inflexion’s acquisition of Chambers. Inflexion is a mid-market private equity firm “investing in high growth, entrepreneurial businesses.” In Inflexion’s news release, Simon Turner, Managing Partner, said:

The legal services market is a large and growing market which we have tracked for a number of years. Chambers benefits from a leading, global position and a reputation for providing the best rankings and research in the industry. There are multiple opportunities for the business to develop its market leading position internationally and through an enhanced digital offering. We look forward to working with the management team as Chambers embarks on this exciting growth strategy.”

Emphasis added

Mark Wyatt will re-join Chambers as CEO. Mark was previously the Managing Director of Chambers from October 2014 to September 2015. Mark’s quote in the news release referenced Chambers’ expansion plans and driving “[O]ur online presence forward.”

I spoke with Mark on April 9, 2018. He confirmed my supposition that Chambers’ methodology and the rigor with which they conduct research will not change. He is very enthusiastic about working with Inflexion, noting that they are terrific with technology. Since they are not publicly traded, there’s no need to focus on quarterly profits and they take the long view. Mark expects that the improvements in technology will allow them to manage the vast amount of information they have gathered in even more useful ways. Overall, the goal is to strengthen relationships with their clients and to improve at retaining their talented researchers and editors. I think we can anticipate an expanded on-line presence as well as new products such as forums, roundtables, client panels, and the like. Continue Reading Inflexion Acquired Chambers. Now What?

Ugh. Again I get into the office and am checking the emails that have come in since I checked my emails before I left my house. I have trained my lawyers well, they know to ask, when that special congratulatory email arrives in their in-box:

Is this bogus?

I want to scream back:

YES! It’s crap. All they are doing is trying to sell advertising (or a plaque) by circumventing the marketing department and going straight for your ego.

Usually I just say, “Yeah, ignore. They’re just trying to sell you advertising.”

So how do we decide which ones are valuable and worth our time and money?

  • They are being run by a legitimate legal or industry trade publication
  • You have to actually submit information on your work and practice
  • They are selective. They don’t take everyone, and just because you got in one year doesn’t mean you’ll get in the next

I give a pass to Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers; other publications (US News & World Report, local newspapers) use their data to compile their “best” lists.

So, when in doubt, call your marketing department. If you don’t have a marketing department, go to Twitter and ask a legal marketer by using the hashtag #LMAMKT. But beware of these emails.

As you know, I run a secret Facebook group of legal marketers with nearly 1000 members. Every few months a post pops up about this vanity directory or that submission. We snicker. We bitch. We moan. We agree this one you have to do, that one you can ignore. But we’re never happy about having to do these, because they are time consuming, and they don’t directly bring in any new business.

We can now throw all of our snickering out the window now–we’ve got our own ranking.

May I introduce you to the Top 100 Legal Consultants Strategists from our friends at Law Dragon? But let’s keep it real.

This latest list of vanity results are just that: Vanity. There are dubious persons on the list. Glaring exclusions. And a gaggle of retired or no longer focused on this sector members.

But kudos to Law Dragon for tapping into “our” vanity, and I mean that. I’m just hoping that when they come out with their Top 100 in-house legal marketers I make the list (and I really do mean that). Since I control the ad-buying budget for our firm, that would make sense, right? I have an ego. I know who is good in our industry, and who isn’t. If I see “that” person on the list, and I’m not there, well, that just can’t happen. Continue Reading Game On: Law Dragon’s 100 Leading Legal Consultants

toservelawyers

A theme I heard, or just picked up on, at the 2016 LMA Annual Conference is that our role, as legal marketers, is as a service provider to our clients … the lawyers we serve. Yet, sometimes, the relationship seems much more adversarial than it has to be.

Yes, our “job” is to increase the top line, but very few of us are true sales people heading out to bring in new clients to the firm. And it takes finesse to be successful in our roles.

For the most part, our job is to help identify opportunities both internally and externally. To coach and train lawyers. To prepare for the sale. To provide the infrastructure. Too many lawyers want to abdicate (or blame) marketing if they do not have a steady stream of new business. The rainmakers get it. The service partner (which are becoming a dying breed in law firms) do not.

Kirk_surrounded_by_Tribbles
Directories and submissions multiply faster than Tribbles.

So where am I going here? The disdain for a function of our jobs — submissions — has to stop. And the attitude change has to come from us.

Yes. Directories and submissions seem to breed new directories and submissions faster than Tribbles, but can you not see the value? And I’m not talking about pointing to new revenue. The ROI for each of our functions is not necessarily new revenue, and I will argue that directory and submissions do more for us than they do for the lawyers.

Here’s how I came to appreciate the Chambers and Partners submission process, as well as Best Lawyers, and yes, Super Lawyers:

It’s not about bringing in new business.

It’s about the service provider/client relationship we share with the lawyers.

I believe the Chambers/Super Lawyers panel has surpassed the General Counsel panel as one of my favorites at the LMA Annual Conference. Why? Because my CLIENTS, the lawyers, value these and learn something new each time that allows me to serve my clients better.

I wrote about my change of heart here last year in I’m changing my tune on surveys. Once I stopped thinking about how these submissions are a waste of time and don’t bring in any new business, and started to recognize WHY the attorneys value them, I was then able to see how they allow ME to build a better relationship with my CLIENT. At that moment I began to not only  appreciate the submissions and directories, but look forward to them.

Why? Continue Reading To Serve Lawyers – Thoughts from #LMA16

pauseWell. It’s been a little busy this pre-holiday season as my department is deep in holiday cards, holiday gifts, budgets, business plans, oh my. But this little diddy of a headline caught my eye in today’s Los Angeles Daily Journal (our local legal rag) and I didn’t want to just add it to my “someday” pile for future blog posts:

Defendants sue law firm over ‘defamatory’ release

I don’t even have to quote the article for you to get the gist. Continue Reading Hold that press release: Are you proofing for defamation?

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking and dissecting of the game around the water cooler. For the Sports Dude, it will be about the game (and I will never live it down, but his prediction was 27-24 Patriots); for me, it’s about the commercials … and legal marketing.

Let’s just do it. Nationwide. What were you thinking???

Dead kids and the Super Bowl? Who thought that was a good combination?

In their defense/press release, well …

The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us—the safety and well being of our children.

And here’s where they failed: the viewing public did not want to have this conversation. It was thrust upon us. It didn’t feel right. After watching heart-warming, after heart-warming kids and dads and puppies we got sucked in … and slapped down.

It’s not that the viewers (up to 50% of American households had the game on) were not willing to have deep conversations. At my house we discussed the Like A Girl commercial, and repeated it so everyone could see it, especially all the girls.

We also discussed domestic violence and how powerful this message was:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMZSh5MCyT4

We just didn’t expect, nor did we want, to discuss dead kids at a Super Bowl party where we were watching it with our kids.

So what does this have to do with lawyers and legal marketing? It has everything to do with it.

Lawyers have a message. It’s an important message. But that message needs to be presented at the right time and the right place; deliver it at the wrong time, and not only will it fall on deaf ears, you can completely ruin a relationship and tarnish your brand.

In coaching a lawyer for a meeting we walk through it all: location, who will be there, where are you in the sales cycle, what to say, what not to say, and what materials, if any, to bring, and the all important follow up.

Introduce a packet or pitch too early, and you will lose the ability to move that prospect to a client. Wait too long and you’ll never stop the random acts of lunch and baseball games.

Pitch the wrong person, and you’ll never get the work, wondering why your competitor always seems to win the new business over you.

Never pitch and you’ll never make partner.

And this is where a good rainmaker succeeds. For many it is instintive, but I will argue that it is just as easy to make this an intention. You just need the perpective. Pause. Get outside yourself. Place yourself into the shoes of your client. Speak with your legal marketer, or a successful rainmaker in your firm.

It’s not rocket science, but it is nuanced. Some attorneys get it instinctively, most do not. This isn’t taught in law school, or any where else. It’s about the human connection. And that’s why all those puppy and dad commercials work.

In a week where the news has been so bleak, it was heartening to see Stephen Fairley‘s short post, Federal Appeals Court Rules Attorneys Have Right to Publish Praise from Judges pop up in my Feedly today:

A federal appeals court issued a ruling yesterday that attorneys have a First Amendment right to publish ads that quote judges praising them ….

I have to confess, of all the amendments, the First Amendment is my favorite. The freedom it provides us Americans is unique to any other country or culture in our world. I love that the First Amendment, when properly employed, protects the speech I like and ascribe to, and, even more importantly, the speech I do not like and might abhor. How beautiful is that?

Which makes me wonder what the hell these bar associations, run by lawyers, are doing banning free speech? You can’t use the word “expert;” you can’t use client testimonials; you can’t … you can’t … you can’t ….

Yes, I know, private organizations v. the government, but come on … nothing like a bunch of lawyers doing the whole “do as I say, not as I do” routine. It’s getting old and tired.

So thank you, Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And to all the attorneys in the jurisdiction, praise away. Just make sure to properly site it, and link to the decisions.

As an LA Clippers fan, I am disheartened and disgusted by Donald Sterling, his wife, and everyone associated with the franchise who have stood by and co-signed this racist crap.

However, just as his wife is currently being represented by counsel in her attempt to retain her ownership of the team, Donald Sterling deserves the same, controversial or not.

Yet, in our social media warfare world, TMZ is reporting that eight major law firms have rejected his attempts to retain counsel. Donald Sterling is “radioactive.”

Our sources say partners in the firms feel representing Sterling would alienate both their African American clients and corporate clients that are hyper-sensitive to controversy.

One source closely connected with Sterling tells TMZ … it’s especially galling for the Clippers owner, because a number of partners in these firms have called him from time to time asking for favors, including tickets to games.

They are reporting major firms in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which brings to mind several AmLaw 100 firms who are not shy or meek when it comes to their client base.

I am sad to say this, but I told yo so.

Don’t camouflage your Twitter address if you want attribution

We had an interesting conversation at the LMA Annual Conference about attribution while live-Tweeting at a conference. Nancy Myrland very nicely captures the discussion in her post, Who Said That? How to Live Tweet a Conference.

To aid attendees at our session on Generational Marketing: Strategies and tactics for engagement with Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials, Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I deliberately included our Twitter addresses not only on the opening slide, but in the footers. (Click here for the slides)

If we wanted the attribution, we didn’t want to make you work for it.  And it worked. The Twitter thread was incredible, lots of attribution to us both. Lots of feedback. And many new followers.

I just realized today, however, that for those reading this blog and wanting to share it on Twitter, it’s not as easy to find my Twitter address for attribution.

It hit me because I was reading a post from Lloyd Pearson while on my commute this morning, Chambers USA 2014-15: Get Organized via my reader. The post was easy for me to share from my iPhone, but his Twitter address didn’t auto fill. I was about to hit the tunnel, so I sent it off without attribution. Not really like me.

I have become so accustomed when using Bitly or Tweetdeck for the app to auto fill the name, but it doesn’t do so always, making it difficult to attribute on the fly unless you already know the person’s Twitter address, or are really determined.

To make things easier, I just updated my blog image that you see on the desktop to hyperlink to my Twitter profile, and added my address in the caption, and I urge you to do the same.

And when you do the update, check your mobile app version. My image doesn’t show up, so I have updated the subtitle of my blog to include it as well.

Not as pretty, but this is about engagement, conversation, and attribution.

 

Photo credit: “The Controversial Topics of Wikipedia” on Wired.com

An interesting headline caught my eye this week via Forbes: “Disgusting!,” Cry Legal Experts: Is This The Lowest A Top U.S. Law Firm Has Ever Stoop (ht Above the Law).

Quick history lesson: During WWII the Japanese (allegedly) kidnapped (mostly) Korean women and forced them to be “comfort women” (prostitutes).

The case in question involves a U.S. law firm taking on a controversial action surrounding this issue:

Would any self-respecting U.S. law firm represent a client who suggested the Jews deserved the Holocaust? Probably not. As a matter of honor, most law firms would run a mile, and even the least honorable would conclude that the damage to their reputation wasn’t worth it.

Where imperial Japan’s atrocities are concerned, however, at least one top U.S. law firm hasn’t been so choosy. In what is surely one of the most controversial civil suits ever filed in the United States, the Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Mayer Brown is trying to prove that the so-called comfort women – the sex slaves used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II – were no more than common prostitutes.

Not exactly the way I’d like a story on my firm, in Forbes, to begin.

So why am I writing this post?

Call it what you will — a game changer, jumping the shark, yellow journalism, link bait — but something has shifted in the land of corporate communications and management with the advancement of social media.

While law firms like to hold themselves out to be above the fray (we’re a “profession” after all), truth is, we bleed green just like any other business and are susceptible to outside influences.

Earlier this month, the co-founder and CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign due to a relatively small political contribution he personally made to a now unpopular California state proposition.

Prior to the contribution being revealed — several years after the fact — there was no indication that his contribution ever impacted the running of the business, or the management of the employees.

But his personal position is now incredibly unpopular and political forces used social media to put pressure on the company once the contribution was unburied, and he resigned.

Then I saw the Forbes headline this week. And read the comments. And started a discussion. And listened to the debate. And I have one question that cannot be answered … yet:

What does this mean for law firms that take on unpopular or controversial clients or causes?

Continue Reading Controversial Clients and Social Media: Game Changer?