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6 Best Tips for Getting Referrals for Your Small Law Firm

If you are a small firm lawyer looking to get more referrals, you know it can be a challenge. Since new client development is one of the main priorities for any law practice, referrals are lifeblood of most of successful law firms. Have you really leveraged your contacts including existing clients to do the marketing for you? Read those 6 tips for getting new referrals:

  1. Maintain your book of contacts. Documenting names of people you connect with is the first step. You never know who can be a good source of referral so be organized, maintain a list of contacts and spend some time to study it for the relationships that can generate leads. Make it a point to update your contacts on a regular basis.
  2. Motivate/Prompt. Eventually, you will have to ask for referrals and it is not a bad idea. Your referral sources don’t know that you need referrals so it is really important to maintain a good attorney-client relationship. That way, you can confidently request for referrals. For example: if your clients thank you for your service, you can prompt them to make a referral by communicating that the best way to show their gratitude would be to send you a referral.
  3. Focus on lawyer-client relationship. Do not focus only on legal representation, court hearing and legal billing. When dealing with a client, always remember they are your best referral sources. Trustful relationships are not developed overnight so focus on building a genuine, quality, and long-term relationship with your client. Remember: referrals are often made out of trust!
  4. Educate your referral sources. Sometimes they don’t know what you really do. Tell them the type of people and business you can help and also provide examples on what a good referral is.
  5. Follow up. Once you receive a referral be sure to make follow up calls with the prospects. Be confident and understand that now you are not making cold calls. You are already endorsed by someone who is willing to connect with you so don’t fail in making follow up calls.
  6. Thank your referrers. It can be as simple as picking up the phone and making a Thank you call or sending an e-mail with a Thank you note. Always remember to let them know that you really appreciate such referrals. Also, ask new clients how they came to know about your law firm. If the lead generation is by referral, express your appreciation.

3 Tips on How to Keep Your Writing Concise

In a profession where writing can take up most of the day’s work load, PR professionals can employ various strategies to keep their writing tight and active to convey their ideas more aptly.

Here are three tips on how to keep your writing more concise.

  1. Get rid of expletives. An expletive is an indirect phrase that only delays the writer’s point. Expletives include “There is,” “there are,” “there was,” and “there were,” as well as any of these phrases with it substituting for there. It is not necessary to every expletive you come across, but use them sparingly.

 

In most cases, eliminating the expletive and beginning with the subject will do, as in revision of “There are other steps a company can take before an economic downturn to protect against its impact” to “A company can take other steps before an economic downturn to protect against its impact.”

 

  1. Change adjectives to adverbs. One class of wordy wording often found in business writing is represented by such adjective-noun phrases as “on a daily basis,” which is easily replaced by the adverbial form of the adjective (which in this case is identical: daily).

 

Regarding similar usage, “This issue will be resolved on a case-by-case basis” is easily converted to “This issue will be resolved case by case.” (Again, the replacement is identical, though the hyphens are now no longer needed.)

 

  1. Avoid adjectives all together. Some adjectives and adverbs themselves are extraneous. Such qualifiers as currently and different almost never contribute to better comprehension.

 

For example, in “We are currently accepting applications,” the verb are clearly represents that acceptance of application is a current state, meaning that currently serves no useful purpose, and “These shirts come in seven different colors” provides no more information than “These shirts come in seven colors,” and different can therefore be omitted without negative consequences

How Lawyers Can Conduct Successful Pitch Meetings

Preparing adequately for pitch meetings it is not always a lawyers’ priority. Their busy schedule leaves them unprepared to address the real concerns of the clients and they end up talking too much about themselves. Here are the six steps of a successful pitch meeting:

Diagnose before you prescribe. Most lawyers are very proud of what they do as individuals, groups and as law firms. And they should be. They usually attended great schools, got excellent grades and mastered the practice of law until they achieved good results for their clients. However, a lawyer should never focus on his capabilities during a pitch meeting. Diagnosing before you prescribe means to address the problems that are keeping the client up at night and discussing possible solutions. A lawyer should talk about himself only after taking the time to focus on the client.

Research the potential client. Start early and do your research. This is the first step in preparing for a business development meeting with a potential client. You can find information about any company on the internet – via client`s web site, content searches, case-filing searches and your own lawyers.

Probe the potential client. Acquire additional information prior to the meeting and find out who will be participating. Call your potential client and ask about the company`s goals, culture, emerging challenges and legal needs. It will not only make a favorable impression but prepare you for a great meeting.

Prepare relevant materials. Use generic firm, group and biographic materials as supplemental materials to demonstrate how your firm has successfully solved problems for clients like them industries like theirs.

Focus conversation on the potential client. Ask specific questions about the potential client, its market, administrative structure, operations, business and legal challenges. Then, use the answers to generate follow-up questions. Make sure you understand their problems first and then switch gears and talk about your solution and “leave it all on the table.” Act as if the potential client has already hired you and provide advice of value that demonstrates exactly how you and your colleagues function as trusted advisers.

Follow up with the potential client. Do not wait around passively for the potential client to contact you. Try to leave the meeting with a specific next step and follow up with a schedule of regular contact to continue to build the relationship. Asking questions like “Can I call you in a week to see if you have any additional questions?” and sending thank you letters are both great follow-up strategies.

In other words, a business development meeting is not about you. Successful law-firm business developers know how to turn the spotlight away from themselves and shine it on the potential client.

Why is Advertising so important to business?

In the business world, sellers compete with one another all the time for the attention of buyers. It doesn’t matter if the goods and services provided by your company are a necessity or luxury; relying on a one-time announcement or word-of-mouth chatter is not the best way to keep a steady stream of customers. Read the reasons why a strong commitment to advertising is critical to make this competition effective:

  • Promotion

Whether it is an upcoming event, a new product line, a political campaign or an expansion of an existing platform of services, the primary objective of advertising is always to get the word out that you have something exciting to offer. Start off your content by identifying who, what, when and why and then choose what form your promotion will take. It can be anything from print ads, commercials, billboards, handbills or brochures. Learn about your audience and promote your brand in the most effective way.

  • Awareness

Advertising is not only about promoting your brand. It can also raise your target audience’s awareness of issues and educate them on how your products and services can be beneficial to that issue.

  • Comparisons

The competitive world provides your target audience with a lot of different options for the same type of product. Naturally, they will compare your brand to your competitors and advertising invites them to evaluate how your service measures up against others. Use your advertising campaign to inform your audience about your qualifications and advantages.

  • Retention

Remind your customers that you are still around and maintain a strong presence through regular ads, fliers, postcards, events and a dynamic website. This serves not only to attract new customers but also to create valuable long-term relationships.

  • Morale

Give your workers a sense of pride and emotional ownership when they tell people where they are working! An effective investment in an advertising plan keeps your business an active part of the conversational vocabulary and community buzz. In turn, it generates positive feelings and name recognition.

What is Legal Marketing Anyway?

It can refer to everything from public relation to cross-selling and advertising. It is a way to make your law firm brand more recognizable and to reach out to people who might potentially use your services.

Overall, legal marketing is tailored towards the specific clientele that a law firm is likely to work with. However, some attorneys hesitate to invest on it and they ask the following questions:

Is Marketing Worth the Hassle?

Since the legal marketing in the United States is huge, legal marketing will make you stand out. Thousands of new lawyers are entering the market every year so the field is really competitive. Therefore, the answer is: it is worth it!!

What are the latest and greatest legal marketing techniques?

Law firms used to be able to effectively advertise their services through local newspapers and fliers but now the legal marketing is changing. In order to establish brand recognition, firms across the United States are using innovative and new techniques such as:

Social Media Marketing: LinkedIn is currently the most popular social media platform for lawyers, with 57% of all law firms maintaining a presence on the platform. 35% of firms also use Facebook while 21% use Twitter. New customers can easily be reached through these social media platforms since they use them to discover new pages and engage with friends.

Maintaining a Web Presence: 70% of companies who maintain a web presence have generated new customers and cases through their website. By using content marketing, legal websites can drive traffic to their web page through search engines, attracting people who are looking for a very specific service in a specific area. Furthermore, social media can be complementary to the website, driving potential new customers to it. Studies have shown that 74% of people who visit a law firm`s website plan to contact the site and take action.

Local Commentary Through Social Media: For smaller legal firms, providing web content and social media posts that relate to important local issues are great ways to raise your profile. Social media users will be happy to follow a law firm`s page if they are providing information about local efforts. These pages will make people familiar with your brand, and they will remember you when they require legal services.

Paid Advertising: it means having your branding and messages shown on websites related to legal services. If a person is researching the process of filing for divorce, advertisements relating to divorce lawyers in their local area will automatically appear. This is an extremely powerful and efficient tool for both national and regional law firms. Also, social media platforms also provide advertising services. For example, Facebook advertising allows companies to pay for advertisements to appear on the timelines of people of a certain demographic. Choose the age, location, profession and interests of the people you want to target and your image or video will appear on relevant timelines. It is an effective form of advertising that requires no middle man!

Where to invest your marketing budget?

Studies have shown that by 2018, most law firms will be allocating around 35% of their overall marketing budget to online advertising methods. Search engine marketing is also taking up most of the online marketing budget with videos and banner ads being the most popular form of advertising for law firms. Social media takes up around 15% of online marketing spending, though this is also expected to rise. Overall, it is safe to say that legal marketing is largely turning to the internet to get results.

How PR Pros Can Use Google Analytics’ Newest Feature: Intelligence

Google Analytics, a vital tool for any PR professional, has featured a new tool: Intelligence. Found in the upper-right hand corner, the new feature allows users to ask a question for GA to answer with a variety of answers.

This is a pretty big deal considering how overwhelming Google Analytics can be to new users, GA uses a large amount of dimension of metrics to provide comprehensive statistics.

According to the Google analytics website, you can also ask Intelligence questions about your data in everyday language. If you don’t want to analyze data in the context of your reports, or write formulas and code to query the raw data, you can simply ask Intelligence things like:

  • What’s the bounce rate trend for mobile in the US?
  • How many new users did I acquire via email last week?
  • Which channel had the highest revenue?

 

Intelligence can also answer more specific questions, whether about a certain group of users, time period, or region.

Below are six other types of questions PR pros can ask Intelligence to get answers about their Google Analytics quick.

 

Ask basic questions: How many new users did we get this week? Where is my traffic coming from?

 

Check performance: Which channel converted the best for [Goal X]?  Which landing pages with over 500 sessions have the worst bounce rates?

 

Chart trends: Trend of new users this month? Graph of sessions from Chicago vs Seattle in December?

 

Compare data for different values or time ranges: Conversion rate for referrals vs organic search? Average time on page for mobile vs desktop?

 

Ask about shares or percentages to understand significance:  What percent of sessions in the U.S. are from social? What share of sessions are from women?

 

Ask complex questions combining multiple phrases: How did share of new users compare in January for Firefox vs Chrome? Trend of new users this year vs last year.

 

How to make agency-client relationship last longer?

PR agencies that have a long-term relationship with clients are becoming more and more of a rarity. Not a lot of professionals can manage to keep their relationships alive and thrive for too much time.

Here are 5 tips to be a long-standing agency of record relationships:

  • Be honest with each other

Although sometimes it can be a little harmful and surprising, the real truth will keep your agency on your client’s map and radar screen. Clear expectations should be set from the beginning and both the agency and the client should tell the truth about their capabilities, limitations and passions.

If you don’t believe your agency can get the desired results, don’t talk yourself into the job. It will set your agency up to fail, waste the client`s budget and time and kill your reputation.

The key takeaway here is: when a PR pro fundamentally and thoroughly understands what the client is trying to achieve, both parties are positioned for success and the relationship will last a lot longer.

  • Always take risks

Although a lot of people think PR practice doesn’t involve much risk, there is an element of risk in all public relations activity. The word risk can be defined as the chance of something happening that will have an impact on objectives and it is measured in terms of likelihood and impact. Think of the risks to the organization inherent in a bad reputation, in controversial public issues, corporate crises, sponsorships turning bad, poor counsel to senior management, use of celebrities in marketing and in corporate events that go wrong.

However, the duo need to take some risks together in order to build a brand and gain consumer awareness so knowing how to manage those risks is a valuable skill. If the PR agency and the client create a good and effective communication channel, the risk will pay off and result in some good outcomes.

  • Respect each other

Everyone has different opinions and that is fine. If this difference is well managed, it will actually be a major key to elaborate creative marketing ideas. Listening to each other and respecting the other person`s idea and vision is the best way to deal with those tough situations. In order to create a brand that communicates something to people, your agency and your client should be able to have frank conversations and maybe step back, debate, assess it and come up with a better solution.

  • Be open to new ideas

Sometimes clients have crazy creative idea or business idea and will ask you to do something that you are maybe not used to. Be open to it, listen to it and take it into consideration. Being open to new ideas also means that the agency should be thinking of news ways to solve a client’s problems before they even anticipate needing it. The collaboration between you and your clients will build a relationship of trust.

  • Have one another`s backs

At some point, something is going to go wrong and pointing fingers does not help! During times of difficulties, it is important that both sides stand together and strive to a solution

PR Firms and Law Firms Go Hand in Hand

Although a lot of attorneys think PR is unnecessary and requires too much money, it can be a credible and useful tool to enhance business development and hiring efforts even in the law industry. Here is some fact-based reasoning that justifies PR’s potential:

  • PR assists law firms in maintaining and improving their images, further business development.
  • PR positions attorneys as leaders in key markets.
  • Attorneys and firms who are represented across the media as quoted resources or subject matter experts are perceived as more credible

Overall, the law industry is really competitive and the challenge is not just securing clients, but also keeping them. Public relations helps attorneys rise above that competitive noise paramount, building and extending a firm`s reputation, differentiation and expert thought-leadership. In addition, PR can also assist with:

Business development/increasing client revenue

Before being legal counselors, law firms are a business and it must make money to pay for paralegals, office staff, supplies, technology and copy houses. Attorneys need to ensure a steady stream of clients and they often research ways to increase billings and hourly rates. Therefore, showcase your firm`s expertise outside a courtroom is an optimal method of justifying this.

Improving hiring results

If a law firm wants to attract the brightest legal minds and obtain the most sought-after positions, it needs to earn public reputation. People need to see your firm as successful and high-profile in order for you to hire attorneys from the top law school grads. For this reason, a PR investment is a law firm`s secret weapon and it will elevate the firm`s profile and ensure participation in the most optimal event to procure greater mindshare.

In actuality, public relations and law firms share a lot of similarities: both professionals have to read, listen, write and prepare clients. Furthermore, they are both considered experts in matters that follow established rules and regulations. A critical first step for a law firm is to be aware that a relationship with a public relations firm is worthwhile. Then, they will learn that properly chosen PR support will not only deliver solid recommendations, but it will also educate firm members about how to successfully address everything to the media.

9 Reasons Your Organization Needs an Internal Newsletter

Getting the word in is as important as getting the word out to an organization. Having some type of intracompany newsletter keeps everyone in sync and is a great way to make sure everyone understands the brand`s tone. It can also gather resources and links for your organization and serve as a style guide, cutting down time spent looking for these resources.

The values underlying your newsletter content are the values you want your company to reflect so it is important to cultivate a strong employee culture. Here are 9 different ideas for what to cover in your organization`s internal newsletter:

  • Funnel content to internal pipelines.

It is hard to find information about what other teams within your organization are doing so this will make sure they know what you are up to. Share your work and encourage them to share as well.

  • Reinforce brand voice, style, imagery and personality.

Add some dos and don’ts to keep everyone on their toes and link to key documents. By doing that, you will be helping your coworkers create presentations, reports and any other documents for the organization.

  • Promote social advocacy and provide guidance.

Keep track of your organization’s social platforms and promote brand channels. Everyone should be aware of the different strategies for each platform and the specific messages to share.

  • Highlight evergreen content.

An internal newsletter can also be a resource for sales and front-facing colleagues to parse evergreen content to the public. Make sure they know about your great leadership pieces.

  • Highlight customer case studies and bring in suggestions for new ones.

New and relevant clients that are using your services are great resources. Highlight them!

  • Complement existing company collateral and resources.

Use the newsletter as an examination of what is important for the company’s evolution, such as welcoming new employees, announcing new product versions, highlighting successes or asking for input on a rebranding.

  • Highlight cross-departmental collaborations.

Appreciate your peers’ collaborations and results. Also, encourage them to share more ideas and resources!

  • Reinforce transparency as a mindset.

An internal newsletter opens up a line of communication that doesn’t clog up the email inbox and is the starting point to discuss company values and employee culture.

  • Include industry news, trends and insights.

Any industry is competitive, no matter how innovative a company is. But view this competitiveness as a healthy part of your job and highlight the achievements of close competitors. It can give your employees some insight into how to do their job and also motivate them to work harder. Performing competitive analysis and sharing with the entire organization also helps!

 

After reading those ideas the question should not be “why start an internal newsletter?”, but instead “why not start a newsletter today?’.

Is Your Law Firm Prepared for a Crisis?

A crisis can hit lawyers and law firms in many different ways and the best time to prepare is before something bad happens. A crisis plan and communication strategy is crucial for your firm and your leadership to overcome the situation. How would your firm respond to a crisis? We recommend following these 4 steps when preparing your response plan:

 

  • Have a Plan BEFORE any crisis has hit.

Think about the possible scenarios and prepare a response for each of the scenarios you envision. It should include a lot of different areas depending on the issue. For example, include the IT director if it is a cyberattack or make the HR involved if the crisis involves a firm employee. Your firm should have a customized crisis plan and an online strategy for each scenario that will determine who will communicate relevant information and draft key messages and media statements depending on the issue. Furthermore, speakers for the firm should be selected and agreed upon in advance with a protocol for communicating to the media.

 

  • Run through the plan.

Although the plan may seem solid in your head and on the paper, it doesn’t always hold up in real life. In order to ensure the plan works and that everyone knows what to do, your firm should create a real-life crisis simulation. However, don’t just try to get through the simulation. Focus on accomplishing the firm`s objectives during the crisis instead. While the situation may be fictional, the stakes are real. At the end of the simulation, ask yourself these questions: Did the right messages get communicated to the right audiences and in the right way? Did the response team know their roles?

 

  • Know how to deal with the media.

Remember, one person should be dedicated to communicate messages to the media and everyone in the firm should know who this person is. This will avoid conflicting reports or misinformation.

 

  • Create a media playbook.

This playbook is for dealing with the media and should cover the details of what happened, a holding statement on what the firm is doing to address the crisis and a sincere apology if the firm is somehow at fault. Be prepared for the following media scenarios:

  • When you don’t know the answer, just tell the reporter you don’t know and offer to find out.
  • When you are asked a yes or no question, don’t feel confined to their question. Instead, provide a bridge to bring up the point you would like to make.
  • When they ask for your personal opinion, keep in mind that it is never about your personal opinion if you represent the firm.

 

Media is going to cover your law firm`s crisis with or without your firm`s input. But your involvement can help shape the story and improve your firm`s image in the public eye. A well-handled crisis will make the story runs and dies afterward.