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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.

4 important don’ts for PR professionals

In the digital marketing world, it is really easy to reach a broad audience, influence consumer`s behavior and obtain useful information about them. Since consumers are very vulnerable to scams and deception, it is critical for PR professionals to stay ethical when using marketing and PR strategies to convert them. Here are four actions PR professionals should avoid to stay ethical and continue building lasting relationships with their clients:

1. Invasion of privacy.

Any action that violates your clients’ privacy can potentially harm their personal and professional credibility. Never disclose sensitive personal information to a third party!

2. Spamming.

Unsolicited messages clutter email inboxes so don’t over-promote them! Too many unwanted messages will make your prospective clients miss useful information and real opportunities.

3. Dishonesty and distortions.

The best way to grow your customers’ trust is by using honest and transparent communication with them. Distortions and dishonest claims can damage the long-term image of your company and jeopardize your reputation. Don’t misrepresent your credentials, expertise and affiliations!

4. Misuse of intellectual property and expertise.

Always credit and compensate your customers when they provide their professional input for your business instead of just obtaining and misusing their ideas and knowledge through digital strategies.

The bottom line is: a PR professional should maintain honest and ethical practices when using the many digital tools available to obtain information from the audience. Respect for customers is a major key to effectively convert them into loyal customers and influence their behavior.

6 Tips for the Most Effective Law Podcast

 

As a lawyer, have you ever had the opportunity to have a non-rushed dialogue with someone you respect/admire or want to emulate? Imagine having the opportunity to speak to people you ordinarily wouldn’t or to ask someone else’s opinion on an important topic. If you want to differentiate yourself from other professionals, display your expertise on a subject and connect with other people, you should invest in podcasting!

Podcast is a series of audio or video media files that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication, like iTunes. Think of a radio show that you edit in advance but then you decide to release it on the Internet instead of over radio. The entire experience is invaluable and worth the time. Here are some top podcasting tips for lawyers:

 

1) Being a podcaster doesn’t make you special – creating excellent content does. Don’t get into podcasting just to say that you have a podcast! You won’t have listeners if you don’t create quality content.

 

2) Ask for help. Don’t be intimidated only because you are not an expert in editing or in graphic design. There are lots of people who are willing to help you with those things so don’t try to do everything on your own.

 

3) Your podcast can open doors. It can be an exceptional tool for creating a professional niche. You can lever your podcast for professional advancement and open the door for books, public speaking and jobs.

 

4) Have a co-host. Your podcast will be much more effective and fun if you have someone to interact with instead of only discussing a topic and talking to yourself. Another way to liven up your podcast is to invite guests to be on an episode.

 

5) Release a new episode every week. Consistency is key and you should release new episodes on the same day every week. Your listeners will expect and look forward to listen to your podcast and they will also appreciate if your show have some type of structure, so they know what to expect.

 

6) Your show should cover the topic of the week, and then stop. Don’t add anything just to fill time. Listeners often listen to podcasts when they are working out or in the car and they won’t listen to it if they think it’s too long. Keep it short, about 25 minutes long.

 

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, find yourself a co-host and do it. It’s a fantastic and fun way to share your passion and build a name for yourself.

We Need to Dispel These 5 PR Myths

Nowadays, “hiring a PR firm” means that your company is facing a crisis and you are calling to the rescue. Although PR firms have helped a lot of companies to handle a crisis and to improve the strategic team, it is still newsworthy when an organization utilizes its services.

Due to a lack of strong and ongoing advocacy for PR, this profession is not yet elevated within an organization. Aren’t PR professionals the go-to storytellers, writers, advisors, counselors, organizers, implementers and strategists? Some heavy lifting is needed. Let’s start by discussing 5 myths about PR:

  • PR is nice to have but not need to have.

The truth is that the strongest brands and reputations deploy smart public relations tactics that are integrated into the core mission and culture.

  • PR should not be seen – and needs to stay behind the scenes.

Of course not. You have the advantage of context and clarity – there is no reason you can’t be the spokesperson and certainly no reason why an organization shouldn’t be proud to have a smart PR counselor backing its reputation.

  • PR’s main role is media relations.

Media relations is just a subject of PR, not all of it. Strong relationships with journalists are critical for many PR people, but the public in Public Relations includes those hanging out on social media, the employees in an organization and the people on Wall Street. Let’s change the conversation from positive media coverage to positive coverage!

  • Good products don’t need publicity – only bad products do.

Puffing up a bad product while ignoring your good products is an odd and unproductive strategy. You want people to know about your best product and you should be proud of it. Make it the centerpiece of any publicity or marketing campaign.

  • PR is easy so I will just do it myself!

This is one of the biggest myths about PR. Many business owners think that they can handle PR themselves to save money. After all, all you need to do is write a press release and journalists will be banging down your door and asking for interviews, right? Not true. PR is not just about press releases or pitches. It is about creating a consistent brand, writing well, communicating effectively, acting strategically, creating relationships with media, having extensive knowledge about your industry and the media outlets that you are pitching.

7 Steps on How to Start Your PR Crisis Plan

As a PR firm or company there is nothing more important than establishing a crisis plan for yourself or client to be ready to execute at any time. With an effective plan comes readjusting it as your company evolves with time. This can prove to be daunting when trying to evaluate every aspect of your plan, but Scott Rainone, in PR News’ Crisis Management Guidebook, recommends starting the evaluation process in steps by determining which components are the most important to your company’s approach.

Below are Rainone’s 7 steps to finding your starting point:

  1. Analyze if your plan is flexible enough to address challenges such as changes to crisis command location and availability of personnel and technology.
  2. Determine your specific audiences, not just the public, but also ones that might be impacted by an incident.
  3. Test your potential messages with actual members of your audiences to determine if they resonate in the ways you intended.
  4. Explore if your messages are best suited for the communication channels you have planned to use in a crisis.
  5. Determine if your stakeholders are informed about a topic important to your organization that may arise and, if they are not, develop ways you might be able to inform them.
  6. Explore who are the main contributors on your crisis team and if they have the training and resources needed to be able to succeed.
  7. Use interviews, focus groups, and surveys to incorporate feedback from target audiences and others into the planning and evaluation processes.

7 Ways to Find Law Firm Blogging Inspiration Again

Are you experiencing law firm blogging burnout? Coming up with new topics that are relevant and engaging can be a struggle. Here are seven ideas for creating a great law firm blog content.

 

  1. Law firm blog ideas are everywhere

 

Daily events can potentially turn into a blog post, or at least inspire good topics. From interaction with clients and discussions with attorneys to news and things that happened in court, all daily events can potentially turn into a blog post. Or at least inspire good topics. Writing ideas down throughout your day is a good way to have a growing list of topics to draw from when you sit down to write.

 

  1. Set up an annual calendar for your law firm blog

 

Develop a content plan that includes everything you are planning to publish over the upcoming year and the associated deadlines. Think about what is happening in your potential client`s lives in specific times of the year. It is easier to create timely and relevant content during holidays, commemorative dates, awareness dates, and annual or seasonal events. Some of the possible topics are: alcohol consumption during major holidays, tax benefits of estate planning in April, how divorcing parents should manage school vacations or educational blog contents for Equal Pay Day.

The key is skim over a list of holiday and awareness dates that are related to your clients and add them to your law firm`s content plan.

 

  1. Interview other attorneys, judges or locally important figures

 

Are you looking for fresh content and new perspectives? Interviewing well-known professionals can attract readers to your blog and increase the potential that your blog content will be shared. Furthermore, conducting effective interviews is also a great networking strategy because it connects you with potential referral sources and develops relationships with them.

 

  1. Get inspired by news and blogs

 

Another great way to find engaging content is by gathering blogging inspiration from the news. Posts about recent news demonstrate thought leadership, engagement with your practice and can also help grab readers` attention (especially if they have been following that topic themselves).

 

  1. Blog about common misconceptions or misunderstood legal terms

 

Legal terminology can be really confusing and intimidating for your clients, especially if they don’t have a legal background. Blogging about common misconceptions and misunderstood legal terms not only helps potential clients better understand their case or matter, but it can also help establish your law firm as a trustworthy resource. These type of posts have a great potential to be engaging and shareable!

 

  1. Google terms related to your law firm’s practice area

 

Try learning what people are searching for related to your practice area and the kind of terminology they use to search for that information. By doing a quick Google search and using the sections “people also searched for” and “searches related to”, you are identifying potential blog post ideas that may specifically interest your potential clients. Also, this will increase the likelihood that your law firm`s blog content will appear in search results for relevant queries, as well as that potential clients will engage with your blog contents.

 

  1. Step away from your law firm`s blog

 

We all know what it is like to be staring at a blank page for 30 minutes and not having any ideas. The best solution is to take a break, go for a walk and do something else you enjoy. Your brain will keep working and generating new ideas in the background while you are engaged in another activity.