Back in March of this year, I started a series of postings from the Legal Marketing Association’s national conference.
During the conference, I had the pleasure to present, along with various colleagues, during the Just JDs: Business Development Strategies for Lawyers program for marketing-oriented lawyers and law firm administrators at firms of all sizes, organized by Ross Fishman. For most of the recaps, I have shared my Twitter feed from the programs. For the "Ethics of Law Firm Marketing and Public Relations" program, for which I presented along with John Hellerman, I’m going to share various tips from our presentation (as I was not Tweeting and speaking at the same time).
There is a difference between law firm marketing and law firm public relations, but they both equal communications.
There are many ethical considerations of law firm communications.
Start with learning the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, if they apply in your state. The main ABA Rules that are implicated in law firm communications include:
Rule 3.6 Trial Publicity
Rule 4.2 Communication with Person Represented by Counsel
Rule 4.3 Dealing with Unrepresented Person
Rule 7.1 Communication Concerning a Lawyer's Services
Rule 7.2 Advertising
Rule 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients
Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization
Rule 7.5 Firm Names and Letterhead
Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law
Legal Communication Do's:
Establish policies and compliance procedures
Adhere to rules of all states where you do business or seek clients
Steer clear of testimonials
Incorporate all necessary language
Legal Communication Don'ts:
Overtly solicit business
Give legal advice
Use subjective language referring to attorney or firm
Create unjustified expectations
Compare attorneys or firms
Talk about pending cases (material prejudice)
Ignore your state’s rules of conduct or multi-jurisdictional considerations
It is important to understand what news really is. Here are some rules to follow:
Proximity: Does the news affect the outlet’s audience?
Impact: How much does the news affect the outlet’s audience? More impact = Higher news value
Uniqueness: Is the news different from the ordinary? More unusual = Great news potential
Timeliness: How current is the news?
Prominence: Who is involved?
Conflict: Tension = News
The principles of a great news story include:
Remember your reporter’s audience
Tell a story
Simplicity (not too long — get to the core ASAP)
Concreteness (explain ideas in terms of sensory information, paint a picture)
Credibility (statistics, proof, quotes from experts)
Emotions (elicit feeling from your reader, listener or viewer)
If you are interested in legal marketing and social media, I also encourage you to check out experts across the country including: Heather Morse Milligan(The Legal Water Cooler blogger) who shares a great perspective from the LMA conference; Jayne Navarre, Rebecca Wissler, Lindsay Griffiths, Laura Gutierrez, Nancy Myrland,Lance Godard, Gail Lamarche, and Lydia Bednerik.
To learn how the use of Twitter shaped my conference experience, you can also read The PR Lawyer blog: Confessions from a Social Networker: How Twitter Shaped My #LMA10 Experience.
Stay tuned for future posts on law firm business development, marketing, public relations, and measuring return on investment, or ROI.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq.,is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., a public relations and marketing agencywith a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney and public relations expert, Gina is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Gina and her PR and marketing firm have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, is a regular contributor to The Legal Intelligencer Blog and blogs for The Huffington Post. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubelor follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.