How Law Firms (and others) Can Use Social Media In A Crisis

Here’s my article, How Law Firms Can Use Social Media In A Crisis, that was just published as part of a cover story theme on crisis management in Strategies, the Journal of Legal Marketing. It’s in PDF format, so please click on the first link above and just scroll to the second page. Of course, the information here applies to any company or organization. Thanks to the Legal Marketing Association for including my contribution.

Note: The article was published right before I changed my company name from LawFirmsPR to Rich Klein Crisis Management.

Please leave feedback/comments below.

Questions? Please email Find me on Twitter @RichKleinCrisis.


The Crisis Show Recognized For Innovation

We were pleasantly surprised and honored today to receive recognition by a video monitoring/syndication service which praised the “innovation” of The Crisis Show.

Law Firms Can Learn From Oreo and Calvin Klein

oreoOkay, law firms are not products but it doesn’t matter. When the lights went out at the Super Bowl last night, Oreo Cookie quickly Tweeted out a promo infographic with wit.  The Twitter post read, “Power out? No problem” with an attached graphic (at left) that showed a cookie and the witty caption, “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark.”

Check out my video post about this blog

Calvin Klein posted a Vine with the caption “since the lights are still out…” that featured guys with six-pack abs wearing their underwear. Both reaped attention, increased visibility of the brands and likely resulted in additional business.

The lesson here is that law firms, too, need to act more quickly to capitalize on breaking news events. That often means not following the plan or script and it also means getting very quick approval –  something lawyers often have trouble with. 

But if a law firm wants to stand out from the crowd — however you define your competition — then being bold AND timely is a great combination that demands prospective clients’ attention. It may even result in high profile media coverage like Oreo and Calvin Klein received last night and today.

So how can a law firm that prides itself on its collegial, buttoned-down atmosphere be bold and timely?

Sometimes it’s as simple as issuing a snappy statement reacting to a high-profile, high impact court decision. Other times, it’s using social media to show thought leadership/ legal knowledge while demonstrating to a younger generation of entrepreneurs (possible future clients) that you understand new media.

What are you doing at your law firm to take advantage of breaking news opportunities? If you just have a website and no social media properties, you will lose the game before kickoff.

It’s time to get in the game by thinking how your firm can use tools like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and Vine. But you also need thoughtful, witty content to stay alive in the game. And yes you can do it without violating lawyer advertising rules.

Naturally, I have some ideas that have worked for other law firms. But not to worry…they don’t involve cookies or mens’s underwear.

Law Firm Partners: 10 Actions To Polish Your Reputation in 2013

December is a great time for law firm partners to plan for significantly raising visibility and improving reputation in the new year.

Here’s 10 actions you can start implementing right now so you are positioned for business growth in 2013:

1 – Fix your biography so people can learn quickly what you’ve accomplished for similar clients in recent years. Did you win a high stakes litigation for a Fortune 500 company? Did you handle a mega-merger that was favorable to client? Lead with your best stuff, NOT where you went to law school!

2– Put some meat on your LinkedIn profile. The same revised biographical info on your firm website can go on LinkedIn. Be sure the copy is about how you serve and succeed for clients and not a laundry list of fancy titles and bar memberships.

3 — Learn how to use the Advanced Search capabilities on LinkedIn to create a powerful list of prospects customized by items such as geography, job title, company, etc.

4 — Consider launching a practice-specific blog. And, no, you don’t have to blog every day. You can post as little as once per week or month and the posts can be just a few sentences or a short audio or video.

5 — Create a Twitter account and start Tweeting every few days. An easy way to start is by sharing other people’s news that is related to your practice or linking to your new blog post.

6 —  Record and post to YouTube a 2 to 3 minute video that analyzes a hot legal issue in your practice (s) area. This is one way to establish/expand your thought leadership and will improve your search engine results very quickly.  Here’s one we did for a client earlier this year that received 8,000+ views and another that has surpassed 10,000 views.

7 — Identify and secure speaking engagements where your best prospects gather. Want to be a more powerful presenter? Study Steve Jobs and read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. You can also watch a wide variety of great presentations at TED. Here’s one by Seth Godin that is a great example of excellent presentation and inspiring content.

8– Learn how to deal more effectively with the media and consider hiring a professional who can help you with messaging, transitions, body language and answering the toughest questions.  (At LawFirmsPR, we now do this kind of training by Skype, including a video recording and written audit, so you can quickly learn and improve.)

9– Increase your likability and trust. I highly recommend reading The Likability FactorTrust Agents and Book Yourself Solid.

10– Learn more about crisis/litigation communications for your firm and your clients. A good place to start is The Crisis Show,  a weekly Internet broadcast I started in June 2012 with case studies on a wide variety of crises that touch the legal world —  and with nearly 20 hours of free content so far.

The One-Minute Video For Law Firm Clients

Here’s a one-minute video we shot and edited for our client, Brill Legal Group, which consists of criminal defense attorneys in Manhattan and on Long Island.

Firms should produce more than one video to increase visibility, which is why we are planning a series of videos for this client and will be distributing them across many social media channels.

Law Firm Public Relations Lessons From 9-11 Ad Controversy

Ad that stirred controversy

There is so much to talk about after the New York Post broke the story about the way Worby Groner Edelman and Napoli Bern Ripka — two New York area law firms — advertised for plaintiffs who were harmed at Ground Zero.

But in the interest of time, here are three quick lessons for all law firms based on PR mistakes made by these two firms and their advertising agency:

Lesson #1 — When it comes to 9-11, it is in extremely poor taste for any organization or person to use misleading statements and false images. Yes, ad agency Barker DZP claims the model, Robert Keiley signed a release and that there was a disclaimer about the identity of the person in the ad. But just because it was legal, doesn’t make it ethical. UPDATE: Barker DZP reportedly apologized late today.

Law firm management would be wise to have an experienced law firm public relations/reputation management professional (separate from an ad agency) to review the ad for content, to validate it’s accuracy, and to alert the partners if the ad might result in the kind of public outrage now being expressed online.

Lesson #2 — When the media calls your law firm about a controversial ad, it’s the law firm(s), that should issue a media statement immediately — instead of referring all calls to the ad agency. Such a statement should have said the current ad was being pulled immediately. The law firms could also apologize to all 9-11 victims and take responsibility for signing off on the ad without carefully analyzing the content. So far, these two law firms have been silent as the negative story grows in the online media and most likely on social media sites. When law firms go silent in the face of controversy, the court of public opinion will always assume guilt. (As of 2:45 p.m. ET today, there has been no press statement on either of the law firm websites.) Most firms can ill-afford that kind of damage to their reputations, particularly when there are a few hundred versions of the same negative news story swirling on Google and on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Lesson #3 — When law firms and their agents make honest mistakes or deliberately mislead in their advertising, it not only hurts the firms involved but harms the reputation of the entire legal profession. The partners at Worby Groner & Napoli Bern have a responsibility to their colleagues –and their bar associations — to acknowledge any mistakes and apologize to those offended (including the firms’ many 9-11 clients).

Finally, this controversy comes at a particularly bad time because lawyers/law firms continue to battle many state bar advertising rules that are over reaching and based on 20th century communications.

I hope that this event does not give more ammunition to state bars and other oversight groups that seek to stifle law firm marketing. If it’s one bad example of lawyer advertising, then the profession should deal with it — but it should not stop the movement for more freedom to advertise (ethically) online and off.

How Law Firms Can Use Social Media in 2011

Here are my 10 predictions about law firms and their use of social media in 2011. (Disclaimer: It’s also a wish list!)

1–Lawyers will start using Facebook for business. (And many will say I’m nuts for suggesting this). Want to start one? Click here and the link takes you to Facebook’s page site.

2- More law firms will discover the benefits of using high definition digital video to promote their firm’s culture and they will link to YouTube.

3–Law firm management will pay much more attention to the use of social media to protect reputation and especially during a crisis.

4- Twitter use will increase among lawyers, who will use it for linking to their white papers, news releases, bylined articles, media coverage and court decisions relevant to their practice areas.

5–Lawyers will start using their LinkedIn profiles’ status bar to begin posting valuable information of interest to prospects and clients. Of course, if you also have a Twitter account, LinkedIn makes it easy to simultaneously Tweet your Linkedin status as shown in the hyperlink above. (Lawyers will also discover the power of LinkedIn’s many targeted groups to distribute this information and begin using LinkedIn’s search engine for gathering intelligence).

6–Microblog sites like Twitter, Posterous and Tumblr will slowly but surely grab the attention of lawyers because they allow for short posts that can written quickly and uploaded easily from tablet computers and mobile devices.

7–Educational podcasts, using sites like BlogTalkRadio, will allow more lawyers to reach larger audiences from their desks rather than traveling and spending $$ to get a large audience into a hotel conference room.

8–Law firms will discover the power of live video streaming and begin using sites like USTREAM and Justin.TV for reaching new prospects anywhere in the world.

9–Companies that build websites for law firms will see a steep decline in business unless they can also prove they understand how to use social media effectively and integrate it with a firm’s entire online presence.

10–Law firms will increasingly make social media part of their business development planning and execution. And hopefully, these firms will opt for an experienced person or team to manage social media instead of an intern or junior staffer.

What do you think? And, are you using any of these social media tools? Please leave any comments below.

P.S…Here’s my post from this time last year on law firm communications. Hint: there’s a connection between last year’s post and this one.

For more information, please visit

N.Y. Lawyers Can Now Advertise More Freely After Supreme Court Declines Case

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to take up a case on lawyer advertising rules in New York State. That left intact a federal appeals court ruling, which had struck down many of the professional conduct rules on the subject and which many lawyers thought were too restrictive.

At issue was how far lawyers could go in advertising their ability to win cases, including the use of slogans and trade names to imply success.

Articles about the development yesterday are here and here.

A 2007 article on the subject from The New York Times can be found here and a New York Law Journal article (also from 2007) here.

Here’s an ad from the law firm that fought the restrictive rules:

What do lawyers and legal marketers think of this development?