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.

5 Crisis Management Lessons from The Crisis Show in 2012

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Since starting The Crisis Show in June 2012, I’ve spent each week combing through some of the most high profile crisis situations facing companies, governments and individuals in the public eye.

Here’s some crisis management takeaways that we hope are wake-up calls in 2013:

1 – Nearly all the reputation damage from crisis situations we analyzed could have been minimized if leaders were more decisive in the earliest stages of their crises.

2 — Many executives and government officials failed to express appropriate emotions in their media statements and when facing journalists in person. And most have the resources to get top level media training!

3 — Despite having significant social media presence, global companies often failed to communicate on Twitter, Facebook, etc. to update critical audiences about their crisis or, worse, they promoted products on these sites even when people had been harmed or when their product was recalled.

4 — Some big companies turned all spokesperson duties over to litigation attorneys, who might win in court years later, but who can be tone deaf when it comes to protecting a company’s reputation in the short term.

5 — Organizations did not accept responsibility for their actions or inactions early in a crisis and failed to offer heartfelt apologies. Sometimes, attorneys warn clients not to apologize because it could cost them significantly in lawsuits. Other times, it’s just the head-in-the-sand corporate culture. But people notice — and take their business to competitors.

The start of a new year is an ideal time to assess vulnerabilities and brewing crisis situations that can harm reputation before they spin out of your control.

Wishing everyone peace, happiness and prosperity in 2013.

–Rich Klein

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.

Citi CEO Corbat Correct About Risk Management – But Don’t Forget Crisis Management

Mike Corbat, new CEO of Citi

With news that caught so many by surprise, Citi’s Vikram Pandit abruptly stepped down today as Chief Executive Officer. It left many wondering why and why now. Health problems? Major lawsuit or scandal coming? Revenues short? (Update: Good analysis here about “why now” came after my post)

The memo he issued and the stories now appearing certainly opens Citi up to so many questions about why Pandit left.

But the memo issued by incoming CEO Mike Corbat hints at some possible reasons:

“To thrive, we must be vigilant about how we allocate our resources to ensure we are serving our clients and offering the products with the highest potential in the most productive markets. At the same time, we must deliver sustained profitability, improved operating efficiency and shareholder returns while ensuring that vigorous risk management and mitigation are always the cornerstone of how Citi operates.”

Financial institutions are notoriously weak when it comes to communicating with stakeholders.

But I’m glad that Corbat inserted the section about “vigorous risk management” because too many executives don’t place enough priority on this part of their business. Of course, right now it’s just words and we’ll have to see if there are real actions that back up this well-written memo.

Some executives work hard at risk management but fail to communicate effectively when facing a crisis or serious challenge to their company’s reputation.

Others don’t pay enough attention to risks — like slow moving internal crises that might later result in lost business and customers.

That’s why it’s critical for a CEO and his/her management team to combine risk management  WITH effective crisis management at all levels of the company.  It means, for example, having a crisis communications plan that is easily executed and that takes into account a wide variety of scenarios – including the sudden departure of a CEO.

Executives surely need to be vigorous with risk management. But risk management alone, without matching those risks with effective crisis communications, is a big risk to any corporate reputation.

To learn more about crisis management and crisis communications, watch The Crisis Show on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT.

The Two Minute Warning – Crisis Management Tips in 2 Minutes

Every few months, I’ll be posting highlights from various episodes of The Crisis Show. The show airs on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT via Google Hangouts on Air and YouTube and typically runs one hour. To date, our show has been seen in 68 countries. Our growing archive is believed to be the largest online library of video content devoted exclusively to crisis management, crisis communications, litigation PR and social media crises.

For those who just want some crisis tips, here’s your two-minutes of warnings:

What Law Firm Leaders Can Learn About Reputation from Republican National Convention

There were so many things that struck me as just plain wrong when it comes to PR 101 and reputation at the Republican National Convention that I thought law firm leaders can learn from when trying to convey a critical message about their firm, their clients or an important legal/business/community issue.

So here are five reminders for law firm leaders from PR mistakes made by the Republican National Committee:

1– Be consistent with words and policies. Paul Ryan, in same speech, railed against government in favor of the individual — but also told Americans that if they are feeling down, it’s not their fault, it’s their leaders’ fault.  Which is it?  And Ann Romney spent much time talking about her” love” for women, yet the new GOP platform would disallow an abortion even if a woman is brutally raped.





2 — Show compassion when people are hurting.  As Isaac marched into Louisiana and Mississippi, after doing damage in Florida, Mitt Romney didn’t mention the hurricane/tropical storm even ONCE in his speech. He then mocked President Obama’s concern for environmental issues like rising oceans. Today, Romney is touring New Orleans yet his silence on Isaac last night makes it look opportunistic more than compassionate.

3–  Talk about your audience more than yourself.  Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico went on and on about HER story instead of talking about Romney and the issues. If she was on the ticket, it would have made perfect sense. But few watching at home wanted to learn more about her..they wanted to learn about Romney and Ryan. Whether your audience is a group of prospective clients, law firm employees, or the media, make the story and prose about THEM.

4 –  Speakers’ roles need to be defined and the content of each speech needs to be different. How many more Convention speakers did we need to hear talk about how they raised themselves up from their bootstraps? I expected  former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a respected stateswoman, to talk about Romney’s foreign policy credentials. It didn’t happen even though she talked about the dangers in the world. When organizing a law firm event or meeting that involves multiple speakers before an internal or external audience, make sure that the content of their speech/remarks truly match their credentials. For example, the head of human resources can talk to new attorneys about firm benefits while the head of information technology talks about data protection and the head of PR/marketing instructs about the firm’s media relations policies. If you lead a small firm, then consider using expert consultants to talk about specialty areas on your behalf.

5– Everything you say can be fact checked and recorded with a mobile device. At so many points at the Convention, things were said that were deemed inaccurate by the media and beyond. It took seconds for those watching at home to look up an old media story or voting record to call GOP out on facts — and then a few more seconds to Tweet about it. Law firm leaders can sometimes get too comfortable with an audience and say things that are either inaccurate, offensive or both. It can happen at the podium, in law firm memos and in emails. And just one slip up can damage a firm’s reputation if that questionable content ends up on an influential legal blog or in other media. Managing partners and other law firm leaders should treat speeches, meetings or interviews with the media the same way: accuracy above of all else.

Note: We’ll also be critiquing the Democratic National Convention when it concludes. 

Crisis Show Highlights: India Blackout, Chick-fil-A, Twitter/NBC, Hyundai and Tips

Here’s a replay of Episode #7 of The Crisis Show, which aired on August 1, 2012.

We covered many crises/controversies, including the blackout in India, Chick-fil-A, NBC/Twitter and London2012, Hyundai, Mitt Romney and more.

The Crisis Show, with co-hosts Rich Klein, Melissa Agnes and Jonathan Bernstein, airs every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT via Google Hangouts on Air and YouTube.

For more information about the show, please visit The Crisis Show website.

We welcome your comments, suggestions for future shows and questions about various crisis situations. Please email  or