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.

Law Firm Communications: Three Suggestions for 2010

Law firms planning for success in 2010 would do well to consider how their external communications are impacting their reputation and bottom line.

That’s why I recommend that law firms address these three areas:

1) Layoff Announcements — Many firms tried to hide the bad news of mass layoffs during 2009 only to get burned later by the media and influential bloggers through leaked memos and the firm’s inability to develop key media messages that protected the firm’s reputation. Firms should have a media strategy in place before announcing layoffs internally or to the world. Without a media strategy, firms are left with ill-advised statements like “no comment” or “we don’t discuss personnel decisions” — and other media statements that do a poor job of hiding the truth. A simple statement acknowledging that there were layoffs (without confirming exact numbers), that they were due to the downturn in the global economy (or real estate, etc.) , and that the firm’s OTHER practice areas (e.g., bankruptcy and employment law) remain strong (or are even doing better), is a good place to start.

2) Crisis Communications — Aside from the more obvious crisis situations, law firms are increasingly targets of malpractice suits filed by former clients and discrimination suits filed by employees. These kinds of stories often receive more media attention than they deserve but they can still do harm. There’s plenty that law firms can do to prepare for a crisis, respond to the crisis and to rebuild the firm’s reputation once the crisis subsides. Check out my two articles on this subject from Law.com (October 2009) and The National Law Journal (September 2006) or at http://www.LawFirmsPR.com.

3) Social Media – Lawyers need to get over the myth that social media is limited to boring status updates about people’s lives. Those law firms still sitting on the social media sidelines will have a harder time catching up. What I don’t understand is how many law firms spend so much money and time updating their websites but do not see the value of linking those same articles, white papers, speaking engagements, and new releases to LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and Facebook, to name a few. These are often the same law firms that complain that they are not getting top search engine results. Social media for law firms is about sharing good professional content to build business relationships. But think of it another way. Let’s say there’s someone at a networking event you’d like to meet face-to face. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to research them FIRST on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook before meeting in person? Instead of thinking of social media as something that other people do to waste your time, think of it as a way to do more efficient research on a person or company that could increase your likeability factor — and your ability to get their business.