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.

General Counsel Echo What Many Legal PR, Legal Marketers Have Been Saying For Years

This is a great piece of video because it supports what many of us in law firm public relations and legal marketing have been saying to lawyers and law firms for years about the best way to get business from general counsel.

Nearly Half of General Counsels Surveyed Haven’t Updated Their Crisis Management Plans

A story in General Counsel magazine published today points out that 47 percent of GC’s have not updated their crisis-management plan to take account of the risks they may face in 2012, compared with only 36 percent who said they had.

As someone who has long advised lawyers, law firms and companies on crisis management, here are some immediate actions these GC’s (and their outside law firms) might take:

1) Create a crisis communications team right now if you don’t have one. Depending on the company size, the team should include the CEO, COO, GC, key outside attorney, HR officer, chief marketing officer,  top public affairs/public relations staffer (or senior person from outside PR agency) and heads of information technology and building security. If your company has multiple offices, include the top executives in those offices as well.

2) Gather the team in a conference room to assess/discuss brewing crisis situations. Some could be leftover from 2011 and others might be right over the horizon. Every company has a few on any given day. They range from disgruntled employees, crimes committed by employees or executives, allegations of sexual harassment, allegations of age/race/religious discrimination, lawsuits alleging faulty products, or a negative story about the company’s products or services that are  about to be published in a major business magazine, online and on radio/television. Of course, there are also the many “no fault” crisis situations like natural disasters and terrorism that every business needs to plan for.

3) Adjust your crisis management/crisis communications plan to include these scenarios and the real crisis situations that you know are particular to your company right now and in the near future.

4) Have your public relations professionals begin to DRAFT media statements that would respond to any of the crisis situations that you know are about to happen or to prepare for some of the items listed above in #2. Then, rehearse how your team will respond to various crisis situations. Some key things to remember here: insure that all members of the crisis communications team know their roles in a crisis, that everyone has full contact information of the entire team, and that the company speaks with one voice.

5) Check your social media. Are you answering customer complaints quickly and responsibly? Are you using Facebook/Twitter/YouTube to communicate your company’s goodwill and mission? Do you have a SENIOR person managing these accounts who understands online reputation and not just the technology?

Finally, please note that there are three key timelines in a crisis: Before, During and After. Too many companies don’t pay attention to these issues until they are in the middle of a crisis. So get prepared long before the crisis hits.

To read my articles published by Law.com and others on this subject, please visit my LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/richkleinny and scroll to the bottom to download a PDF (Box.net). You can also learn more at http://www.LawFirmsPR.com. If you need help with a brewing crisis, please email rich@LawFirmsPR.com or call 646-789-5459.