Articles Posted in Communications

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It’s getting complicated. The brandchannel.com reports that MBA programs are adding courses on digital media to ensure that their grads have the requisite knowledge base to add immediate value when they join management. Naturally, those of us who are not digital natives might well need some support in the details of social media know-how.

This of course prompts the discussion on legal issues raised in the use of digital media by businesses both internally and externally. In the piece, David Kaufman, a partner at Duane Morris cautions that ” ‘ [c]ompliance with the rules is complicated, and mistakes are easy, and plentiful.”

Kaufman has published the “Top Ten Rules to Avoid Legal Trouble in Social Media Programs and Campaigns” and they are absolutely worth a close look. He addresses everything from content to internal management of social media policy. I highly recommend a full read of his version of the ten commandments.

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Interesting view from AdAge on using internal resources for branding and focus groups. This got me thinking, should professional firms consider going to internal audiences for brand enhancements and understanding?

The AdAge piece looks at consumer packaged goods, finance and retail brands, noting the use of employees for branding, product development and social-media evangelism. Some brands are using employees for the pitch, like Pizza Hut and Overstock.

In professional settings, we often go to very sophisticated business development experts, as well as branding and identity firms to develop and pitch business and establish brands.

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Back to School

As the month closes and students of all ages and all over the country are going back to school, I would like to share my own back to school experience.

Earlier this month, I attended the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco, getting most of my participatory Continuing Legal Education credits and generally catching up with my profession. I saw long time friends and made some new ones as well.

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Just imagine the back room operations of a major law firm. You know the place where only the few and the brave venture? The place where paper once reigned and the Iron Mountain truck pulled up regularly? That place?

Things are changing, even for our profession. Even for us, the late adopters. The ones who come last to the tech table — especially in Gen Law Boomer.

Well, welcome to the digital conference room.

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As a communications professional, every day I get broadcast emails from around the country that promote use of the web in professional services marketing. So many offers to sit in on webinars, podcasts and other on-line teach-ins, my head spins. Many of the entities sending these invites add the word “university” to lend some lofty credibility to their content.

All this noise raises a question in my mind. Is it wise to jump into the social media pool without auditing your firm’s current communications status? I believe the answer is no.

Although there is value in understanding how to use social media and other tactics in professional services marketing, I am certain that this is not the place to start.

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So, you’ve decided to brand your firm or company and you have either identified internal resources or hired an expert to help. See previous post Brand Aid (part one).

Once you have the right expertise involved, and have determined who within your company or firm will own this process, the real work can begin. Whether you are naming a new company, rebranding your existing firm, creating a tagline to go along with your existing identity, it’s actually a good idea to start from the beginning.

Brand strategy starts with perception. Yours and theirs.

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One of my favorite brand names is Kodak — probably because the story behind the brand is almost as good as the name itself. Visiting the Eastman house in Rochester a couple of years ago, I was mesmerized by George Eastman’s foresight in creating a brand that not only sounds right (like a camera snapping), but is a completely made-up name (so much easier to protect as a trademark).

According to the story, he wanted a simple name that was easy to pronounce and that would not be associated with anything but itself. He succeeded.

It’s a little different for professional service firms. Over the past decade, law firms have taken shape through branding efforts. Traditionally, these firms are named for their original founders and partners, but the trend seems to be using truncated versions of traditional names or the use of initials.

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Here we are at entry one — and to commemorate that it seems fitting to discuss one immoveable truth in reputation management. What is so key to building and maintaining reputation? That would be, communication.

Communicating is often not a fully realized skill for many professionals. We are not taught to communicate in law school. We are taught to advocate.

Failure to communicate can be big.