Top 5 Reasons Attorneys Should Blog

1.) Search Engines Love Content

If you want search engines to pay attention to your site, the more quality content, the better. Moz.com — a leading resource on effective search engine optimization (SEO) — consistently found that content quality and quantity are among the highest determinants of search engine rankings.

There’s no real mystery as to why search engines reward more, better and newer content. A search engine thrives by giving its users the best, most relevant information in response to search queries.

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Attorney Advertising Spotlight: Advertise During the 2014 FIFA World Cup

TV Advertising during the 2014 World Cup

June 12th marks the start of one of the most unique and popular sporting events in the world: the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Thirty two different teams from six continents will compete for the prestigious distinction of being the World Cup champion. Among the notable teams are the United States, defending champion Spain, and host country Brazil. The month-long tournament will feature the brightest stars of the game, including Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), and Franck Ribery (France). The roster for the United States is not finalized yet, but will likely feature World Cup veterans such as goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielders Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. The World Cup has been steadily growing in popularity in the United States and is sure to attract a large and diverse audience in New York and on Long Island. Law firms will have the opportunity to capitalize on the excitement with television advertising spots from Cablevision and Verizon FiOS.

Cablevision and Verizon FiOS are both offering special advertising packages for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes. The World Cup attracts a predominantly male audience, ages 25-54, from various demographics. Law firms also have the ability to choose individual games in which to run a commercial rather than purchasing an entire package. Prices for individual games may vary according to the time of the match and which teams are playing. Most packages contain additional spots on a wide array of general channels offered by Cablevision and Verizon FiOS.

The World Cup package with Cablevision will consist of seventy eight, 30-second commercial spots which will air on ESPN or ESPN2 during World Cup matches, World Cup Live, and SportsCenter. The package will also include 50 spots which will mention a law firm, and its tagline, as a local sponsor of the World Cup at the end of the promos. For example, “The World Cup on the networks of ESPN is sponsored locally by (law firm’s tagline here).” These spots will be run during general timeframes on various Cablevision channels.

The prices for the World Cup package with Cablevision are $2,500 for the Huntington zone, $2,800 for the Babylon zone, $3,600 for the Riverhead zone, $4,000 for the Brookhaven zone, $8,000 for the Hauppauge zone, $5,000 for the North Nassau zone, and $9,500 for the South Nassau zone.

Verizon FiOS has three separate packages for the World Cup, broken down by channel. The ESPN package will contain one spot per game for each of the 32 games that ESPN broadcasts during the first round. There will also be 58 additional spots which will run on general channels throughout the first round of the tournament, bringing the total to 90 spots. The ESPN2 package will contain 45 total spots. Fifteen of the spots will air during first-round games on ESPN2 and the remaining 30 are general spots. The ESPN Deportes package contains 56 spots, all of which will be run during games in the first round.

The prices for the ESPN package are $680 for the RCN zone (covers select areas of Queens), $1,090 for the North Nassau zone, $1,590 for the South Nassau zone, and $1,324 for the Suffolk zone. The ESPN2 package costs $775 for all of New York, except the RCN zone, which costs $395. The ESPN Deportes package costs $1,150 for all of New York. Verizon FiOS is only offering four ESPN and ESPN2 packages per zone and two ESPN Deportes packages, so space is limited.

The World Cup is still over a month away, which means there is still time to produce a 30- or 60-second commercial specific to the World Cup, or a general commercial if your office does not currently have a commercial to run. PR4Lawyers’ experienced staff offers broadcast-quality commercial production to help you through the process.

If you are interested in producing a commercial, purchasing an advertising package, or for further details regarding rates and pricing, please contact PR4Lawyers at 1-866-PR4Lawyers or email info@pr4lawyers.com.

Is Direct Mail or Email Marketing Better for Attorneys?

Email Marketing or Direct Mail

Recently, the popularity of Internet-based advertising has increased dramatically among lawyers. One of the most widely used methods of Internet-based advertising is through email. Email marketing offers law firms a cheap, easy way to directly target past clients, prospective clients and potential referral sources. Meanwhile, there has been a decline in direct mail advertising, a more traditional system of sending tangible advertisements to your target audience. Despite the lower costs associated with email advertising, does it bring in a higher return on your investment? Overall which is better: direct mail or email advertising?

Advantages to email advertising: For starters, emails can link back to your website, social media pages, recent verdicts and settlements, and much more. Also, emails are sent immediately. Advertisers do not need to wait for the pieces to be printed, shipped, stamped and delivered. Lastly, the main advantage to email advertising is very basic: it is cheap. As long as a firm is connected to the Internet, sending an email comes at almost no cost. Direct mail incurs costs such as printing and postage, which can add up quickly if a firm is trying to reach a large number of businesses or households.

Downsides to email advertising: While emails can be an effective way to reach a target market, what happens if a firm doesn’t have a large email database? Organically building a list of email addresses is a difficult process that can take months to sufficiently complete. This can be avoided by using agencies that offer lists of addresses, but all of this comes at a price. Also, a large number of emails are never seen by its audience. Email advertisements are often viewed as junk mail and automatically end up in spam boxes or are deleted before they are read.

The main advantage of direct mail: You are ensured the audience will see the advertisement. Even if they immediately discard the mailer, they will still briefly look at it, giving your firm increased exposure. This also presents the opportunity to change one’s opinion with catchy designs and content. Someone may delete an e-newsletter before it loads, but an eye-popping postcard in the mail can often lead to new clients. Also, certain demographics of people, such as senior citizens or low-income households, are more likely to respond to direct mail than emails.

The Direct Marketing Association found in a 2012 study that letter-sized direct mail has a response rate of 3.4% from a house list and a 1.28% rate from the general public. Email, on the other hand, only has a response rate of .12% and .03%, respectively.  These rates can be even higher with a well-segmented list. Direct mail can still have a high return on investment and reach a wider audience.

In the end, the method that works best depends on the law firm, the practice area(s) advertised, and the resources available. Even if direct mail may benefit a firm, if it does not have the resources immediately available to make the investment, then emails may be the way to go. Often, a combination of both methods can be the best system for a law firm.

In either case, it is important to contact a marketing firm with a total understanding of the current attorney advertising rules in your state.  PR4Lawyers prides itself on strict adherence to all advertising regulations and attorney rules of conduct. If you have any questions regarding advertising strategies, please contact PR4Lawyers at 866-PR4Lawyers or email: johnzaher@pr4lawyers.com.

On or Off Site: Video Production for Every Law Firm

Video Production for lawyers

Video advertising, such as television commercials, is one of the most effective ways to spread your firm’s message to a wide audience. Most often, videos are spread through a law firm’s website, video sharing sites like YouTube, or on TV. Professional video production usually comes in two forms: on-site and off-site. This article will provide an overview of the differences between on-site and off-site video production, as well as the benefits and disadvantages of each.

 

Onsite video production

The biggest benefit of on-site video production is its contribution to your overall branding efforts. On-site videos are produced at the law firm’s offices, at a courthouse, or at a press conference, giving exposure to the firm’s staff and locations, which helps potential clients feel more comfortable with a firm or practice.

 

Often, partners at the firm will be featured in the video to provide a personal message or present themselves as the spokespeople for the firm. Other times, on-site videos include testimonials from actual clients or actor portrayals of clients. On-site video production may include the voices of actual staff and clients, actors, voiceovers, or any combination of the above. These “real” audio and visual elements allow potential consumers to not only learn about your practice areas, but also create an emotional connection between individual consumers and the firm (this can turn cold leads into warm leads every time a video is viewed).

 

Although filming is done on-site, most of the editing is done off-site. Off-site, producers will cut, edit, and compile the footage taken at the firm’s location. Producers also add text, graphics, and other design features to give the video a more professional appearance. In most cases, commercials and promotional videos will end with a graphic showing the firm name, location, contact information, and logo, but some videos will also include background music or sound effects. Off-site additions, particularly the graphics, constantly show the firm’s contact information throughout the video and reinforce consumer knowledge of the practice. If a video includes a jingle or an original song, consumers are also more likely to remember the firm.

 

Because of its customization, on-site video production is more time-consuming and more expensive than off-site production, especially if actors and production crews are involved. Filming alone can take several hours, and editing can take even longer. However, with on-site production, you can film and produce exactly what you want and play an active role in crafting your message.

 

Off-site video production

The greatest advantage of off-site video production is the cost-effective nature of off-site video campaigns. They can be less expensive than their on-site counterparts, and can be just as effective. Off-site videos can be produced anywhere and anytime, without the need for an on-site visit, production crew, or actors. Off-site video production relies most heavily on stock footage and stock images purchased from a reputable database. These stock images offer a wide variety of scenes that may be difficult to recreate on-site. Off-site videos often use more text-based graphics throughout the video and use voiceovers for the audio. Consistent graphics and design should still appear throughout the video as they strengthen your brand in the minds of consumers.  However, unlike on-site videos, you will not be able to incorporate panoramic shots of your facilities or client testimonials.

 

If you are looking for a faster turnaround on a video project, off-site video is likely the better option. Stock footage usually requires less editing than raw footage taken on-site, and the editing process can be faster as a result. Otherwise, the editing process for off-site videos is similar to on-site videos because the producer must compile the footage, audio, and graphics into one video. As with on-site videos, graphics with the firm’s contact information remains on-screen throughout the video, ensuring that potential customers are always aware of the firm’s location, services, website, and phone number.

 

The main disadvantage of off-site production is that footage for the video is generic rather than custom-made, and it can be difficult to include staff, customers and facilities. Luckily, there are many resources and databases available to find the perfect clip and you can easily compare different types of footage.

 

Depending on your firm’s needs, on-site video production may prove more useful, or off-site video production may generate similar results at a much lower cost. If you are interested in video production or have any questions about your advertising strategy, contact John Zaher at 1-866-PR4Lawyers or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.

Attorney Advertising Rules: A Refresher

On February 1, 2007, the NYS Office of Court Administration adopted new rules regarding attorney advertising. These rules have been incorporated into the New York Rules of Professional Conduct which became effective April 1, 2009. The new rules and the comments now found in Rules of Professional Conduct more clearly define what is, and isn’t, acceptable for attorney advertising and defend the integrity of the profession by establishing clear guidelines. The Rules favor attorneys who wish to build their practice through responsible advertising.

The good news is that the new attorney advertising rules, which were revamped just over two years ago, only made minor changes affecting attorney advertising. Nevertheless, it is a good time to refresh one self on the Rules. The following summary highlights some of the Rules’ major provisions.

Sections 7.1 v. 7.3(b) Advertising v. Solicitation
The Rules first define what types of communications may be considered advertisements, and then go on to differentiate between what is an advertisement versus what is considered a solicitation. An advertisement is a communication primarily designed to attract new clients. Thus, advertisements directed at existing clients and other lawyers are exempt. Advertisements, unlike solicitations, do not trigger filing requirements. The Comments distinguish between advertisements and solicitation by stating that solicitations fulfill the following:

  • Advertisement is initiated by a lawyer
  • Purpose is persuading recipients to obtain the lawyer
  • Motive is to make money
  • Directed to or targeted at a specific recipient or group of recipients, their family members or legal representatives

Generally, solicitations differ from advertisements in that solicitations are advertisements placed and distributed using fixed lists, and are usually sent as direct mail. If the ads only apply to a finite group of victims, solicitations can also include Web, newspapers and TV.

Section 7.1(a) Advertisements Shall Not Be False, Deceptive or Misleading
Section 7.1(a) states that a lawyer shall not disseminate an advertisement that contains false, deceptive or misleading statements, or that violates any rule. Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited. The Comments provide examples: The statement “I have never lost a case” may be truthful, but would be misleading if the lawyer had not lost because virtually all the cases they handled were settled. Another example of a truthful, misleading statement would be, “The average jury verdict for a given year was $100,000.” This may be a true average, but is misleading if the only reason for the average is that a large number of jury verdicts were very small and one was $10,000,000.

Section 7.1(b) Advertisement Contents
Under the new rules, there are a number of details attorneys can advertise about their services. Provided that the client has given prior written consent, attorney advertisements may include the names of clients that are regularly represented. Lawyers and firms can provide legal fees for initial consultation and contingent fee rates in civil matters in their advertisements, including “no fee” and “no fee unless recovery.” The advertisements may also include non-legal services provided by an entity owned and controlled by the lawyer or firm.

Section 7.1(c) Advertisement Restrictions
Under Section 7.1(c), some key provisions have been overturned, but the new rules do not note this. The provision stating that lawyers could not use endorsements from clients regarding a matter still pending was overturned. However, it must still be disclosed if a client received compensation for an endorsement or testimonial that was used in an advertisement. Advertisements must also disclose if actors were used or if the ad is fictionalized. Though prohibiting the use of nicknames, monikers, mottos, or trade names that imply results was overturned, attorney advertisements may not resemble legal documents.

Section 7.1(d) Advertisement Contents Requiring Factual Support
Legal ads may contain statements that are reasonably likely to create expectations of results and statements describing the quality of a lawyer’s services. These statements can also be in the form of testimonials from current or former clients, or as comparisons of the lawyer’s services to other lawyers. However, the statements must be factually supported at the date of dissemination and accompanied by the disclaimer such as, “Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”

The Comments explain that characteristic descriptions of the lawyer or firm that are not comparative and do not involve results are permissible – for example, “hard-working, dedicated, compassionate.” However, comparative descriptions that cannot be factually supported could be misleading – such as “best, most experienced, hardest working.” Including attorney ratings on ads is permitted, provided they contain a past results disclaimer. Any ratings must be bona fide, though – unbiased and un-discriminatory. They must be based on objective criteria or legitimate peer review and unbiased by the rating service’s economic interests, fairly considering all lawyers within the pool.

Section 7.1(f) “Attorney Advertising” Label
The Rules state that all ads, other than radio, TV, directory, newspapers, magazines or other periodicals, shall be labeled “Attorney Advertising” on the first page or home page. If the advertisement is a brochure or postcard, the label should appear right on it. If the ad is sent as an e-mail, “ATTORNEY ADVERTISING” needs to appear in the subject line.

In sum, attorney advertising labels are not necessary for obvious advertisements, such as TV, newspaper and billboard ads. Advertisements sent to current clients are also an exception to this rule, and do not require advertising labels, as well as ads to former clients if the ad is relevant to earlier representation.
Topical newsletters, client alerts or blogs intended to educate recipients about new developments in the law are not considered advertising, nor are promotional items such as mugs and t-shirts. However, newsletters, alerts, and blogs that contain information predominantly about the lawyer or firm are generally considered to be advertising. Re-distribution of a newspaper article is also advertising if the primary purpose is to obtain clients. In this instance, the advertisement must comply with the disclaimer requirements and correct misinformation.

Section 7.1(k) Attorney Approval
Under the new rules, all attorney advertisements must be pre-approved by the lawyer or firm and retained for three years, with the exception of e-mail and computer-accessed communications and advertisements, which only need be retained for one year. Web sites must be retained for one year from the time of publication, re-design, or extensive content change. This rule also requires that a copy of ads or communications be made at least once every 90 days and retained for one year.

Section 7.1(m) Advertising Fees
This section states that if any fees are advertised, the lawyer or firm will be bound by that fee for a period of time, depending on the frequency of the ad. If the ad frequency is more than once per month, then they are bound to that fee for no less than 30 days. For ads running monthly or longer, then that fee must apply until the next issue. For example, a fee advertised in a phone book ad would stand until the next phone book is distributed. If there is no succeeding issue or advertisement, then the lawyer or firm is bound to the advertised fee for a reasonable time, but no less than 90 days.

Section 7.1(p) Advertising Fees
All ads must comply with 488(3) of Judiciary Law when discussing fees. This provision provides that ads cannot state or imply that the lawyer or firm’s ability to advance or pay costs is unique or extraordinary unless it can demonstrate that its fees are objectively unique or extraordinary. This does not prevent the lawyer or firm from discussing fees or expenses, but simply prevents any implication that fees and expenses are out of the ordinary.

Section 7.1(q) New Addition – Public Education
Communications that are educational in nature and invitations to seminars are arguably exempt from the in-person solicitations rule, provided the primary purpose is educational in nature. The following provision has been added to the Rules: “A lawyer may accept employment that results from participation in activities designed to educate the public to recognize legal problems, to make intelligent selection of counsel, or to utilize available legal services.” The provision represents the only major change made in the Rules since they were issued in 2007.

Other Highlights
Further details that should be noted from section 7.1 is that public relations programs are generally not considered advertising, unless the recipients or attendees are expressly encouraged to hire a lawyer. Nor are non-profit sponsorships considered advertising. Talks and writings done by lawyers for non-lawyers should caution the audience not to attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of the information contained therein.

Section 7.3(a) Solicitations
Rule 7.3(a)(1) states that a lawyer shall not engage in a solicitation through in-person, telephone, or real-time computer-accessed communication, unless the recipient is a close friend, relative, former client or existing client. Attorneys should note that the in-person solicitation ban has been extended to chat rooms and instant messaging.

Rule 7.3(a)(v) also states that a lawyer shall not engage in a solicitation where the lawyer expects, but does not disclose, that the legal services necessary to handle the matter will be performed primarily by another lawyer who is not affiliated with the soliciting lawyer as a partner, associate or of counsel. This Section refers to solicitations only, and does not ban advertisements in the circumstances.

Section 7.3(c) Filing Requirements
Solicitations must be filed with the disciplinary committee of the jurisdiction and copies must be retained for at least three years.

Section 7.3(e) Restrictions on Soliciting Personal Injury/Wrongful Death Victims
Section 7.3(e) prohibits soliciting personal injury or wrongful death claimants for 30 days, or 15 days if there is a filing requirement within 30 days. Section 7.3(e) does apply to the defense.

If the ad makes no expressed reference to a specific incident and is disseminated, it does not violate the rule, unless directed to a specific recipient with knowledge that they are a victim, even if the ad is part of a mass mailing. In these circumstances, the in-person solicitation rules apply, even if the recipient is a close friend, relative, or former client.

Section 7.3(f) Disclosure of Learning Identify
If the lawyer or firm is soliciting to a pre-determined recipient and was prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting the recipient, the solicitation shall disclose how the lawyer obtained the identity of the recipient and learned of the recipient’s potential need for legal services.

Section 7.5(e) Domains and Phone Numbers
According to Section 7.5(e), a lawyer shall not practice under a trade name, a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer, or lawyers. practicing under such name, or a firm name containing names other than those of one or more lawyers in the firm. The exception here is deceased or retired lawyers, whose names may still appear in the firm’s name. A firm may use the title “legal clinic,” so long as the attorney names are included.

The Rules state that a lawyer or law firm may utilize a domain name that does not contain the name of the lawyer or firm, provided that all the pages include the actual name of the firm, the firm does not engage in practice using the domain name, the domain name does not imply an ability to get results, and the domain name does not violate another rule.

A firm’s telephone number may also contain a domain name, nickname, moniker or motto that does not otherwise violate a rule. For example, 1-800-ACCIDENT, HURT-BAD, and INJURY-LAW are permissible. The Rules prohibit phone numbers like 1-800-WINNERS, WIN-BIG, or GET-CASH, since they imply an ability to get results.

However, since the prohibition on use of monikers/nicknames that imply results was overturned, it would appear that both domains and phone numbers like those listed above would now be permissible.

Contact PR4Lawyers today to learn more about our comprehensive and customized attorney marketing solutions at (631) 207-1057, or email: johnzaher@theprmg.com