Don’t Let Your Revenues and Prospects Drop; Manage your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

In the vast world of the internet, information travels in the blink of an eye. Although it is valuable tool for law firms to reach out to clientele and potentially grow a business, the internet can just as easily make a firm come crashing down.

Hackers, internet “trolls” and hate sites are a reality that haunt many business owners. This results in specific firms being projected poorly due to untrue information, or bad reviews being vastly distributed and easily accessible. To avoid this as much as possible, it is important for law firms to be proactive about their online presence in order to stay on top of scammers and divert clients away from negative material.

Think of having a strong digital footprint as part of your overall brand. If your online presence is low, then your firm does not stand out and clients are unaware of where to look for your firm online. That leaves plenty of room for negative influencers to divert your potential clientele to inaccurate information. So, the stronger the footprint, the more control you have over your company’s image and the content that is present online about it.

In most cases of reputation crisis, publishing content online in a strategic manner that will push the damaging material out of the spotlight is the best course of action. However, this is not an easy and rapid task by any means. New content must compete with other materials and somehow make it to the first page of search engines. Content and review management programs may be a helpful to rise your content to the top at a faster pace to avoid negative repercussions as much as possible.

One program that could be established is to reserve applicable domain names. Malicious websites can easily host a website address that is similar to a firm’s name, diverting the attention of search engines and clients to the hate site and away from your firm.

One may believe that something as drastic as this would never happen to their law firm, but the truth is that anyone could be a target for malicious sites that are meant to attract inappropriate attention; sometimes for no reason at all. By purchasing all the appropriate domain extensions of your firm’s name, which can sometimes mean buying over 10 domains in a variety of iteration, you lessen the chances of potential attacks.

Some other ways to take control of your reputation include:

  • Making sure that the photos of you that appear online are appropriate and depict an image that you wish to portray.
  • Utilizing LinkedIn for most of your information sharing and connecting.
  • Maintaining a consistent schedule for publishing content to build a professional and reliable online profile.
  • Having a comprehensive AVVO profile.

Although there are several ways to deter the negativity online, many law firms simply do not have the time to regularly maintain an online presence. But, being there for your clients online is just as important as being there for them in the courtroom. That’s where PR4Lawyers can help.

PR4Lawyers integrates traditional marketing techniques the modern marketing necessities of social media, web development, and SEO. PR4Lawyers’ multifaceted approach helps law firms reach potential clients across all media, while also managing your online reputation to help your law firm succeed.

If you would like more information on managing your law firm’s digital footprint, or to set up a complimentary consultation, please call 1-866-PR4LAWYERS (866-774-5299) or fill out our online contact form.

How to Market Yourself Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your professional brand and identity as well as your accomplishments. Not only can your profile reflect your resume, but it can also inform your network of the work you are doing. Utilize LinkedIn to network with people in your field of work, draw potential clientele to your business, and expand your brand over the wide web of digital connections.

Presenting Yourself on LinkedIn

To begin, fill out your entire profile completely. Below are some factors to consider when developing your profile:

  • Make sure your profile picture is professional. If you’re marketing yourself to gain more clients for your business or firm, use your picture to demonstrate that you are an expert in the field and take your job seriously.
  • Your cover photo should be just as professional, but instead of a headshot, it should promote your work. Use this photo as a digital billboard for promoting your firm’s services. Let viewers know that your firm specializes in divorces, injury law, or another field of law as soon as they click on your profile.
  • Keep your bio short and to the point. Tell page visitors who you are, what you do, and why you love doing it. Make sure to show your passion for your career, this tells people you’re dedicated and committed to your position.
  • Showcase your job experience; add your current position and at least two previous positions. This illustrates growth in your career and shows that you have extensive experience in your field of work.
  • Add projects or volunteer work to display the things you’re passionate about in life. If someone can find you relatable, this may lead to more clientele.

Networking

There are three different types of connections: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Your 1st connections are people with whom you are already connected. This means you have either accepted their invitation to connect with you or vice versa. 2nd connections are those that are also 1st connections with one of your 1st connections. 3rd connections are people that are distantly connected to your network. For instance, they may be a 1st connection of one of your 2nd connections. The more connections you have, the more exposure and opportunities will become available to you.

Growing your network is important if you want to gain more clients and connections. Start by connecting with people you already know such as colleagues, previous people you have worked with or worked for, old schoolmates from college and even peers from high school. Join groups with alumni from your university, or if you were in a fraternity or sorority, connect with your fellow brothers and sisters.

Sharing on Your Newsfeed

When sharing posts and status updates on your newsfeed, be sure to sprinkle in any blogs or articles you have written. Articles created by you prove that you are extremely knowledgeable of the article’s topic and can increase your credibility on the subject matter. LinkedIn Publishing is great for generating articles, but another option would be to create a Medium account and write your articles through that site. Medium is a platform where thought leaders, CEOs, business leaders, and anyone really, can create a blog and share their stories and articles on Medium. You can post these articles on any form of social media including LinkedIn.

Another great way to increase visibility is to post any videos you may have of yourself giving a public speech at a conference or a similar event. There is no need to worry if you do not have any videos like this, regular articles and blog posts will suffice. Also feel free to share other people’s videos and posts that you resonate with to increase your presence on LinkedIn. Sharing other people’s articles and videos may help grow your network base as well.

Use LinkedIn’s tools to promote your business even further. Lastly, when it comes to marketing your firm or business, don’t forget the most important marketing tool is you.

PR4Lawyers is an experienced attorney marketing firm that has accomplished successful strategies for over a decade. For more information about our services, please call 1-866-PR4LAWYERS (866-774-5299) or fill out our online contact form.

 

 

Ad Spotlight: March Madness

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, appropriately named March Madness, gets the ball rolling on March 14-15, 2017. According to the International Business Times, 2016’s championship game between North Carolina and Villanova clocked in around 22.3 million viewers.

This year, Turner Networks will continue to share NCAA Tournament coverage with CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. A total of 43 games will air on cable channels, including exclusive coverage of the Play-In Round and 24 games in the First Round, as well as coverage all the way through the Regional Finals (Elite 8).

Continue reading “Ad Spotlight: March Madness”

Why Facebook Advertising Is Important for Law Firms and Solo Practitioners

As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook boasts 1.49 billion monthly active users and, during this time, 1.18 billion active users visited the social media network on a daily basis, according to Statista. Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, which means it should be an integral part of any law firm or solo practitioner’s advertising strategy, as it allows you to connect with clients or prospects in a way not seen with traditional advertising strategies.

Continue reading “Why Facebook Advertising Is Important for Law Firms and Solo Practitioners”

Advertising with Facebook: An Excellent Way to Boost Your Reach

People are influenced by what they see online. Statistics show that nearly 900 million people log onto Facebook every day. According to one report, one-fifth of all Internet traffic in the United States occurs on Facebook, making it a very valuable method of communication. Traditional advertising doesn’t have the same impact it once did, and the lawyers and law firms who do not utilize social media advertising may be overlooked in favor of more tech-savvy practitioners.

Advertising on Facebook allows you to create a customized audience based on the unique demographics (age, income, relationship, work, job title), interests (“Liked Pages” or “Mentions” regarding specific topics) and behaviors (business purchases, financial purchases, shopping habits, traveling habits) that you want to target your product or service to. Facebook Ads can help you drive online traffic, promote your app, or raise brand awareness by allowing people to get directions to your store, view your video, download your app, or take an action on your website or Facebook page, such as downloading a guidebook or brochure or requesting a consultation. Facebook Ads have different creative options available. You can run your ad as a video, a “static” photo, or as a “carousel,” which contains multiple images that a user has the option to swipe through.

PR4Lawyers has been running several Facebook advertising campaigns for law firm clients, real estate, elder law and estate planning firms. Below, please find a case study for the Emmanuel Jacques Almosnino (EJA) law firm.

EJA Law Firm:

The agency also recently used Facebook Advertising to increase website traffic to an international law firm.

Using Facebook’s targeting capabilities, we were able to reach users between the ages of 21 – 65+ on Facebook who show an interest in the Caribbean island of St. Barth and also expressed behaviors indicating they are involved in travel, leisure, and real estate investments. PR4Lawyers digital advertising and graphics specialists created a static-photo Facebook Ad. Users were then directed to a landing page, which offers more information about the law firm and its services. Users could download a brochure or fill out a contact form in order to reach a representative.

The Facebook Advertising effort enabled the firm to reach more than 275,000 users and resulted in over 16,000 website clicks at an average cost of $0.09 per click. The ad started running in April 2016. Compared to the prior month, the firm saw a 1,235.61% increase in overall website sessions (205 – 2,738) and a 62,125.00% increase in website sessions via social referral (4 – 2,489). It also saw a 129,300% increase in page engagement (1 – 1,294 actions on page) and a 410,933% increase in total reach (4 – 24,662).

If you are interested in exploring a Facebook advertising campaign for your firm contact John Zaher at johnzaher@pr4lawyers.com or call 1-866-PR4LAWYERS.

Strategies for Sticking to Your 2014 Law Firm Marketing Resolutions

The New Year is upon us and many firms are making resolutions for 2014. Including a marketing resolution for your law firm can help it receive the recognition and attention that it deserves. Marketing allows the public to identify what your firm has to offer, increases brand awareness, name recognition, and referrals, thereby attracting more customers.

Below are six strategies to consider when creating your firm’s New Year’s resolutions:

  1. What services does your firm need? –Each firm can benefit from different types of marketing programs. Your firm may need assistance with advertising, graphic and web design, video production, public relations, and/or the creation of a new marketing plan. Consider using a brainstorm session with your employees to decide which areas of your practice needs improvement and why. Continue reading “Strategies for Sticking to Your 2014 Law Firm Marketing Resolutions”

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