The Grammys, lawyers and legal marketing: Stay true to your brand

I don’t know what it is with my brain, legal marketing, and pop culture, but while watching the Grammys last night I couldn’t help but find lessons and similarities between the Grammys, lawyers and legal marketing.

What I saw last night was a living, breathing lesson on how to successfully (and not so successfully) evolve an older brand — in this case Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Annie Lennox.

Let’s do it.


Oh, Madonna. I love you. I prounced around my living room in the ’80s singing along as I shreaded my clothes and wore too many belts at once. But I grew up, and it’s time you did as well. But last night. Wow. Your original fan-base was just embarassed by your get-up, and your attempts to dance like you were still 24. Time to grow up … we sure have.

#LMAMKT Lesson: I am watching the AmLaw 100-200 start to shift their leadership from the older boomers (and the generation before them), to a younger one. These 50, 75, 100+ year-old brands need to carefully evolve themselves. You need to follow your client base’s lead. Some brands alienate their current client base to appease a new and hipper “it” crowd (Brobeck); while others have gracefully evolved without stunts (Skadden) finding relevenace with each new generation.


When you are known as one of the greatest musicians of all time — a f***ing Beatle, for God’s sake — you don’t play back up guitar and singer to anyone. You don’t align yourself with the flavor of the day to try and find relevance.  It falls flat and the new crowd wonders who the hell you are.

#LMAMKT Lesson: You are your brand. Don’t dilute it or water it down. Why are you lowering your rates? Why are you taking on lesser-valued work? Why are you entering markets where you have no reason or business case to be there? Why are you opening offices in cool, hip areas when your brand is boring and white shoed?

Don’t become the Michael Kors of legal. Don’t become your grandpa trying to be something he isn’t. And just because it worked for Skadden, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Skadden is being true to THEIR brand, and that’s why their evolution works.


Oh, Annie. Not only did you smack Ryan Seacrest down with your shade on 50 Shades of Grey, you were the epitome of style and grace on the Red Carpet, and your duet with Hozier was perfection. It was your night to shine last night and you did so by remaining 100% true to who you are and your brand: An accomplished and intellegent woman, and musician.

Last night you not only introduced yourself to a younger generation — who are now excited to learn more about you, your music, and your brand — you did so without alienating your original fan base. You made this GenExer proud.

So what’s the final takeaway?

You cannot slap a cool logo on an old brand and expect a younger generation to fawn over it. The authenticity needs to be there. Annie succeeded where Madonna and Sir Paul failed as she held true to who she was at all times. Her evolution was not awkward or forced, but a progression that made sense and was welcomed by all.

Is it time to say “good bye” to the annual holiday card?


Flashback Christmas (2002)

Holiday cards. Hate ’em or hate ’em?

Over in the LME a question was posed: “Are you receiving fewer holiday cards this year (print and e-cards),” and the resounding response was: “Yes!” and can be verified by the USPS:

In 2011, American households on average sent about 16 holiday greeting cards, according to the Postal Service’s recently released 2012 Household Diary Study report. Twelve years earlier, 23 holiday cards were sent. Data from the Greeting Card Association also chart the downward trend: U.S. consumers bought 1.5 billion holiday cards in 2011, compared to 2.7 billion in 1995.

(note, these stats are from 2013)

And then we started chiming in to answer, “Why?”

I have not conducted a full marketing survey on this, so I will go with my intuition and personal experience as I know I am receiving fewer cards, and it’s been a few years since I have sent any.

For the past 20 years I sent out cards, and lots of cards, because it was what you are supposed to do. I had a list with several hundred names I compiled over the years. I wrote a personal message on each card. After I had kids the family photo cards started, with a quick little personal note on the back.

As the kids got older, they helped to stamp and seal all the envelopes. We had an assembly line going. It was a part of our holiday tradition.

Then my mother-in-law got ill and passed away right before Christmas a couple years ago and I just didn’t send them. The following year I couldn’t find the urgency to pull it all together, and felt guilty for every card I received. This year I made the conscious decision to go without sending any and removed myself from holiday card list I had been on for 27 years. And I’m okay with that decision.

For me, the annual holiday card was a time to connect with faraway family and friends, business acquaintances and colleagues. It was putting a little cheer in someone’s mail box who might not have a lot of family or personal connections. I would send a recent snap shot of my kids and the next time we met you would be amazed at how they had grown.

And then along came Facebook and we are connected every day of the year.

Of  the few photo cards I have received this year I realized that most of the pictures you used I’ve already seen on Facebook. I don’t really need your family newsletter because I know all about your vacation to XYZ, and your home remodel. I enjoyed the pictures from your wedding/new baby/graduation, and sadly, I already know about the recent passing in your family. And the good news that your daughter/son has gotten engaged/had a baby/was early accepted to an awesome college has already been shared and congratulated.

Come Christmas morning, I will connect with everyone I care about in real life, and I will call those who cannot come over to my house. Through Facebook I will enjoy every moment of seeing your kids awe in waking up to all the gifts that Santa left (because our Santa days are long gone), and will put out a notice that we’re headed to the movies at X time if you want to join us.

I believe the holiday card as a ritual is slowly dying out because it has lost its meaning in the land of Facebook and Skype. Which means that there is hope for a future. To me a holiday card will once again become something very personal, to be savored, just like a hand written thank you note, they will gain a perceived value.

Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah, from the MGM Family.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


M(erger) – Minus 2 Days: Everything will be all right

Well, no turning back now. The switch will be flipped Wednesday morning, ready or not. I suppose we’re ready enough.

When you think about how quickly these mergers take place — from announcement to going live — 100% integration is not possible on day one. We have spent the past couple months prioritizing what needed to get done: pre-announcement; by October 1; from October 1 to October 31 (to produce the first set of bills); as well as what can/do we have to hold off on until a later date.

Some of the “delays” (I use that word very lightly) have to do with timing — there are only so many hours in a day, and days in a month — and some have to do with system upgrades that have to occur (which is why my e-mail address will have a little something extra added); some have to do with when contracts expire; and some have to do with cultural integrations: we can only throw so much at these people at once.

So anyone from Barger or Hinshaw reading this: Take it easy on yourselves. Seeing what you have done these past couple months, you have done all that you can to prepare, anticipate needs, and check items off those long check lists.

It will be okay. As long as the e-mails go through, and the phones are answered, we’re all good.

Now that everything that can be done is done, I am back to yoga at lunch. I’ve been skipping it and missing it. Have I mentioned that I am ready to get my normal back?

Here’s what’s on tap for today:

  • Woo hoo. I have letterhead and envelopes. Time to prep Marty’s first mailing.
  • Tackle a couple items in my employee paperwork pile.
  • Get in my final Barger expense reimbursement for month end.
  • Finalize the Barger history for the website.
  • Get that last practice group description in for the website.
  • Yup. Still getting bios back. But we’ve had great compliance.

Tip: Nothing is ever 100% perfect behind the scenes for any major event (be it a client CLE, a conference, an office move, or a merger). As long as the client service and experience are spot on (the bills are correct, emails go through), anything we have to do to make it work is what we have to do to make it work. So take a deep breath. Everything will be all right in the end.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Did I ever tell you my Ross Perot story??

Between my days as a lobbyist and joining legal marketing I was the Director of Programs & Events for Town Hall Los Angeles, a public interest forum.

During my tenure we hosted numerous politicians, pundits, authors, and a king. But my favorite story has to do with Ross Perot. Yes, THAT Ross Perot.

Once a speaker was confirmed my first duty was to confirm the name of the speech, get a copy of their bio, and a photo for our newsletter.

This is the photo we received from Mr. Perot’s office.

From D Magazine November 2013 photography courtsey of Hillwood Perot in the early 1960s. courtsey of Hillwood

From D Magazine November 2013 photography courtesy of Hillwood
Perot in the early 1960s. Courtesy of Hillwood

Nice picture. The problem was it wasn’t the 1960s, we were well into the1990s.

This is what he looked like at the time.

John G. Mabanglo / AFP/Getty Images

When I called Mr. Perot’s office to inquire about a more recent photograph, his assistant told me, no, “Mr. Perot likes this photo.”

So what does this have to do with legal marketing? Well, I’ve been connecting with new people on LinkedIn and following them on Twitter both during the LMA Annual Conference, and now that I have returned.

There are some people out there who really like their (old, and it doesn’t look anything like you) portraits.

Seriously. Time for some portraits to be redone. Gittings was at the conference and are a great resource if you don’t currently have a regular photographer where you are.

What it comes down to is if I cannot recognize you by your photo from the person speaking in the session, or the person I just met, not good.

And I have a feeling if the legal marketers are not updating their photos, the attorneys in their firms aren’t either. Clients should not be surprised when the finally meet you that you look nothing like the photo on your web bio.

It’s painful getting your portrait taken. I don’t like aging either, but if you could see a picture of me from two or three decades ago … well, it really wouldn’t do today.

The rule of thumb my photographer uses is every three to five years. Women should go more frequently as we are more inclined to change our hair styles (and color). I personally do very two years.

Or give up on the photo all together and just go with an avatar:

Heather Morse's Twitter Avatar

Portrait of Mommy by Piper

How to avoid random acts of hashtags

Hopefully by now everyone knows what a hashtag is beyond an annoying way that kids talk today.

Or a scroll at the bottom of a TV show.

Hashtags began randomly enough in 2007 and became popularized during the San Diego wildfires of that year.

They allow users of Twitter (and now every other social media) to search and find topics. They are now hyperlinked in the status, so all you have to do is click to get your search results.

Which brings me to random acts of hashtags.

There is a marketing conference taking place right now. I have several friends attending the conference, and they are all using a different hashtag.

Rather than be able to follow one conversation, there are several conversations taking place.

Since I am fortunate to follow many people in my industry, I was able to catch on pretty quick to what was going on with the three separate hashtags.

Unfortunately, I am not that invested that I will build out a multiple hashtag search result into one stream.

You lost me. And you lost me in several places: Continue reading

Can someone pull the plug on Martindale-Hubbell already?

Oh, Martindale, what happened? Your brand was once the bomb diggity, as my teen would put it, but here you are now, just another product sold to Internet Brands, oh, I mean “in partnership with” Internet Brands.

Kevin O’Keefe wonders Does Martindale-Hubbell, as we knew it, still exist?

The Martindale-Hubbell and “brands” live on, but does Martindale-Hubbell still exist as lawyers have come to know the company.

I’ve written about the slow demise of the Martindale brand numerous times in this blog. A list of articles can be found here.

Personally, I find no value in the old brand today. The AV rating doesn’t mean anything any more. I have found that it is only being used to sell vanity ads in ALM publications (Step Away from the Vanity Ads), and a bygone reminder of a profession that has evolved into a very sophisticated business.

Other than a few RFPs asking to list your MH rating alongside the attorneys other stats, I really cannot see a MH rating being a determining factor in the hiring of a lawyer, especially any lawyer under 40 who just doesn’t care, or have an affinity for the brand.

Sadly, I think it is time for someone to pull the plug on the MH brand and allow it to die with the dignity it deserves.

I never open e-holiday cards, but when I do …

I hate e-holiday cards, and delete most. Why? Because they suck and/or are not personalized. Client hate them. Lawyers hate them. But here they come.

Really. Nothing says, “Hey, thanks for the million dollars in legal fees this year,” like handing an e-mail address to the IT or marketing department and having them add you to a database.

However, there are two cards I always open, and actually look forward to each year.

Why? Because not only do the not suck, they are really good, inventive, unique, self-deprecating, and FUNNY.

First up, only because I already got it, is from Akin Gump:

Akin Gump Holiday Card

I’m still waiting for my card from Pillsbury. My sources tell me it won’t be their usual humor card this year. (If you haven’t heard, they were on the way to the alter, but the wedding got called off. We know how that goes). So here’s flashback to their “Snowball Terms of Use” card from a few years ago:

So if you are planning on sending out an e-card, make sure yours is half as good as either one of these.

GCs spoke, are lawyers listening? Bios edition

Some pictures just say it all, and Matt Homann nailed it with this one:

As I am listening to Deb McMurray review her study, 2012-2013 AM Law 100 Websites Foundational Best Practices Survey, gotta say, some things just never change.

When I am going over a bio review with my partners I tell them to read the bio from your clients’ viewpoint, and answer this series of questions:

Do you represent companies like mine? With business issues like mine? And do you have the solutions I am seeking?

If you cannot answer these simple questions, then your bio is crap to the reader. They are not there to figure out if you are a Super Lawyer, but if you can solve the problem that is keeping them up at night.

If you cannot answer these simple questions, don’t worry about SEO, navigation, or any other concerns a web consultant is concerned about. It doesn’t matter if the content isn’t there and relevant to the visitor.

So, once again:

1. Do you represent companies like mine?
2. Do you handle BUSINESS problems like mine?
3. Can you SOLVE business problems like mine?

HT to Jeff Yerkey/Right Hat because he is sitting next to me and asked me to say hi.

Google Profiles + Google Author Ranks + Google In-Depth Articles = WAKE UP!!!

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake up and smell the coffee people.

Wake up and smell the coffee: Google matters. Google counts. Copyblogger said so this morning (Seriously. Go get some coffee and click on the article. It’s a must read today):

A forewarning from Google’s Chairman

Just 19 days after my predictions for 2013, the Wall Street Journal published its comments on The New Digital Age, a book written by Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt. These comments included this quote (bold is mine):

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.

This is a powerful statement by one of the most powerful people in Google. Schmidt makes it clear that Authorship will be a very material factor in search ranking.

For those of us operating in the legal community this is REALLY good new. Why? Because lawyers have content. Lots of it. The job of the legal marketer is to help them get that content into digital, and connect with the Google game.

I’m not talking about gaming Google, but realizing that Google has a strategy to promote good content, and we legal marketers and lawyers need to stay awake and on top of it. Continue reading

When tragedy strikes, pull your auto posts. Immediately.

First off, my personal thoughts and prayers to all impacted by today’s terrorist attacks in Boston. It is beyond words.

Unfortunately, while I posted the following message privately in a Facebook legal marketing group, I believe it needs to be posted publicly as well:

For those of you have auto messages set to post via Hootsuite, blogs, etc. you might want to recall them. For instance, I have a dinner invite set to go. I will not be sending it out for a couple days.

Who would guess that the first offender to not pull their auto tweets would be a Boston firm? Oy.

In an increasingly connected world, it is hard to hear of a tragedy and not think immediately to our friends, family and colleagues who might be personally impacted. Yes, the odds are slim, but someone knows these people. Their families.

When your posts are going over a social network, they might not be well received.

In these moments of tragedy, auto posts on Twitter and Facebook come off as crass, out of place, ill-timed, and thoughtless.

So just have a simple policy. Pull them. All of them. Give everyone a minimum of 24-hours to compose themselves. To not be spammed by your firm’s latest blog post, or dinner invitation.

Quickly and personally reach out to those who might be impacted and offer your thoughts and well-wishes.

Take off your lawyer/marketer hat and put on your compassionate, human one. No one will miss your blog post (although I bet it was really special). No one will miss out on our dinner invite if it goes out tomorrow or Wednesday.