Have you Googled your headshot lately?

When conducting a social media training I always ask the audience to Google their name and if they don’t like the results we can do something about it. It’s always an eye-opener.

Gina Rubel posted this week about online impersonation via your headshot. Apparently, disreputable companies will grab your image online and utilize it when selling their wares. Why is this important? It’s YOUR reputation and brand.

What I Found After I Googled My Headshot

My name is Gina Rubel and I am the CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. Therefore, I am not Melinda on Twitter at I Create Millionaires (all one word but I don’t want to repeat it here), or Patricia Briggs who blogs about debt forgiveness, or Arpita Thakur or Sarah Zhan from India on LinkedIn. I have never played black jack so I would never post on maclackjack.blogspot.com and I am not Xavier Steyaert on YouTube.

Please take a few moments to read the full post by Gina, Have you Googled your headshot lately? Reporting Impersonation, and to follow her instructions if you should find that your headshot has been hijacked.

As for the companies who have hijacked Gina’s image, you have definitely messed with the wrong person. I look forward to reading the follow up posts to Gina’s saga.

What happened to pride in service? Can it be found in a law firm?

Many years ago I was vacationing on Dominica and stayed at a hotel that was built out of the original fort. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Black Sails.

The dining room was not always clean. The white table clothes were slightly stained with wine spills from the prior diners. However, the service was impeccable. The pride and care the staff took in the most mundane activity of pouring a glass of water is so memorable that almost two decades later I could easily write 500 words to describe it. I hadn’t realized it at time, but noticed it that day, but service in restaurants in the States had really gone downhill since the days of Chasen’s and Scandia.

The art of service — the pride in service — is so rare that when you experience it, you realize how lacking it is around you; whether in a restaurant, behind the meat counter at the supermarket, at Starbucks, or at work.

Which brings me to this week.

I bade farewell to one of my assistants this week, Kaye Heller. I knew and worked with Kaye for a whole month and a week, yet I know one thing for certain: Her attention to detail and pride in her work will be missed at the firm, within my department, and by me.

Whether ordering a lunch service, processing a sponsorship request, or circulating an e-mail touting the firm in the news for the week, nothing was done by Kaye without purpose and care, along with pride and attention to detail.

How rare is this today?

I am the first to admit that my care to detail, while great, is not perfect. I have been known to “phone it in” when I could have dropped everything and given it my all. And, yes, sometimes good enough is good enough for me. In fact, I have been known to have typos in my blog posts; and I’m okay with that.

Not so with Kaye, and the Kayes of the world out there. To these rare souls, I salute you. And to all of us who are service providers, we need to take stock and inventory of our personal service standards and shake off that cloak of complacency. Don’t our clients deserve that?

We talk about client service standards, but how often are they designed around us rather than the client?

A client this week sent one of our partners a birthday cake. I had to take a peek at what the cake looked like. Was it phoned in from Costco? Expensive and fancy from one of the top L.A. bakeries? What caught my attention were the personal details that only the client (not the personal assistant) would know. No Happy Birthday was necessary. The cake reflected the passions of the partner.

In a presentation we did together last year, Dave Bruns talked about the client relationship cycle (which I have completely stolen, by the way). When properly moved along, a client not only becomes loyal, but becomes an advocate of the service provider (works both for lawyers and legal marketers), referring them business.

I’m beginning to see that there is a higher level as well.

At a certain point, the client becomes a true fan of the service provider. The client will go just as far for the service provider as the service provider goes for them. The relationship becomes balanced in this way. A true partnership. I’m sure I’ll find a nice and memorable term for this level of client/service provider symbiotic relationship, so if you have any ideas, post them in the comments and I’ll give you credit in the footnotes of my slides if I use it.

In the meantime, Kaye, we will miss you. We’ll stumble. We’ll be fine. And thank you.

Now it’s time to say goodbye

On September 4, 2007, I got off the elevator on the 47th floor of this ivory tower and set about creating a marketing and business development program for Barger & Wolen LLP as their first marketing director. It has been quite a journey. We survived a recession; changes to our clients’ industry; the advent of social media; the passing of the torch from one generation to the next; and a merger with an AmLaw 200 firm.

It’s been seven years, five months, 16 days, and in a couple hours I will leave behind my keycard and a lot of memories as I head to Century City and take the helm of the marketing operations for another firm (details on Monday).

Today is about reflecting on my experiences and what working for this firm has meant to me, and a few of the life and business lessons that I am taking with me.

When I first started out in legal marketing, the average tenure of a legal marketer was about 2.5 years, and my resume affirms that this was true for me as well.

A couple years ago, while serving on the Legal Marketing Association’s board of directors, we ran the numbers: Approximately 3/4 of LMA membership turns over every four years. With a membership of more than 3000, that’s a lot of people. Some stay in the industry, not renewing their memberships, but many more leave.

I have come to learn that it takes a certain type of personality to stay and work in-house as a senior legal marketer year in and year out. Most senior legal marketers jump out to consult at some point. More just jump out to other industries along the way.

Having been at my firm for almost 7.5 years I have a new perspective on the advantages afforded both the law firm and the legal marketer that comes with longevity in the role.

Deeper and personal relationships = honest conversations

I was speaking with a partner last week and he remarked that I spoke to him like his wife does. Smiling I replied we worked together longer than most marriages last.

My longevity at my firm has allowed me to build true and personal relationships with many of the lawyers that extend beyond nine to five and Facebook. I have the ability to walk into a partner’s office and tell him or her the truth, or ask the difficult questions, sometimes in a not too subtle way.

Deeper and personal relationships allow us to speak candidly with one another. While we might not always agree, we are honest with one another.

Culture changes take time

In Leading Change, the author suggests that it takes three to 10 years to shift culture. Without longevity in a position the legal marketer will either never affect a culture change, or will never see the fruits of their labor. For me, seeing those changes has been the most rewarding aspect of my job and tenure at the firm.

I often tell the story of a senior partner who raised his voice at me during my first few weeks at the firm. He had no interest in this “marketing mumbo-jumbo” and didn’t understand why we had to do it. Fast forward seven years and our conversation turned to how I had to “come along” in the merger because of my importance and value to him, his practice, and the firm.

I could have missed it all.

A true team allows you to get things done

In law firms the lawyer default in regards to business development always circles back to “cross-selling.” Truth be told, cross-selling rarely works. Why? Because there is no team. You cannot throw a group of people in a room and expect them to give away something they have in hopes of getting something that really isn’t guaranteed from someone they do not really know, perhaps they do not like, and who they definitely do not trust.

It’s the same with the administrative departments. We compete against one another for resources (time, money, people). But for a well-run firm, you need these departments to work collaboratively to create a functioning business, and time affords you the opportunity to develop these teams, and there is nothing like a challenge to bring everyone together.

I don’t know any firm that over the course of 7.5 years did not have a challenge or 10 to over come. Revenues down. Recession. Boom times in the wrong area. Scandals. Partner departures. Layoffs. Market crashes. Office moves. A merger. All of these provide opportunity for the administrative leaders to band together and solidify themselves as a team working on common goals.

Opportunities abound

Last year my firm supported my participation in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute. It was a lot of time out of the office: five trips to Chicago over the course of six months. Prior to that the firm supported my leadership role on LMA’s board of directors, with four in-person board meetings per year and lots of office hours devoted to my projects.

My eye has now turned towards George Washington University’s Masters in Law Firm Management program. It’s going to be impossible to convince a group of strangers that they should welcome and support sending me away for what constitutes a couple weeks of additional paid time off to do something that may or may not provide a direct benefit to the firm.

For me to do this I will need the support of my new firm. But I have to earn the that support, and that will take time. I won’t make it there for 2016, but I’ll get there.

It’s a truly bittersweet day today. I have packed up my boxes, cleaned out my paper and digital files, tranfered my documents from the older Barger & Wolen server to the new firm’s system, and transitioned my active projects amongst the team back east.

One thing I do know is that my shoes will be filled, and that’s a good and healthy thing. They might not be filled by someone who appreciates Stuart Weitzman as much as I do, or by someone who sees things the way that I see them, but that person will bring their own personality, traits, ideas, and energy to the team here.

And that is perhaps the last things I have learned through staying in my position as long as I have:

Sometimes it’s the right time to go

Marketing is a creative position. You have to grow as a legal marketer, or you will be of no benefit to your firm or your attorneys. But sometimes you have moved the ball as far as you can and it’s going to take someone else to pick it up and take the lead. Stay too long and you become a liability.

I leave here today having done the best job that I could every day for seven years, five months, and 16 days.

Super Bowl Commericals, Lawyers and Legal Marketing

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking and dissecting of the game around the water cooler. For the Sports Dude, it will be about the game (and I will never live it down, but his prediction was 27-24 Patriots); for me, it’s about the commercials … and legal marketing.

Let’s just do it. Nationwide. What were you thinking???

Dead kids and the Super Bowl? Who thought that was a good combination?

In their defense/press release, well …

The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us—the safety and well being of our children.

And here’s where they failed: the viewing public did not want to have this conversation. It was thrust upon us. It didn’t feel right. After watching heart-warming, after heart-warming kids and dads and puppies we got sucked in … and slapped down.

It’s not that the viewers (up to 50% of American households had the game on) were not willing to have deep conversations. At my house we discussed the Like A Girl commercial, and repeated it so everyone could see it, especially all the girls.

We also discussed domestic violence and how powerful this message was:

We just didn’t expect, nor did we want, to discuss dead kids at a Super Bowl party where we were watching it with our kids.

So what does this have to do with lawyers and legal marketing? It has everything to do with it.

Lawyers have a message. It’s an important message. But that message needs to be presented at the right time and the right place; deliver it at the wrong time, and not only will it fall on deaf ears, you can completely ruin a relationship and tarnish your brand.

In coaching a lawyer for a meeting we walk through it all: location, who will be there, where are you in the sales cycle, what to say, what not to say, and what materials, if any, to bring, and the all important follow up.

Introduce a packet or pitch too early, and you will lose the ability to move that prospect to a client. Wait too long and you’ll never stop the random acts of lunch and baseball games.

Pitch the wrong person, and you’ll never get the work, wondering why your competitor always seems to win the new business over you.

Never pitch and you’ll never make partner.

And this is where a good rainmaker succeeds. For many it is instintive, but I will argue that it is just as easy to make this an intention. You just need the perpective. Pause. Get outside yourself. Place yourself into the shoes of your client. Speak with your legal marketer, or a successful rainmaker in your firm.

It’s not rocket science, but it is nuanced. Some attorneys get it instinctively, most do not. This isn’t taught in law school, or any where else. It’s about the human connection. And that’s why all those puppy and dad commercials work.

The best business advice I ever got, I got from Joan Rivers

Farewell Joan, from this "Joan Ranger"

Farewell Joan, from this “Joan Ranger”

I was so sad yesterday at the passing of Joan Rivers. I remember listening to her comedy albums (yeah, I’m that old) in high school and laughing at jokes that I could relate to — “slide down please” — because they were directed at me, a girl.

I’ve written before about the worst advice I ever got — “Do a good job, Heather, and they will notice you” — which resulted in me being overlooked for a promotion. Needless to say, this lead me to becoming very proactive marketing me in my career.

I read this essay by Ms. Rivers today, Joan Rivers: Why Johnny Carson “Never Ever Spoke to Me Again,” and I got it: Continue reading

Social media once again reveals the a**h***s

We all have our bad days. But when your bad day ends up in the social media viral loop, or on CNN’s website, your day just went from bad to f***ed-up.

Over in my Legal Marketers Extraordinaire group on Facebook* we’re discussing the LinkedIn rejection letter that has gone viral, as well as the founder of the latest pay-to-play on-line network for lawyers. She’s a peach. I’d link to a story about her, but, if you do your own Googling, you’ll understand why I won’t.

* message me via The Legal Watercooler page the email you use for Facebook for an invite

I suppose time will answer a new age-old question to rival the chicken and the egg:

Which came first, the a**h*** or social media?

Right now I have to go with a**h***s.

Continue reading

We are all Moore. We are all Boston.

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I am beside myself tonight. The news is horrible coming out of Moore, Oklahoma. And it keeps getting worse.

But that is not what is upsetting me the most.

It’s the damn auto tweets and posts that seem so out of place between the devastating news.

Here I am. Sitting safe and sound in Los Angeles. Yet I feel like I am there.

Social media provided me a first hand account of what was happening to my friends and colleagues in and around Oklahoma City today.

  • Patrick picked up his kids at school while his wife was huddling in the stairwell of her work.
  • Stacy was with the kids in the middle of the house as the storm passed through Tulsa.
  • My friend Tim is a reporter in Norman. I sent him a note via Facebook. I cannot imagine what he has seen today.

When The Voice tweeted out asking who I was going to vote for, I replied:

@heather_morse: .@NBCTheVoice no voting. Too busy praying for the missing children in Moore, OK. #stopautotweets

A few if us are commenting on Twitter how the auto tweets need to stop. It was only a month ago I wrote this piece, When tragedy strikes pull your auto posts immediately.

And yet someone on my feed defended them. She’s from OK. She thinks it’s OK to tweet about other things.

I disagree.

When you have hundreds, if not thousands of followers, you don’t know who is going to be offended. Who is turning to Twitter or Facebook to try and find and connect with family since phone lines are down.

How hard is it to just stop for 24 hours? Give everyone a breather from what you are eating, or what seminar you have coming up? We don’t have to always have something witty or pithy to say.

What does the disregard for others who are personally impacted by a disaster like this say about your brand? About you?

And it’s not just in social media.

I had an “owner representative” from my timeshare call me tonight. I told her that I found her call to be highly ill timed due to what was going on in Oklahoma. She didn’t get it and, oops, we were disconnected. Normally I’d call back and complain, but I was too invested in the news to care.

All I know is that tonight my heart is breaking for people I do not know. For the children. For their families. For the young man who was crying that all he owned in the world were the clothes he was wearing and his shoes.

I don’t want to be sold anything right now.

I don’t want a robo-call or auto post to invade my space.

I am turning to my social streams for news. Updates. Hope.

To quote Woodsy Owl, “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute” my social streams.

The Legal Naughty & Nice List

06.10.11 christmas stockWell, tis the season and all.

I’m checking out BTI Consulting‘s latest survey where GCs name the most arrogant law firms, and there are no real surprises.

According to Law360’s article, GCs Name Most Arrogant Law Firms:

As the legal industry rebounds from the recession, cockiness is also on the rise, as the number of firms deemed arrogant in a new survey of corporate counsel has ticked upward since last year and doubled from what it was two years ago.

The 2013 BTI Client Services A-Team report, published by The BTI Consulting Group (Wellesley, Mass.), suggests that many of the nation’s legal powerhouses have returned to their smug old ways, no longer desperate for business and no longer willing to budge on fees or otherwise give ground to clients.

So who made the list??

This year’s naughty list includes: Skadden, Kirkland & EllisCravath, Hogan Lovells, Jones Day, King & Spalding, Latham, Quinn Emanuel, Sullivan & Cromwell, Wachtell and Weil Gotshal.

Lest one equates arrogance with service, only four of these firms made BTI’s Top 30 in client service.

As for the Nice List? Here’s the 2013 Client Service 30. The top 10 are:

  1. Jones Day
  2. Mayer Brown
  3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  4. McGuireWoods
  5. Seyfarth Shaw
  6. Thompson Hine
  7. Kirkland & Ellis
  8. Faegre Baker Daniels
  9. Baker & McKenzie
  10. Sullivan & Cromwell

And, yes, Virginia, it is possible to make the Client Service 30, while avoiding the Arrogance list entirely. Just ask nice guys Seyfarth Shaw, Thompson Hine, and Littler Mendelson.

So, what does this mean? Not too much, obviously. When it comes to “bet the farm” litigation, the “like” in “know, like and trust” can often times be thrown out the window. You need your team to win at any cost, and you’ll put up with that “arrogance,” along with the hourly rates of over $1000.

However, are you going to put up with that type of arrogance or behavior when the stakes are not as high? Or will you take your business elsewhere? Seeing the profits and revenues of the AmLaw 100 and 200, I’d say a lot of that work is being spread about the country. And, according to the Go-To Law Firms ® list, not one firm holds a lock on any one company.

As the recession did show us, corporate counsel are willing to take their business elsewhere, and that is not about to change any time soon.

So while making the arrogance list might lend a smile to the smuggest of the smug, it should also raise eyebrows of caution.

Number one on the client service list, Jones Day, is quite capable of handling any work that the other firms might have. Sure, they are on the arrogance list as well, but not so high as to make the news stories.

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If you don’t know BTI, they slice and dice all the fun information on how general counsel see, view, and hire outside counsel; how and if they will spend money; what drives the purchasing decisions. Great pie charts. You can download (for a price) the full BTI survey here.

Mind your (techie) manners

Thank God the elections are over.

I survived my first camping (IN A TENT) trip with the Girl Scouts at Camporee!

Nuts & Magazine sales are on for Girl Scouts.

Not to mention the Mixed Bag Design fundraiser at our school, which ended on Monday; and the See’s Candy sale, which started on Tuesday.

Fall volleyball season is over for the girls; already signing them up for the Spring.

The Sports Dude is scheduled for his big surgery Thanksgiving week (no cooking for me this year).

Sadly, we are also dealing with a parent with terminal cancer.

Good new is, I can’t complain about having too much time on my hands.

But it is time to turn my focus back to legal marketing and The Legal Watercooler, and what better way than with Emily Post’s new rules of tech etiquette for the office.

For those of you who thought etiquette ended in the days of Downton Abbey, you are wrong.

Social norms, while in flux, still exist and we need to find our way through the haze (which is now legal in several states, I hear).

From the above linked article:

These days, employees seem to care more about connecting with their devices than with their fellow colleagues.

In fact, 4 in 10 HR managers have received a complaint about an employee’s improper use of mobile technology in the work force, according to a recent study by Intel. The most common complaints? A phone ringing during a meeting (60 percent) and using a laptop to check email or surf the Internet during a meeting (44 percent).

Does that mean you shouldn’t ever take helpful gadgets with you to meetings? No. But how we deal with these modern-day peccadilloes is constantly evolving.

Technology is here to stay, so deal with it.

I bring my iPad to meeting to take notes, read documents (have you seen what the LMA Board Book looks like??? Puts the Vogue September issue to SHAME), and, yes, keep tabs on the office. Discreetly.

I have to use my common sense, however, at all times.

When I attend a conference where I intend to live-Tweet or blog, I introduce myself to the speaker, letting him or her know that I am not tapping away to be rude, but am communicating their message to my followers.

When I am at a business event, or social functions, the iPhone is put away, unless there is an emergency that I am following (personal or professional).

To completely plagiarize from Miss Post, our smart phones are not additional utensils meant for the dinner table, and really should be kept out of sight.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology is a beautiful, beautiful thing. But it can also be more than a distraction.

At home, we are having to institute some rather strange rules, such as “no technology in bed after 10:00 p.m.”

Our punishments for the kids seem to revolve around technology: “If you hit your sister, you lose your iPod for the weekend,” and, “If you annoy your sister to the point that she hits you, no YouTube for the weekend.”

I don’t think that the final book has been written about technology and etiquette, but as we all make our way through the maze of (tech) life, I have found a few articles that might be of help:

Or, when in doubt, follow my simple rule: “Don’t be an a**hole.”

 Illustration by Ross MacDonald/Photograph by Kang Kim via RealSimple.com

The First Rule of Legal Marketing

TRUST. If you ask me, the first rule of our profession is trust.

Without trust we cannot do much in our firms. Without trust we cannot learn and share with one another. Without trust we cannot mentor, or be mentored, by the incredible leaders of our profession, who are still around. Which says a lot about who we are as a community.

We had a breach in trust yesterday.

I started a Facebook group for legal marketers a year or so ago. I had a question I needed to ask. I should have known the answer, but I didn’t. I didn’t want it posted in a public forum where it would live there forever. So I started a group with a dozen or so of my legal marketing friends. Not all LMA members.

I invited my friends to invite their friends, and the group has now grown to 257. I don’t even know a lot of these folks. But I still feel comfortable openly sharing. If I trust you, and you trust your friend, then I trust your friend.

Per Facebook rules, the group is “secret” so that our conversations remain completely private on our personal walls, but is open to all to join. (If you want to join the group, send me a message on Facebook).

But whether on Facebook, in an e-mail thread, at an LMA meeting, or a board meeting, we legal marketing professionals openly share with one another.

We don’t collude or plot, but we share our difficulties and frustrations that come with our jobs, and seek out solutions to our challenges from our peers.

This level of trust amongst us has allowed us to create something really, really special: friendships.

I count amongst my closest friends members of my profession and/or professional association. Some are service providers. Some are competitors. Some are true peers.

These close friendships allow me to not only do my job better, but allow me to be a better and more authentic Heather.

I trust you to see the vulnerable me. The real me.

When I am mentoring new members of our profession, I always start by telling them about this trust thingie we have going on. How you can pick up the phone and call anyone. How you can ask a stupid question.

In the past 14+ years that I have been doing this, I can honestly say that breaches in trust are few and far between, but the damage one breach can cause can be immense, and can do great harm.

However, I would caution all of us to not allow these rare breaches of trust to impair our culture of trust. It’s what makes us special. It’s what makes us a better community. It’s what makes us better legal marketers. And it’s what makes us better friends.