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

M(erger)-minus 26 days: It’s Friday!

It’s Friday. A full week and a day since the vote. I’m starting to look at my decisions with October 1 in mind and the impact they will have. And the questions keep coming:

How will we do this or that? Do we need approval to do this? How do we get approval? Will we get this, or have that by October 1? When will this shift over to the new system? And whose system for what? And do they wear jeans on Friday?

So many questions. But it’s Friday.

  • Just invited myself to lunch over at the Hinshaw West LA office. Wow. We’re going to have fun. Lots of good energy and excitement.
  • Really am going to finish Marty’s project today. Really.
  • More bios to update.
  • Extend my October LMA Leaders’ Conference trip to include time in the Chicago office. Time to start meeting people.

Tip: Don’t wait to be invited to attorney events. Invite yourself and go. They not only want you there, they need you there. They just might realize it. This is not the time to be shy.

M(erger)-minus 27 days: Have you seen my normal?

A week ago today we were scrambling in preparation of the merger vote to take place that afternoon in both firms.

Today I think we’re all looking for our normal. New normal. Old normal. The familiar. What’s going to stay the same? What’s changing? What’s my new email address and will the old one still work? We need new key cards. Can I finally get a new picture for my key card? Better yet, can I just use my current portrait? My hair looks really good there.

On tap for today:

  • Going.To.Finish.Marty’s.Project.
  • Bios. Bios. Bios. Yes, they are responding.
  • Going to be formally introduced to the marketing team at Hinshaw. It’s been since my Pillsbury days that I was a part of a full “team.” I am definitely looking forward to this.

Just got a text from the kid. Off to urgent care we go.

Update: Acute bronchial spasm. She’s fine. And there just really is never a dull moment, is there?

M(erger)-minus 28 days: What now?

The announcements, press releases, and blogs posts are all out on the merger.

Calls are coming in from clients, reporters, and friends (really, folks, we are not moving to Chicago, and my job status is fine).

So what to do today now that things have calmed down a bit? I mean, besides the “work as usual” work.

  • Send memo to attorneys to update bios now, don’t wait until they are uploaded to Hinshaw website.
  • Checking stats, and tracking media stories.
  • Cleaning my desk of all Phase 1 (per-announcement) projects.
  • Setting up my Phase 2 (announcement to October 1) projects.
  • Cleaning out my in-box, and updating my “Get it Done” lists. What fell threw the cracks?
  • Bringing Marty’s project from the back-burner back to the front.

Other then that? Lawyers want to practice law, and this marketer wants to start marketing. But first things first. Finish Marty’s project. Oh, and write a blog post on something other than the merger. Ack. My leadership class. I have homework. And yoga. I am not missing yoga today.

A heather by any other name

fields of heatherOne of the reasons I started getting interesting in what we now call social media was if you Googled my name back in 2008 all these other Heather Milligans (my name back then) came up and I was lost in the field.

Within a few weeks of establishing my digital footprint, I started to rise in the Google rankings. Eventually solidifying my position, and elbowing out all those other Heather Milligans, and eventually the other Heather Morses.

It was pretty easy to do both. But will what worked then work now? There are a lot more people and more ways to get into the Google search result space.

My friend John M. Byrne wrote today about “Identity Theft: Sharing a Name With Someone (Kinda) Famous.” John is not only competing with all the famous John Byrnes out there, but now his 93-year old grandfather has joined LinkedIn, causing the LME to have some fun at his expense.

John has some great suggestions around creating and sharing content, all of which will work.

I’ll add a few other tips to aid the searcher when trying to narrow down the search results to find you:

  1. Be consistent across your social media platforms with your brand. The Sports Dude shares his name with another entertainment kinda guy: a historical documentary maker. So we always include his middle initial in everything.
  2. Use keywords in everything you post. For the Sports Dude, that includes making sure the keywords in his profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and his blog include references to “sports” “journalist” “broadcast journalist,” etc.
  3. Link to the right content. When blogging, or on Twitter, make sure you are linking to and retweeting the content that reinforces your brand. It will make it easier for people to find you, or confirm that you are the you they want to know.
  4. Guest blog on other blogs. That will help raise awareness, create links, and, once again, put out some bread crumbs to guide people to the real you.

You have to realize, the more common the name, or the more famous the name, the more you have to work at it. It doesn’t have to be difficult, don’t think too hard about it, just be consistent.

If you have found other helpful tips, please share them in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Simon Herrod on Flickr

It’s official. We’re merging!

CA16901I know I have been a bit radio silent these past couple months, but for good reason. I’ve been busy. Really busy. As in my California insurance regulatory law and litigation boutique, Barger & Wolen, announced this morning that we are merging with Chicago-based, national law firm, Hinshaw & Culbertson, (press release).

Hello, AmLaw 200 (I’m thinking somewhere around 125-130).

It’s been a crazy, whirlwind romance, and vetting process. Of course, just a couple weeks ago, I got the brilliant idea of just jotting down my notes on what I was working on that day, sort of a “merger diary.”

As my work up until today has been focused on either due diligence, pulling together the partner books, and prepping the press releases and announcements, the real work is about to begin, so hopefully this will turn out to be an interesting series.

My diary entries will be short and possibly pithy. But will hopefully give you an idea of what we’re working on behind the scenes that week as we move towards our October 1, 2014, launch date, and beyond. We have a lot to integrate, from our blogs and social media, to our culture, and then there’s the technology, billing systems, etc. where marketing doesn’t have a direct touch.

Oh, and did I mention anywhere that Girl Scouts is back in session (meeting tonight), and I am the new president of our HOA (after recalling the former board) where we are having to address our decaying infrastructure (the pipes) that the former board decided to just ignore (hence the recall). We’ll just weave that into the story line as well.

So, let’s begin with today as we countdown to the “going live” date of October 1, 2014.

Merger Diary – M(erger) minus 29 Days (September 2, 2014)

Of course last night (well, this morning … early) is the night that I am hit with insomnia. I’ll be running on Adrenalin and caffeine today. Had the Sports Dude take the kids to school so I can get in extra early. Walked in the doors by 7:15 a.m. and I was not the first one here.

  • Press releases are out and Reuters has called to set up interviews already. Followed by Law360 and American Lawyer.
  • Press release posted to our website first thing, and sent off to JDSupra for blasting; now for the blogs.
  • Update signature blocks with hyperlink to the press release.
  • Added to all our social media channels. Sent links to All B&W with hyperlinks for them to gain easy access to share.
  • e-Newsletter is out. 20% open rate so far. Not bad.
  • Collecting articles as they come in. Reposting to our social media sites.

Tip: Have on hand list of recent case wins for reporters. They’ll ask for it.

On the home front: Girl Scouts tonight. Luckily they’re mid-pottery/jewelry patch and I don’t have to do a thing other than open the doors. Got the contract for the replacement of the irrigation pipes, only to find out that more and different pipes are decaying and on the verge of collapse. The good news is we have the money to cover this. But it’s going to eat into a hefty chunk of it.

Continue reading

Surefire Signs That Your SEO Is Full of It

Guest post from Hank Stout, Founding Partner, Sutiff & Stout, PLLC

In 2008, I co-founded a personal injury firm with my partner Graham Sutliff. When we started our insight into the world of internet marketing and SEO was limited to knowing we needed a website that was, preferably, on the first page of Google.   Since then we have learned a lot regarding search engine optimization (or “SEO”) and the companies that market such services to law firms. Our firm has hired and fired 5 different SEO companies and interviewed at least 25 others.

This article provides some of the things we look for in evaluating our SEO companies as well as some red flags we have found when dealing with SEO companies. My hope is that other law firms or lawyers can avoid wasting time and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars on ineffective web marketing companies.

To put it simply, most SEO or internet marketing companies are completely full of “it.” While it is obvious that the emails promising to put you on the first page of Google are not legitimate, it is sometimes difficult to determine if a person or company can really add value to your internet marketing. Here are five signs that you need to consider when selecting an SEO company or when evaluating your current SEO company:

1. Their reporting focuses on “vanity” metrics.

Examples of vanity metrics include rankings for unimportant keywords, information about irrelevant referral traffic, and bare bones social media statistics. By way of example, I don’t care if my firm’s website ranks well for keywords like “Denny Crane” (due to a just-for-fun blog post about the greatest TV lawyers of all time) or some other term that has no relationship to the services I provide. What matters to me is how our firm is ranking for the keywords that drive business, like “Houston Personal Injury Lawyer.” Likewise, while I appreciate that long tail key words (“Houston best personal injury lawyer tx”) may drive some traffic, if this is the only key words you are ranking for then you will likely never be found.

Beware of getting lost in irrelevant numbers and data. There is a tremendous amount of data that is available that doesn’t have any real relationship to lead generation for a law firm. An example from our firm is referral traffic from a scholarship contest announcement that was distributed widely among high schools and colleges. While we are happy to help students who want to further their education, this traffic is fairly meaningless when it comes to lead generation. Also, statistics about the amount of retweets a tweet with a link to a blog post garners means little if the post itself wasn’t linked to by an influencer somewhere else online.

The three things we look at are ranking, traffic and conversions (these are listed in least meaningful to most meaningful). Meaningful performance metrics are those indicating conversion rates. When users come to our firm’s site, do they submit their information through our contact form? Do they spend more than a few seconds on the site, or come back for multiple visits in a 30-day period? When we sign a new client, did he or she find us online through search results? These are the kind of statistics that show whether your website – and your SEO – are really working for you.

2. They can’t explain what work has been completed over a given period or why.

Your SEO should be able to tell you what work has been completed in a given time frame and why that work was done. Did your SEO build out 25 new landing pages in one month? Ask them why they did this. They should have a concrete answer about why these pages were necessary and how they will help your firm achieve its goals.

A lot of SEO firms have a cookie cutter approach to the process and that may or may not work for you depending on the competitive nature of the market you are in. When we are looking to only rank for a specific term in a specific area of law, we have had some success with firms who take a cookie cutter approach. However, as the competition increases so too does the need to go away from the cookie cutter approach.

3. They have no clout within their own industry.

Be wary of any SEO that doesn’t have any influence in its own industry. Follow your SEO on Twitter, and connect with account managers on LinkedIn. Your account manager should be blogging regularly about SEO and speaking at conferences whenever possible. Examples of major SEO conferences include MozCon, SMX Advanced, PubCon, and the Inbound Marketing Summit.

Another way to look for clout that matters is to determine what key words are most competitive in your market and then Google such terms in other Geographically competitive markets (i.e. LA, New York, Chicago, Houston etc.). Then look at the bottom of the websites for those firms ranking well. Oftentimes, the name of their SEO company will be at the bottom of the page. While this is approach obviously has some downsides, it is nevertheless a good place to start.

4. The content they publish on your site is not written by an attorney.

If possible, the content on your law firm’s website should be written by an attorney whether that is someone in your office or someone you know who is an attorney. If you hire an attorney to help you with content, don’t be afraid to ask for references, and be sure to evaluate the quality of the content. In the end, high quality content is what really matters when it comes to search rankings.

5. They guarantee “page one” rankings.

If your SEO makes any guarantees about “page one” rankings, RUN AWAY! In SEO, there are no guarantees. Google and other search engines make frequent changes to their algorithms, which are proprietary and not known to the public (including SEOs). Quality SEOs do not guarantee that your firm will wind up at the top of page one of Google search results. However, they should be able to demonstrate past successes and explain to you in plain language how they can help your firm improve its visibility online.

I hope this information helps, and if you have any questions or would like to discuss, please feel free to email or call me.


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