“We don’t grow children like that here.” The Ringwald’s production of The Laramie Project – plus, quick notes on Crazy Rich Asians, Blaine Fowler’s America, and yours truly being interviewed on Freeman Means Business

Laramie Project review originally published by Encore Michigan here.

[Image Source: The Ringwald’s Facebook page]

The Ringwald Theatre’s 2018-19 season opener The Laramie Project is not a production that needs to be reviewed. It is a production that needs to be viewed. It is a production that essentially illustrates (beyond question) that the most impactful theatre requires very little: words, voice, people, movement. Storytelling in its truest form. As an audience member, I haven’t cried like I did opening night of Laramie Project in years (if ever).

 

At the end of act one, I was a puddle, with two acts to go, and, by the time the performance wrapped, I was red-eyed, gutted, mad-as-hell, and cautiously hopeful. It’s that good. I suppose some projection was involved on my part. I was roughly Matthew Shepard’s age when he was savagely brutalized and murdered. I grew up and attended college in Indiana, which, as Mike Pence’s political ascent will attest, is a state not unlike Wyoming – more Handmaid’s Tale than Moulin Rouge.

That notwithstanding, The Ringwald’s production of Laramie Project is a slow-burn powerhouse.

The play written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project assembles first-person narratives from hundreds of interviews with Laramie townspeople, University of Wyoming faculty members, friends of Matthew’s, and the Tectonic Theater’s actors themselves. The narrative roughly follows this arc: defining Shepard’s humanity and upbringing, detailing the incidents of that tragic evening, and assessing its aftermath, all in the words of narrators both reliable and not. It is up to the audience to sort the wheat from the chaff and to make sense of a society where such irrational cruelty can occur. The approach is as journalistic as it is theatrical, and the topic is (sadly) as timely today as it was when the piece was written in 2000.

Director Brandy Joe Plambeck has assembled an empathetic, deep-feeling, yet commanding cast to perform dozens of roles: Joe Bailey, Greg Eldridge, Kelly Komlen, Sydney Lepora, Joel Mitchell, Taylor Morrow, Gretchen Schock, and Mike Suchyta. Rarely does this stellar group miss a beat, and Plambeck wisely eschews distractingly overt theatricality for a stripped down readers’ theatre approach. The emphasis is quite literally on the words on the page, and, as the details mount, both performers and audience are swept into a hurricane of emotion, of indignation, and of heartbreak.

As for those tears of mine? Well, Lepora and Bailey are the chief culprits, tasked to deliver some of the more devastating speeches and historical detail. They resist the temptation to indulge their characters’ raw emotions in a broad, selfish, “actorly” way. Rather, they quite realistically and subtly show their characters desperately trying (and failing) to stifle and contain their confusion, their anguish, their rage. And that damming of emotion, only to see the floodgates fail, is what cuts an audience to the quick.

Suchyta is quite effective as a series of “Wyoming” alpha men, from a star theatre student to a local bar owner to Shepard’s tormentors Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Mitchell is a sparkplug, breathing bold strokes life into the play’s few comic moments as a surprisingly insightful cab driver, and Morrow does a fine job balancing characters both reprehensible (local “mean girls” who basically imply Shepard deserved his fate) and painfully noble (one of the very few out-and-proud lesbian faculty members at the University of Wyoming).

That said, I hate to single out any performances, because this is an ensemble show in the truest sense of the word, and everyone is excellent. Plambeck paces the show in a measured but never ponderous way. The costuming is minimal, stage directions and character names are read by Plambeck, and scene changes/location names are projected on the back wall of the space. This approach results in a production that places the emphasis squarely where it belongs – on the voices of the people who experienced this tragedy and on a nation that both evolved and devolved as a result. Don’t miss this production.

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[Image Source: Wikipedia]

“I’m so Chinese I’m an economics professor with lactose intolerance.” – Crazy Rich Asians

 

The other week we saw the film Crazy Rich Asians. Somehow life got in the way of me writing anything at length about the film, which is a shame because it is quite exceptional. Let me say this: while it was marketed as a wall-to-wall laugh riot a la Bridesmaids, it shares more with that film’s DNA than just riotous shenanigans.

Don’t get me wrong, Crazy Rich Asians has its fair share of zaniness, chiefly supplied by sparkling comedienne Awkwafina, but like Bridesmaids, that tomfoolery belies a gentler, sweeter, yet exceptionally subversive core. It’s been 20-some years since Hollywood produced a film starring an all-Asian cast (the far inferior Joy Luck Club), and the box office success of Crazy Rich Asians will hopefully inspire a bit of sea change where Asian representation in Tinseltown is concerned. Money matters (sadly).

Crazy Rich Asians is part fair tale fantasy, part light comedy, part soap opera, all heart. Luminous Constance Wu arrives a fully formed movie star as Rachel Wu, a whip-smart economics professor in New York whose life is turned upside down when she learns her longtime boyfriend Nick Young (a dashing Henry Golding) is in actuality Singapore real estate royalty. As Rachel runs the gauntlet of Henry’s wackadoo family members – including a sympathetically subtle turn by Michelle Yeoh as Henry’s fearful and controlling mother Eleanor – Wu reveals varied layers of heartache and resilience. It’s a thoughtful performance, understated and thereby likely to be unfairly overlooked come awards season, but nonetheless an exceptional depiction of female frustration and agency in this maddening modern era.

Catch this film while still in theaters or on home video shortly.

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[Yes, a window into my musical taste.]

Blaine Fowler’s AmericaMy friend Blaine Fowler is a brilliant, witty, and delightful radio DJ here in metro Detroit on WDVD 96.3 FM. His morning show is a top-rated listen in this market. He and his wife Colleen are also among the kindest people you’ll have the chance to meet with two lovely and successful children. But one of his greatest loves is music. I wrote a bit about his last iTunes album 49783 here.

 

His latest release America was just posted on iTunes and Amazon for download.The whole album is divine. More cohesive sonically and rawer lyrically than the prior one, with an almost “song cycle” effect and an evocative moodiness. I liked it very much. Highlights include “Love Is” (a trippy throwback to Prince at his Minneapolis peak), “Reach,” “Oval Beach,” and “Best Friend.” This is an impressive evolution, which is saying something as I very much enjoyed Blaine’s previous effort. Keep it up. And keep experimenting. My two cents.

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Freeman Means Business

This week, my friend and fellow legal marketer Susan Freeman interviewed me for her podcast. She writes, “Check out the latest great conversation about the life of a legal marketer from our ‘Peer Pod’ podcast featuring Roy Sexton, a real dynamo — and a reel dynamo too!” Click here or here.

“Be patient. Listen to those with experience in areas that are new or foreign to you. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self. People WILL respond.” Thank you, Susan!

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Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

Tech Thoughts From a Long-Time Marketer in a First-Year Role

As published by Legal Marketing Association’s Strategies here

 

Share, collaborate and give credit where credit is due.

 

This article aligns with the focus of the July/August issue of Strategies magazine: technology.

The other day I hosted a webinar. It didn’t go well.

We didn’t select one of the platforms typically used by our industry. “Let’s save costs,” we thought. “We can do this ourselves,” we thought. So, we used a subscription for a service we already had. We scheduled it. We did a “dry run” in our media room. Everything seemed to being working OK.

Day of webinar, with 60 people on the line, we launched our new quarterly web series. There was lots of energy. Lawyers were pumped. Rockin’ and rollin’. Twenty minutes later, a colleague popped her head in the conference room, gesticulated wildly toward her ears, and hissed, “We can’t hear you.” White hot panic ensued.

We started over. Still couldn’t be heard. Suddenly, we couldn’t see our slides either. Disconnected. Restarted. Suddenly all was right, but only for the 20 people who inexplicably remained on the line. Blessedly, my attorneys were game to re-record the whole thing offline, which we then posted on our website — and a new podcast was born.

I’m 20-plus years into this career. I think I know what I’m doing, but I often don’t know what I’m doing. It can happen to any of us. We want to please too many people; we’re told to keep costs low, don’t commit to any product long term, pilot something new — you can figure anything out, until you can’t.

 

When You Can’t Be All Things to Your Firm

 

This brings me to my most salient piece of advice for the small-firm marketer with finite resources (human, financial, technological): It may seem counterintuitive, but you must budget for consulting advice, and you must push back if your firm is unwilling to let you enlist the virtual aid of experts on areas where you may be deficient. It’s tempting to try to be all things to your firm, but you can’t. You will fail, and when you fail they fail.

It is crucial to my success to stay in contact with fellow legal marketers as well as service providers in our industry. You need to stay on top of the latest and greatest in technology solutions, measurement, outreach, etc., and, for me, maintaining my professional network is a great way to do so. I have some consultants I’ve known personally and professionally for years ― people I met at my very first LMA conference. Consequently, I trust their counsel.

Know what you don’t know, and be transparent about that. Part of your value to your respective organizations may be in giving them access to consultants and resources you have gathered over the years. For me, I lean heavily on CRM, web/digital and measurement experts, and, as appropriate, have them take on engagements with the firm.

First Time’s the Charm

 

When you are pushing your firm to make that big expenditure (for them), you need to articulate how important it is to do things correctly the first time. What are those old sayings? Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Measure twice, cut once. Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face. (Shudder. That last one is particularly grim.)

You must quantify your impact. Social media and digital give us a host of great leading metrics to use around awareness and engagement (e.g., reach, readability, downloads). We can also target industry groups now in very sophisticated ways. When working with attorneys, you need to show immediate impact ― whether by helping them connect with media and PR opportunities or through networking events, and then mapping out strategies for follow-up, codifying the business development steps and pipeline.

It’s not always evident that business development is a long game, so you have to help them see the short-term gains on the way to the larger outcome. If you have made a strategic bet on technology (e.g., marketing automation, competitive intelligence) to achieve those gains, celebrate each and every gain — no matter how small — and link it back to that investment.

That is how you will free up capital for your next play. And, if you can integrate with your accounting team via a CRM system (sometimes easier said than done), all the better. In an ideal environment, you should be tracking your marketing activities and then seeing what, if any, revenue impact they may be having and adjust as needed.

  • The digital revolution is changing the way we connect with the consumer and how we impact their decision-making processes dramatically. Duh. We can be increasingly targeted and can measure our impact in more granular ways. Be aware of how you are budgeting your dollars, and don’t be left behind because decision-makers in your firm may remain smitten with antiquated techniques that once worked for them. Both from a talent retention and a client acquisition perspective, you need to adapt and adapt quickly.
  • We are seeing an increasing diversification and consolidation of the traditional chief marketing officer role. Duh again. We are seeing chief experience officers, engagement execs, digital leaders, tech experts and operational leads spin out of and take over the marketing space. Keep your skills up-to-date and diversify, and don’t focus on tactics at the expense of strategy. At the end of the day, we are here to drive awareness and business. As a result, we can find ourselves at the table for interesting conversations. Avail yourself of the opportunities. Don’t be linear about your work nor provincial/territorial in your thinking.
  • Dollars will always be a challenge. Duh… big time. No one wants to spend money on marketing, but they want amazing results. You can’t really blame leaders for that. Marketing can be very expensive and frustratingly nebulous in its impact, so operate lean. Cut programs that aren’t working before others cut them on your behalf. Find ways to leverage digital to shrink your own budget and demonstrate that you can achieve significant outcomes for less. That may seem counterintuitive as marketers can sometimes spiral into empire building as a means to seem more significant or powerful within an organization. Show your value through outcomes, not turf or budget size.

 

 

Lean on Collective Intelligence

 

Digital, digital, digital. Acquiring technology to increase targeting. Boosting signal. Digital dissemination vehicles. Marketing automation.

There are so many great tools out there that your head will spin trying to understand them all. Don’t try. Find people who are doing that work ― sifting the wheat from the chaff. Tell them your needs, seek their counsel and follow their advice. Don’t be afraid to spend some money on people who are doing the research you may not have the bandwidth or expertise to accomplish yourself.

Some days I feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown. Others I feel like I’ve won the lottery. I love being a solo marketer. I love the work I do when I can introduce my attorneys to a new tool that will make their lives easier, help them reach a broader audience and find their voices. But I can’t do it alone. The best “tech” I can acquire is the collective intelligence of consultants and colleagues who have solved these problems before me, who know what works (and what doesn’t) and who can help me make the case for change. Share, collaborate and give credit where credit is due. That’s how you win the game.

Interested in learning more about marketing technology? Be sure to check out the July/August issue of LMA’s Strategies magazine.

Roy Sexton is the director of marketing for Kerr Russell. His background includes significant experience in both the legal and healthcare industries. He recently returned to a law firm environment, assuming the role of director of marketing at Kerr Russell after a stint as regional marketing director of a large health system. He is treasurer-elect for the 2018 LMA Midwest Regional Governing Board.

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Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

I wrote a thing. #JDSupra publishes my  “Goldilocks & The Three Jobs: How to Tell Your In-House Marketing Role Is the Right Fit.” 


Thanks, Adrian Lurssen and JD Supra for the opportunity to contribute again!

 “Goldilocks & The Three Jobs: How to Tell Your In-House Marketing Role Is the Right Fit.” 

Excerpt: “So, whether you are looking for the right firm or you are the right firm doing the looking, here are some observations that may be worthwhile to those in-house marketing professionals in flux. These are my hard-earned learnings on how to be successful in a new role, and if your new work culture doesn’t respond, it may be the wrong fit.” Read here.  

Once more with feeling (#LMA16): Perspectives from In-House Legal Marketers on Social/Digital Media

img_0348If you missed this week’s Social and Digital Media SIG webinar recapping our takeaways from #LMA16, the recording is now posted here: http://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1174915/B5ECC687155CBA1462A3D24E464C0D94. (You have to “register” to watch.)

Thanks to the incomparable Megan McKeon for joining me on this presentation! And listen for shout outs to Nancy Leyes Myrland, Lindsay Griffiths, Tasneem K. Goodman, Jabez LeBret, Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Heather Morse-Geller, Melissa Thomas, Amber Bollman, Bree Harms, Jim Jarrell, Gina Rubel, and more …

“As the influence of social and digital media continues to evolve and cross-over into all aspects of marketing the legal profession, legal marketers continue to become less generalized, and more focused on specific areas of expertise. These varying focuses and roles, result in differing approaches to the social and digital media in our profession. In other words, what a business development professional finds valuable about a digital media presentation, may differ from that of a marketing technologist. As such, the Legal Marketing Association Social Media SIG invites you to attend our LMA Annual Conference Recap Webinar involving in-house legal marketers from various areas of our profession to discuss their favorite digital and social media programs from this year’s conference. Discussion topics include key takeaways from our favorite sessions, general discussion of the hot topics you may have missed, and the impact of the 2016 LMA Annual Conference programming on our behavior as legal marketers.”

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LMA 16Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). 

In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  

My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

The Digital Handshake #LMA16: ROI (Measuring So You Can Better Manage) … and PechaKucha!

pecha(Originally written for and posted on Legal Marketing Association Social and Digital Media Special Interest Group blog. This piece is summarizing two sessions I attended at the 2016 annual conference in Austin, Texas.)

 

In her blog entry “Referrals and First Impressions: How Technology Has Changed Them” (summarizing a recent Legal Coffee Break podcast by GNGF founders Mark Homer and Jabez LeBret), Lindsay Griffiths, Director of Global Relationship Management at International Lawyers Network, writes …

When a prospective client Googles you, and the only thing that comes up is a bio that is outdated, with a few lines about your practice, the year you graduated law school and passed the bar, it won’t matter if you are the smartest and most talented lawyer in the world. The firm’s website and your social media profiles are designed to support the word of mouth referral and their decision to hire you, to provide a level of comfort that we all seek when looking online for information these days – that feeling of “oh yes, I’m making the right decision in trusting this person with my business.”

 

What Lindsay has captured here is a key theme that resonated repeatedly for me during the recent Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference (LMA16) in Austin, Texas. The notions that digital and social media somehow exist in a vacuum and are to be discussed as some glorious abstraction or, worse, funky sideline experiment are defunct (not that they ever had any validity to start). We don’t have a special task force for “telephone usage” or “the art of cocktail conversation” (though, in fact, those are not terrible ideas, come to think of it). Social/digital presence is now essential to the business development and marketing conversation, from prospect research through lead generation, from ongoing client engagement to every facet of brand management. Let’s face it. Our digital footprint is often the first thing anyone sees about us these days.

That said, this blog entry, which started life as an assignment to summarize one social media-leaning presentation at LMA16 is going to be a mash-up of takeaways from two utterly unrelated sessions, sessions which nonetheless showed the essential value of digital and social as a matter of accepted course in the world of legal marketing.

Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Equinox Partners, presented “ROI: Measuring So You Can Better Manage,” an effervescent boot camp on law firm managing up and leaning in and breaking out. In the surest sense of “getting more flies with honey,” Fitzgarrald returned frequently to the truism that what you can’t measure doesn’t matter – and more to the point, if you don’t know what matters to your clients, no measurement in the world will help you. And if you are still encountering difficulty selling the importance of digital client engagement to law firm leadership, follow this recipe …

  • Ask your attorneys about their priorities. Don’t assume.
  • Are you mining social media to understand what your clients are seeking and how they are communicating? What are your competitors saying and to whom?
  • Form an unofficial board of advocates in your firm – mix of attorneys & other colleagues.
  • With firm growth priorities in mind, how can social/digital help? What are stakeholder concerns/fears?
  • Socialize unfamiliar concepts using data, outcomes, competitor examples, non-legal examples. Plant the seed, and let others champion the idea. Doesn’t matter who gets “credit,” if it benefits the firm.
  • Measure your social media efforts – quantitatively and anecdotally. Proactively circulate internal monthly measures/outcomes: reach/impressions, shares/likes, media mentions.
  • Actively demonstrate your value and that of social/digital.
  • Help linear folks see in 3D.

 

As social media has evolved from being a standalone topic to a vital communications/ engagement tool, discussions of use, value, measurement were woven throughout many LMA16 presentations across varied topics. Nowhere was that truer than in Tas Gooman and Jabez LeBret’s “Your Honor Awards Meet PechaKucha,” with presentations by Jann E. Dudley of Archer Norris; Daryl Drabinsky of DLA Piper; Sarah Fougere, of Oblon, McClelland, Maier, & Neustadt; Morgan Hall from McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland; and Andrea (Crews) Maciejewski from Levenfeld Pearlstein.

In fact the very presentation-style of the session reflected how social media has impacted our speaking styles and absorption of information. What is PechaKucha you ask? It’s a timed presentation  – six minutes and your slides keep moving whether you are ready or not – requiring the speakers (in this case the 2016 Your Honor recipients)  to focus on the key narrative points: what they did, how they did it, and what results they achieved.

Here’s the thing. Nearly every one discussed how social media/digital was essential to their strategy: targeting messages by audience segment, creating agility and ability to customize what is viewed/received, and offering bigger impact for lower costs. Some of the most memorable tips …

  • Microsites (as opposed to traditional web bios) for attorneys. One size does NOT fit all. For more digitally/socially active subjects, a microsite rewards by including social links, blog posts, etc.
  • In designing “book of content” style sites/microsites, send out private links for measurement and create customized marquees for respective audience interest.
  • Use images rather than text (which I’m failing at presently), and find ways to present information as stories, as narrative, not as cascades of bragging points.
  • Use social/digital to make your campaigns “come to life” with real voices – people want to talk to people, not entities.
  • What issues are trending on social media (e.g. marriage equality), and does that present a growth opportunity? Move fast, and engage … but “non-lawyer-ly.”
  • Hire a local up-and-coming fashion photographer to differentiate photos used in social.
  • Feature profiles, news in-line with business you hope to attract.
  • Explore platforms that allow you to provide easy-to-share content to attorneys, but avoid dreaded “auto-posting” appearance.

Based on these various ideas ping ponging around my brain (thanks, LMA16!), here are the challenges I see going forward …

  • Think less about social media in a “tactical bubble” and more as the accepted (and at times primary means) of strategically communicating. Why is there this “fire wall” around social/digital?
  • Build social/digital more prominently into reporting mechanisms. Where are our clients learning about us? What are they saying and where?
  • Think visually, communicate concisely, speak personally. There is a necessary precision to legal communications; however, our digital/social presence is competing against millions of messages (legal and non-legal) every day. How can we stand out, while walking that fine line of credibility and promotion?

And remember that the first handshake your attorney may have with a potential client is more likely than ever to occur in cyberspace.

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Roy Sexton is Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Trott Law, P.C., a Michigan-based real estate law firm serving the mortgage industry (www.TrottLaw.com). A graduate of Wabash College, he holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and an MA in theatre from the Ohio State University. He has nearly 20 years of experience in strategic planning, business development, marketing and communications, having worked previously at Deloitte Consulting and Oakwood Healthcare.

He is a published author with two books of arts criticism Reel Roy Reviews, compiled from his blog of the same name (www.ReelRoyReviews.com).  He is an at-large member of LMA’s Midwest Board, serves on the state Board of Governors of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association, and is a co-founder and board member of Ann Arbor’s Penny Seats Theatre Company. He is active in the Social & Digital Media SIG and is on the advisory board for Strategies. You can reach him by emailing rsexton@trottlaw.com or via the following social media channels:

  • Twitter: @roysexton
  • LinkedIn: /royesexton
  • Facebook: /roy.sexton

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LMA 16Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). 

In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  

My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

#LMA16 – Keeping Austin Weird … and Making Legal Marketing GREAT (Again).

LMA 16 seriousI just returned from Austin, Texas where the annual Legal Marketing Conference was held. An amazing and eclectic city hosted an even more amazing and eclectic bunch of smart cookies, who shared their knowledge and insight freely, fiercely, graciously, profoundly.

If one could bottle the wit and wisdom in that hotel over the past three days, we could solve every world crisis, laughing and smiling every step of the way.

Yours truly was included in a number of session summaries posted by LexBlog (www.lxbn.com) throughout the event. You can check them out here …

Above the Law covered the conference here, and wonderful colleague Heather Morse offered her ode to LMA here. Check out these conference tips from talented legal PR expert (and attorney herself) Gina Rubel. You can also sign up for our LMA Social Media Special Interest Group wrap-up webinar here.

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Yes, there was no end of fun to be had as well, which you might detect from these photos (cheeky hats courtesy of Jonathan Fitzgarrald) …

LMA 16 3

(And, I promise … I’ll get back to movies soon.)

 LMA 16 2

LMA 16LMA 16 4

Join us Wednesday, April 20 for the Social Media SIG’s recap of the Annual Conference! (Registration Link)

As the influence of social and digital media continues to evolve and cross-over into all aspects of marketing the legal profession, legal marketers continue to become less generalized, and more focused on specific areas of expertise. These varying focuses and roles, result in differing approaches to the social and digital media in our profession. In other words, what a business development professional finds valuable about a digital media presentation, may differ from that of a marketing technologist. As such, the Legal Marketing Association Social Media SIG invites you to attend our LMA Annual Conference Recap Webinar involving in-house legal marketers from various areas of our profession to discuss their favorite digital and social media programs from this year’s conference. Discussion topics include key takeaways from our favorite sessions, general discussion of the hot topics you may have missed, and the impact of the 2016 LMA Annual Conference programming on our behavior as legal marketers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss the main takeaways from a handful of social and digital media breakouts from the perspective of three types of in-house marketers
  • Compare and contrast which of these presentations resonated with and provided value to our panel of in-house marketers
  • Assess how the 2016 LMA Annual Conference will affect future behavior for our panel looking to implement what they learned practically within their firms

Featured Speakers:

  • Megan McKeon, Senior Business Development Manager, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  • Roy Sexton, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Trott Law, P.C.
  • Jacqueline Madarang, Marketing Technology Manager, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
  • Jessica Aries (moderator), Business Development Manager, Andrews Kurth LLP

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 IMG_4792Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

 

San Diego, Part the First: #LMA15 (as in Legal Marketing Association!)

My fellow panelists

My fellow panelists Heather, Megan, Gina

A week or so ago, I shared this wonderful coverage from my hometown and from The Legal News of an upcoming speaking engagement at the Legal Marketing Association’s national conference.

Well, mission accomplished!

My fellow panelists Gina Rubel of Furia Rubel (Philadelphia), Heather Morse Geller of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger (Los Angeles), and Megan McKeon of Katten Muchin Rosenman (Chicago) and I were ecstatic by the response to our presentation. (And, yes, I did launch things with a Shakespearean monologue – Duke Senior from As You Like It to be exact. My poor colleagues who endure my shenanigans …)

LexBlog posted this summary (here) of our presentation “Collaboration and coexistence among barristers and ‘baristas'” – including tweets from audience members (and panelists) summarizing key points.

Me with Gail, Josh, Laura, Lindsay, Nancy

Me with Gail, Josh, Laura, Lindsay, Nancy

Gina added “10 post-event tips to get the most out of conference attendance” here at her marvelous The PR Lawyer blog.

Heather offered a more existential take in “The spirit and energy that connects us all” at her fabulous Legal Watercooler here.

Just for fun, click here for Lindsay Griffiths‘ media montage of the great #lma15selfie experiment! Lindsay (International Lawyers Network) also wrote an excellent piece regarding the LMA General Counsel panel here at her blog Zen & the Art of Legal Marketing.

For you tweeters out there, be sure to follow Gail Lamarche (Henderson Franklin), Laura Toledo (Nilan Johnson Lewis; blog: The Legal Shakeup), and Lance Godard (Fisher & Phillips) … among a whole bunch of other wonderful people I’ve now left out. I should never start these lists …

How many marketers fit in an elevator?

How many marketers fit in an elevator?

I know this is a strange collection of content for my blog that usually focuses on movies and culture and rampant silliness, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a glimpse into my daily life. Many of you readers are social media mavens so this information may be helpful in a variety of ways.

(And don’t worry – the second installment in a few days will be all about the San Diego Zoo, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Hollywood, Disneyland, and the seals of La Jolla. I live to be a tacky tourist. You can get a photographic preview here.)

Finally, what follows is a piece I wrote for LMA about another conference panel “Control your online reputation and image,” presented by the talented duo of Nancy Myrland (Myrland Marketing) and Amy Deschodt (Weil). (Nancy’s blog the Myrland Marketing Minute can be found here.) Enjoy!

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Nancy Myrland and Amy Deschodt (Photo tweeted by Cheryl Bame)

Nancy Myrland and Amy Deschodt (Photo tweeted by Cheryl Bame)

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy

At the 2015 LMA conference in San Diego, social media and public relations experts Nancy Myrland (Myrland Marketing & Social Media) and Amy Deschodt (Weil) confirmed this assertion but with a healthy dose of postmodern digital age caution.

Their session, titled “Control Your Online Reputation and Image,” offered attendees a strategic and tactical overview of how to navigate choppy PR waters in an era where Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, blogs, and other platforms can escalate media crises in a matter of minutes and seconds, not days and hours.

First and foremost, the panelists noted that if you don’t plan to initiate communication then you shouldn’t build social media into your communications strategies. Social media is at its most effective when it is used conversationally. To simply broadcast messages defeats its inherent power. Responding to and shaping commentary is key. Social media is dialogue.

Understanding this core assumption is vital to understanding how to respond in a crisis, let alone day-to-day brand management. According to Myrland and Deschodt, we live in a world that is increasingly accustomed to using, say, Twitter as an instantaneous means of offering complaint (or kudo).  Legal marketers, they say, disregard this cultural shift at their own peril.

The panelists offered a series of real-world examples (e.g. McDonald’s), wherein global companies found themselves in a quickly spiraling maelstrom of social media criticism. Controlling a PR nightmare is no longer about simply containing mainstream media but, arguably more crucial, tracking and responding to social media critique. What are your customers saying? How can and should you respond? When should you not respond and let a crisis run its course? These are all strategic questions that take on instantaneous tactical import. Myrland observed, “Do not ignore a bad situation that is brewing. Assess the risks and benefits, and plan your communication strategy accordingly,” with Deschodt adding, “Stay calm, distinguish what you can control, what you can only manage. Distinguish crisis versus drama.”

(Image tweeted by author from slide by Myrland)

(Image tweeted by author from slide by Myrland)

Whether in the digital realm or not, a media dust-up can erupt at any point. Some in the audience were agnostic that a law firm would be faced with the same vitriol that say a restaurant chain or bank might face.

Myrland was quick to point out that, whether via association with a client or due to the nature of a particular firm’s work, a firm could find itself with a PR target on its collective back. Deschodt added that when responding to a crisis be swift with thought, listen, and be factual. Never delete comments – the world is watching, and open and transparent dialogue is essential.

Myrland and Deschodt highly recommended hiring a seasoned social media manager who knows the ropes and that consulting the Bar on thorny issues is always advised. Build up a store of social capital (e.g. posts that add value, acknowledging and responding to commenters) before you “spend” it either for promotion or in a difficult situation, and follow your state’s social media ethical restrictions.

Social media may seem “fun” but it is not “frivolous.” It can provide incredible support to your brand recognition and to client engagement, and it can serve as a powerful tool in a crisis. However, always exercise restraint in what you solicit on social media. You may think you are opening a door, but you also are giving license to both positive and negative feedback. And if it’s something you would never say or do in person, you should not say or do it online either. As Myrland wryly observed of a culture prone to digital shaming, “Don’t pile on.  Just be nice.”

Keep Calm

Keep Calm (Image created by Myrland Marketing)

Also, there are a great number of tools out there for tracking, monitoring, and automation (e.g. HootSuite, Buffer, and the like).

The ability to monitor by key search terms (e.g. hashtag trending) is a huge advantage offered by something like HootSuite, both in monitoring the everyday impact of your branding efforts as well as chatter in the midst of a crisis.

Automation can be invaluable as well, but don’t let it detract from the need for interaction. Auto-posting content can quickly veer into blasting not conversing, so be mindful of that pitfall.

Finally, Myrland offered a handy social media rubric to follow, adding that it’s important to experiment with digital resources and to discover what works best for you and your firm. For Myrland, the seven stages of social media are as follows:

  • Preparation
  • Communication 1.0
  • Connection
  • Observation
  • Communication 2.0
  • Education
  • Collaboration (and then back to preparation)

Or, as Myrland succinctly offered, “You wouldn’t go into a conference and just start throwing business cards at people. Don’t do that online. As you might at a conference, research the people with whom you’d like to connect, offer an ice breaker, establish rapport, observe their reaction, communicate more, teach them about your firm or product, and then work together on something meaningful.”

But the best advice of all may have been when the panelists closed with the following recommendation: “Keep calm and call a legal marketer.”

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Reel Roy Reviews 2

Reel Roy Reviews 2

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital) In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.