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.

 

12 Days of Social Media: Yours Truly

NERD Roy UpdateThanks to Gail Lamarche and the Legal Marketing Association‘s Social Media Special Interest Group for including me in their series of interviews this month “12 Days of Social Media.” Gail writes (very kindly, I might add): “I’m thrilled to participate today and share insights from a great in-house friend from the Motor City, Roy Sexton from Trott Law, PC. I first met Roy at a LMA National Conference in Orlando a couple years ago when he attended the Social Media SIG’s Tweet-up. Since then, Roy is quickly becoming an integral part of the LMA community and currently serves as a board member-at-large for the Midwest Chapter.”  You can read the original post here.

 

1. What’s the next big thing in social media marketing for law firms in 2016?

I think the next big thing remains the last big thing. And it’s not some kind of zippy technology or shiny new platform. It remains the ever-elusive crossroads of great content and authentic engagement. I had a relative give me grief once, querying “How can you have so many friends?” with a particularly sniffy emphasis on the word friends. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to reply, “How can you not?”

The reality is that we and our colleagues, as professionals (and, cough, being of a certain age) have accumulated hundreds, nay, thousands of connections in our lives. Some stronger than others, obviously, but social media in all its permutations offers us the ultimate efficiency machine in drawing all the threads of our respective lives in a one-stop shop. The problem therein is in the authenticity of those relationships as evidenced by the time we do – or even can – spend developing them, and perhaps that was the heart of my cousin’s question (though I rather doubt the inquiry was that nuanced).

lgfmlwmcYou can’t just gather up an army of digital acolytes and hope something magical happens in order to promote your service or to achieve your desired business outcomes. You have to engage these people in meaningful ways that add value to their daily lives. As in life, a social media relationship is a transaction. It can be small – making sure you acknowledge a client/co-worker/colleague birthday – or big – writing a killer blog post that gives great analysis on a developing legislative issue or case victory.

The point is this: figure out the recipe that brings you success in your in-person relationships and apply that to the digital world. And, if you figure that out for yourself, you will be able to work wonders for your attorneys or your clients. You will be bringing them value and insight personally, and you will also be able to provide coaching and mentoring to help them do the same for their own networks. It’s been said before, but don’t approach social media as a task or as a campaign tactic (even if that is basically what it is), but rather position social media as a key component of your (and your organization’s) daily voice, both personally and professionally.

 

2. Who do you see doing social media marketing right, and what can others learn from them?

I get frustrated when I see us only look at what other law firms are doing in this space. Competitive benchmarking is important, of course, but I think the biggest innovation and the best work is happening in other industries or even in the white hot glare of celebrity culture.

How many marketers fit in an elevator?

Take Disney for example. None of us will ever have the budgets (or the legion of marketing minions) that the Mouse House has at its white-gloved disposal. However, you can still learn from what they are doing well, even if it borders on market saturation. With the launch of a new tent-pole like Avengers: Age of Ultron or the ubiquitous Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they have successfully leveraged the personal appeal of the professionals involved (the film stars), encouraging (and likely requiring) them to tweet, post, kvetch about their respective films in their own inimitable voices. Carrie Fisher alone, with her mix of cheek and charm, has been doing yeoman’s work singlehandedly making every Baby Boomer want to see a film about which they might have been otherwise indifferent. Disney has also supplied content across all levels of potential engagement – scientists to fanboys – in an endless series of articles, seriously journalistic and seriously not, using that old standby SEO to have a new wave of clickbait waiting on your device every time you log on.

I also look at celebrities – like Felicia Day (The Guild) or Katy Perry or even, heaven help us, Miley Cyrus and some of our politicians – who have used a digital space to expand their brand, personally and professionally, creating the very real illusion that they are interacting meaningfully with those who buy their stuff and sharing TMI as a channel for launching a new book/download/video. It’s the old Johnny Carson/Barbara Walters-confessional on steroids … but utterly controlled by the confessor.

2 Zoo Kids 2

So what? Why should we as legal marketers care? Because this is what we ourselves consume in our downtime and this is increasingly how the world expects to interact with its stars, its service providers, its industry, its government, and so on. No attorney should ever mimic Miley in their social media protocols. Ever. Yet, the days where you could legitimately say “Well, I use LinkedIn for professional contacts and Facebook for personal” are over. Social media is the new golf course or cocktail party where a conversation can flow naturally from the personal to the professional and back again. It doesn’t replace in-person interaction but it sure as heck enhances it.

And one final note – benchmark within LMA and look at your fellow members who do such a great job of branding themselves as individuals and as key members of their respective organizations: Nancy Myrland, Lindsay Griffiths, Heather Morse-Geller, Laura Toledo, Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Gail Lamarche, Tim Corcoran, Catherine MacDonagh, Lance Godard, Adrian Lurssen, Gina Rubel, Darryl Cross, and many others I’m leaving out so I don’t sound like a total sycophant.

Check out their pages – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and their blogs – study how they glide between humor and insight, poignancy and camp, silliness and impressive data-driven analysis. Benchmark that and see what lessons you can import to the good work you do for yourself and your firm.

 

3. What’s the biggest challenge for law firms trying to be active in the social media space, and how can they overcome it?

I just hate that occasionally we still find ourselves in the defensive position of talking colleagues off a ledge about social media, but it is the reality we will always face. And, honestly, I think it’s a healthy tension to have. Marketers, (no offense, as I include myself in this) tend to get giddy about a glittering new creative idea, so having a countervailing force in our lives asking “Why, how much, what will be achieved, and what are the risks?” is really important. We may ask ourselves those questions, but, if we are already smitten with the idea, we may not be as objectively agnostic as warranted. Well-navigated pressure refines an idea and strengthens resolve. Use it to your advantage.

My fellow panelists

Beyond that, I think another hurdle is in creating crisp clarity of voice. The trick is creating a social media profile for our firms that has a collective consistency while still allowing the wonderful and accomplished individuals within those firms to shine through. There can be a tendency toward marketing homogenization where the writing all sounds like it is coming from a machine. You have to fight that, and create messaging that seems to be coming from real people. How do you do that? Well, let real people do the writing, and create the guidance/parameters for both marketing pieces and individual attorney efforts that will provide solace to managing partners who fear (rightly so) any erosion of client privilege or a glib post that devolves into a PR crisis.

Walking that high-wire act between inspiring creativity and controlling outcomes is the biggest challenge in this sphere, and I don’t think there is an easy answer. You have to look honestly at your own skills and deficiencies as a leader, to review opportunistically what are assets and what are limitations in your respective firm cultures, to gauge what your clients will accept/appreciate and how they themselves are interacting with their clients and business partners, and to be crystal clear about what is proper practice in the legal industry (regional/state/national). Once you’ve done that work – with integrity and enthusiasm – then you can properly achieve the right consensus that will engage your colleagues and help them connect with your clients.Me with Gail, Josh, Laura, Lindsay, Nancy


Connect with Roy …

 

Roy Sexton serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Trott Law, P.C., a Metro Detroit law firm specializing in all facets of real estate finance legal work, including litigation, bankruptcy, eviction, REO and default servicing – www.trottlaw.com. In addition to leading Trott Law’s marketing and strategic planning, Sexton is responsible for the overall organizational and cultural communication and change, business development, service line planning, facility planning and support, and other administrative oversight.

Prior to joining Trott Law, Roy spent 10 years in various planning and communications roles at Oakwood Healthcare System, serving as the corporate director of strategic communications and planning. In this role he led a staff of 20 marketing professionals and developed the strategic direction for the $1 billion health care system. He also worked at Deloitte Consulting.

Keep CalmRoy earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in 1995 and is a 1997 graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned his Master’s degree in Theatre. In 2007, Roy graduated with his MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Leadership Detroit and Leadership A2Y, is a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Council of Labor and Economic Growth and was appointed to the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association Board of Governors (local and now state) in 2012. Roy has been involved on the following nonprofit boards and committees: First Step, Michigan Quality Council, National MS Society, ASPCA, Wabash College Southeast Michigan Alumni Association, Penny Seats Theatre Company and the Spotlight Players. He is a published author with two books Reel Roy Reviews, Volumes 1 & 2 (based on his blog of the same name – www.reelroyreviews.com). He is a board member-at-large for the Midwest Chapter of LMA.