Awards/Rankings, Writing Advice

Essential Guide to Successful Editorial NominationsFeatured

When I started working for law firms in 2001, I never imagined that my typical day would be focused on anything other than media relations. But times have changed and so have the publications. Today, much of our work week can be devoted to responding to awards and rankings — thanks to the increasing number of requests from news editorial (legitimate lists) and pay-for-play lists and what I will call pop-up publications (not legitimate) that send out requests for submissions. We can all agree developing an editorial nomination takes time, skill and some finesse, from navigating the politics of which submissions to make to compiling the details and facts of each matter that tell a compelling story. This was highlighted throughout the Legal Marketing Association’s recent Los Angeles panel program that featured Greg Mitchell, editor-in-chief of The Recorder; Julie Fei, global communications manager at O’Melveny & Myers; and Kristy Werness,…

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Media Relations

Facts are boring. Stories are Compelling.Featured

The human mind is constructed for telling and listening to stories. It’s just how our brains work. We are hard-wired in that way. Mark McKinnon, a leading political strategist recently told the New York Times you can’t win an election without storytelling. “Good stories win. Campaigns without a story lose.”  Noted trial lawyer Gerry Spence told a group of lawyers they will only capture a jury’s attention if they present their case as a story. “Of course it is all story telling — nothing more. It is the experience of the tribe around the fire, the primordial genes excited, listening — the old warrior, his voice alive, rising with the flames, now whispering away, hinting at the secret …” The same principle is true for public relations professionals. A PR professional succeeds when he or she develops a convincing story, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Yes, reporters like data and survey results, but…

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Media Strategy, Writing Advice

Does Your Complaint Tell the Whole Story?

One of my favorite PR assignments is to promote a complaint that a lawyer has just filed in court on behalf of a client. A complaint is the way that most litigation is kicked off in both federal and state courts and a major point of interest for the media. In the law, a civil complaint is a written document that contains the allegations against the defendants, the specific laws allegedly violated, the facts that led to the dispute, and any demands made by the plaintiff. Any lawyer’s first obligation is to the client, so a complaint needs to present the client’s case in as effective a way as possible. But too often I read complaints that put me to sleep. Ones that leave me confused. They can be repetitive and full of legalese, avoiding any possibility of selling a compelling story that would have a strong impact on the audience, including a reporter who has no background in the…

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Writing, Writing Advice

Storytelling for Impactful Communication

Back in 2016, I wrote a post hereabout the importance of storytelling. “Facts are boring. Stories are compelling,” I said. I explained briefly that public relations professionals succeed when they can develop a compelling story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Stories are ultimately about people, and reporters know that the human angle engages readers and brings them in. A few days ago, my friend John Buchanan, senior communications manager at the law firm Sheppard Mullin, published an article in Marketing the Law Firm magazine that starts with these points and develops them further and more deeply. John goes beyond PR and press releases, emphasizing that all types of law firm content, all types of marketing materials, should depend on storytelling to capture an audience. Drawing on psychological and anthropological research, John wrote, “Storytelling is as old as humankind itself. Since the beginning of time, people have told stories and it seems…

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Facts are boring. Stories are Compelling.
February 22, 2016
Internal Communications

Professional Communicators Need to Set the Standard for Corporate Communications

Jonathan Friedland, Netflix’s chief communications officer, was fired from his position on June 22 after it was revealed that he used the “N word” recently on two different business-related occasions. Reed Hastings, the company’s CEO, made it clear that Friedland was being let go because of this serious lapse. The company acted very quickly after Friedland’s transgression became known. After he left the company, Friedland made it clear that he knew that he had crossed a line that a corporate leader, especially a communications leader, should never cross. “Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” Friedland said in a series of tweets. “I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone…

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Content, Content Marketing, Data, Public Relations, Research, Website Content

Developing Law Firm Content like a Hollywood Script

“Law is a talent business, like Hollywood,” said Brian Kiefer, Director of Communications at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, speaking at a webinar June 19 sponsored by the Legal Marketing Association’s Public Relations Shared Interest Group (SIG). In the webinar, titled “Building Blockbuster Content into a Thought Leadership Franchise,” Kiefer focused on Seyfarth Shaw’s annual Workplace Class Action Report, now in its 15th year, that has become indispensable for class action defense lawyers. Kiefer continued the analogy to the entertainment industry throughout the webinar. “There are so many parallels between what we do as marketing and PR people to bring content into the marketplace and what Hollywood does,” he said. “Our first step is to align talent with content, like casting a film. It’s important to cast the right lead. The lawyer who is to be the face of the franchise can either be a highly experienced attorney or a relative unknown…

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