A new year is upon us. There’s no time like the present to work on keeping the resolutions you just made. But I’m here to help you with some new professional ones. In particular, your resolutions to help you become the best communicator you can be. So, let’s get started.
First, resolve to be open. Resolve that you are open to trying new things when it comes to how you communicate. Be open to trying new and different ways to communicate. This may mean that you’ll try marketing your practice, department or firm for the first time, or reallocating your marketing budget to account for the growth in popularity of online news. You can also be open in how you are communicating, for example meeting face-to-face with colleagues, clients, reporters and community leaders rather than just over the phone or through email. This will deepen your relationships and engender more trust.
Second, resolve to consume more, but do it smarter. This means taking an informal audit of how you are getting your business leads and even your news in order to be a more effective practitioner. If you solely rely on referrals and word of mouth to generate new business, try different vehicles to complement them, such as presenting a CLE, addressing attendees at a legal industry conference or putting on a webinar. Then compare the different methods to determine what works best for you.
If you are getting your news by sifting through The New York Times, The Legal, a morning newscast and listening to a news radio station en route to work, try cutting back on one of the mainstream outlets and putting together an online news feed comprising information from legal or practice industry sites to receive a targeted set of articles, analyses and editorial pieces delivered daily to your computer and/or mobile device.
Third, resolve to be social (or more social). And no, I don’t mean being more fun to be around at parties. By social I mean engaging or engaging more on social media. When adults are active on multiple social media platforms, are actively texting, uploading videos and using their phones as news outlets, it’s time to join the party or miss out. It’s not your kid’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube anymore.
Lawyers, firms, businesses and organizations have realized the value and relatively beneficial return on investment (in terms of generating leads, staying top of mind or engendering loyalty) from actively communicating on social media. You can also help others by following them on Facebook, retweeting their messages, subscribing to their e-news blasts or YouTube channels and endorsing their skills on LinkedIn. Chances are your generosity will be reciprocated.
Fourth, resolve to be a better resource. As newsrooms shrink, there are more openings for outside experts — including lawyers — to contribute to news programming. Depending on the format of the news shows, subject-matter experts such as legal, medical and financial experts will have more opportunities to comment on the day’s news and provide their own commentary. You can help them in other ways, too. For example, you can serve as a teacher and tutor the media about the inner workings of parts of the law germane to their beats, introduce them to experts in the field in addition to yourself and offer tips and leads to spark the development of news stories. Doing these will have the added bonus of helping you with the opportunity to place stories on your firm or your client’s behalf.
Fifth, resolve to be a source. Similar to serving as a resource to the media, serving as a good source means being available to go on the record to comment for a news article or segment, or giving reporters and producers names of other professionals and experts to reach in order to help them complete their stories.
Finally, resolve to learn and share. This could mean, for example, taking on a new marketing-centric role at your practice, writing a regular blog for your firm or company’s website, sending out a monthly e-newsletter with helpful tips for your recipients or getting active in promoting the legislative agenda of your local bar association. Whatever you do decide, resolve to “pay it forward” and share what you are learning with a senior colleague (yes, a senior colleague, who likely will be less versed in new technologies and marketing strategies) so that he or she can benefit as well.
If you work to achieve the above, I am confident that you will achieve these resolutions. Ultimately, this translates into more business, which, after all, is the best reason to dive in now.
Jeff Jubelirer is the principal of Jubelirer Strategies. He leads the development and execution of all aspects of its clients’ strategic communications programs, including media relations, issue and crisis management, and community relations. He also is an adjunct professor in crisis communication at Temple University.