Lawyers Need to Cooperate with Marketing, or Get Out of the Way

It’s the customer every brand dreams of: the superfan who spends their own time, money, and energy evangelizing a product to all their friends and family.

Sara Rosso is a Nutella superfan. So much so that she created World Nutella Day back in 2007, and it has taken place on February 5th every year.

A photo of a guy who has managed to wedge his head up his assThen she received a cease-and-desist letter from Ferrero’s (Nutella’s parent company) lawyers, demanding that she no longer use the Nutella name in her I-LOVE-NUTELLA-THIIIIIIIIIIIS-MUCH efforts.

According to an article on Social Media Today, Rosso got media coverage of the event on NBC, CNN, and ABC, plus a social media audience of 47,000 fans and followers.

And yet, some lawyers who had no idea about the awesomeness she was spreading (pun totally intended) as well as no freaking clue about how free marketing evangelism worked, shut her down.

So Rosso took her case to the people, and posted the cease-and-desist letter to her blog, and almost immediately — I hope after the marketing department shouted “WHAT THE F*** DID YOU JUST DO?!” at the legal department — contacted her to rectify the situation.

When it was all said and done, Ferrero issued this press release, which Rosso posted on her website:

“World Nutella Day: a positive conclusion

Positive direct contact between Ferrero and Sara Rosso, owner of the non-official Nutella fan page World Nutella Day, has brought an end to the case.

Ferrero would like to express to Sara Rosso its sincere gratitude for her passion for Nutella, gratitude which is extended to all fans of the World Nutella Day.

The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page.

Ferrero is pleased to announce that today, after contacting Sara Rosso and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action.

Ferrero considers itself fortunate to have such devoted and loyal fans of its Nutella spread, like Sara Rosso.

Problem solved! World Nutella Day has been saved!

Except it should never have been a problem in the first place. Without going into all the “everyone in a company should communicate” drivel, which you and I know will never happen, Legal should have at least been smart enough to check with Marketing and said, “Hey, have you guys ever heard of World Nutella Day? Is this a thing?”

And Marketing would have said, “No, but it’s pretty cool. Why do you ask?”

Legal: “Because we want to shut it down. Someone is using the Nutella name other than us.”

Marketing: “Don’t be stupid. Clearly this is someone who is helping us further the cause of Nutella, which helps us make more money, which is how we can afford to support your non-revenue generating asses.”

While I understand the need for brand protection and support, there needs to be a mechanism in place where the marketing folks can have some input on the cease-and-desist letters and tell the lawyers, “wait, don’t send that one.”

Then stories like this would never have to be written, and Nutella and Ferrero wouldn’t end up with egg on their face.

Five Reasons Why Attorneys Should Blog

I’m surprised at the number of attorneys who aren’t blogging.

If there was any form of communication made for attorneys, it’s blogging. It’s not a website, not TV, and certainly not the Yellow Pages. Here are five reasons why private practice attorneys should be blogging.Law books

  1. You show up higher on local search engine results. Many people are forgoing their Yellow Pages in favor of Google. And Google will automatically give results from your current location, not where they think you live. So if someone looks for an intellectual property attorney in Indianapolis (like my friend Matt Schantz), Matt may or may not appear at the top of Google’s results.
  2. You demonstrate your knowledge and experience in your particular field. If you specialize in corporate law for green companies, you should be writing about green issues. For example, if you wanted to specialize in working with alternative energy, you should be writing about alternative energy law, alternative energy news, and even Congressional bills that may affect alt. energy companies. The net result is that you’ll be seen as one of the leading voices for the industry, and more likely to be called whenever a company needs your advice.
  3. It’s a way to build your personal and professional brand without spending a lot of money advertising. It’s also a way to market yourself while staying within your state bar association’s rules. For example, we have a Kentucky law firm as a client, and we know that as long as we’re offering information (see point #2), and not providing legal advice, we’re within their guidelines. And our client still gets the benefit, because they’re beginning to win local searches for their specialty, and being seen as an expert in their particular field.
  4. It’s a way to learn new information. The old “see one, do one, teach one” model comes to mind here. If you read something, you may know it, but if you have to explain it to someone else, you’ll truly understand it. This also forces you to find something new to write about on a regular basis. It keeps you up to date on your chosen specialty, by reading different news articles, law journals, case law, and court decisions.
  5. You can improve your writing. Your blog should not be written for other attorneys, it should be written for clients. And your clients don’t talk or read like attorneys, so they don’t do “wherefore, whereas, and heretofore.” They do “if, except, and until now.” The best way to create tight, easy-to-understand plain English is to be forced to do it every couple of days

Photo credit: umjanedoan (Flickr)

Five Blogging Secrets for Lawyers

We speak to a lot of lawyers about how they can use blogging to help promote their practice without violating their state’s marketing guidelines. Many attorneys are realizing that social media is a great legal marketing tool, and many of them are trying to learn how to use it.

The problem a lot of attorneys have in their marketing is that they are not allowed to use “competitive” language — we’re the best, we’re better, or ranked number one in our field — and they can’t offer guarantees. This means they have to tread carefully on their TV and phone book ads. That’s why you hear/read things like “tell them you mean business,” “we fight for you,” and “we don’t handle anything except personal injury.”

We’ve found that many attorneys are wary about blogging, but that it’s the smaller firms who are quick to embrace it. The larger, older firms are still not too sure whether they want to get mixed up in it, which means the small firms are getting there first, and finding great success in leaving the larger firms behind.

The biggest reasons for lawyers to blog are to show up higher in search engines (many people are turning away from Yellow Pages and doing searches for things like attorneys via Google), and to demonstrate to clients that they have the ability and knowledge to handle their particular needs. (We’ll discuss why attorneys need to blog at a later date.)

Here are five ways lawyers can blog without violating their state’s marketing rules

  • Talk about legal news. Talk about things happening in your state or other states. This helps you keep up with what’s going on in your community
  • Talk about developments in your field. If you work in intellectual property, talk about intellectual property news. If you work in personal injury, talk about personal injury law. This shows that you keep up with developments in your field, showing potential clients that you’re working to stay up-to-date with important information.
  • Write case studies. Check out important cases in the news (not your own, since you have to worry about attorney-client privilege), and do an analysis of the ramifications of that case. This is especially important as you discuss cases in your field.
  • Review basic laws for potential clients. We do this for one client — we talk about local and state laws that might affect citizens of that state, like how local vandalism laws might affect their Halloween pranks, tailgating laws in time for football season, and what to do if you want to start a business.
  • Answer legal questions from readers. Address some interesting or unknown points, teach people a little about the law, and give basic guidance to people so they understand how to pursue their legal questions further. I understand you can’t give legal advice, so it will be important to point out that this is not advice, but is used for educational purposes.