Over at his Legal Marketing Blog, Tom Kane discusses utilizing staff in developing business:
I continue to be amazed how few law firms engage their non-marketing staff in the firm’s business development efforts. Actually, if you think about it, your staff is already involved in your firm’s marketing whether you want them to be or not; and whether it is in the firm’s best interests or not. If the staff has contact with clients, prospects and referral sources, which certainly receptionists, secretaries and paralegals do, they can help or hurt the firm’s reputation by how they relate to outside contacts. If the secretary is rude with any contact (god forbid a client) or the receptionist blows off a caller (hint: pet peeve to follow) by sending him/her directly into voicemail without another word, for example, such contact (or lack thereof) can be very damaging. Even how staff members act in public can reflect poorly on the firm, believe it or not.
And of course, the same is true for the web. Receptionists, secretaries, and paralegals can also reflect poorly on the firm on the web. But more likely, at least with respect to the firm, they aren’t participating online at all. And while this is likely to change as more and more people become part of the online conversation, there are some things you can do to nurture online participation by staff that reflects positively upon your firm:
- Blogging – One thing you might consider is having staff participating either in firm blogs or blogging on their own.
- Twitter – Using Twitter for public firm news, communications, etc, can be a great way to nudge firm staff toward online participation.
- LinkedIn – I’m a big fan of LinkedIn for business development. Adding your firm there, creating a firm group, and engaging staff on LinkedIn will allow you tap into your staff’s professional networks there.
Policies & Guidelines
It should go without saying that you should have very clear policies and guidelines in place with regard to how staff can permissibly participate in discussions related to firm business. Always remember that, in most states, lawyers are accountable for ethics violations committed by non-lawyers on their behalf.
But Tom is right, “…your staff is already involved in your firm’s marketing whether you want them to be or not; and whether it is in the firm’s best interests or not.”
So better to be proactive in shaping the conversation as opposed to completely ignoring it. You might just come to learn that they’re a better reflection of your firm than much of the “intentional marketing” that you do.