A helluva engineer: A brief biography of Allan Gordon Provost

Usually, I provide writing and ghostwriting services for lawyers, law firms, legal organizations and consultants to the legal industry.  But I can write just about anything for anybody.  Recently, for example, I was retained by a mining construction (Harrison Western Construction) and water process technology (HW Process Technologies) company to write a short profile of a Denver-based businessman and mining engineer -- Allan Gordon Provost.  Here's the first section:


Al Provost was just a teenager when he first worked on an oil rig.  One day -- as he was laboring away on a drill, cold and covered in mud -- he looked up to see a well-groomed man in a nice suit walking through the site.  “Who’s that?” he asked a pal.  It was the project’s engineer.  “Well, that’s the job for me,” he decided.


That decision was just the first step in a half-century journey that included the creation and growth of a successful company -- as well as many significant contributions to the mining and natural resources industries.


In June of 2010, Al fell ill while bear-hunting with his grandson in Canada.  An initial diagnosis of dehydration and exhaustion turned out to be an aggressive form of leukemia.  He died only two weeks later, on June 20, 2010.  He was 74 years of age.


While he was still in the hospital, the head and pelt of a record-setting black bear he’d shot in Canada on a previous trip arrived.  “If you meet up with that bear again in heaven,” said son Don Provost at Al’s memorial service, “my money’s still on you, dad.”


For the complete profile:  A helluva engineer:  A brief biography of Allan Gordon Provost

Denver Black Ice women's rugby sisters

Young women today continue to break barriers.  My two daughters, for example, play women's rugby -- and are really good at it.  On the right is daughter Caitlin O'Connor, 31, who is also a practicing naturopathic doctor (N.D.) here in Denver.  On the left is "little sis" Micaela O'Connor, 24, who is getting ready to attend chiropractic college.  They've been playing for years.

(There's a son in my family, too, but he doesn't play rugby.)

Their team is Denver Black Ice.  Caitlin also played for C.U., and for the Seattle Mudhens.  Micaela is on the West Regional team.

Micaela just returned from a weekend tournament in Albuquerque -- the 2010 High Desert Rugby Classic.  Black Ice won the tournament and Micaela brought  home the trophy for MVP.  Dr. Caitlin missed this tournament because she was officiating at a friend's wedding in the mountains.  Gen Y-- such multi-taskers!

There is often talk in the legal blogosphere about Gen Y and issues with these associates at law firms.  I just don't see it.  Take advantage of Gen Y's new way of thinking and problem solving.  My daughters have chosen the medical profession, but couldn't you use some competitive, aggressive, team players in your litigation practice -- women who are not afraid to get a little bit muddy if necessary?  By the way, one of their teammates (Bre Alexander) just passed the bar and is looking for a job in Denver.  She coached the team to this tournament victory.

The ultimate storyteller: Ira Glass Comes to Denver

Last night, master storyteller Ira Glass of This American Life was in Denver  to speak at a fundraiser for Colorado Public Radio.  The Paramount Theater was packed to the (very ornate) rafters with fans of all ages -- from tatooed hipsters through grey-haired grandparents.  The energy was palpable.  He used stories to hold the audience in his hand for two solid hours.

Glass spoke on how to tell a good story -- but also, more importantly, on why to tell a story.  There is no better way to create empathy, and empathy is essential to persuation.  He strongly believes that emotion should be interwoven with the news -- not limited to a humorous or "human interest" segment tagged onto the end of traditional news programming.

Glass also included lots of audio examples to illustrate his points (another good tactic!).

If you get the chance to see Ira Glass in person, take it.  It is worth every cent.  Otherwise, tune into This American Life on your local public radio station or dowload the podcasts.


Just JDs program at 2010 LMA Annual Conference

In an attempt to attract more lawyers, the Legal Marketing Association introduced a new full-day program at this year's conference -- Just JDs.  Here is a review of this program that I wrote for Law Week Colorado:

LMA made a strong effort to attract more lawyers to the 2010 conference.  The Just JDs session started out with about 25 attendees – all partners -- but had grown to 40 by the mid-day break as word spread about the quality of the speakers, many of whom were lawyers as well as consultants.


“In today’s competitive marketplace for legal services, it is not enough to be a ‘good lawyer and a nice guy (or gal)’ in the eyes of your clients,” said James Durham, chief marketing and business development officer at McGuire Woods.  “You need to be ‘the best lawyer your clients have ever worked with.’”


The way to do this, according to Durham, is to develop a goal-driven personal client-development plan.  “The biggest danger is getting bogged down in the planning process,” said Durham.  “Lawyers love the planning process.  It feels good to them.  Take a few hours to develop a common sense plan – then just get started.”


What makes a lawyer “the best lawyer I’ve ever worked with” in the eyes of general counsel?  “At a certain level, legal skill is a given,” said Durham.  “Clients perceive value in outside counsel who help them make money, save money, look good within their organizations and sleep better at night knowing their legal problems are being managed,” said Durham.


Deborah Knupp of Akina Corporation discussed “how lawyers can sell their legal services without making their skin crawl.”  She presented a useful list of top ten business development tactics as well as a set of worksheets.


Knupp suggested creating a list of 20 people who either need what you are selling or know someone who does.  “Then discover an authentic reason to connect with these individuals by introducing them to others, providing them with relevant information, or inviting them to join you for coffee or breakfast -- or at an event of mutual interest,” said Knupp.  She cautions against lunches, which are too time-consuming for both parties.


“Every lawyer should be prepared with two key messages at all times – a ‘quick pitch’ message and a ‘what’s new’ message,” said Knupp.  The ‘quick pitch’ answers the question, ‘what do you do?’ in language that states not only that you are a lawyer, but also the kinds of problems you solve for clients.


“The ‘what’s new’ message answers that question with a reply other than ‘not much,’ or ‘I’m swamped,’” said Knupp.  “Use this query as an opportunity to talk about something interesting – in the eyes of your target – that you are working on.  Be sure to follow up by asking the other person what they are working on.”


Ross Fishman of Fishman Marketing, who organized the Just JDs program, addressed the use of marketing tools – especially Web sites -- to increase a law firm’s exposure.  “Law firms need both marketing and business development,” said Fishman.  “Marketing creates opportunities by setting the stage.  Business development capitalizes on those opportunities to bring in new work.”


Fishman does a lot of work with small and mid-size firms.  “There is a common perception that bigger is better,” said Fishman.  “Small and mid-size firms have more to prove than large firms.  They can do this by focusing on a particular niche, by being less expensive, and by using creativity in order to be more memorable.”


When the economy is bad, many law firms attempt to cut costs by cutting back on marketing efforts – at a time when many large companies are actively looking for less-expensive small and mid-size alternatives.  “Cutting back on marketing is a big mistake,” said Fishman.  “As your competitors cut back, you can really widen the gap between them and you by marketing aggressively.”


Alvidas Jasin, director of business development at Thompson Hine, discussed the use of competitive and client intelligence to increase business from existing clients and gain new clients.  “Never try to guess what it is that your clients want,” said Jasin.  “Ask them.  Lawyers often hesitate to do this but, trust me, clients love to be asked.”


“To take care of your existing clients,” said Jasin, “create client teams that include lawyers, paralegals and staff – and let your clients know about it.  Use end-of-matter surveys as an opportunity to touch base, improve your service and perhaps gain new work.  Conduct annual client meetings with your most significant clients – and use this information to continuously improve your client relationship.


“Most importantly, do not seek client input unless you are fully committed to acting on the feedback you receive,” said Jasin.  “Nothing is more harmful to a relationship than seeking input, raising expectations, and then not living up to those expectations.”


When seeking new clients, use relationships.  “I strongly discourage any kind of cold call,” said Jasin.  “Find someone inside or outside your firm who can make an introduction.  Thoroughly research the target and its legal needs.  Create a team that reflects the client’s team and a pitch that is customized to the client’s needs.”


Public relations campaigns focused on narrow, niche issues were the focus of a presentation by John Hellerman of Hellerman Baretz Communications and Gina Rubel of Furia Rubel Communications.


“Lawyers gain credibility in niche areas when they are quoted by relevant publications or asked to speak by meaningful organizations,” said Hellerman.  “These opportunities are at the heart of public relations.”  In today’s environment, PR also includes reputation-building via a robust presence on the Internet.


“To attract media attention, you must think like a reporter,” said Rubel.  “News value is determined by proximity, impact, unusualness, timeliness, prominence and conflict.  To drive interest, your story needs to meet two or three of these criteria.  News value plus creativity makes a big difference in whether or not a story idea is picked up.”


In addition, Hellerman and Rubel discussed how to conduct public relations in accordance with ABA and state bar Rules of Professional Conduct.


Although the use of social media was a consistent theme throughout the day, it received special attention in a presentation by Richard Klau, a well-known blogger and product manager for Google Blogger.  He also holds a law degree.


“Social media allow individual lawyers – or anyone -- to take control of their own reputations without having to go through a third party,” said Klau. “You can create a blog to establish yourself as an expert in an area.  You can use saved searches in a reader or Tweetdeck to keep current with – and comment on -- breaking developments in your area.  You can use social networks to track down ‘who knows whom’ when you need an introduction at a potential client.


“Do not get hung up on online traffic statistics,” said Klau.  “On the Internet, influence and focus is much more important than numbers.  Twenty visitors to your site – if they are the right influential visitors – can be much better than 500 visitors.”


In addition to Just JDs, LMA offered on Wednesday full-day pre-conference sessions for the most senior and the most junior marketers – a Masterminds program for those with more than ten years experience and a Quick Start program for those with less than five years experience.


Dr. Caitlin O'Connor and All Families Natural Health

As a rule, I try to keep my blog professional and my posts tightly focused on the subjects of content writing, lawyer and law-firm marketing, and the marketing uses of social media.  This post falls under the "proud parent" exception to the rule!

My daughter, Caitlin Raasch O'Connor, is a Licensed Naturpathic Doctor and a Certified Professional Midwife.  She graduated from Bastyr University, a five-year accredited program that included a two-year internship treating patients in the school's Seattle clinic, and recently completed an additional family practice residency at National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Last month, after six years of school and residency, Dr. Caitlin O'Connor returned to her home base of Denver.  She opened her own practice in the Highlands neighborhood and her own blog at All Families Natural Health.  She focuses on women's, children's and general health.  For more information about Dr. Caitlin O'Connor and/or naturopathic medicine, please visit All Families Natural Health.

TV show based on remarkable career of SCOTUS expert Tom Goldstein?

Any time I talk to a lawyer who questions the value (or the propriety) of social media marketing, I bring up the story of Tom Goldstein -- who went from solo to head of the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump using social media like his SCOTUS Blog and SCOTUS Wiki to make a name for himself in this very exclusive area of the law.  He has also made a number of non-self-important videos that he has posted on YouTube.

In today's Wall Street Journal Law blog, Ashby Jones reports on a Variety story  that NBC is developing a TV show based on Goldstein's remarkable success story.  The working title is Tommy Supreme -- "depicting a likeable guy in an unlikeable profession."

Now I have even more ammunition to use when attempting to persuade  lawyers and law firms who think that social media are too undignified for the law or their particular practice!  What is more dignified than a Supreme Court practice?

Lawyers embracing social media

According to research conducted for LexisNexis, 86 percent of lawyers under the age of 35 are members of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace.  Among lawyers age 46 and older, a surprising 66 percent are members of social media.  Obviously, the role of social networks in marketing a law practice cannot be ignored.

These stats were cited in an article that appeared in Sunday's The New York Times.  The article has received a lot of attention because it discusses the situation of a lawyer who was reprimanded and fined by the Florida Bar Association for an intemperate blog post.

All of those lawyers -- younger and older -- who are now using social media would to well to remember that publishing is publishing.  The ethics requirements governing the conduct of lawyers don't change just because you are online.  Use social media -- but do not publish anything there that you would not publish in a magazine or newspaper.

Never let a client leave with asking "why"

A couple we know started buying season subscriptions to repertory productions of the Denver Center Theater Company nearly 30 years ago -- and has resubscribed every season since.  For the past ten years, our "theater group" has grown to include five couples buying season tickets. 

When the entire group did not renew this year, our 30-year member (and group coordinator) got a call asking if we were going to resubscribe.  She said no, and that was it.  There was never a follow-up question or call to find out why -- and what the DCTC could do to change our minds.  We were a good source of revenues.  How could they not, especially in these tough ecomonic times, try to find out why we would change our minds -- after 30 years of loyalty -- and use this information to improve their product and service?


If they'd asked, we'd have provided a good answer.  For the past five years, we have been trying to get the DCTC to work on how they schedule the plays.  Every year, we get tickets for three Saturdays in a row -- and then nothing for two months.  Couldn't they perhaps space them out better?  For five years, the DCTC has said they cannot.  Too bad.  It is just too much work for subscribers to go out to dinner as a group and then to the theater three weekends in a row.

We've come up with a solution that works well for our group -- but not for the DCTC.  Five couples, ten individuals, ten months of the year (with two months off).  Each person is assigned a month to come up with an interesting cultural activity on the third Saturday of the month (so we can plan).

This summer, we are traveling to The Santa Fe Opera to hear Natalie Dessay in her debut as Violetta in La Traviata.  Locally, we will attend the Denver Art Museum's exhibition of The Psychedelic Experience (art from the Sixties) and a Broadway touring production of August: Osage County at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Our tired old theater group has been reenergized as a "culture club."  Remember, your seemingly loyal clients always have a choice.

Kevin O'Keefe (LexBlog) webinars always helpful

When it comes to blogs and other social media for lawyers and law firms, Kevin O'Keefe and his team at LexBlog are recognized as the industry experts.  Because LexBlog designed and hosts my Constant Content Blog, I am invited to participate in LexBlog's regular online Webinars.

Over the years, we've all been snookered into worthless Webinars -- where presenters drone on endlessly about concepts that are obvious to 95 percent of the audience.  Or simply read their slides.  Not so with the LexBlog series.  I consider myself pretty "cutting edge" when it comes to social media, but I always come away from these sessions with a number of good ideas that I can easily put into action myself.  Each one is an hour well spent.

The June 28 LexBlog Webinar was Creating effective blog posts and engaging in online discussions to enhance your online reputation. 

The month before, the subject was Twitter:  What is it?  Why should I use it?  How do I use it?

And there are many more.  A recording of each Webinar is posted online.  Try them.  You'll like them.

A Lawyer's Guide to Creating a Marketing Habit in 21 Days

Paula Black has launched the latest in her "Little Black Book" series on marketing, branding and positioning for lawyers and law firms.  This one is titled A Lawyer's Guide to Creating a Marketing Habit in 21 Days.  It is designed to help lawyers integrate marketing into their daily lives.  Those who purchase the book today will receive a collection of free bonus gifts -- a compilation of advice from experts in the legal marketing arena.  I meant to help Paula publicize this offer on the first day of her two-day promotion, but I spent yesterday stuck in an airport and away from my online "tools."  Sorry Paula!

Also interesting is how Paula created this online campaign and methodically followed-up with prominent bloggers to offer them "buy in" for the publicity campaign for this book.  Muy strategic!  I've seen a lot of posts on ths promotion on the many blogs in my own aggregator.  After just one day, her book ranks #11 in the marketing category and #77 in the business management category at Amazon -- her goal.  I am sure the results will be even better by the end of day two.

This campaign is an excellent example of using online resources to "work" your product.  I would sure give Paula Black a call if I had a new book to promote!

Andrew Hudson's excellent personal brand adventure

Yesterday, I attended a job-search presentation sponsored by the Mile High Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.  I am working on a synopsis of the program, which will be posted to this site in a week or so.  In the meantime, I want to comment on "personal brands."

Moderator of the panel was Andrew Hudson.  When I saw his name on the program, I knew that I had to attend and introduce myself.  This is what having a "personal brand" is all about!  "Andrew Hudson" is to PR job search in Denver what Pepsi is to soft drinks and Nike is to sporting goods.  And he used the Internet to get there.

Ten years ago, while he was employed in marketing and communications in a corporate setting, Andrew founded Andrew Hudson's Jobs List.  Today, this list has grown into the premier job-search Web site in the Rocky Mountain Region for professionals in the marketing, communications, sales, HR and nonprofit sectors.  Since 2005, more than 15, 000 individuals have subscribed to receive weekly updates.

(Incidentally, the site was originally called PR Jobs List.  Recently, Andrew changed the name to include his own name and expand beyond PR -- another way to expand his personal brand and the scope of his services.)

I am a longtime subscriber to this list, which I find very informative (even though I am not looking for a job).  I admire Andrew's ability to "monetize" over time what started out as a friendly service to fellow-professionals.  But that is not the only reason I wanted to meet him.

Andrew worked in the Denver Mayor's office.  I worked in the Milwaukee Mayor's office.  Andrew worked for Frontier Airlines.  My son is employed by Frontier Airlines.  Andrew worked for a U.S. Senator.  My husband ran for U.S. Congress.  Andrew supports the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park, Colorado.  The NSCD taught my son to ski, and my husband works for Wells Fargo, which sponsors the NSCD Wells Fargo Cup.  Andrew is a professional jazz bassist who plays at Dazzle.  I enjoy jazz and have heard him play at Dazzle.

How do I know all this about Andrew Hudson?  Because he has steadily and consistently promoted his personal brand in a wide variety of formats -- where I have learned enough to want to attend his presentation and start a conversation.  It takes numerous touchpoints to make a sale.

How strong is YOUR personal brand?

Any place. Any Time. Any size. Any age.

When lawyers and other professional services providers are asked  to develop more business, they often respond with a list of obstacles.

I'm in the wrong place.  I don't have enough time.  My firm is too small to compete.  I'm too young/old to be taken seriously.

Social media tools help you demolish these obstacles and move ahead.

In social media, place is no longer an obstacle.  The Internet operates around the world -- so your content can end up anywhere.  Let's say you are a lawyer in Denver.  Not so long ago, your article might appear in one print issue of The Denver Business Journal or your speech take place one time before a local business group.  Today, using social media, your article or a podcast of your speech can be accessed by interested parties anywhere around the world -- spreading your reputation far beyong the boundaries of your geographic location.  Plus, you can contribute and search content as easily from your home office or on the road as you can from the 45th floor.

In social media, time is no longer an obstacle.  The Internet operates 24/7, so you can contribute or search for useful content around the clock, in any time zone, any day of the week.   When you leave the office at the end of the day, on weekends or for a vacation, your online reputation is still on the job -- working hard to win new clients.  With an investment of little time you can use the Internet to achieve expansive results.  It takes much less time to write a blog post or a Twitter update, after all,  than it takes to research and write a legal article.

In social media, size is no longer an obstacle.  On the Internet, no one can tell how big you are.  A savvy solo or a small firm can easily build an "online reputation" that rivals the reputations of much larger competitors -- at very little cost.  Tom Goldstein -- as a solo -- created SCOTUSblog and used it to build his reputation as an appellate attorney.  A decade later, he is head of the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump.  One lawyer I interviewed went from anonymous third-year associate to national expert the field of Canadian timber law -- in just one year of blogging.

Finally, in social media, age is no longer an obstacle.  Not so long ago, young professionals were expected to stay in the office and leave business development to the partners.  Today, now that place is no longer an obstacle, a young professional can jumpstart his or her career by using social media (from the office or from home) to build an online reputation.  On the flip side of that equation, an older professional who understands how to use social media for business development can easily appear "ageless" and intellectually vigorous on the Internet.

Use social media to overcome the business development obstacles of place, time, size and age.

Twitter: Blue bird of marketing happiness?

Twitter is one of the latest social networking tools.  A user can use Twitter to create a free account, follow others, develop a list of followers and send 140 character messages -- called Tweets -- to the desktops or phones of others.  I opened up a Twitter account (@jeraasch) about six months ago, which so far I use primarily to send out links to new articles that I've published on this blog.  Apparently, there are many more ways to take advantage of this useful new tool!

Yesterday, I learned some new ways to use Twitter for business development in a Webinar presented by Lexblog.  To view the Webinar, click here.

I learned how to use a program called TweetDeck to impose order on what can be a daunting number of incoming Tweets.  You can use Tweetdeck to create up to ten sorting categories.  Some of these can be groups of people you especially want to follow, like individuals invited to an upcoming event (you can also Tweet with them during and after the event).  Others can be "saved searches" on useful terms -- like your name or the name of your law firm.

Twitter can be used actively to enhance your reputation as a thought leader.  Kevin O'Keefe at Lexblog recommends Tweeting links to useful content that you've found elsewhere.  (Sometimes, you will need to shorten the URL to fit into the 140-character limit.)  Also, Twitterers can "retweet" a message on their own account to all of their followers.  Retweeting is like an endorsement of someone else's Tweet.  It is a good way to enhance your relationship with the original Twitterer.

Twitter can also be used for search.  As I mentioned above, you can search for your name or firm name to monitor what people are saying about you on Twitter.  You can search by keywords to find out what people are saying about a current issue -- and respond with your own comments.  You can search by your area of practice and city to find the Tweets of potential clients who are asking for advice on legal services.  If you are attending an event, you can search by the event name, find other Twitterers who will be attending, and make plans to meet them in person at the event. 

In fact, many reporters are using Twitter this way to find good sources to quote in their articles.  O'Keefe mentioned that when a bomb went off in Gaza, he was able to Tweet in real time with a person on the ground at the bomb site.  He mentioned that he was able to use a link to listen to the flight recorder from the Buffalo commuter plane crash before the recording appeared in the maintsteam media -- via Twitter.

O'Keefe also recommended that your Twitter "opus" should be 90 percent "business" and 10 percent "personal."  Relationships are often based on shared personal interests -- a point that I've often made in my posts regarding online biographies and profiles.

Like so many other social media, Twitter is just a tool.  If you create an account but just let it sit "on a shelf" and never use it, Twitter will be a waste of your time.  If you use to position yourself as a thought leader and meet new people, it can be a good use of your time.

LMA Annual Conference headed for Denver

Legal markting professionals and lawyers -- get ready for the rarefield air and spectacular mountain views of the Mile High City!  The Legal Marketing Association will hold its 2010 Annual Conference March 10-13 in my beloved home town -- Denver, Colorado.  If Denver was able to handle the Democratic National Convention, it should be able to handle LMA -- although I think LMA might party just a little bit harder.

Last week, LMA executive director Betsi Roach discussed benefits of membership at the montly meeting of the Mile High Chapter, of which I am a longstanding member.  Other speakers polled the membership for conference ideas, and reviewed the keynotes and some of the presentations from last month's 2009 LMA Annual Conference, held near Washington, D.C.

LMA membership (and its annual conference) are valuable tools.  Here is my synopsis.

The bee that gets the honey doesn't hang around the hive

I didn't post a "fresh" blog entry last week because I am currently devoting one hour a day to tedious -- but extremely important -- blog housekeeping tasks.  I have 115 blogs and Web sites on my aggregator.  Each day, I am methodically adding ten links to those blogs to this relatively new blog of mine -- and then individually contacting the authors to let them known that I subscribe to their blogs and have added a link to them on my own blog.  I am then requesting that they take a look at my blog and, if they find it useful, subscribe and link in return.

I am halfway through this process and it seems to be working well!  My site statistics continue to improve each day, as do the Google results for my blog.  The blog itself has finanlly surpassed my LinkedIn profile (although not yet JDSupra).

When it comes to blogging, "The bee that gets the honey doesn't hang around the hive" is a much better slogan than "If you build it, they will come."  They won't come unless they know you are there.

If you want good results for your blog or other social media site, you have to "work" it -- making sure that links to your site appear on other sites and making sure that other prominent bloggers know that you exist and are regularly monitoring (and perhaps commenting on) your posts.  You want to return the favor by mentioning and commenting on their posts as well.

Time for online spring cleaning!

More ideas from the Met: Be user-friendly

Last Saturday, I attended the Metropolitan Opera's live broadcast performance of Madama Butterfly at my local movie theater.  I've seen my share of live productions of Madama Butterly over the years and, at this point, it takes a lot to persuade me to see a new one.  In this case, the production is by film director Anthony Minghella, the costumes by Han Feng and the child Trouble is played by a Bunraku puppet.  Reason enough.

I've written before about how these broadcasts are a magnificant marketing move by the Met.  New York Magazine sums it up nicely:  "The aloof old Met, which once deemed promotion unnecessary, has suddently turned positively manic about reaching out and becoming user-friendly."

My friend John, who is a media executive, was blown away by the concept of the live broadcast:  "It just seems like common sense that everyone would do this."  Common sense, indeed.

Lawyers and law firms are comfortable with the use of traditional "aloof" spoken and print venues for demonstration of their expertise and thought-leadership -- but traditional venues are limited to a single audience and a single readership.  Social media, in comparison, are user-friendly and offer access to an unlimited audience and an unlimited readership. 

Print content can be posted to blogs and user-contributed content sites and linked to social networking sites -- but so can audio and visual content!  If you give a speech, record it, edit it and link it to these sites -- and post it to YouTube.  Post photos of attorneys and law firm activities on Flickr and other photo sites.  All of these contributions will be picked up in a Google search. 

Don't be an "aloof old" law firm.  Use new tools to reach out and become user-friendly.

For opera buffs, there will be a re-broadcast of the Met's Madama Butterfly Wednesday evening, March 18, 2009.  Check your local movie theater!

Rocky Mountain News, Adieu

The venerable  Rocky Mountain News published its last edition today, February 27, 2009 -- just two months short of its 150th anniversary.  My beloved Rocky fell victim to my beloved Internet.

Denver has long had two primary newspapers -- the Denver Post (traditionally liberal) and the Rocky (traditionally conservative).  We've subscribed to both since moving to Denver 15 years ago.  Even though I am strongly liberal by political persuasion, I've always (as a journalist) enjoyed the Rocky more than the Post.  It always conveyed a real sense of place.  From the Rocky, I learned what it meant to be a citizen of Denver, of Colorado and of the Rocky Mountain West.

Rocky editor and publisher John Temple and his wife Judith Cohn were among the first friends we made after moving to Denver from Milwaukee.  Our daughters Micaela and Hannah were in the same public school classes through high school.  We hope that our good friends will be able to stay in Denver, but who knows?  I am all about social media and the Internet, but I will sure miss opening up my Rocky Mountain News first thing every morning.  Bon voyage!

Reporters rely on social media

When researching and writing articles -- and looking for experts to quote in those articles -- most reporters have come to rely on Internet sources, including social media.  If a lawyer's name does not show up in a reporter's search for particular key words, he or she is missing the opportunity to be quoted in the story as an expert.

I 've always preached this principle, and this morning I got  personal proof of  how this works!

Denver is currently debating the pros and cons of the Blue Mustang -- a controversial piece of public art that is located on the approach to Denver International Airport.  Personally, I love the Blue Mustang!  Short-sighted opponents of the sculpture have launched a Facebook group called www.byebyebluemustang.com.  I recently added a "pro mustang" comment to that site -- a comment that  was picked up by Jim Stingl, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and included in an article yesterday on the subject of controversial public art.  Here's the link.  A shout out to my brother Steve Raasch, an architect in Milwaukee, who sent me the link!

The Blue Mustang must be viewed within the context of regional magical realism.  If it is demonic at all, it is a protective demon -- like a gargoyle.  After all, when a plane went off the runway here in Denver a few months ago, there were no fatalities.  Go Blue Mustang!

How NOT to use Twitter

The blogosphere is currently abuzz with an object lesson in how NOT to use Twitter (or any other social medium, for that matter) for business development purposes.

An account executive from a large PR firm in Atlanta flew to Memphis to make a presentation to his big client -- FedEx.  Upon landing at the Memphis airport, he made the following Tweet:  "True confession but I'm in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, 'I would die if I had to live here.'"

The Tweet was instantly picked up and circulated by a senior executive at FedEx, who was also using Twitter.  Turns out, the people at FedEx are quite fond of their home town.  The consultant's Tweet was immediately and publicly denounced as "inappropriate" by the FedEx corporate communications team -- before he had even arrived at the front door of this very important client.  Just try to imagine the reception!  And it is now all over the Internet.  Apologies have been issued.

What is the lesson here for lawyers and other professional services providers?  Social media are great tools -- but never, never, never post anything on a social network or other social media site that you would not want a client, a potential client or a reporter to read.  Social media are instantaneous and, because of the viral nature of the Internet, can rarely be completely recalled.  Think twice before you Tweet.

For more details about this incident, see David Henderson's blog.

Do your e-mails carry their weight as marketing materials?


I can't tell you how many e-mails I receive each day from lawyers and consultants that are signed with nothing more than the sender's name.  That's OK if I can respond by hitting "reply," but it is a real pain when I need to respond with a phone call or some mailed materials, or when the person is setting up a face-to-face meeting.  I have to take the additional step of looking up the phone number (direct line, please!) or the address.

Don't do this to your clients!  Sending an e-mail to a client without a comprehensive, useful signature block does not make it very easy to do business with you.  It is very easy to create a very simple signature block in Outlook that it is automatically appended to each e-mail.

In addition, each e-mail you send can reinforce your brand and your position in the marketplace -- for free!  It can also provide a link to much more information about you -- your Web site or blog, your social network profiles, or your Twitter address.  Give it a try.  Here's what I use:

Janet Ellen Raasch




Strategic Writing and Ghostwriting

774 Saint Paul Street

Denver, Colorado 80206

(303) 399-5041

(303) 919-4465 (cell)






Janet Ellen Raasch works with lawyers and other professional services providers

to help them achieve name recognition and new business

through creation of keyword-rich content for the Internet

as well as articles and books for print.

Marketing and the Metropolitan Opera

Mid-day last Saturday, my husband and I headed downtown to a local movie theater to watch/hear a wonderful performance of Puccini's "La Rondine" -- broadcast live by the Metropolitan Opera.  As usual, two of the venue's theaters were packed to capacity with enthusiastic local fans.  Since I am such a total marketing nerd, I was soon putting this experience into the context of marketing.

With these videocasts, the Metropolitan Opera has engaged on a brilliant marketing campaign.  The Met has taken an "elite" product like opera and made it more accessible to everyone -- through product, placement and price.  The Metropolitan Opera is far away (for most of us) in New York City.  Attending an actual performance is expensive -- and a fairly formal experience.

In Colorado (my home state) alone, the Met broadcasts one Saturday matinee performance (approximately once every two weeks) of each opera in its season live in high definition and surround-sound to 15 movie theaters (and multiple screens in some of these theaters).

You also could argue that the product itself is even better in broadcast format.  Instead of sitting in the nosebleed section and squinting through your opera glasses, you can see the performers -- up close and in high def.  You know you're getting the best performance possible, because each singer knows the broadcast is going out to millions of viewers/listeners around the world.  Between acts, the broadcast takes you behind the curtain for scene changes and interviews.  You can afford a ticket ($22), attend mid-day (while you are wide-awake), wear jeans and sneakers -- and even eat popcorn!  What a model!

And you can bet that -- next time we are in NYC -- we are more likely to attend the Met in person.

If the "elite" Metropolitan Opera can break out of its traditional mold for marketing purposes, so can "elite" professional services providers -- like lawyers, law firms and others.  It is time to seriously consider alternative methods of marketing.  Social media can be for professional services providers what these broadcasts in movie theaters are to the Met.

Interesting side note:  As we were waiting for the performance to begin, a woman sat next to us.  She did not stare straight ahead and wait.  She turned to us with a friendly smile, extended her hand, introduced herself and started a pleasant conversation about opera.  During intermission, we learned that she was a lawyer who specializes in estate planning.  We asked for her card.

When I mentioned that I help lawyers and others market their practices, she said, "In my 38 years of practice, I've never had to do any formal marketing -- and I've always had plenty of work."  I replied, "If you always introduce yourself to complete strangers in movie theaters -- and everywhere you go (and she said that she did) -- you've found the marketing approach that works best for you (especially as an estate planner)!  Keep it up!"

There are as many unique approaches to marketing as there are unique lawyers.

New LMA social network

The Legal Marketing Association recently launched its new member social network -- LMA Connect.  I've created a profile there and uploaded a few documents in order to give it a test drive.  Brett Wangman at LMA was very helpful.  A few suggestions:  It would be nice if you could make edits to documents (and document information) after you've made a download.  Currently, if you want to make a change, you have to delete an entry and start all over.  Also, it would be nice if documents could link to your profile -- like in JDSupra's setup.