Steve Rubel’s post, setting forth his 10 commandments for public relations professionals in this new world or his Golden Era of Participation, struck a cord with me as it relates to lawyers. As I read his commandments, I thought how much they should, and in my view, do apply equally to how lawyers should handle client relations.
Steve’s commandments (with my lawyer applicability in brackets):
1) Thou shall listen – Utilize every avenue available to you to listen actively to what your publics have to say and feed it back to the right parties. [substitute “clients” for “publics.”]
2) Remember that all creatures great and small are holy – It doesn’t matter if it’s the New York Times calling on you or an individual blogger, both have power. Take them all seriously. [Treat all your clients as being important no matter how much revenue they generate individually. They have friends.]
3) Honor thy customer – Create programs that celebrate customers and they will celebrate you. [through various forms of recognition including: client receptions, free CLE seminars for in-house lawyers, annual reports and ads featuring clients, entertainment and other means of “thank you.”]
4) Thou shall not be fake – Keep it real; don’t hide behind characters and phony IDs. [Don’t blame other lawyers, opposing counsel, or the courts when things aren’t perfect.]
5) Covet thy customers – Don’t sue your fans. You will alienate them. [Substitute “clients” for “fans.” Moreover, really let them know how much they mean to the firm (see 3 above).]
6) Thou shall be open and engaging – Involve your customers in the PR process. Invite them to help you develop winning ideas and become your spokespeople. [Substitute “service” for “PR” process. Create client teams to enhance client relationships and develop better ways to provide them legal services.]
7) Thou shall embrace blogging – It’s not a fad, it’s here to stay. Be part of it. [Ditto.]
8) Thou shall banish corporate speak – People want to hear from you in a human voice. Don’t hide behind corporate speak. It will soon sound like ye olde English. [Substitute “legalese” for “corporate speak.”]
9) Thou shall tell the truth – If you don’t tell the truth, it will come out anyway. [This goes without saying.]
10) Thou shall thinketh in 360 degrees – Ask not (only) what you can do for your customer, but also what your customer can do for you. [Ask for work and referrals.]
These may not be the ten “most important” commandments for lawyers, but they certainly should be factored into the new age of the world and the legal profession.