Brand and reputation management goes hand-in-hand with all other digital marketing and SEO efforts. Regardless of how well established your brand may be and how you manage your reputations online and not, eventually, a problem will arise. 

Managing your way out of a crisis is difficult but not impossible. Below are four tips on how to navigate a crisis in any law firm's life.

1. Monitor Your Brand and Executives
 
Detect the problem early. Many issues can be avoided if noticed early enough.
 
While law firms and attorneys are usually extremely busy, it is best to continually monitor your firm's brand and executives. Keep your eyes and ears open for anything that may look like it could develop into a problem for the firm. Monitor your personnel, brand, and key executives, including the founding partners and leadership team(s). 
 
The key people in the firm are more closely monitored because anything they may say or do can negatively or positively impact the firm. Nothing impacts a firm's reputation negatively, causing clients to leave or driving potential clients away than the personal actions of the leadership team.
 
Monitoring the firm's digital footprints does not have to be expensive. Try setting up Google Alerts for the firm's brand and its partners. Google Alerts are free and easy to set up. This is a good solution for a smaller firm, but you may need multiple monitoring tools if you have a large law office and numerous team members. Which one would best serve your firm's needs is a matter of personal choice according to what you want to know and achieve. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, so having a variety is a good strategy.
 
Some software suggestions include:
 
• Dynatrace
• Nexthink
• Glassbox
• Centreon
• FusionReactor APM
• Germain APM
• Catchpoint
• Raygun
• SysTrack Digital Experience Monitoring
• New Relic One
 
2. Aim To Get More Positive Reviews
 
Many satisfied clients do not leave a review unless someone at the firm asks them to do so. Make it a point to ask every happy client for a review. Positive reviews help your digital presence.
 
There could be a downside to asking for reviews, as in "you get what you get." Be careful who you ask and assess any possible risks before asking.
 
Reviews have a logarithmic perception, meaning if you have ten reviews, and five of them are negative, the firm looks terrible. But, if you have 500 reviews and ten are negative, the firm will not look bad. The more positive reviews you can garner, the less impact the negative ones carry.

3. Tell Your Law Firm's Story Early and Often

If there is nothing online about your firm and something negative happens, the damage will be far worse because there is nothing to counterbalance it. The crisis will get all the attention.

For this reason, your firm's story needs to be told and told frequently. Doing this builds credibility, recognition and a positive presence online. 

So how does a law firm tell its story? Talk about the positive things happening in the firm, which help build the firm's credibility. Highlight everything positive, including awards, achievements, promotions, charitable contributions and other community participation. 
 
Of course, do not only produce content for your website. This positive content needs to be promoted to other outlets. Proactive reputation management is all about regulating what's on the search engine results page (SERP). 

Community influencers can prove beneficial to your firm. Legal content and insider tips can boost your recognition level in the community.

4. Create a Crisis Workflow
 
A crisis workflow is a simple plan designating who will do what when a crisis arises. While you cannot think of everything, crisis workflows can pivot and adapt to almost any problem.
 
The most important thing about a crisis workflow is knowing who will handle which part of the response. 
 
It is a good idea to test a crisis response workflow by generating a mock crisis. You can then see firsthand how the workflow runs and what adjustments need to be made.

Remember, things like monitoring your brand, telling your story, getting positive reviews and creating a crisis workflow can mitigate the damage caused by a crisis. Crisis or reputation management is not just a two-week news cycle. Everything stays online for a lot longer. However, if your firm continues to build a positive brand reputation in the SERPs, you are more likely to be able to ride out any storm.

About Author

Kerrie Spencer is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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