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6 key ingredients of effective law firm press releases

As the media continues to evolve in this electronic age, newsrooms are shrinking or disappearing, the role of journalists is changing, and opportunities for publishing news online are proliferating. The type of information getting published – especially online – also is changing. A decade ago, the chances of getting a law firm press release published verbatim were almost nil. Today, with news and aggregate websites in abundance, wire services publishing on the Web, and more non-journalism-trained editors deciding what gets published, the tables have turned for the press release as a PR tool.

A press release is no longer a vehicle just for informing journalists (who, in the past, mostly cherry-picked the facts they needed from a press release to incorporate into their own stories). In many cases today, a press release is the complete story that your audience will see. That makes the stakes higher than ever before. With that in mind, consider these tips on key ingredients and useful elements to include when writing a law firm press release.

  • Include an attention-grabbing headline.
  • Include the most “newsworthy” information in the first two to three paragraphs – your audience may not read beyond that.
  • Emphasise what’s different about you, your firm or whatever news you’re communicating. Reporters love “firsts” and precedent-setting developments (if they are legit).
  • Insert web links to your law firm’s site and blogs, attorney biographies, and related external web pages. (Even if publishers use “nofollow” links that don’t pass link juice, you will still point readers to your firm’s website where they can further engage with your content.)
  • If there’s a related video, link to that also or embed it into the press release. YouTube and Vimeo players make it easy to copy embed codes.
  • For releases about attorneys, add links to their social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter).
  • Provide an email address and phone number for someone knowledgeable and responsive as a media contact.
  • Employ useful content. Great storytelling is what sells a release, and these add-ons and themes will help get reporters and editors invested in your news:
  • Provide statistics, if applicable, to add timeliness and credibility to your story.
  • Add local angles. For example, if a law firm has multiple offices, consider customising releases for each office with a different market (city) dateline. In each release, quote a local attorney/office head on firmwide stories. Consider other ways to localise your release to interest journalists in each city where you want coverage.
  • Try to pivot from a current event or story in the news. For example, for a press release about a new law firm office, juxtapose it against a recent story about a downturn in new business openings in the community.
  • Relate your news to current or emerging trends in the legal industry. Reporters often are interested in piggybacking on top of what’s on the cutting edge.
  • Analyse the impact of the news or development that your release covers. Don’t just report the news about you or your firm – explain how it may affect clients, the business community, other lawyers and law firms, and other key constituents.
  • Include at least one good quote from an attorney source or the subject of the release. This adds “color,” personalises the information, and breaks up the routine facts of “who, what, when, where and how.”

Don’t be intimidated by having to produce the perfect law firm press release every time out. By including as many key elements as possible, and hitting upon a couple of attention-grabbing content themes, you’re likely to have success in getting published and positively building the public reputations of yourself and your law firm.

Why press releases are important for digital marketing

Press releases have changed a lot over the years; not only are they a public relations tool, but they are also an essential content marketing component and media relations tool for both online advertising and offline marketing in 2019. Law firms can benefit from adding press releases to their digital marketing plan. Since the end result of a digital marketing strategy is to connect with current and potential clients, adding press releases to a law firm’s digital marketing can help gain exposure and raise brand awareness.

Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on digital media platforms. Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use a mobile device, or on the Internet. Law firms can leverage email marketing, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, and social media marketing across all social networks (such as LinkedIn, or even Snapchat, which has grown in popularity in recent years). Adding press releases into their content marketing can help them gain brand awareness and reach current and prospective clients on digital channels.

Incorporating Press Releases in a Digital Marketing Strategy:

Effectively using press release distribution services and their media outlets will boost the power and reach of the business owners digital marketing strategies without breaking the bank or hurting the bottom-line. Digital media coverage of your small business news story is a must, and a good press release is a very cost-effective way to get press release services like EIN or PR Newswire to carry your online press release. Done correctly, each news media company that carries your story will provide a link from their website to yours.

This link is called a backlink, which can be a powerful component of affiliate marketing. It is a sign that tells the search engines that your public relations information or brand image is relevant, and it can help affect your websites ranking on search engines like Google or Bing. This little nugget of information that you have produced can be seen around the world without hammering the bottom line of the company.

Press releases have become more important as a digital marketing tool. Your news article or news releases become much more powerful when picked up and distributed by the news media and distributed across digital platforms. The news media links to your press release help expand the reach of your content marketing articles, news stories, or public relations pieces. The goal is to have your public relations stories picked up and served to searchers looking on the first page of the SERP (search engine results page).

Why Press Releases Are Important:

  • Take e-commerce or B2B for example. Announcing the release of a new product, new service or plans for a product launch, or upgrade is easy and cost-effective. According to various case studies, writing a good press release and getting it distributed online can create brand awareness by letting the masses know about your new business or service.
  • If you want to announce a new product or service, you can draft a press release and immediately get your news found in real time on all major search engines and social media networks by using a press release distribution service. This also enables you to target thousands of journalists.
  • Your Brand Image can be affected. Since publishing is so easy, just write up your news story and then distribute it as a press release. Sending out press releases is easy and a sure-fire way to get attention and gain brand awareness. More good press releases you have on the internet can effectively improve and increase your brand’s image.
  • Add an image or video to your press releases. Research has shown that a good image or video has a much better chance of being clicked than items or content marketing stories with no images. Use multimedia to enhance the news story and tell your story while allowing search engine optimisation to get that information in front of more people. Adding an image or video also helps to improve user experience.
  • With the push of a button, you can have your public relations piece seen across the globe. Many of the press release distribution services allow for instant gratification in real time. No more relying on content marketing strategies that require journalists to read your piece and then hope that they call you or followup. Press release distribution services can distribute your information to millions of people around the world instantly, Your press release story should also be released across all marketing channels, including social media platforms. Utilising social networks can help to get the most out of your digital marketing campaigns and overall marketing efforts.
  • Make the search engines read your public relations materials. Adding internal links to pages on your website in the press release, such as using your phone number to lead to your site’s contact page, will direct readers and the search engines to learn more about what your company does or the services it offers.
  • So many people can see this. Online press releases can be written to accommodate a social media perspective. You can copy and paste your press release from a news media website and place it directly into your social media posts. Your story just looks better and has more authority when the media outlets carry it. Everyone that shares your public relations pieces over the various social media networks helps your content marketing strategy to prevail.
  • Your content marketing pieces are just press releases. You only need to write them as such so that your target audience can read your press releases anywhere at any time via laptop, desktop, or on mobile apps.
  • Search engine optimisation. Adding internal and external links to your press release, along with targeted keywords, helps to optimise the press release, which tells the search engines that your information is relevant and important. If you’d like to learn more about SEO, there are countless marketing courses online that carefully elaborate on the best methods and courses of action.

There are many newswire services and press release distribution services. Any reputable wire services or press release distribution service should provide you with a listing of all the locations and websites where your press release can be found. You should be able to have a listing with live links of all locations carrying your post. There are other considerations to take as well, like whether you receive a “do follow” or “no follow” backlink to your website or blog.

Five must-dos when designing a law firm workplace

Law firms are placing ever-increasing importance on thoughtful workplace design to attract and retain top talent, making every office build-out or renovation a critical opportunity to win the talent war. With millennials expected to comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, law firm design trends are being driven by an evolving culture that prioritises individual workplace experiences, health and well-being and ubiquitous technology.

The future of law firm design is rooted in change. Designers are not just designers anymore—they’re change management consultants. Architects and contractors often work with law firms’ human resources teams, facilities managers and the lawyers themselves to align the existing workforce culture with a realistic design approach. In doing so, five considerations are typically front-of-mind, if not mandatory.

1. Recruitment & Retention of the Next Attorney Generation

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come (or stay), and one size does not fit all. It boils down to getting to know your people, recognising the culture and understanding the aspirations of young attorneys moving up in the workplace before applying something across the board.

For example, the idea behind open office workstations for attorneys is rooted in thoughtful cost reduction, however there are many factors that influence whether that may or may not work, including the ever-present client confidentiality factor (both from an acoustical standpoint and from a visual standpoint) and requisite privacy.

Junior-level attorneys still view the location and size of their office, and migrating from a smaller to a larger office, as a reflection of professional progress. They aspire to the highly coveted “corner office” or larger office. It seems that private offices, whether varied in size or a universal size, are a permanent fixture in law firms for myriad reasons.

A modern alternative to open officing that promotes connectedness and increases workforce facetime is the increasing application of an intercommunicating stair. Rather than a library, additional secretarial space or mock trial rooms, law firms installing a communicating stair between floors are attempting to align themselves with the collaborative nature of tech firms and corporate HQs.

2. The Workplace Experience for the Individual

While the value proposition of a dedicated private office is still strong in law firms, attorneys appreciate having choices or offices available to them outside of the four walls of their office. If the technology is available to support them, attorneys are placing more value on breakaway spaces in which to work in a collaborative setting or in an environment that is still solitary but in a different footprint, such as a comfortable-yet-functional indoor “lounge” space or outdoor space for mild weather. It has become necessary to provide law firm attorneys and staff with options to show consideration of the individual workplace experience.

Given the tremendous pressure placed on attorneys to maximise billable hours, the more opportunities they are given to leave their desks, work solitarily in a different room surrounded by something different on the wall or a different colour, with different acoustics or even meet in a small room or hang out in the café, the better.

3. Health & Well-being in a Demanding Workplace

Wellness is paramount for overworked law firm attorneys and staff. While the legal industry has historically been a slow adopter of modern office trends, it’s taking a step forward in wellness. Law firms are showing greater sensitivity to nutrition through a fresh market kind of approach, offering fruit, yogurt and different water options as opposed to soda and candy bars in vending machines. Many new law firm offices feature yoga and retreat rooms, which are only starting to be featured in other markets.

Perhaps most significantly, many law firms are creating a director of well-being role, charged with cultivating a healthy work environment and helping drive work life balance initiatives. Well known for their long hours and the struggle to maintain work life balance, law firms, beginning with office design decisions, must adopt more sensitive and thoughtful initiatives that contribute to the well-being of their people. This will help to avoid the increased trend of younger associates burning out and leaving the industry for good.

4. The Power of Ubiquitous Tech

In order to achieve work-life balance, law firms must create and follow through on work-remote policies. To successfully support such a policy, firms need a strong technology infrastructure. Ubiquitous technology is the idea that attorneys and law firm staff can be technologically supported both internally in the workplace and externally outside of the office.

Although client confidentiality concerns preclude certain platforms and technologies from being stored on the cloud, ubiquitous technology holds law firms accountable to make investments on speedy infrastructure previously limited due to operational cost controls.

In 2005, large law firms invested in technology in their conference centres, but not on the work floor. Now they are spending more throughout their spaces on AV because it’s critical to their business. Tenant workplace investment has shifted away from high-end finishes, millwork and stone to greater investment in technology and glass facades that introduce light to the interior desks sitting just outside of the perimeter office landscape.

This shift over the past 10 to 15 years means technology infrastructure improvements now represent 40 to 45 percent of the tenant improvement factor. Response time, client accommodation, speed and access are so paramount to the business that without this reallocation of investment, law firms will fall drastically behind.

5. Future-Proof Updates

Future-proofing a law firm is more possible than ever, but it requires clients to spend a great deal of time planning and analysing what role the workplace will need to serve seven to eight years into a lease term. Firms must budget accordingly to accommodate the impact of fool proof flexibility. Potential growth, staff increases, space decreases, infrastructure concerns with shifting technology and future density must all be taken into account to minimise capital expenditure over the lease term.

If possible, companies should utilise a modular approach to allow for inexpensive future changes, budget accordingly and plan for what-if factors. Firms must consider the repercussions of changes; for example, what elements would be costly to move if a wall comes down, such as a sprinkler system, and which are more flexible, such as lighting?

Traditionally, law firms renew office leases in older buildings that contain perimeter private offices and only think about future changes in carpet and paint. But, older buildings are optimal in allowing firms to build out using modules to accommodate future change with minimal impact, maintaining the traditional perimeter-office style and allowing for increased collaboration space in the core.

With the one-attorney-to-one-secretary ratio nearly obsolete, using glass as private office facades to shed light into the interior space is not as important as it was 10 years ago. The next big question in law firm design is: how do you make that interior zone experience as welcoming and desirable as that coveted perimeter?

As law firms prepare for a workforce centred on factors such as connectivity, flexibility and wellness, their workplace must reflect that shifting dynamic and be able to continually evolve. By working with their design and construction teams, firm HR and facilities leadership can create office spaces that reflect their future-focused culture.

Kirkland & Ellis kicks off wellbeing program

Kirkland & Ellis announced this week the creation of a new firmwide wellness program with a new director, part of the ongoing efforts by Big Law to tackle mental health issues that plague the legal profession.

Robin Belleau will be Kirkland & Ellis’ first firmwide director of well-being. A former assistant state’s attorney turned counselor, Belleau officially joined the firm back in March.

She is the former executive director of the Lawyers’ Assistance Program in Illinois and is a member of the advisory commission of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyers’ Assistance Programs.

Kirkland’s new program will proactively work with its attorneys and staff on issues related to mental health and substance misuse and will offer education and enhanced dialogue across three core areas: resilience, connection and fitness and nutrition.

As a part of the program, the firm will host educational courses and seminars on well-being. It will also introduce two well-being apps that aim to support stress reduction, increase resiliency and support individuals in combating substance abuse and other addictive behaviors. The firm will also launch an internal website that will provide its employees with additional resources.

“One of the main goals is to start this conversation and help reduce the stigma around people having mental health issues or substance misuse issues,” Belleau said.

The wellness program will help identify paths to support individuals dealing with substance abuse issues and other mental health concerns rampant in the legal profession like depression, stress or anxiety.

“Kirkland is committed to supporting the well-being of our attorneys. This initiative is something lawyers, particularly younger lawyers and law students, throughout the legal community are asking of their law firms,” said chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee Jeffrey C. Hammes in a statement.

“We are embracing the call for a more open and transparent dialog about mental health within our profession, and believe this program will become an important part of our culture,” he added.

Kirkland’s new program is just the latest initiative offered by law firms to help their attorneys and staff deal with the pressures within the profession. Earlier this year, Morgan Lewis & Bockius launched a new initiative “ML Well” and added its first-ever director of employee well-being. Reed Smith launched a firmwide program “Wellness Works” to support the health and well-being of its lawyers and staff.

And in addition to its “Be Well” program, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld added an on-site counselor to its Washington office to provide therapy sessions its attorneys one day a week. Hogan Lovells has had on-site psychologists available at some of its offices for several years.

According to a 2016 American Bar Association study of lawyers, 28 percent dealt with depression and 19 percent dealt with anxiety. Between 21 and 36 percent were “problem drinkers.”

“People want to work on their mental health,” Belleau said. “Even though there’s still stigma attached to issues, its moving along the spectrum.”

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Rechtsanwälte GRP Rainer

Criteria for Assessing Whether GmbH Managing Directors are Subject to Mandatory Social Security Contributions

According to a decision of the Bundessozialgericht, Germany’s federal court of appeals for social security matters, GmbH managing directors are ordinarily deemed to be employees of the company and hence subject to mandatory social security contributions.

It is not uncommon for disputes to arise over whether GmbH managing directors are subject to mandatory social security contributions. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that it can prove to be a costly affair for the company if it is determined that the managing director is subject to mandatary social security contributions but no payments have been made to this end and therefore supplementary contributions become payable.

In rulings from 14 March 2018, the Bundessozialgericht set out clear criteria for assessing whether GmbH managing directors are subject to mandatory social security contributions (Az.: B 12 KR 13/17 R and B 12 R 5/16 R). According to these judgments, the managing director of a GmbH is ordinarily deemed to be an employee of the company. The Court held that they are only considered not to be employees if they own more than 50 per cent of the company’s share capital and are thus majority shareholders. The Court went on to state that if they have a 50 per cent stake in the share capital, a presumption in favour of self-employed status is then only possible if the articles of association clearly confer a full blocking minority on the managing director and this enables him or her to prevent instructions from being issued by the general meeting of the shareholders. The Court therefore concluded that the decisive factor for the managing director’s status as self-employed is whether he or she has the legal power to determine the fate of the company by influencing the general meeting of the shareholders.

In doing so, the Bundessozialgericht has set high standards for recognizing managing directors as self-employed. It also made clear that the crucial factor in assessing whether the managing director is an employee and thus subject to mandatory social security contributions is not how he or she acts in relation to third parties. Even if he or she is granted broad powers and freedoms, this alone does not indicate that they are self-employed. Instead, it is the extent to which the managing director has recourse to legally enforceable measures for the purposes of influencing resolutions of the general meeting of the shareholders that is the key factor.

Companies should keep in mind the issue of mandatory social security contributions for managing directors as early as when agreements are being drafted in order to avoid unpleasant surprises at a later date. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of company law can provide companies as well as shareholders with expert advice on matters that go beyond mandatory social security contributions.

If you would like to find out more, please visit https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/company-law.html

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Latham & Watkins LLP hires senior IP litigator

Latham & Watkins LLP has hired Rachel Weiner Cohen as counsel in its litigation and trial department.

Cohen joins Latham and Watkins from WilmerHale where she was counsel. She has extensive experience in both US and international intellectual property disputes.

Her practice ranges from international arbitrations and civil investigations to general commercial litigation.

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Commenting on the move, global co-chair of the intellectual property practice David Callahan said: “We are excited to welcome Rachel Weiner Cohen to Latham’s powerhouse IP team.”

“Her experience complements Latham’s formidable courtroom reputation and ability to navigate clients’ highest-profile patent disputes.”

Office managing partner for Latham and Watkins in Washington DC, Michael Egge, added: “Cohen is well-positioned to help us build on our recent string of major appellate victories.”

“Clients will also benefit from her insight into many of the disruptive technologies at the heart of IP disputes.”

Cohen’s addition to Latham & Watkins LLP follows the recent appointment of senior trial lawyers Tara Elliott, Jamie Underwood and Kevin Wheeler.