This is a new focus of mine… part of how Web 2.0 is coming to influence the way lawyers (should) see the world. In short, for an attorney, reputation management means establishing your identity online via all applicable social/business networking networks. Accuracy of information is the primary goal: get your accurate message online before someone elseâ€™s opinion takes over. An extension of this, some lawyers may also want to proactively shield their reputations from damaging content by getting the first, or most authoritative word “on the record”.
So what are the basic steps involved in establishing/protecting your law firm’s brand name online? To start, we could get very involved here, but the basics include
- Establish a Google and Yahoo Local business profile – as maps and local search come to the forefront, you need to make sure you’ve at least got your proper corporate name and address(es) online. As an extension of this, I suggest you build Local.com, DirectoryM, InfoUSA and Acxiom profiles.
- Get rated – yes, I work for LexisNexis, but in any industry, it’s important to participate in the established rating system. For mutual funds, it’s Morningstar… for household products, it’s the Good Housekeeping seal of approval… for lawyers, it’s a biography and AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell.
- Document your legal practice and/or verdicts within Wikipedia, Facebook/MySpace (sports and entertainment lawyers for the most part) and through online PR networks like PRWeb and PRNewswire. A new partner, location or settlement are all reasons to tell the world about positive things your firm has achieved.
- Consider social bookmarking systems like Digg, Diigo and del.icio.us as they grow; it’s a good idea to get a (free) profile there and at least mark and comment on your firm’s website.
- Build your personal profile – visit LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Plaxo, Naymz and other industry-related sites and join. It will be free and it will be yet another chance for your firm to use someone else’s site to say good things about you and your firm.
Above and beyond the online world, lawyers should definitely consider their local, “word-of-mouth” reputation… but this is something many already have down pat. Another common scenario is a firm that already has bad things posted about them online. How do law firms counteract negative publicity online? We’ll discuss this topic in an extension of this page, but it will all come down to trumping the authority of the site conveying the negative message. Your positive message must leverage the items listed above to at least complement with bad with the good.