What do you have when you bury six lawyers up to their necks in sand?
Not enough sand.
There are more lawyer jokes online than lawyers. Do you need any further proof lawyers might have an image problem?
Although the reputation of lawyers is not a byproduct of the digital age (the animosity dates back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans), the internet has made things much more challenging.
Clients are spending more and more time online and are using the internet to help evaluate their selection of counsel.
A comScore average daily internet usage report recently revealed what you probably already know from your own experience, the average American spent 32 hours per month on the Internet in 2010. Lawyers are no longer just “chasing ambulances” – they are chasing hits and clicks to attract new business and retain existing clients.
There is another trend. Attorneys are including online reputation management as part of their internet marketing strategy, and with good reason. While most people won’t choose their lawyer based on online reviews or the presence (or lack) of a dynamic web site, they may choose not to engage a lawyer based on a poor review on popular complaint sites (like RipOffReport, ComplaintsBoard and PissedConsumer) or because of negative content posted elsewhere.
According to a recent study by Lightspeed Research, consumers rely on online reviews and price comparisons to make purchase decisions, 62% of consumers said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews about a product or service. Your online reputation is influenced by what you post online, and what individuals, groups, and search engine results expose about you online. Even lawyers need a good defense.
Online reputation management involves a combination of digital marketing, public relations, legal and search engine optimization (SEO) skills to promote, protect and defend your online image. Online reputation management can displace false, embarrassing or defamatory content by using social media, blogs, news media, personal websites and other tools to diminish the ranking of negative content. While every situation is unique, the best online reputation management firms will leverage some of the following techniques to help their clients:
• interlinking high impact positive web content;
• monitoring online mentions and coordinating a thoughtful, rapid response;
• creating professionally edited profiles on trusted web sites with high search engine visibility;
• optimizing existing websites and social media profiles;
• discretely contacting the source of the negative content to help minimize its impact; and, when appropriate;
• filing a formal complaint with the search engine or webmaster.
For some practical tips and tricks for online reputation management, check out my recent blog post: 7 Ways Lawyers Can Improve Their Online Reputation.