The list of 2019 Texas Rising Stars honorees was just announced, the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers list is set for later this year, and the deadline for The Best Lawyers in America voting is only a few weeks away. That means it is once again time for Texas attorneys to think about the best ways to highlight these and other worthwhile professional honors.
While legal rankings and guides once were rare, they now seem to be everywhere. Some of these lists truly do a good job of identifying top-rate attorneys in various areas of practice, but others are simply brazen attempts to capitalize on a lawyer’s vanity in exchange for a fee.
Knowing the difference between a reputable listing and one that holds no real meaning or value is key for effective marketing. Imagine spending money and time to promote your selection to a “best” list only to find out that the other lawyers on the list have no business being there based on their level of experience or expertise.
If the barrier to being included in a top lawyer list can be overcome by writing a check, then there is almost no chance that you want to be included.
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Beware Lookalike Listings
The internet has created a cottage industry of companies that target lawyers with offerings that are strikingly similar to what you would expect to see from a reputable listing.
While there are still businesses that contact attorneys in legitimate listings with an offer to purchase a plaque or other overpriced office decoration, that model is giving way to more nuanced and enticing approaches.
Like the plaque/office decoration offers, these “opportunities” tend to show up in your inbox soon after a reputable list is announced. The proximity in timing causes many lawyers to wrongly presume the two are somehow connected.
This year, there are several new tactics from companies looking to capitalize on legitimate listings. One of the widely circulated emails I received said a client had been “nominated” to be one of “Top 10 Lawyers in DFW” on a website that claims to list the area’s leading attorneys, plastic surgeons, realtors, interior designers, dentists, chiropractors, and insurance agents.
Unfortunately, this outfit is simply selling space on their website in exchange for including your photo, bio and other info at prices that start at $2,000 annually.
Their site doesn’t explain how someone gets “nominated” or what criteria was used to determine the lawyers who are included. The attorneys are not grouped by practice area. The main navigation tab doesn’t even have a link to the pages where lawyers are listed, making the site nearly impossible to use. I honestly feel bad for the seven local attorneys who decided this was a good use of their marketing dollars.
Promoting Your Top Lawyer Selection
After earning a spot on a top lawyer list, your name will be included in a printed and/or online roster of fellow honorees. You may also be included in a promotional press release from the group presenting the honor, in addition to being invited to an awards ceremony/reception.
Beyond that, it is up to you to spread the word since there is little chance that your honor will get noticed by your most important audiences.
Thankfully, there are several effective ways to tastefully let the world know that you’ve been selected to one of the top lawyer lists without overselling yourself or appearing like you’re starved for attention. Here are a few ways you can do it:
Purchase an Expanded Online Profile – Most reputable ranking organizations offer expanded online profiles that are relatively inexpensive compared to print or other online advertising. These profiles allow an honoree to include additional information about their capabilities, how to contact them, and a link to their firm website. Those without expanded profiles will be listed simply by their name and perhaps their firm name. That means anyone who wants to find out more about them will have to do their own internet research, which few people want to do. Buying an expanded online profile can be a wise investment.
Update Elsewhere Online – The first place most people go to learn more about a lawyer is the lawyer’s professional online bio. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your profile is regularly updated to include any appearances on top lawyer lists. You may also want to consider buying an online “badge” from the group presenting the honor for posting with your bio. Buying a badge is often the only way to include the awarding group’s logo on your site without violating intellectual property protections.
Targeted Advertising – Advertising a professional honor can be effective if handled properly. It can also be expensive and wasteful if you haven’t done your homework. While it may be personally gratifying to be featured in glossy advertisements, the resulting benefits are nonexistent if you overpay and your ad isn’t seen by those who might hire you. Rather than plunking down thousands of dollars for a one-time ad in a general interest magazine as part of a best lawyer issue, consider all your options. For less money, you can send an electronic ad directly to the email accounts of thousands of general counsel and private practice attorneys through a service such as General Counsel News, which we’ve discussed previously. For an even more budget-friendly option, a promotional email sent to your personal email list can be done for little more than the cost of designing the email.
Get Social – A short post on LinkedIn, Facebook, or any of your other social media accounts is an excellent and inexpensive way to announce your selection to a best list. Posts about top lawyer lists are often forwarded by your friends to others, which only expands your audience. If you’ve purchased an expanded profile, be sure to include a link. A designer can create a branded social media graphic, which makes your social media post much more eye-catching.
Press Release, Of Course – This is a simple choice. For every professional honor you receive, you should include a press release on your firm website and post the same release on any of the available free distribution sites. You can also post the release on a wire service for less than $1,000 if you adhere to a specific word count. Such a release isn’t likely to result in a news story, but it will show up when people are searching for you online, which is the real goal.
These recommendations represent only a small sample of the various ways you can highlight your selection to a top lawyer listing without breaking the bank or coming across as a braggart. The key is to be smart in how you promote your good news and avoid the opportunistic companies that will come calling once they learn you’ve been selected.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has assisted lawyers and law firms with top attorney listings for more than 20 years. He also helps clients produce informative blogs and websites, promote big wins, and successfully handle crisis situations. He can be reached at email@example.com.