Amy Nouri Joins Firesign

Amy Nouri has joined Firesign as the Vice President of Public Relations and Programming. Using the the four main elements of modern public relations – paid, earned, shared and owned media – Amy will work with Firesign clients to help them attract, win and retain business. She will also coordinate the marketing, delivery and social media engagement of Firesign and its educational programs.

Amy has nearly a decade of experience developing and executing strategic communication plans for professional service and consumer goods companies, including starting her career at AmLaw 200 firm Lathrop & Gage (now known as Lathrop Gage). At Lathrop & Gage Amy managed public relations and advertising tactics in local markets and nationwide; maintained firm social media accounts and website content; and coordinated production of numerous firm marketing materials. Her competitive nature drew her to especially revel in handling the nomination and submission for legal awards and rankings; she successfully placed clients in Benchmark Litigation, Chambers USA, ALM honors and multiple local recognitions.

At Garmin, Amy led global public relations campaigns for fitness, B2B and corporate wellness products. She then deepened her social media experience at Hallmark, working on content, calendaring and paid strategy for the branded social media platforms.

Firesign Moves into New Location

In an entrepreneurial milestone, Firesign has graduated from co-working space and settled into a permanent office in the heart of Prairie Village, Kansas. Our new space will allow us to continue adding new services and personnel – and to play the best of 1990s hip-hop guilt-free.

Find us now at:
4121 W. 83rd St., Suite 119
Prairie Village, KS 66208

Phone and email contacts remain the same.

Firesign Wins Public Relations Awards

For the second year in a row Firesign received top honors for outstanding achievement in communications by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Firesign won two Gold PRISM awards the highest recognition in the categories of newsletters and video. The 2018 awards were announced at a gala September 20 at Studio Dan Meiners. A full list of PRISM winners and photos from the event are available here.

Erin Curtis-Dierks Joins Firesign

Firesign has added veteran communicator Erin Curtis-Dierks to the agency. Erin will serve as marketing project manager, developing rollout schedules, coordinating resources and balancing marketing strategy with business needs for Firesign’s law firm and legal tech marketing projects.

Erin brings more than 15 years of experience in marketing, having coordinated communications campaigns in media, consumer goods and education. She refined her project management skills at Quaker Oats and later led teams of marketing and public relations professionals at the University of Kansas and Baker University. Her time in academia particularly readied her for Firesign’s attorney clients as she honed her skill for capturing important information in a timely manner and distilling complex ideas into clear and relevant content.

Erin’s big-picture thinking, conscientious devotion to lists and schedules and healthy dose of levity ensure projects are executed with purpose to help attorneys attract, win and retain business.

Firesign Wins Social Media Club’s AMPS Award

Firesign’s CEO was escorted by the agency’s general counsel (and her husband).

On June 19, Firesign received its first AMPS Award from Social Media Club of Kansas City. The agency won Gold in the category of Email Campaign: Brand.

The AMPS Awards recognize the best social campaigns in the Kansas City region. Now in its fourth year, the program celebrates digital marketing campaigns from brands, nonprofits and government entities/educational institutions. Projects are judged by national social media professionals who evaluate campaign goals, implementation and results. More information on the AMPS Awards is available here.

The award was presented at a celebration at Boulevard Brewery.

Social Media Club’s primary mission is to “expand digital media literacy, promote standard technologies, encourage ethical behavior and share best practices.” The Kansas City organization is the country’s most active chapter.

Six Survival Strategies for Introverts at Trade Shows

Crowd at trade show
If this photo fills you with dread, you need this article.

Conferences and trade shows can be a boon to your niche marketing and networking – but often they mean schedules packed with programming, presentations, exhibit hall chitchat, client meetings and more.

If you’re an introvert – and 60 percent of attorneys are – exhaustion can quickly set in at an event like this. While it may sound appealing to stay in your hotel room and cruise the event hashtag with room service, you’d be losing out on face time….and considerable conference ROI.

Jennifer Kahnweiler, the author of The Introverted Leader, says people often equate introversion with being shy or antisocial, but that when it comes to networking, introverts possess a key advantage over their extroverted counterparts: Skilled preparation.

Indeed, you do not have to change or be inauthentic to be successful; you just need a battle plan. Here are six ways to get the most out of your next conference or trade show:

One: Be selective. Determine why you are going to the event and whether it’s worth your time. Instead of attempting to hit every annual event for your industry, pick a few that you think will be the most lucrative for your business, so you can adequately prepare and give each event your full attention.

 Two: Plan and prioritize. Schedules and vendor lists are often available ahead of the trade show. Preparation is key, and you don’t need to visit every vendor or attend every seminar. Kahnweiler suggests researching the organizations and individuals ahead of time so you know exactly what booths to visit and exactly which connections to make going in to map out your day.

She also suggests scheduling interviews with potential clients in advance of the trade show. By knowing who you will be speaking with and when you can anticipate conversations and feel confident in your preparedness.

*Tip: If you are more productive during a certain time of day, plan to utilize that time for your most difficult networking opportunities to maximize your efficiency. If you already hate mornings, you will not be enthusiastic for breakfast meet-and-greets.

 Three: Build in breaks. While it is imperative to plan where you will be at a trade show, it is equally as essential for introverts to plan when they won’t be there.

Morra Aarons-Mele, a small business owner and author of Hiding in the Bathroom: A Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), says monitoring your energy levels is the key to surviving a trade show. All of the smiling and schmoozing can “zap” your energy, Aarons-Mele says, so it is important to know your limits.

Stay at a hotel close to the event for a quick escape if you need downtime, Aarons-Mele says.  If you find yourself overwhelmed, take 10 minutes for a walk or a latte.

*Tip: Creating small rewards like skipping the cocktail hour after an event for room service and Netflix can be great motivation during a long day.

Four: Set goals. Aarons-Mele says that giving yourself a job or a goal can give you a sense of reward or purpose and help curb anxiety. Whether you are determined to meet a specific individual, collect a certain number of business cards each day, or volunteer to help with the trade show in some capacity, acting with intention and taking on a specific role can help introverts thrive in the hectic trade show environment.

 Five: Bring a buddy. Long days of networking can seem overwhelming for one person. Bringing an extroverted friend or colleague to share the limelight — or the burden of networking — can help introverts out of their shell.

 Six: Commit. If you go to a conference but do not clear your calendar, it will leave you feeling stressed and scattered, rendering you unable to get what you need out of both. Be present and commit fully to the event; this will ensure you are making the most of your time and your money.

Recommended reading:

The Haiku of What You Do: An Easy Format for a Better Elevator Speech

The elevator speech – that quick spiel you use to answer the old “What do you do?” question – is a hang-up for many lawyers. It’s hard to talk about yourself, and harder still to make it brief, meaningful and client-centric.

Turns out poetry can help – haiku, to be exact. (Although some practices may lend themselves to limericks, we know.) Matt Homann, one of my favorite legal innovators, developed a formula to craft a short, sweet and client-focused elevator speech that’s based on Japanese haiku. I love that it forces concision, and it focuses on the client.

The three questions, which must be answered within the specified number of words:

  • Who do I help? (Answer in five words)
  • What do I do for them? (Answer in seven words)
  • Why do they need me? (Answer in five words)

A sample response from a business lawyer could be:

I help small business owners

incorporate their businesses and protect their ideas

so they can sleep better.

Family law?

I help spouses in conflict

separate their assets and make parenting plans

to keep their kids secure.

Contrast that with the prototypical “I’m an attorney at Such & Such” introduction. The haiku version is human, real and action-oriented.

Break out a pen and paper, and try your own haiku. Think about how you can incorporate it into your firm bio or LinkedIn, profile, too – you now have a great starting point for your personal brand.

My haiku?

I help savvy law firms

Connect with clients who need their help

so they can grow purposefully.

Note: A previous version of this article appeared on Ms. JD.

Firesign Founder in Forbes: How to Build a Niche

Forbes has published an article by Firesign’s CEO, Katherine Hollar Barnard, on how attorneys can develop successful niche practices. The piece, “Three Steps to Developing a Successful Legal Niche,” posted May 24.

In it, Barnard discusses how lawyers can define a specialty, build their expertise and market the niche. She writes:

In a landscape full of ever-changing regulations and rapidly developing markets and technologies, opportunities abound for savvy lawyers to carve out distinct practices. Finding a niche isn’t just about differentiating yourself — it can allow for a more efficient practice that offers more value to clients and captures premium rates because of its targeted knowledge.

I have worked in legal marketing for 13 years, and some of the most successful attorneys I have worked with have had some of the most specific niches, from superyacht disputes to gift card transactions.

Are you considering a niche practice of your own or interested in further defining your specialty? These three steps will help you hone your expertise.

The full Forbes article is available here.

It’s the End of Q1 – Do You Know Where Your Goals Are?

This guest post was contributed by Dawn Zerbs, principal of Dawn Celeste LLC. Dawn Celeste is a strategy execution firm that blends thinking and doing; in short, she’s an expert at getting things done. Learn more about Dawn here.

The first quarter of 2018 is almost over. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to set goals to advance your practice. Here are a few tips and topics to help you get started.

Tips:

  • Less is more. Set 5 goals or fewer. If you can’t remember and recite your goals using your fingers it is unlikely that you’ll achieve them.
  • Break it down. Set a measurable goal for the year and immediately divide it by four to create a trackable milestone for each 13-week period. Then break each 13-week milestone into what needs to happen weekly.
  • Start small. Be honest with yourself about your current performance in the goal area. If you’re starting from ground zero don’t try to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It won’t work. Building habit and routine is hard, but the work is worth it. Start small, celebrate early accomplishments, and enjoy your achievements. Don’t expect to launch from couch potato to marathon-runner in 13 weeks. Get off the couch in the first 13 weeks. Then walk around the house and maybe even jog outside for the next 13 weeks.
  • Get started. Once you have your goals clearly set and know your 13-week milestones, stop thinking and get started.

Do you need some ideas for goals?

Topics:

  • Client Listening. Would you like to begin a post-case debrief or post-transaction satisfaction survey? Or ask your clients what they like and/or dislike about your service? Perhaps do this for your top three clients 2x/ year.
  • Client Service and Operations. What about improving or setting service standards? Is there something in the operations/administration of your practice that needs improvement? If so, set a goal here.
  • Professional Development. What legal or non-legal area would you like to learn about or get better in? Set a goal to get closer to your ideal career by planning on taking the time to invest in your own learning and growth.
  • Community Involvement. Are you active in the community? If so, where do you want to concentrate your efforts to make a bigger impact in 2018? If not, where could you start to serve (remember the start small tip)
  • Business Development. BD goal-setting opportunities are endless. First, get clear on your overarching objective. Do you want to acquire new clients, expand current clients, or retain existing clients? Pick one. If the latter, Client Listening goes a long, long, way in understanding needs of current clients to expand the relationships. If the objective is to acquire new customers, make sure that your Client Service is top notch so you’ll be referred by existing clients. If you’re building a practice, work with your marketing team, consultant, or mentor to identify your ideal target client. This will direct your speaking, writing, and other marketing efforts for the greatest impact.

What is it that you want to do to improve or enhance your leadership skills in 2018? What specific goal do you want to set for yourself and your practice in 2018 to be your best self? Is it starting or increasing your community service, starting a mentoring program at your firm, or making a commitment to walk beside new lawyers when they join the firm? What are your unique gifts and skills and how can you use those to benefit your career, your clients, and your colleagues?

In setting and achieving goals there are three mantras to follow: 1) Don’t overthink; 2) Don’t underestimate; and 3) Just try it.

Good luck! A helpful tool for accomplishing these goals is the monaplanner©. It’s an easy-to-implement and simple-to-use planner that helps people get the Right Things done at the Right Time. It was designed by productivity consultant Mona Raglow. Daily use of the monaplanner© can lead to less stress and increased productivity!

From Recreation to Revenue: Using Your Hobby for Business Development

Warren Buffett has the ukulele. Jay Leno has antique cars. Richard Branson has kitesurfing.

Most successful people have some kind of recreational hobby – a passion for a musical instrument, a unique collection or a devotion to a certain sports team. (Go Jayhawks!)

 

Leisure activities have proven benefits, including a positive effect on blood pressure and stress levels. But what if your hobby could also lead to a bigger book of business?

That’s exactly what happened for Breandan Filbert, the founder and managing partner of SalezWORKS, a business training and consulting company. Filbert started a monthly networking-on-horseback group in 2001 with others who shared her love of all things equine.

Filbert can directly tie her “most significant business” today to relationships she formed in that networking group throughout the years – and she’s not alone.

Helen Gulgun Bukulmez, a personal injury and immigration attorney in Kentucky, founded Hiking Lawyers in 2008 when she began meeting other lawyers, judges, clerks and legal staff who shared her passion for the outdoors.

“Initially, it was a laughable idea: hiking lawyers,” Bukulmez said. “Over time, other colleagues saw how hiking provided us with the balance, health and networking we all want in our lives and began joining us.”

A decade later, the group now touts more than 1,000 attorneys across the country and around the world, who frequently share ideas, recommendations and expertise with one another. Shared interests can provide a common denominator, but Bukulmez said business development opportunities come from actively building relationships and offering value.

How can you turn your hobby into a marketing method? Filbert shared her process:

  • Understand the people in your network. Take time to know their interests – and what their business needs might be. Social media profiles can be very informative.
  • Look for common ground. Actively cultivate connections who share your passion. Include it on your social media profiles, and share it (when appropriate) in business meetings. (If your contacts don’t share your interests, they might know someone who does.) That added connection will allow you to build affinity and trust.
  • Create social engagement opportunities. Bringing people together outside of the workplace is key to nurturing these relationships. Filbert mentioned a well-known financial advisor who invites a mixture of current and potential clients on “extreme” hunting trips. By the end of the excursions, he has connected with prospects over a shared experience, transforming many of them into clients.
  • Transition to a professional level. Between innings or axe tosses, engage your fellow hobbyists in business conversation. Invite them for a meeting to learn how you can help each other.

As Filbert said, the only thing setting you apart from the competition is your ability to forge a stronger bond. The more you share with a client or prospect, the better your chances for referrals and leads. (And you might just have fun doing it.)