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23/09/22-The stories behind the legal sector news

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How to use The Budget to do your marketing

The Budget is a gift for professional services marketing. Here’s why:

  1. They tell you when it’s going to be
  2. Ahead of time, you can make predictions that benefit your clients, e.g. “I wish the Government would freeze energy bills to save SMEs this winter.”
  3. On the day, you can talk about the news as it happens
  4. Also on the day, you can talk about
  5. What did get included
  6. What you wish had been included but doesn’t appear to have been (see 1 above which is why it’s a good idea to make predictions)
  7. What might happen next

Pro tips on selling in Budget stories

  1. In addition to listening to the Chancellor (for now, Kwasi Kwarteng) speak, it’s worth going onto the Treasury website as soon as he sits down, downloading the full document and doing a search for terms that relate to your client base, such as “SMEs”, “Energy bills”, etc. Several interesting documents have been published today.
  2. Issue your comments as they come to you – both LinkedIn and Twitter are good for having professional opinions picked up by the broader media (or LinkedIn’s own news reporting team). As Matthew Rowe (MCIPR), Head of Marketing at Rickard Luckin, says: “One trick is to offer a couple of predictions and prep a quote based on what you want to see, and then amend at short notice if it doesn’t happen.” He adds: “We need to be quick on our feet and provide a pithy, memorable quote which is more likely to be used than our competitors’.”
  3.  Send your external PR agency comments to be passed on to journalists looking to write up the news stories. We do this for clients and get them coverage all the time.

After the budget

What about after the Budget? Catriona Collier, founder and MD of Flare Insight, shares her thoughts:

“Look out for blue sky thinking – find signals as to what the government’s intent is for your target market. You can then spot sales and campaign opportunities where you could capitalise on commentary from the get-go, and build your share of voice as policy develops.”

“Make the budget personal to your target markets. You can gain coverage in national, trade and local press by highlighting how the budget affects your chosen sector, client type or region. You can also stand out from the crowd by using visuals and succinct commentary that makes the complex easy to interpret. This rule applies for both consumer and business audiences.”

Time to party?

Also upcoming: the party-political conference season is upon us. Whilst the Mini Budget is set to try and steal Labour’s thunder, it’s worth looking at the topics of interest to your clients in the various events and seeing where parties are headed – especially as we’re now only a couple of years out from an election.

Party conference dates:

 –        Labour Party Conference, 25 to 28 September, Liverpool

–        Conservative Party Conference, 2 to 5 October, Birmingham

–        Due to the Queen’s death, the Lib Dems have postponed their conference until the spring

SRA compliance and the website checklist

Last week, the SRA announced that it would be checking every single law-firm website to ensure that each one is compliant with its rules. What is particularly concerning about this mammoth undertaking is that the SRA’s press release explicitly states that the organisation will be cross-checking their findings against the declarations all law firms had to make last year for any inconsistencies – i.e. looking for any signs of ‘fibbing’.

But fear not, as help is at hand – SRA compliance expert Andrew Donovan has been kind enough to publish a free 16-point checklist for law-firm websites and some handy templates, which you can find here:

As Andrew advises in his recent LinkedIn post on this topic, “Don’t be afraid to ask for specific details of any alleged non-compliance found (it’s not by any means always clear even to us SRA geeks!) and indeed do politely push back if you feel you are actually compliant.”

And if worst comes to worst – as Andrew suggests in a comment beneath his LinkedIn piece (though of course very much tongue in cheek) – you can always disconnect your website. Or maybe just have us check it for you?

The SRA and transparency – hoisted by their own petard?

It’s impossible not to see the irony: at a time when the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is rather vocally pushing for law firms to provide greater transparency, the SRA itself has refused a formal request to readmit the public to its board meetings, which have been closed to the outside world (including journalists) since 2017.

As reported in a recent article in The Law Society Gazette, a joint letter was sent to the SRA’s chief executive by the editors of the Law Society Gazette and Legal Futures, stating that there was now diminished transparency and a lack of openness about decision-making processes within the organisation.

The letter pointed out that in the wake of closing the meetings, the SRA had made a commitment to send board papers in advance and to hold post-meeting briefings with the chief executive, chair and directors. Those meetings ceased long ago and board papers are no longer proactively sent out. No alternative has been proposed by the organisation.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip responded to the letter by stating that holding public meetings was “not a helpful approach” and that there were better ways to provide transparency. He added: “We are confident our current approach is the right one for providing the public with ready access to useful and clear information about the work of our board […].” Philip also stated that board papers are not published in advance because the board is the “right place to agree whether any papers, or parts of papers, are not suitable for publication”.

Is the SRA sounding a touch high-handed, perhaps? Given the organisation’s far-reaching powers and its recent announcement of a comprehensive review of law-firm websites for compliance breaches (see our story above), this all begs that age-old question: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Certainly not the humble legal journalist, by the sounds of it.

The Crown Commercial Service appoints 60 law firms to panel

It’s behind the paywall – but if you have a subscription, it’s worth finding out who all the runners and riders are on one of the UK’s largest (by value and by size) legal panels:

In brief and on the horizon…

 Stories to consider for your PR and social media…

  • October is Black History Month
  • 4 October sees the beginning of Bernie Ecclestone’s fraud trial for allegedly failing to disclose £400m of overseas assets to the Government
  • 4 October is also the date for the preliminary hearing of the UK Covid-19 inquiry. Evidentiary hearings for this investigation are due to begin in spring 2023.
  • 6 October – TV historian Dan Snow is to give a talk on the discovery of Shackleton’s lost ship in March this year. The event is being organised by BDB Pitmans, who provided legal advice throughout the Endurance22 expedition, doing the behind-the-scenes work that enabled the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust to find the Endurance. Strange that it wasn’t sponsored by Fiona Shackleton’s firm, PHB?
  • 9-15 October is Baby Loss Awareness Week – an opportunity to bring people together as a community and give anyone touched by pregnancy and baby loss a safe and supportive space to share their experiences and feel that they are not alone.
  • 9-10 November marks the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition. This is likely to be of real interest to employment lawyers


Si Marshall

Legal marketing expert – I love lawyers, their stories and how they help clients | Marketing | PR | Digital Marketing | Business Development | LinkedIn training | Directories | Awards | Research | #SimonSays

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