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“I have been hugely impressed by Melissa. She has a wealth of experience and contacts and this, together with her proactive approach, enables her to achieve first class results.” Jonathan Hand, Barrister, Outer Temple Chambers

Tommy Hill British Superbike Champion opens the offices of Fletchers, leading bike injury solicitors firm

Why I won’t make a home movie with Johnny Depp

April 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
Melissa Davis

Some actors seem willing to appear in almost anything – and may even take a quiet pride in their ability to lift a so-so script or story line. If you have your doubts about this idea, you might seek out the prolific Michael Caine’s performance as ‘uncle Mathew’ in the 1984 film Blame it on Rio.

When performances like that are one of hundreds, it doesn’t matter so much. It’s why Derek Jacobi can say things like ‘iggle onk, they’re going to catch the Ninky Nonk’ on CBeebies In The Night Garden without getting typecast away from Shakespeare.

Johnny Depp’s not been like that, though. In a career tightly managed for quality of output, he’s chosen carefully – from Edward Scissorhands onwards, I would have challenged you to find a misstep.

Till now, that is. As a fan, I’m going to blame his dog-collection, but most people aren’t.

Last year he arrived in Australia by private jet, and as is now well known, with him and newish-wife Amber Heard were the patter of little feet – Yorkshire Terriers, Boo and Pistol.

As B’n’P weren’t declared, this put the actors on the wrong side of Australia’s import laws.

What followed was – how to put it nicely? – not very well curated.

There was Depp’s remark at the Venice Film Festival, directed at Australia’s deputy-PM: ‘I killed my dogs and ate them, under direct orders of some kind of, I don’t know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia.’

Not in his usual class, but worse was to come.

This week a home video surfaced online of Depp and Heard in which both talk to camera about the uniqueness of Australia and the need to ‘declare everything.’ While she looks like she might be relishing the experience, he seems distinctly uncomfortable and the whole thing has been panned by the critics.

It may be that it was part of the deal that saw an end to Depp and Heard’s legal probs. But this cringeworthy 30 seconds of incredibly badly lit film is now everywhere. The BBC website, Twitter, CNN – and it has been widely mocked.

And as he just has that smallish number of well-chosen films – no Blame it on Rio – this performance stands out a mile.

There’s a reputation lesson here, and as a fan I hope Depp learns it – he otherwise risks being portrayed as a chap living out a bit of a mid-life crisis. A case of the small dogs becoming a big problem.

Put simply, it’s a warning to anyone thinking of putting video content online – it could end up everywhere. Once your content is out there you can’t control how far it spreads, or how people react to it – like a bag of dropped icing sugar (if you’re curious, really only try this outside).

So, if you’re going to produce media as part of a marketing strategy (or if you’ve been illegally importing animals on private jets), it needs the same attention to detail – the same judgement – as any project you want to do.

The rest of us may not be stars (you know, ‘yet’), but a glance at the news shows the list of things we can be sure are private is fast-vanishing.

So aside from considering the old advice about avoiding work with animals and children, we should all (apart from Michael Caine, that is) be modelling ourselves on the pre-pooch-gate Depp and choose our performances with care.

Webinar legal directory rankings

April 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
John Read

Earlier this week we held a webinar on improving directory rankings. Thank you to everyone who participated; we had over 100 attendees from firms across the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the US, both small and large. We also had a number of participants from UK chambers.

Areas discussed included the right approach to participation; who analyses your submissions; how ranking decisions are made; getting your message across more effectively; how to deal with referees; and analysing new rankings.

A key part of improving rankings is to ensure your submissions are pitched at the right level. Directory researchers often cover a wide range of practice areas, and are often not lawyers or legally qualified (though, of course, they pick up knowledge of the market through their research).

As such, submissions – and particularly the detailed work highlights – should not be too detailed in terms of the legal aspects of the work done, unless those aspects are part of the key message you want to get across. Instead, the work highlights should explain, in layman’s terms, what the practice did, why the example has been included, and what it says about the practice.

If you would like a copy of the slides from the webinar, please email me at john.read@mdcomms.co.uk.

We will be holding another webinar on directory rankings in a month or so. If there are any topics that you’d like us to cover, and any questions, please let me know.

New submission form for Chambers & Partners

April 13th, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
John Read

Chambers & Partners has published its new submission form, available here. In summary, there are some minor tweaks to some of the guidance and the order of sections, but the big change comes with the division of the second half of the form into “publishable information” (section D) and “confidential information” (section E). Each of these sections allows for up to ten client names and (separately) ten detailed work highlights, making for a total of 20 of each. The submission guidance has been updated to reflect the increased limit.

The revisions shouldn’t require firms to make many changes to their processes for preparing submissions, save that there is now the opportunity to present an additional five client names and (more importantly) five detailed work highlights. Chambers will accept submissions using the old form for the time being, though this will no doubt change in due course.

The full list of changes is as follows:

  • • Sections A and B are largely the same, save that the checkbox list of industry sectors now falls in section B.
  • • Guidance for B6 and B7, regarding ranked/unranked lawyers respectively, has been revised.
  • • Guidance for B8 and B9, regarding foreign experts/desks respectively, now asks for information about work in the past year that demonstrates their expertise.
  • • The 250-word limit for B10 (‘What is this department best known for?’) has been removed (no doubt much to firms’ delight), and the guidance under the question has been revised.
  • • The checkbox list of industry sectors, previously in section C, is now B12.
  • • Section C in the new form is the old section D, about feedback.
  • • Guidance for C2 now expressly asks for comments on the accuracy of the rankings (both department and individual) and of the editorial.
  • • The old sections C and E have been revamped into the new D and E, dealing with publishable and confidential information respectively. Each section allows firm to include up to ten client names (and whether or not each is a new client), plus ten detailed work highlights, making for 20 client names and 20 detailed work highlights in total.

How to use Twitter for customer service

April 7th, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
Melissa Davis

If trend reporters are to be believed, the most innovative new channel for exceptional customer service is via Twitter. This doesn’t just apply to fancy new startups and tech-driven offerings but to all organisations, from the legal sector to fashion and even public services such as the health service.

Why use Twitter for customer service?

There are many reasons why Twitter makes an effective customer service channel:

1. It’s fast.

If your usual customer service channels leave anyone who has contacted you waiting days for a response via email then you can cut that time in half by having an effective social customer service team.

2. It’s free.

For both businesses (other than paying for the manpower) and customers. You’re much less likely to have a deal with an irate customer if they haven’t been hanging on the phone (at their cost) for the last 45 minutes.

3. It’s effective.

Solve a problem for a customer on Twitter and the whole world can know about it.

4. It’s personal.

One of the biggest issues organisations face is that people simply don’t feel like they’re speaking to another human being. The more informal space of Twitter is a great place to encourage genuine interaction that tends to result in customers feeling more satisfied.

How to use Twitter for customer service

You may not have a clue how to make your Twitter account work as a customer service channel but it’s relatively easy to set it up and low hassle to operate.

1.Differentiate between your brand Twitter and your customer service Twitter.

It’s not a good idea to mix marketing messages with customer service social activity. The two can become very confused and that has a tendency to diminish the service element.

2.Make sure people know it’s an option.

There’s very little point in going to the effort of setting up your business with social customer service if no one knows it’s there. Make sure that it’s clearly marked as an option for feedback or complaints on websites, other social media and any marketing materials.

3.Don’t leave it unmanned.

No one expects the brand’s Twitter account to be answering customers 24 hours a day (although if you can do this, there are major brownie points, if that’s what your customers want). However, leaving a customer service channel completely unmanned is worse than having never set one up at all. Complaints will pile up and complainants will get more and more angry because they are being ignored.

4.Define rules and tone of voice.

Unless you’re going to be handling the account exclusively yourself, you need to define a tone of voice guide for your customer service Twitter channel and establish some rules on what can be said and what should never be said (for example, not swearing).

5.Don’t argue.

We have seen more than enough evidence that Twitter spats only work for those seeking attention and unless you want to gain notoriety for all the wrong reasons avoid arguing on your customer service Twitter. If a customer is being particularly obstructive and rude about your suggested solutions – and you think this may be as a result of the attention gained from the conversation playing out on Twitter – then provide an email address and take the chat offline.

So…what are you waiting for?

Protect your Twitter reputation

April 1st, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
Melissa Davis

What’s the first thing you do when you come across somebody new? If you’re anything like me, it’s to Google them and often one of the first hits that comes up is a Twitter account. This series of steps tends to apply to everyone, from potential new clients to someone applying for a job, which means that your Twitter reputation is much more important than it might have been a couple of years ago. So, how do you go about protecting it?

Avoid reckless tweeting

We all know to avoid tweeting while drunk, tweeting unwise images and avoiding swear words. However, reckless tweeting is more the kind of content that you think you can get away with because no one will check – incorrect facts, quotes attributed to the wrong person, bad links, that kind of thing. Verifying what you tweet to make sure it is correct is the cornerstone of maintaining a spotless Twitter reputation – as soon as you start tweeting content that is identifiably false you’ll begin to build a reputation as unreliable.

Don’t do the hard sell

We’re all selling on Twitter. Whether you have a tangible product, a set of services, or you’re just selling the idea of you as a digital talking head, the very foundation of Twitter is self promotion. However, gone are the days when you could generate engagement (or sales) from simply demanding it – today, the only acceptable approach is the softer, subtler sell that adds value to other users’ day before demanding something in return. Fail on that front and you’ll get a reputation as an account not to follow.

Engage

Failure to engage on Twitter is one of the fastest ways to undermine your social media reputation. While it used to be the case that only those who directly interacted with you would know whether you were engaging or not, now there are third party apps that produce a measurement of your engagement, providing a snapshot of who you are on twitter, which many other users will incorporate into their decision as to whether or not to follow.

Monitor your name

Whether you’re an individual or a business, keeping an eye on what is being said about you online is an important part of reputation protection. There are many ways in which you can search via Twitter itself – using your Twitter handle, name or any other related terms, such as product names or service titles. You can also set up a monitoring service that will report what is being said based on certain keywords you supply it with. If you find inappropriate tweeting about you then report it, if you find complaints answer them, and if you find positive content then share it far and wide.

Be authentic

Whether you’re a business or an individual, an authentic voice is key to a positive Twitter reputation. Do you never reply to those who tweet at you? Do you argue with users who are trying to cause problems? Do you ‘broadcast’ i.e. simply putting statements out into the Twittersphere rather than engaging? Are all your tweets simply chunks of text from a corporate brochure? All of these will ensure that your account has an inauthentic reputation and users will gradually drop away.
So perhaps the first thing you might do after reading this blog is to google your own name…..