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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

What Caitlin Moran’s daughter can teach you about Twitter

April 29th, 2016 | Posted by Melissa in Blog - (Comments Off)
Melissa Davis

Twitter is getting a bit of a bad reputation these days. What with the use of Periscope to film sexual assaults and examples of terrible trolling, almost too numerous to count, sometimes it seems like the social media platform has become a destructive and mean place, rather than the hub of information and networking that it was supposed to be. However, while browsing through the internet archives I came across a story from 2014 that described the experiences of journalist Caitlin Moran when she allowed her daughter Nancy to take over her Twitter account for an hour. And that rather changed my view.

Caitlin has had her fair share of negative Twitter attention. Her 2013 #TwitterSilence campaign, a protest against the threats of violence received by many women via the platform, was supported by some but (predictably) jeered at by many. Creating hashtags such as #trolliday has put Moran in the direct line of troll fire and this was all before she ceded control of her Twitter account to Nancy. So, when the then 11 year old took over the tweets, I would imagine that her mum was pretty nervous. And yet a wonderful thing happened.

As Nancy proceeded to inform the Twittersphere about which of her cats was the obese cat and which the stupid cat, then going on to describe her fear of butterflies, a rather amazing thing happened: no one trolled her. While Moran took back control of the account after 37 minutes she did acknowledge that Twitter’s response to her daughter’s misspelled ramblings had been “100% gentle.” At that time Moran’s account had 500,000+ followers so the chances of there being some trolls ready to pounce within that number was pretty high. And yet they didn’t.

When you consider this kind of response, in comparison to the way that Twitter treats its adults, I wonder if there is anything we can learn from Nancy. Perhaps the most obvious factor is authenticity. From the spelling mistakes to the fiercely held facts, Nancy’s tweets were as genuine as they come and we know how much Twitter loves people being real and despises anyone with even a hint of fake or corporate robot. Nancy replied to people – in fact she made a point of saying that she was replying to all the people that her mum ignored – and that, again, is something Moran Snr may have forgotten as her social stardom has risen: Twitter demands reciprocity. And finally, Nancy was interesting with no qualms about revealing just enough personal information to forge a bond between her and other users.

For example:

“i have not read my mums books, but once when i was playing poker with my uncle and my sister the punishment if you lost was to read it.”

“i refused”

We often put a lot of effort into analysing and strategising Twitter, focusing on the need for ROI and overthinking the whole thing. Stripping it back to the basics – authenticity, reciprocity and good, interesting content – is perhaps the only lesson we need to learn. Because if you don’t overcomplicate it, Twitter is so simple a child could do it.

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?