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Do you want to tell a good story?

Then get back to the basics: Once upon a time there was a  ________.

Every day, _____________.

One day, ___________.

Because of that, ____________.

Because of that, ____________.

Until finally, ______.

In a good story, reality is introduced. Conflict arrives. There is a struggle. The conflict is resolved and a new reality emerges.

What's your story?



Commit to These Simple Marketing Tips

Commit to These Simple Marketing Tips •    3 Tweets per day

•    2 re-Tweets

•    3 Meaningful Facebook posts per day

•    4-5 Pinterest pics a week

•    One tip sheet per month

•    Blog a "How To"

•    Create your own "Top Ten" list

•    Solve problems on line

•    Share quotes

•    numbers

•    Write an e-book

And remember, news must entertain, inspire, start a conversation, teach how to do something or provide relevant information.


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Corruption in the Nation's Mitten

Believe it or not, in 2012, Michigan was ranked the seventh-worst state for corruption, earning an "F" in the annual State Integrity Investigation study. The 2012 study, was a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

To come up with its ranking system, the study used 330 indicators of state accountability broken down in 14 categories.

Michigan received "Fs" in 10 of them:

  • executive accountability,
  • judicial accountability,
  • state civil service management,
  • state pension fund management,
  • state insurance commissions,
  • political financing,
  • legislative accountability,
  • lobbying disclosure,
  • ethics enforcement agencies and
  • redistricting.

Since the report was prepared, the Michigan Legislature has worked or is working on a number of these issues, FOIA reform, campaign finance and general oversight.

However, in being critical of the State of Michigan, Chris Andrews, the study's author, said, (in Michigan) "reform efforts are frequently launched, sometimes debated, always shelved. Meanwhile, special interests continue to make greater use of loopholes that allow them to influence the system without leaving fingerprints on the money spent doing it."

Michigan's score of a "58" was identical to what it earned from the same study in 2011, when it again ranked seventh.

New Jersey was the best-ranked state, followed by Connecticut, Washington, California and Nebraska. Georgia was ranked the most corrupt state, followed by South Dakota, Wyoming, Virginia and Maine.  Michigan did receive an "A" in one category, internal auditing. The state also earned "B-'s" in state budget processes and procurement. In public access to information, Michigan scored a "D."

The study acknowledged there are positives. "Michigan's state government is not known for scandal. It gets many things right," Andrews writes. "It is not plagued by pay-to-play allegations in procurement, or by nepotism or cronyism in the civil service system. Its Freedom of Information Act usually, if not always, works to give journalists and others the information they request at a reasonable cost."

However, the study is overwhelmingly critical of Michigan, particularly over Michigan's campaign finance system and our lobbying laws. The legislature still has some time to improve our system and I know the State Bar of Michigan and Secretary of State are also working on some reform, but perhaps there is more work for a new legislature to tackle in 2014.


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10 Tips to Preserve Toronto Mayor Ford's Reputation

  1. Apologize.
  2. Fix the problem.
  3. Share your lesson - Make it a teaching moment.
  4. Stay the course.
  5. Fight back only if you have something to fight for
  6. Make good.
  7. Stop the rants.
  8. This is not about you anymore, it is about Toronto.
  9. Move on.
  10. Work on re-building your reputation.



Don't Dress Like a Mortician

That was the advice a memo from someone at Clifford Chance told the woman lawyers at the multi-national law firm in an effort to help them give better presentations. The advice was directed at the Clifford Chance women attorneys who make up a fraction of the 3,700 of their legal advisors.  The memo urges female lawyers to “practice hard words,” stop saying “like” and to button up, explaining “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage” and “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.” Other tips on the memo include:

  • “Like” You’ve got to Lose “Um” and “Uh,” “You know,” “OK,” and “Like”
  • Don’t raise your pitch at the end of a statement if it’s not a question.
  • Lower the pitch — say “uh-huh” and match that pitch to how low you can go
  • Don’t qualify: “Kind of, sort of, just…”

Some of it is good advice that we need to be reminded every now and then but the rest -- Well I think there is better advice to give anyone giving a presentation. My advice,

  • Be yourself but professional.
  • Be natural but have fun.
  • Enjoy the moment, it's yours.

If you want other good presentation tips, posted 8 Things Never To Say During Your Presentation.

Following the release of the memo on the blog, Above the Law, a Clifford Chance representative said, “The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers.”  (See the rest of the memo here.)

If that is the case, then Clifford Chance should respond they way the memo was leaked and use social media to address the issue directly.  They should follow up with a blog post of their own and post it on their blog or website. I would not recommend they respond to concerns on Twitter or Facebook. If they do they will continue to contribute to the debate and if I were advising Clifford Chance, I would have them post a blog or statement and find opportunities to reinvest in the people of their firm to restore trust and their image, particularly women.



Your company is the message with branded content

Today's New York Times reports that Harper's Magazine is "joining the growing list of media properties whose publishers are supplementing more traditional forms of advertising with sponsored content".  With the help of public relations professionals or advertising agencies, companies will be able to write the news stories, features and product reviews that appear in magazines and on-line that look like it is part of the magazine (which it is), but is actually an advertisement. It is a new era in how we purchase goods and services. With advances in technology at our fingertips and on our desktops, we do our own research into what we purchase and what solutions it solves, we seek advice from our friends, read the reviews and compare prices before we ever step into a store or office, if we ever do step inside.

As a result, a company's marketing strategy should have, at its core, a content marketing strategy, to create content that is engaging and informative, humorous if appropriate and timely given the news cycle. How that content is distributed will depend on a company's budget and a company should do its own due diligence to determine the best media or channel to distribute that content on.  For example, do your customers read Harper's, The Atlantic, New Yorker, Forbes or even the plethora of trade publications that only include native advertising opportunities for its content.

This is all part of a strategic planning process that your public relations counsel or marketing agency should take you through during your initial kick off meeting.

With the right content you can sell a product by selling solutions and in crafting the right messages, advertorial or branded content, you can take your message directly to those who you want to see it. However, depending who you want to read it and how you want them to see it will just depend on how much you want to spend.



Building Business Relationships - Personal contact still matters

Despite an increase in using social media to develop relationships, face-t0-face contact remains the best way to establish and maintain relationships. The Fall brings its own season of annual meetings, fall conferences and legislative events for you to get up and get out to meet new contacts. Here are a few tips in building business relationships: 1. Create a plan for yourself -- Who do you want to reach; Who do you want to meet; and, Who do you want to represent? Now figure out what they read and subscribe to it. Figure out what conferences or events they attend and register. Find out what organizations they are members of and join them. And find out where they eat and eat there. Regardless, developing and nurturing relationships should become part of your daily routine.

2. Get out from behind the desk and get out of your office -- No matter what size firm you work in, walk the floors of your firm. Introduce yourself to attorneys new and old. Learn about them and their practice, ask them for advice and find ways to collaborate. Extend that relationship beyond the office and use part of your marketing budget to take them and other referral sources out to lunch.

3. Don't just attend events -- Plan them. Get involved with the organizations planning the events you want to attend. By joining committees you are developing stronger relationships with other professionals with similar interests. By assuming leadership roles you are also showcasing your expertise and passion and showing potential clients and referral sources your work ethic. It is also important to get out of Michigan. Move beyond our borders to expand your network and get in front of new referral sources. Get involved in national organizations such as the ABA but also in front of industry trade groups outside the legal industry.

4. Speak up. But first listen. When attending events, listen to the conversation and find a way to participate in the discussion, to stand above the crowd and showcase your knowledge, concern for the issues and interest in the discussion.

5. Find a mentor or become one.  By identifying with someone you admire and reaching out to them to seek professional counsel you are developing a vital relationship that will lead to a successful practice. If you are a seasoned professional, become a mentor to a younger professional. It will help you stay fresh and help you transition your practice to free up time for other pursuits.

6. Stay involved with a bar association or legal committee to another organization. It is important for you to remain on top of emerging trends, new cases and regulations and emerging leaders in your chosen profession so that you can leverage that knowledge to not only advance your client's interests but help you reach out to others for new business opportunities with the information you now have.

7. Don't just get involved in professional things, join a board of a non-profit and involve your family, join a sports league, coach a youth league and find other opportunities to develop relationships outside your law practice. Business will come once you develop lasting relationships around trust.

8. S.I.T.  Just don't sit around after you attend events or meet someone, Stay In Touch with them. That evening send them a personal note on personal stationary, that is not electronic and then link to them on LinkedIn. Every now and then send them something -- a news article, recent case of interest, or just a note to touch base to let them know you are still thinking about them.

9. Personal contract is still important but so is social media. In regards to social media, set up a profile on Twitter and LinkedIn. Set goals for yourself and create a system to remain consistently active using social media and begin to follow people who are leaders in the industry or people you want to meet. For Twitter, Tweet or re-Tweet at least twice a day. It could be something that piqued your interest, a recent decision or opinion or perhaps something that one of your colleagues wrote. And on LinkedIn, participate in the discussion, respond to questions and ask people to endorse you.

10.  Use your firms marketing resources. If you firm has a Marketing Director use them. Tap their knowledge and resources and tell them you want to represent the firm at outside events, you want to organize a seminar and partner with a bank or association in presenting it.

11. It's personal, not business.  As a consumer of legal services I want the best service my money can buy and yet at the same time, I want someone who I can trust and who I have a personal relationship with. Today, all business is personal.  I like knowing something about my CPA, my dentist, my broker and financial advisor and my lawyer and having a unique relationship with them. There may be some that want your firm's reputation, but often more times than not, they want you for who you are. Either you have a pre-existing personal relationship with that client, they heard you speak or read an article or blog post, another trusted resource referred them to you or they found you some other way. It is your reputation now on the line. So work hard to develop new relationships, nurture old ones and begin to build positive name ID in your community.

Daniel Cherrin is the founder of North Coast Strategies, a public affairs + relations firm centered around strategic communications, litigation communications and crisis management. An attorney, Daniel served as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to Detroit Mayor, Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr.

Some of these tips also appear in the October 7, 2013 issue of Michigan Lawyers Weekly.



Chaos in Congress as the U.S. Government Shuts Down

In Detroit, we can live with a municipal bankruptcy as the government continues to function -- albeit not at an optimum level, the government still works. However, when Congress focuses on politics rather than sound public policy, it is the American people who suffer, and it is "Brand America" that gets its reputation damaged across the globe. And at such a crucial time as we become more involved in international disputes. Congress has had ample opportunity and time to work out their differences, even with complex policy disputes mired in politics and controversy. When it would have been clear that the House could not reach a consensus among themselves they should should have tapped trained non-partisan facilitators, including those from the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service, a federally funded agency,  to provide a forum for resolving the toughest public policy disputes and create a process by which to bring the stakeholders together.

Consensus building is a process by which the parties seek unanimous agreement.  It involves a good-faith effort by each stakeholder to meet the interests of each other. In today’s legislative environment, politics often trumps policy and public policy dispute resolution can assist lawmakers and regulators in reaching consensus and bring closure to a number of issues that have long been unresolved, while overcoming outside political pressure.

However, in this situation chaos trumped consensus because not all the stakeholders sought an equitable solution in good faith.  It is time politics takes a back seat to agree on a vision for this country. Once our elected members of Congress can agree on a vision, we can then work to re-establish trust and begin to engage in civil and productive discourse leading to resolving complex policy disputes for the sake of moving our Nation forward.

However, this takes leadership and I am not sure we have that today in Congress.





Setting the message, engaging the voter and winning in 2013 and 2014

With local elections coming in November and state and county and federal elections in 2014, not to mention all the millages, here is a strategic roadmap for the candidates and organizations advancing issues during the election I. Strategic Communications

A. Message Development

1. Setting the agenda

2. Giving people a reason to get engaged

3. Engaging the grassroots

B. Media Relations

C. Stakeholder + Community Engagement -- Making the connections

1. Elected leaders (House, Senate, County, Local, Federal)

2. Labor + Business

3. Grassroots

D. Social Media

1. Stakeholder Engagement (voter, donor, interested, ardent opponent)

2. On line fundraising

3. Story gathering + telling/sharing

4. Pulse + Polling

5. Organizing

II. Donor Relations + Fundraising

A. Donor Relationships

1. Year Round Effort

2. Make them a part of the party’s fabric through constant engagement with Party/Elected

Leadership (in Lansing and Washington) - AIPAC Model

B. Small Donor Focus

1. On line giving

2. Obama Model

III. Candidate recruitment

IV. Create a foundation to support this effort

V. The plan

A. Create a social media site that includes messaging and agenda setting, aggregates the parties Twitter feed, YouTube, Facebook page, while each week feature a story while allowing people to upload their own stories and messages. The site will be used to instantly gauge public opinion, engage and mobilize stakeholders and get people involved.



Build a Strategy not a Strategic Plan

Business Goals - Know what impact you want to have on the business and how you will measure it.  Develop a strategy around your business objectives…but not a tactical plan that could become irrelevant. Embrace technology and project Management tools to keep everyone aligned during implementation.

Create a 'channel strategy' and determine how and what media, web, blog, social networks and email can all work together and reinforce each other.

Develop a 'content strategy' and figure out what type of content do you want your brand to be associated with? Who are your experts? What topics do you and your customers care about? And then create content that is new and easily digestible, perhaps even fun to read with some infotainment factor.

Build a system or editorial calendar that provides timely relevant content that is interesting and sharable.

Recognize your assets - a spokesperson, a product a customer a community and ensure they have the resources. Create brand ambassadors.

Create a process - So everyone knows what they are resonsibe for and when, what requires approval, collaboration and insight

Focus on quality not a high idea that will go viral - that way you will build a reputation as a thought leader rather than a one hit wonder.

Evaluate your work, re-adjust and continue to align your business goals with your marketing plan.



A Marketing Recipe

  1. CONTENT - Identify stories, produce content (entertaining, insightful, newsworthy), capture images
  2. FORMAT - Image, Text
  3. VEHICLE - News Release, Slideshow, Tweet
  4. MEDIUM - SOcial, MObile, LOcal, Traditional, Video
  5. CONVERSION - Generate emotion and share



Managing Public Risk and Political Opportunity

article Corporations today are at risk. Not only are they at risk but they are vulnerable to regulatory agencies, legislators, shareholders and customers.

When confronted with evidence or allegations of potential wrongdoing the company should first understand all the accusations and facts, monitor what is being said, and then respond deliberately & thoughtfully and directly.

Attorneys are often a corporations first responder. That person who receives the call about a problem, investigation or allegation that could potentially put the company's brand and their corporate reputation at risk. Often times, the attorneys are too focused on the legal risk and not focused at all on the public or political risk.

While the company's corporate counsel is working with their legal team of in house and outside counsel, they should be working in tandem with the public relations team, including social media managers to orchestrate a response no matter what the issues or facts are. In the public, sometimes perception trumps reality, and a company must be ready to respond. Therefore, having a PR team ready to get engaged with their legal team in the first moments a crisis hits, will most likely become that make it or break it moment in how that company will emerge from the crisis.

Therefore, it is helpful for some PR professionals who just happen to be attorneys to work as an attorney with attorneys handling any investigation, manage the response and protect the brand and brand leaders. An attorney, skilled and experienced in PR and media relations is in a better position to work as a member of the legal team to protect attorney-client privilege and to add additional credibility to the response.



Can a lawyer practice PR?

Screenshot 11:27:12 12:03 AM Increasingly, legal battles are being fought in the court of public opinion long before lawyers see the inside of a courtroom.  Without a careful and coherent litigation communication strategy, even a legal victory can be prohibitively costly in terms of company or product reputation.  An effective communications strategy must be coordinated with a legal strategy.  As lawyers, we know the legal process and are sensitive to the concerns of in-house and outside counsel and develop communications strategies that support and enhance the company’s legal strategy.

A lawyer -PR specialist is trained in translating the arcane, confusing, and complicated elements of legal actions into messages that are heard, understood, and remembered outside the courtroom.

No organization is immune to crisis. It strikes every type of business, industry and nonprofit entity. Effective communication and reputation management often spells the difference between succumbing to a crisis and surviving it. When a crisis strikes, a company must move quickly to mobilize its legal and communications teams to manage the crisis and protect their reputation and legal position.

A media savvy lawyer is in a better positon to help their clients than one who would prefer "not to comment."



Five tips in creating a social media policy

The use of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo and others has increased in the workplace and for corporate use. In fact, social media has become a vital tool in promoting a company, securing leads and developing relationships. However, as the lines begin to blur between social media for private use as an individual or public use as an employee, companies must begin to manage the risks involved in increased social media usage. Zappos, the online shoe company has a simple policy, " Be real and use your best judgement." While others may not be that simple, here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Protect intellectual property..Never place proprietary information on-line.
  2.  Respect copyrights and fair use. ...Always give people proper credit for their work and make you have permission to publish something.
  3. Be responsible for what you write...Avoid language that could be considered defamatory, harassing or indecent. Before you hit send, ask, "Do I want my mom to see this?"
  4. Bring value to the discussion..To build a following you need to bring something to the table so make your contribution significant and meaningful.
  5. Be open, honest and authentic...Include your name, if appropriate the company and make statements in complete disclosure of any potential bias.



The Ann Arbor Art Fair: 1,100 Artists, 1,100 Stories, and One Big Michigan Tradition

Art Fair Street Interview *This was drafted originally for Pure Michigan Connect in anticipation of The Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 17-20, 2013.

Traditions are important in Michigan and some will even tell you that traditions began in Ann Arbor. In fact, every July for the 1,100 artists from all over the world make it their affair to submit their artwork to a jury of their peers waiting for the honor and privilege of exhibiting in The Ann Arbor Art Fair.  The Ann Arbor Art Fair is not just one fair, it is four major art fairs in one big event.

For four days, from July 17-20, 2013, art collectors, people watchers and those that just enjoy being a part of tradition, come to Ann Arbor, to walk the 30 city blocks of pop-up retail before these artisans pack up their crafts and move on to other locations.  It is the time of year when friends meet up and where parents take a day off of work to spend it with their children.

Every year brings new artists and brand new art. Whether it is experimenting with a new medium, from mix media to digital media, from wood to metal, jewelry to fiber and fabric, The Ann Arbor Art Fair has something for everyone, making it one of the top art fairs in the Nation.

Every artist has a story to tell and in Ann Arbor, you will have the chance to hear their stories and then the opportunity to re-tell it when you share their art with friends and family.

For example, talk celebrities such as Barbara Lazaroff or Dustin Hoffman and they will tell you about their private collection of works by Sondra Wampler, a California surfer turn photographic artist, whose works also appear in the corporate collections of the Four Seasons, Scottsdale Quarter, Kaiser Permanente and others.

Speaking of celebrities, have you soon artist Ayala Naphtali’s works on NBC’s Parenthood or how about the works of Armando Pedroso on Chicago Fire or Cougar Town.

Or how about Darrin Hoover who was always known as “the kid that could draw,” is now an artist with unique style of aging new wood to create something we can all connect too.

So this July, come to Ann Arbor to celebrate, collaborate and create with our artists. 1,100 artists, over 30 city blocks, from 38 states and four countries, in four individual art fairs, but one event, for the 54th Annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 17-20, 2013. Each one has a story to tell and it is your opportunity to develop new relationships, build on old ones and enjoy a right of summer, one of Michigan’s best traditions and an event that is Pure Michigan. For more information, please visit




More tips in protecting your reputation during a crisis

don’t say anything you couldn’t or wouldn’t say in court, and  just sick to the facts

For example:

  • The claim, offense or defense involved
  • Information contained in a public record
  • That an investigation of a matter is in progress
  • Undisputable facts

A litigation communications plan blends both legal expertise and media savvy, by helping to frame messages during the litigation to help preserve, protect and enhance the reputation of the parties. It also helps to monitor what others are saying about the case and the company and works to control the message, address concerns and build relationships to help the company emerge from the litigation with its reputation intact. An effective litigations communications strategy, works to enhance legal efforts by providing clarity on complex legal issues, before and after litigation. The goal of litigation communications is to guarantee that the client's public image is completely aligned with the legal team's efforts and strategy, while ensuring the company's message is understood outside the courtroom.



Five Quick Media Tips & Tricks


  1. Know why you want to talk to the media. What do you hope to achieve in talking to the media?  Before you talk with a reporter, know what you want to accomplish, even if they catch you by surprise.
  2. Know your audience. Then understand who your audience is. This will help you craft the appropriate messages that resonate with the right audience.
  3. Know what you want to say. Have a few key messages you want to convey and stick to those messages.
  4. Don’t hide anything you don’t want them to find later. When speaking to the media be concise and thorough and tell them everything that you can with in reason.
  5. “Off the record” or “For background only.” As a general rule, if you don’t want it in print then don’t say it.



Networking on LinkedIn For Lawyers and Other Professionals

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 80 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. LinkedIn is populated by thousands of business professionals including more than 387,000 CEO’s alone. By adding the contacts you already have to your LinkedIn account you will learn that you have 2nd and 3rd connections to many business professionals that you were unaware of.

Example of how LinkedIn can help you secure referrals and new clients.  For example, someone searches LinkedIn for a 'lawyer' and they see that they have a 2nd connection with you, meaning they know someone who knows you. Now they can contact their contact and ask about you, they contact you and now you received a referral without much effort on your part.

Here are a few advantages for lawyers and staff that LinkedIn has laid out:

  • Attracting proper public exposure helps potential clients find you.
  • Connect with past clients, colleagues, etc. Ensuring that your LinkedIn network truly represents your “real-world” relationships helps your exposure, and makes you more likely to appear in search results.
  • Maintain a rich public profile that displays your specific areas of expertise, prominent cases and matters handled, etc. This helps prospective clients searching for attorneys with a specific background & expertise find you in search results.
  • Manage your reputation in a credible, professional manner.
  • Who you’re connected to is a signal of your relationships, and influential figures who you have a trusted relationship with can help you project added credibility.
  • Recommendations on your profile speak to the actual experience past colleagues and clients have had working with you.
  • Find relevant information and experts when you need them.
  • Performing a people search by keywords can turn up the right expert (even in obscure technical areas) willing to lend his/her expertise.
  • Posting a question gets you answers or recommendations on experts in a specialized field from your network.

I have only named a few ways that LinkedIn can benefit you but there are many more uses for this program, you can visit to learn about them. Getting started is easy, go to sign up and start searching for people that you know, you can add them by hitting the “connect” button.