Thursday, 22 April 2010

Volcano Policy

Since the volcanic ash hit the skies of the UK, things have been getting a little dusty. With all those Britons stranded abroad, and at the end of the Easter holidays, this week there’ll have been a few empty desks across the offices of GB.

So employers, what’s your Volcano Policy? Will you require your employees stranded abroad to take the time off work as holiday, paid leave or unpaid leave? What lengths will your company go to return stranded staff back to the UK to increase the work force? Will it depend on whether those staff are currently stranded on business trips or personal trips abroad?

The issue for management of staff absence during Ashgate, are very similar to the issues faced by employers at the beginning of the year with Snowgate. Simple solution is to dust off your Snow Policies and re-brand them, Volcano Policy.

Job done.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Play the advantage

Working in the digital media industry I see first-hand every day the benefits to individuals and businesses from taking advantage of the newest technology, social media and web 2.0.  An industry was born of it, trailblazers lead it, those who participate in it are cutting-edge, engaged with their customers and reap the rewards.  They also have a bit of fun with it.

Hold on a minute….what was that you said?  What’s web 2.0?  Ah yes, social media it’s a risk isn’t it, you need rules to prevent your employees recklessly libelling their boss on Facebook. I don't give staff access to social media sites, its counter-productive.  I can’t Twitter, it would be a breach of confidentiality. Anyway, my firm has a website.

Sorry. I forgot. You’re a lawyer. Risk-averse.  You hear "social media". You think "policy". Go on, admit it.

So, I was delighted to read about this excellent symposium being organised by lawyers for lawyers.  It’s a fresh and quirky look at how technology is affecting the practice of law. Sessions include: “Up in the Air and the Cloud”,  Would Lincoln get Linked In? Or would he Tweet?” and, my personal favourite, “What’s your Avatar? How social media is changing the way we work and how to take advantage of it”.

If you're lucky enough to be attending this symposium, you just know you’re going to be able to listen to people excited about their subject and come away feeling inspired to get your personal lawyer brand online, out there and competing with the best of them.

Contrast those sessions with an in-house lawyer forum I’ve been invited to recently by a regional law firm. How could I not want to find out: “How to control social media in the workplace”, “How to prevent online defamation” and “How to control your risk online”. 


It gets worse.  An entirely separate conference I was invited to bears the ominous title “The Internet: What can go wrong and how to avoid it”.  It includes sessions entitled “An Online Survival Guide”, “Avoiding Problems” and “How to Perform a Legal Operation”. 

No, I don’t get the relevance of the last session either. But it’s a conference about the internet so….err…I guess it needs some scary sounding items that lawyers can warn their clients about.  Maybe the organiser got a byte from a mouse when he was younger. 

Anyway, I know which conference, I mean, symposium I’d rather be at.  Go on law firms, I dare you, when it comes to social media and web 2.0, be a trailblazer and get your profession excited about the possibilities new technology and media offer us; don’t blow the referee’s whistle, play the advantage. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Are you talking my language?

The need to use the right communication method to keep in touch with your audience was never better exemplified than in yesterday’s parliamentary wash-up process for the Digital Economy Bill which enticed very few MPs to engage in debate on the subject in the Commons; juxtapositioned against the tirade of simultaneous Twitter debate at #debill from the outraged constituents of those MPs who will be looking for their votes at the general election in just over 4 weeks time.

Here’s another example of an organisation failing to hit the mark with the right communication method for the subject matter. A couple of weeks ago there was a landmark judgement on a case in my industry (digital marketing) and a big player was involved (Google). The law has always struggled to keep pace with technology, and so we love legal developments which do affect us and this was news we’d all been waiting for. Twitter alerted me to the result of the case. I used Twitter to convey the information I had received myself about the judgement, and to find out the information which everybody else had. I had a blog up and running for my company on the subject just after lunch time and, fair dues, several law firms, legal and industry bloggers achieved the same.

On the day, Twitter was invaluable for exchanging information and more importantly current thinking attaching to the issues which were raised in the case. Given the case related to the digital marketing industry, the real time communication was all the more appropriate.

Two days later, I received an e-mail from a law firm with the heading “Breaking News”. “How exciting” I thought “What a busy week this is turning out to be for new legal developments...

 Oh the disappointment! The e-mail contained a briefing of the judgement from 2 days prior. It contained no insight or new angles on the case, and was clearly not in touch with the comments about this judgement case which were circulating on Twitter, the blogosphere and the industry generally.

In my view this was not breaking news. Technically, it was not even yesterday’s news. It would have been hard-pressed to be that day’s fish and chips paper.

Law firms, take note! and engage more actively with your target audience, use the tools which we use to communicate your message and you’ll have our attention. We may even talk back to you. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship.