Friday, September 28, 2007

Law Firm Train Wreck Coming

All innovation must first pass through a period of massive misuse as people learn how to leverage the new tools to achieve their ends. This is often costly and embarrassing for early adopters. It is sometimes possible to leap frog this step if you are careful to observe how others, particularly those in other industries, are using new tools and techniques. This is certainly true with New Media marketing.

According to this story in the New York Times online, law firms are using online video as a recruiting tool. Hip to the power of YouTube to attract young people who might be suited to be summer associates, a number of legal firms have hired creative agencies to create multimedia in the hope that it will go viral on the Web.

The legal industry is late to the game. PR firms in New York and Philadelphia (among other places) made headlines last year when they created fictitious characters to star in their clients' online media. One high profile case involved the creation of a wandering RV family that traveled from Wal-Mart parking lot to parking lot across the country. A great idea from a top agency, but instead of sending out some kid with a digital camera to troll the lots for interesting folks, they decided to lie.

Lying, of course, is a time-honored technique in advertising, but New Media marketing is closer to PR, wherein we shine a very bright light on your company in the hope that your important audiences will see how good you are. Lying is not good. It has already come back to haunt a number of companies in other industries. I suspect it will soon haunt the legal industry too. The twist here is that those guys really like to file lawsuits. Duck and cover.
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