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					Professionals, Beware of Publicity That Might Bite You
Don't always believe what you hear about the benefits of publicity. You
know the old saying, "Even bad publicity is good." While that may be true
for some businesses and some people, it is not necess arily true for
professionals. Take the example of publicity for lawyers.
Lawyers have long suffered from a negative public image. A Harris Poll
conducted in August of 2006 found that only 26% of the public surveyed
found lawyers "trustworthy." In two ongoing national surveys I conducted
(one for lawyers and one for the public) on the factors contributing to
this problem, lawyers and the public alike state that lawyers are seen as
arrogant, deceptive, deceitful, and lying.
Given this ongoing problem for legal professionals, it was the worst kind
of bad publicity for the American Bar Association Journal in December of
2007 to award former-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales the title of
"Lawyer of the Year." Instead of enhancing the perception of Gonzales,
the ABA, or lawyers in general, it only further reinforced the existing
negative public perception of lawyers.
While Edward A. Adams, editor and publisher of the magazine, said they
gave this award to lawyers who "made the most news" or "who are
noteworthy," most people likely shook their heads in amazement at the
ineptitude of the action and muttered to themselves, "Yeah, that
After all, one usually expects that publicly announced professional
honors, like "Lawyer of the Year," would go to those who have
demonstrated the highest principles of their field or made the greatest
contribution to upholding ethical and effective practices. That turned
out to be a not very funny chuckle in this case!
After all, one was certainly hard pressed to think of G onzales in those
terms. He resigned amid investigations of his breaking the law and lying
to Congress about such things as possible politically -motivated firings
of nine U.S. attorneys and illegally tampering with a witness in ongoing
Congressional and Justice Department inquiries
Even though publisher Adams said that the persons picked did "not
necessarily reflect the official policy of the ABA," and some 40,000
lawyers in the U.S., one had to wonder if their awards' committee was
simply out-to-lunch when it came to social awareness and marketing savvy
about positively sanctioning the tainted Gonzales and his questionable
official actions.
Didn't Adams and his committee care about the impression they had created
for the ABA and lawyers alike? I know if I were a lawyer trying to create
positive visibility and credibility with my public, especially in the
wake of ongoing negative public perception of lawyers, I would be more
than a little displeased - and a whole lot embarrassed - with the
journal's award to Gonzales.
As it turned out, there was a ground swell of swift and rampant outrage
from those most affected by this stultifyingly stupid example of bad
publicity. Consequently, the journal editor took speedy action. He
changed the original award title from "Lawyer of the Year" to "Newsmaker
of the Year," stating there was "confusion" about what the original title
meant. A rose by any other name? Still a bad overall move.
Professionals, in particular, need to be aware that while negative
publicity may create positive visibility for Hollywood celebrities and
some other businesses, it is unlikely to positively promote their
relationship-based services. Professionals tend to be held to a higher
level of ethics, integrity, and credibility. As such, they have to be
even more vigilant than the average business person about the visibility
they create.
With respect to publicity, professionals in particular have to be careful
not to help find themselves in the position the Pennsylvania Dutch used
to refer to as being "too soon old and too late smart."
Signe A. Dayhoff, Ph.D., teaches professionals and entrepreneurs who are
uncomfortable promoting themselves or have ineffective marketing
strategies how to create profitable visibility and credibility
confidently, professionally with integrity at low cost without selling
through a relationship-based method called the "VODKAA Process."
Dr. Signe is a social psychologist and coach-consultant who has
specialized for the last 24 years in teaching how to boost trust and
liking through creating rapport with prospects, how to polish
interpersonal skills and increase effective speaking and small talk, how
to eliminate marketing reluctance and replace it wiith confidence and
relationships, and how to become a valued and accessible educational
resource to prospects and clients alike.
Author of five books and over 100 published articles, she has worked
internationally with CEOs, attorneys, physicians and other health -care
providers, CPAs, FBI agents, TV producers, writers, seminar presenters,
computer programmers, and small businesses, for example.
Subscribe to her free monthly Get Your Ideal Clients Tips self -promotion
ezine and claim your complimentary Marketing Self-Assessment at