Many firms like to say they "do things differently" but how many are as brave as Keystone Law? I recently had the pleasure of lunch with Kristina Oliver. We hadn't caught up properly since working together at Cripps over 10 years ago, (apart from brief chats bumping in to one another at legal awards ceremonies over the years). What a delight!
Back in 2003, Kristina was in her first legal marketing role, but already you could see she was going places. 10+ years on and her pedigree is impressive. Keystone Law is her fourth law firm role and the list of her awards nominations and wins is outstanding (Legal Marketing Team of the Year, Best Use of Thought Leadership, Marketing Campaign of the Year... it goes on and on...) And she hasn't been putting her feet up outside of work either: in her spare time (yes - this woman wins awards in her day job and still has spare time!) she set up and ran her own business, organising events in Ibiza for the dedicated clubbing community and putting out dance CDs that topped the clubbing charts. Hard Dance Ibiza was so successful, particularly in its deft use of social media to promote its events and products, that a major tour operator (Thomas Cook, no less) hired her to bring their own social media marketing up to scratch. I told you she was impressive.
Now, you wouldn't think these two very different strands of professional services and extreme clubbing would be that complementary would you? But the story goes it was precisely this unusual combination that made Kristina the perfect candidate for the Head of Marketing role at Keystone Law: "Keystone were specifically looking for someone with an entrepreneurial background, at the same time as a classic legal marketing skill-set and I guess I fitted the bill. That in itself made Keystone Law a very attractive employer for me; how many law firms really want to let their marketing teams get creative? I guess I've been lucky with the firms I've worked for in my 12 years of professional services marketing, but I've heard so many stories from friends and peers how the job is so easily reduced to an administrative one, ordering brochures, organising events but always preserving the status quo and absolutely not about doing anything differently ... unless a competitor firm has done it first and then boom! suddenly the partners are all putting pressure on the marketing team to replicate this original and unique idea." This is a theme all too familiar: the "Me Too" school of marketing. Whatever happened to "differentiation" in the marketplace and understanding your "unique selling points"? I should point out that, like Kristina, we are the lucky ones at Kysen, in that the people who choose to work with us will be the ones keen to stand out and innovate. But from the sidelines we often see this copycat instinct elsewhere.
In contrast, Kristina can't speak highly enough of her own firm and what a breath of fresh air it is to be free to get creative. Indeed to be expected to be. "There are so many things I love about this role. We really are doing things in a fundamentally different way. Our whole "dispersed law firm" model is about setting lawyers free to focus on what they love and do best, ie lawyering and looking after clients." [I love their slogan "Law Set Free: Practise what you love at Keystone Law".] "The admin and marketing is all handed over to the central management team. And, crucially, partnership politics is parked well outside the door. But the model brings with it some interesting internal communications challenges, and this is the part of my job I find most fascinating. With 160 lawyers based in over 70 towns spanning England (and a number located abroad including the Keypoint Law team in Australia), how do you create a cohesive culture? How do you make people feel they belong?
"We often say that in many ways we operate like a traditional law firm, just one with very long corridors between our lawyers' offices.... for example the M4. Well this is precisely where social media tools and internal communications campaigns come into their own. Our intranet has a much more "social media" look & feel to it than you would expect of a law firm, and our lawyers respond really well to it. This format is perfect for making them feel they belong to a community. And we find fun ways to bond as a team too. So for example on Red Nose Day this March, we gave the Keystone website a makeover: our 150 lawyers all agreed to let us photo-shop their profile pictures adding bright red noses to their faces. We offered a £1 donation for every client or other visitor clicking through. It generated so much goodwill internally, let alone externally, and bonded everyone together in the fun of it all. The press got behind our campaign as well, particularly The Lawyer, tweeting links to the campaign and encouraging as many people as possible to click through. In 24 hours we saw an incredible 1,760 percent increase in web traffic. Even more surprising was that these visitors then spent an average 9 minutes looking at the website. A real success. Not to mention the pounds we raised for charity." The press release for this stunt opened with the lines "As a firm we are never afraid of pushing the boundaries...". They're not over-stating the case.
Keystone Law has recently launched a Law Set Free portal, targeting potential lawyers with messaging on how working for a dispersed organisation allows you to focus on what you love, and enticing you to try their lifestyle calculator; you're invited to answer a few simple questions to see an analysis of your time, and then with the click of one more button see how different your life could be at Keystone Law. And they have numerous other brilliantly fresh campaigns in the pipeline for you to watch and enjoy later in the year.
This is definitely a space to watch. And with Kristina leading the charge on the marketing front, it's going to be a space that's moving very fast.
If ever you needed proof social media has come of age, the induction of Youtube stars "Zalfie" into Madame Tussaud's hall of fame is undoubtedly it. My head almost split in two on hearing this news, my mind struggling to fit the images of beauty vlogger Zoella and boyfriend blogger Alfie Deyes together with the very traditional roll-call of movie stars, sports celebs and historical figures we are more used to seeing at the house of wax. YouTube vlogging is clearly a mainstream pastime. As Tussaud's General Manager Ben Sweet said, "It reflects just how huge these YouTube stars are". (Zoe Sugg's fashion and beauty channel boasts 7.8 million subscribers, and Alfie Deyes' attracts 3.9 million.) The statues are of course to be unveiled some time later this year. We'll let you know nearer the time...
I just love the "I Am An Immigrant" campaign currently dominating poster sites across the UK, in the tube, at railway stations and on billboards the length and breadth of the country. Have you seen them?
Telling personal stories in block headlines such as Baljeet Ghale's "I have taught English to over 2400 students and was the first black president of the NUT", and from our own circle, barrister S Chelvan of No5 Chambers' "For 13 years I have been championing human rights and fighting for justice", the campaign aims to "humanise and detoxify" the immigration debate. It's organised by the Movement Against Xenophobia and it's brilliantly done! And what's even better, it's financed by Crowdfunding. Restores your faith in human nature.
You can read more about the campaign here.