Casual Friday: In which I write about things that are a bit more personal.

Some of you may know that, in addition to my work as a legal/business writer, I’m a playwright.

Well, as some who are close to me (and who don’t think I promote myself nearly enough) would nudge me to say: I’m an award-winning playwright.

Although the play referenced in the previous paragraph, In Times of War, is only one of several that have won various prizes, it happens to be the only play I’ve written in the genre occasionally referred to as “courtroom drama.” Probably no surprise, given how much time I spend working with lawyers… That particular play was a fictionalized exploration of an actual, World War II-era Supreme Court decision that later played a key role in building the legal foundation for the post-9/11 creation of the Guantanamo Bay prison and the military tribunals of suspected terrorists.

Why do I mention this, other than to point out how my professional and artistic lives cross-pollinate occasionally? Here’s the short answer: Click here for more!

Over at Much Shelist, they put out what I consider to be one of the finer examples of a client communication, The Business & Legal Quarterly.

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I provide some editorial support for the publication — “some” and “support” being the operative words, however. The publication is very much a product of the firm’s commitment to providing value-added information and services to its clients and friends (e.g., readers, e.g., you), which means that my role is pretty much limited to helping the editor nudge things back onto a well-established path. (Somewhat like tapping a horse on the right or left side in order to keep it heading in a straight line.)

I’m thinking about this publication because a couple of recent articles — try here and here — have talked about some of the risks inherent in publishing online; namely, the possibility that certain statements posted on websites, through social media sites and via other internet-based media might be perceived as being defamatory and subject to litigation.

How does this apply to law firms? Click here for more!

Depending on who you ask, branding is either alive and well, thank you very much, or so very ten years ago.

I would argue that such discussions miss the point altogether — especially when it comes to the world of professional services. To my eye, they seem to be flailing around in the shallow end of the pool: While name awareness and recognition are important, the creation of a deep and lasting personal and firm brand is dependent upon how well you deliver what you say you can deliver. If your values, your words and your actions are aligned, and that alignment is demonstrated over time, your brand will flourish organically.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, as I’ve tried to emphasize this point to my clients in the building of their web content. Somewhere between the Mary Kay Cosmetics mantra of “fake it ’til you make it” and the Field of Dreams cliche “build it and they will come” is a better, middle way: Think aspirationally (“What is it I want to do/become, for myself and my clients?”) while speaking and acting accurately (“This is what I’m great at–and here’s the proof!”). Click here for more!

Once a press release has been… er, released… then I guess you can reasonably say that something is official. So here it is: with great pleasure, I introduce you to LIFTOFF LAW llc!

Here’s a link to the website, and here’s a link to last week’s press release.

What is LIFTOFF LAW? We are a collaborative of eight senior marketing and business development specialists who have joined forces to to provide turnkey business development and marketing support to BigLaw spin-offs, new boutiques, virtual law firms and traditional firms engaged in new initiatives.

It’s a great group of people to be associated with. The structure of the group enables us to continue delivering the high-quality, focused expertise that we each possess already (whether that’s as a writer, a designer, a marketer, a business coach, a public-relations professional or a web-development specialist), while offering direct access to a menu of coordinated services that can take a client’s business from A to Awesome.

It’s the best of both worlds. Clients can (and hopefully will!) continue to come to me for my professional legal/business writing services — but if they need something more, it’s just a phone call away.

I. Can’t. Wait.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the two audiences a legal/business writer must keep in mind when creating any sort of content that will — or may — appear online: the real, human readers of your story, and the search engines that will scour your story for keywords, phrases and links.

PRWeb has recently put out an interesting white paper on “Writing Great Online News Releases.” The subtitle is “How to release your news across the web to get the best results.” And what does it say on page 3 of the whitepaper? I quote:

“To get noticed you need to write for two audiences: The people searching for your businesses, products and services [and] the search engines that find your content and bring it to those people.”

You can get a free copy of the white paper at this link. Before you can start the download PRWeb does ask you to create a free account, but you have the option (when registering) to uncheck the box allowing the company to send you its updates.

It’s Casual Friday again, the day when I let my hair lie a bit flatter (because there isn’t enough of it to let down) and talk about things a bit less formally. And talk about less-formal things.

(Think of this as the self-employed person’s water-cooler conversation — only limited to once per week.)

I’ve been asked the following question many times: “Why do you call the work you do ‘legal/business’ writing, rather than legal writing or business writing?” Here’s my answer: Click here for more!

Five years ago, I wrote an article for Professional Marketing, the monthly publication of the U.S. branch of PM Forum: The Professional Marketing Forum, entitled “Adapting to the Monkey Mind: Creating Successful Web Content.” A year later, in 2006, Twitter was launched — and since then we’ve seen a virtual explosion in the use of social media, blogs, microblogs and other communications tools, from Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube and Reddit.

(For more information on the use of social media for businesses, check out this Q&A that I wrote for one of my clients last fall.)

Instead of becoming stale (five years is forever in internet years!), it turns out that the message of my earlier article has become more relevant than ever. As website visitors are both seeking and receiving increasing amounts of information every minute of every day, your own website needs to get better and better at attracting visitors, keeping them there and — most important of all — motivating them to act: to buy your product, to pick up the phone and give you a call, or to pass the word that you are a reliable source of high-quality information and services.

The best way to accomplish this is to recognize that website visitors come in three main types: lookers, searchers and readers. Click here for more!