why did you send this to me

Many lawyers have learned a basic lesson from PR 101. These attorneys have begun emailing their clients and contacts copies of news stories about themselves or that feature their remarks on significant issues. 

That's laudable. But many could handle this kind of opportunity better. 

For example, recently, a lawyer whom I coach sent me a story that mentioned him. I admired the degree of his involvement in a critical social issue and his desire to communicate with his market. 

As I read the article, however, I kept thinking about other recipients of the lawyer's emailed story. I wondered whether they had the same question I had: "Why did he send this to me? It's very interesting, but what does it have to do with me, specifically? Or did he send it to everybody he knows?" 

Before composing any marketing communication, eliminate the "Why did he send me this" question by establishing a clear goal for that specific message, and that specific recipient. Ask yourself what specific response you're trying to elicit from that reader, such as "Oh, I didn't know that," "Gee, that must mean [conclusion about himself]," or "This is a more serious issue than I thought it was," or "Hey, here's some fresh thinking about this issue. I may have more options than I thought." You get the idea.

This simple discipline will make it much easier and faster to write virtually anything. It will also eliminate the recipient's head-scratcher, "Why did he send this to me?" Or worse, the perception that the item is self-aggrandizing. 

When you say or imply that something is useful, have a specific reason for asserting your claim. Say, for example, "Your annual support of XYZ organization suggested to me that you have more than a casual interest in [issue], so I thought you would find this of interest." 

For those who have coaches: Just like lawyers, coaches can be more useful when you consult before taking action. When you call after the fact, your coach is in the regrettable position of offering some form of "you shouldn't have done that." We can come up with ways to repair the damage, but it's much better to avoid it.

Mike O’Horo


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