Twenty years ago it would have been crazy to think that a successful media company could not only exist, but prosper, without owning any media.

The New York Times employed a fleet of reporters and editors to produce articles and copy the company owned and distributeed. CBS employed thousands of producers, directors, actors, stage hands and other workers to produce television shows, movies and news reports.

It would have been absurd to think of third parties producing content and media for CBS and The Times – for free.

But that’s exactly what is going on today.

Facebook is eight times bigger than The New Times, as measured by annual revenue ($12.5 Billion to $1.6 Billion). And Facebook neither produces nor owns any media.

Is Facebook a media company? Of course they are, just in a different vein than we’re accustomed to.

Facebook’s media is produced and distributed (shared) by users. The media is in the form of text and video.

Just like traditional media, the revenue model is advertising. Perhaps making the media on Facebook more attractive than traditional media, is that the media on Facebook is free. The Times requires a subscription and viewing CBS requires a cable subscription.

When Facebook acquired Instagram three years ago for $1 Billion, everyone thought Facebook was nuts.

But as Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) told a gathering of us in Seattle, Facebook needed media. Facebook had the technology to deliver media, they had the audience, they knew how to generate advertising revenue online and they knew how to mine user data. Facebook just needed more media to generate more revenue and Instagram had lots of free media.

Facebook’s revenue and stock price is off the charts. But you say they own no revenue. It doesn’t matter. Facebook has a relationship with the producers of media – its users. Facebook is even developing relationships with publishers such as The Times which wants its content distributed on Facebook.

Of course Facebook has to deliver value to earn and nurture relationships with the media producers. Facebook does it with the experience it provides users. Who, as a regular Facebook user, doesn’t enjoy the ability to share, read, and watch media on Facebook.

LexBlog is transitioning from solely a marketing company to a media company. We support our members with the technology to produce and share their media in an engaging fashion. We provide them strategy, coaching, design and on-going support so that they will be successful and professional in their media production.

Law firms and other professional firms understand they need to produce their own media today. Distributing content in articles and the like or issuing press releases is not enough any longer. LexBlog becomes their media partner.

Taking it another step, The LexBlog Network (LXBN) curates and highlights the best and brightest insight and commentary from the over 1,100 blogs and 8,000 contributors on our network.

LexBlog certainly doesn’t own the media on The LexBlog Network, but the value we provide our members has allowed us to establish enough of a relationship to showcase the memberships’ media.

It’s a wild world when media companies do not own media. But’s a world that exists today.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Terrell Woods

I’ll be in New York City this week for a half-day Social Media Marketing Summit for Law Firms being put on by the Business Development Institute and to visit with LexBlog Network lawyers and firms.

LexBlog is proud to be one of the sponsors of the Summit which is Tuesday, May 5, from 8 to 12:30.

Presenters and panelists include:

  • Seth Apple, President, Metro New York Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association & Business Development Manager, Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Guy Alvarez, Chief Engagement Officer, Good2bSocial, LLC
  • Mark Cohen, Founder & CEO, Legal Mosaic, LLC
  • Daryl Drabinsky, Senior Digital Communications Manager, DLA Piper
  • Lee Garfinkle, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer of the Americas, Allen & Overy LLP
  • Judy Selby, Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP
  • Kevin Colangelo, Vice President, Head of Strategic Accounts, Bloomberg BNA
  • Brandie Knox, Founder and CEO, Knox Design Strategy
  • Freddie Hustler, Senior Vice President, Americas, CONCEP
  • Stefanie Marine, Associate Director of Marketing Communications, Proskauer Rose LLP
  • Ivan Tsarynny, Co-Founder, Post Beyond
  • Mallory Walsh, Senior Account Executive, Relationship Science

It’s expected that 175 partners, associates, marketers, communicators, business developers, and technologists from law firms will be attending the conference. It’ll be at the Graduate Center of The City University of NY at 365 5th Avenue (at 34th) in the Elebash Auditorium.

To register, please go here. Please use the promo code lexblog to receive a discounted rate. I may also have a free pass, ping me for that.

I would welcome getting together socially or for business. I get in Sunday evening and don’t fly back to Seattle until Wednesday. My email is kevin@lexblog.com and cell, 206 321 3627.

Om Malik (@om) did a wonderful interview with Brunello Cucinelli, Italian fashion designer and chief executive of his eponymous brand, Brunello Cucinelli.

Like great interviews you leave with plenty to think about. The biggest take away for me from Cucinelli is the need to be real and authentic with your team. To treat them with dignity and respect.

… [Y]ou must be credible. Because everybody knows the problem that I’m concerned about.

……

Everything is visible, when things go well and also when they go less well. When we are sad, when we are worried, when we are happy: If you show all these different moods, then you are credible. That’s why I say this is simple.

You are told and often read how as a CEO you need to keep your feelings to yourself. That you cannot show worry, sadness and the like for fear it will spook your team.

To some extent that may be true, but at times you’re concerned, it’s your team that can help you — and the company. There’s no monopoly on good ideas and often it’s those closer to the challenges who have the solutions.

But until you’re authentic enough to tell folks you believe we can do better, how can you expect them to be authentic enough to approach you with ideas?

From Cucinelli:

You must believe in the human being, because the creativity of a company — Let’s say you have a company with 1,000 people. Maybe we were told that there are only two or three genius people in the 1,000. But I think that if you have 1,000 people, you have 1,000 geniuses. They’re just different kinds of genius and a different degree of intensity.

We hold a meeting here with all the staff every two months. Everybody takes part in it. Even the person with the humblest tasks knows exactly what was the latest shop we opened. Everything is based on esteem, and esteem then generates creativity.

I’ve gone to my team individually (quite a few more to go) and as a group over the last few weeks. I told them what I was working on. I told them where we were excelling. I told them where I was concerned. I asked for their ideas. I asked for their help. I asked them what I could do better.

I learned a lot. Their feedback and ideas will lead to improved products, service, and better overall performance of the company. As I learn to listen more and talk less, I will learn even more.

At age 60 Cucinelli told Malik he has come to appreciate the contemporary figures that left him with a different view on the world. Dostoyevsky, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Kafka, Kennedy and the Pope.

At the end of the day, all these great people, what do they focus on? Human dignity. They all talk about being custodians in the world.

As a leader of a company, almost age 60 myself, I need my team now more perhaps than when I was younger. I need to show them the dignity and respect they deserve, empower them to do great things, and be willing to be true and authentic.

Maybe it is that simple.

Today, we decided to mix things up at LexBlog and host our first-ever AMA event in our Support Center community. The event was an overwhelming success – a fast-paced hour of back and forth Q&A between us and members of the LexBlog Network.

AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything.” The acronym took hold thanks to Reddit hosting a number of AMA events as well as (very similar) “I Am A” events (often with celebrities or notable figures). For example, here’s Barack Obama’s AMA he held back when he was campaigning in 2012.

LXBN Reporter Zosha Millman suggested the AMA format in a recent brainstorming meeting. All of us immediately latched onto the idea. From there, we saw an opportunity to add a bit of loose focus to the event with the theme “Mobile” (thanks to Google’s mobilegeddon) and true to the traditional AMA format we named Director of Technology Joshua Lynch as the primary “presenter.”

I especially loved this event because even though the Support Center community is a forum available 24/7 for LexBlog Network members, this event highlighted the best part about online communities: that feeling that you’re in a fun, full room of people engaged in conversation around something shared. In our case, conversations were about mobile-first design, blogging, technology, and even where the best hikes are nearby.

I don’t know about the other participants, but I’m certainly looking forward to our next AMA event!

Image cropped. Original by Alexander Henning Drachmann via Flickr Creative Commons.

Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt), co-founder of WordPress, used to say WordPress is democratizing publishing. Mullenweg now describes WordPress as democratizing publishing and development.

Rather than WordPress serving as just a powerful content management system, WordPress is becoming an application development framework. WordPress will serve as a platform enabling developers to build whatever they need in order to deliver media.

A perfect example is StoryCorps, an organization that aims “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.” Featured stories will be broadcast nationally on NPR.

Per a recent post by WordPress developer and writer, Brian Krogsgard (@Krogsgard) on how StoryCorps uses WordPress:

The latest initiative for creating ways for people to share their story is via StoryCorps.me, a website and companion apps that make it easy for anyone with a smartphone to record an interview and publish it.

StoryCorps.me is built on WordPress, and utilizes the WordPress REST API to enable access to a customized content architecture. The StoryCorps app utilizes the API to consume data and publish stories from the app back to the website.

Jared Sulzdorf (@j_sulz), LexBlog’s Product Manager, shared word of Krogsgard’s post with me because of LexBlog’s current use of WordPress as a publishing platform and impending use of WordPress as a development platform.

Jared explained he’s excited about WordPress’ serving as development platform for any number of reasons, including the following examples.

  • WordPress is developing a very interesting API that turns what has historically been “just” a content management system into a framework for developing on any platform – be it a browser or phone. Moving it well beyond a blogging platform.
  • The API opens things up for deep integration with other bits of software (think about sending blog data back into Salesforce for example) and some really interesting opportunities for plugin development (a true aggregation engine for LXBN comes to mind – one that could power network sites).
  • Building a mobile app on WordPress is an amazing concept. Imagine a podcasting app that lets you interview someone, jot down a few notes, and publish a post on your blog all in one interface, without having to log in and out of twenty different services. The same goes for shooting a video. That’s the sort of world that we could be moving into with WordPress as it matures.

For you as a law firm, other professional services firm, citizen journalist or publisher this progression of WordPress is an exciting development. Companies such as a LexBlog can develop and put in your hands easy to use and effective publishing and media solutions enabling you to publish or cover events like never before.

Rather than relying on traditional media and legacy publishers to get your insight or story out, WordPress has democratized the opportunity for you to do so directly. You’ll be able to do so because WordPress has democratized the ability of companies like LexBlog to develop applications and solutions.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tom Woodward

This from marketer and author, Seth Godin, writing that no matter the amount of external validation nothing can undo the drone of self criticism.

You’re beating yourself up so badly that “One little voice in the ether that agrees with your internal critic is enough to put you in a tailspin.”

Seth’s post resonated with me. I am as big a victim of self criticism as anyone.

I beat myself up so badly at times that rather than taking needed action I can be paralyzed waiting for external validation telling me that I am capable of doing the work I need to do.

The answer, per Seth, is not some praise from the outside world.

It’s a hopeless journey, and one that destroys the work, because you will water it down in fear of that outside critic that amplifies your internal one.

The remedy is accurate and positive self talk. Endless amounts of it.

Seth’s not talking positive delusion affirmations either.

No, merely the reassertion of obvious truths, a mantra that drives away the nonsense the lizard brain is selling as truth.

All you can do is surround it with positive self talk, drown it out and overwhelm it with concrete building blocks of great work, the combination of expectation, obligation and possibility.

The obligation to act, a history of strong work and knowing the possibilities that lie ahead by taking action are what defeats self criticism.

I tell lawyers afraid of bogging and social media that fear is merely an acronym for False Expectations that Appear Real. What I need to do at times of self criticism and self doubt is take a little of mine own medicine. And per Seth, tell myself the truth.

You could do a lot worse than the daily posts you can receive via Seth’s Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr by dwayne.

LexBlog Network members have been asking for features and updates to our blog publishing platform. We listened.

LexBlog is delivering a system-wide update of your blog publishing platform this weekend.

We will be updating our servers at the same time, providing greater speed, security and stability.

As with presents under the tree, LexBlog Network members will have to wait a few days. There will be a maintenance window that will include a posting freeze and a moratorium on scheduling posts. No posting and scheduling of posts from Thursday night at 8 PT until Sunday at 8 PT.

Come Sunday night and Monday we open the gifts.

  • Big time search improvements. Your readers will enjoy a much enhanced search that will vastly improve their ability to find something specific on your blog.
  • Responsive publishing environment. In addition to a more modern design and color scheme, your publishing platform will be running on responsive design and development. As with responsive blogs, your publishing dashboard will automatically adjust to the size of your screen, whether you’re working on a non-mobile device, smartphone, or tablet. No more pinching and pulling for viewing. Big for me as I am always editing posts on my iPhone.
  • Fixed editor menu. Now you have to scroll back to the top of your draft post to get to the bold, link and other html editing buttons. No more, the editing panel will stay with you no matter how long your post is.
  • Drag and drop images right into your post. It’ll be super easy to add images by just dragging them from wherever you have them saved directly into your post.
  • Quick image editing. You will be able to edit your image right in your post by cropping and scaling.
  • Improved paste from Word. No more separate box to paste into – just drop your Word text right into your blog, no extra steps.
  • New media embeds. For Slideshare, Spotify, Rdio, imgur, Instagram and SoundCloud.
  • Better auto-saving. No more worries about when the last time you saved your draft, we’re saving it for you.
  • Post locking feature. Working on a team? – No more overlapping revisions that can wipe out your work.
  • Constant and never ending iterative upgrades. Unlike other WordPress based publishing platforms running outdated versions of WordPress leaving them insecure and unstable, your LexBlog publishing platform will be upgraded regularly.

Want a personalized tour of your upgrades? Attend a 30-min Webinar on Wednesday, February 25 from 1 to 1:30 ET.

LexBlog’s Training & Community Manager, Kristina Corbitt (@kriscorbittand LexBlog’s Director of Product Management, Josh Lynch (@joshua_lynch) will walk you through the new features and benefits of your upgraded LexBlog platform. You’ll also find out what’s in store for the coming year. Register here.

Big Kudos to everyone on team LexBlog for their work on the upgrades over the past months. It was a real team effort across technology, development, design, products, marketing, account management, training, editorial and finance.

As with everything we do, we’re delivering the upgrades to better serve you and enable you to accomplish even more.

We’ll all go through a few blogging withdrawals the next few days. It’ll probably do us a little good.

See you on the other side .

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ricardo Motti

“Clients become friends and friends become clients. Wash, rinse and repeat.”

This from LexBlog Network member Deborah Wood DuBois, Senior Marketing Strategist at Minneapolis’ Winthrop & Weinstine, commenting on Facebook to my post yesterday on how to begin networking as a professional on Facebook. The point being that networking on Facebook nurtures relationships and friendships.

So timely for me. Earlier today, I wanted to find out when my Dad started his steep decline with Alzheimer’s.

Knowing I blogged about one of my last “good” conversations with my Dad, I searched for my post about his comments on the importance of relationships in business, the subject of our conversation.

I found the post from July, 2010 and was struck by Dad’s comments about the importance of your team members getting to know your customers as friends. Getting to know their intersts, their families and doing things for them outside of business was the key to establishing those friendships, per Dad.

Coming home tonight I couldn’t help but think of clients as friends. When practicing law, with a few exceptions, I always considered my clients as friends. I knew about their interests and their families and enjoyed talking with them.

Other lawyers warned me to look at clients differently as they may turn on me later. But I always defaulted to trust and friendship.

With LexBlog, the importance of relationships and friendships remain the essence of our business.

When LexBlog President Kevin McKeown (@kevinmckeown) joined the company seven years ago, I wanted sales. His reponse was to not worry about sales, worry about relationships. Once we establish a relationship with a prospective client, a sale will follow, per McKeown.

Visting clients in New York City last week, I found it easier than ever to sit down with legal and business development professionals at the largest law firms in the world. What I once found a little intimidating, I not only felt at ease with, but I enjoyed it.

We discussed personal matters, including children and spouses, work in progress, network upgrades, and ideas for further projects.

It was if we were old friends. The wild thing is we were – at least for me. ;)

Over the years, I made the point of spending time traveling to meet with clients, whether at their offices or at conferences. I enjoyed helping them where we could and getting to know them as people.

My Dad used to chase his salespeople out of the office telling them they could never build real relationships with customers without going out and spending time with them.

He had his salespeople keep an egg timer on their desk. It was a reminder for the salespeople that the phone was no subsitute for meeting with people. Phone calls should be kept to a few minutes. I can only imagine what Dad would have thought of email.

Dad wasn’t doing business during the days of the Internet. One time he told me that he and his golfing buddies, the ROBs (retired old bastards),  thought people would be better off without the Internet. Their thinking, apparently, that talk, meetings, reading, and writing led to people to people relationships — not “communication” through a computer.

Tonight I wondered what Dad would think of Facebook, blogging and the like. Would he come to appreciate that Facebook enabled business people and professionals to get to know customers and clients, their interests and their families? To view Facebook as a place to establish and nurture friendships?

Of course Facebook, blogging and other social media are no substitute for meeting face to face. But Deborah, I, and many lawyers are beginning to appreciate that they are all about building relationships — and ultimately friendships.

Here’s Dad’s comments in full from my phone call with him on July 10, 2010.

  • Ah, relationships are what it’s all about.
  • Relationships are the key to any business’ success.
  • Getting to know your customers as friends is what you need to do.
  • Once your customers know you as a friend, and you and your team know your customers as friends, you and your customers are all working together and going in the same direction — that’s the name of the game.
  • Taking the time to get to know your customers, their interests, and their families and doing special things for them aside from business establishes those friendships.
  • You need to have people on your team who know the value of relationships and know how to develop friends in business. You then need to retain as many of those people as possible.

Thanks Dad.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Firat Sola

Anyone running a large scale blog publishing platform with thousands of authors will tell you that it is no trivial matter.

Especially so when the authors include lawyers from leading law firms, large and small, from around the world. Stability, security, and performance are a must.

For the last three or four months, LexBlog’s product and technology teams have been working on a major upgrade to our platform. An upgrade that will enable iterative upgrades and regular feature additions.

Sitting in a products’ meeting today I was happy to hear that we’ll be rolling out the upgrades on or before schedule in early February.

Improvements and upgrades include:

  • Much improved speed for better user experience for authors and readers.
  • Responsive and flexible publishing dashboard which will enable authors to publish from any mobile device, in addition to their desktops. I love that as I publish on my iPad and edit on my iPhone.
  • Much improved search so that authors and readers can easily find what they are looking for on individual blogs.
  • Increased stability and security, brought about through a number of items, including developing our own plugins and using an optimum hosting environment.
  • Various features requested by our law firm network members.

LexBlog’s publishing platform is a custom developed platform designed to meet the needs of professionals. We use WordPress as our “core” software, but from that base everything is customized for stability, security, and performance — as well as the features lawyers and other professionals require.

Working with lawyers on blogging longer than anyone in the industry (ten plus years) has enabled our products’ team to have as much knowledge as anyone in knowing what it takes to deliver an optimum blog publishing platform. It requires a happy medium of what law firms want while knowing what works best.

Law firms could decide to run a WordPress blog platform on their own or have website developers who have not been working with WordPress for professionals for years. We’re finding, as I have blogged before, here and here, that law firms do not want to assume the risks.

Keeping a self operated WordPress blog platform has proven to be a real challenge for everyone, including law firms. Less than 20% of WordPress sites are up to date. Nearly 86 percent of all WordPress installations are vulnerable to a recently discovered security flaw. Both leave blogs susceptible to being hacked and raise other security concerns.

I’m excited about rolling out these upgrades to our network members. I’m also excited about the continuing commitment we’re making to technology and development. It’s going to give LexBlog an edge in the market place and deliver our clients the best professional blog publishing platform in the business.

Image courtesy of Flickr by daily sunny

It’s always interesting to go back and look at which posts from the past year drew the most interest from you, the readers. Posts that I thought represented the good stuff don’t always make it.

It’s clear from this year that many of you like my instructive posts and how to’s. Perhaps that’s a nice reminder for me as to why I left the practice 16 years next spring — to help lawyers connect with people in a meaningful way so that the good caring lawyers got the work, not the lawyers with largest war chests for advertsing.

Here’s the top fifteen for 2014, year twelve for RLHB.

15. 11 surprising WordPress statistics for law firms

14. What law firm managing partners are missing about social media

13. 3 reasons law firm executives ought be active on social media

12. How to engage your audience when sharing law blog posts on LinkedIn

11. Five keys to law blog success in 2014

10. Ten reasons lawyers ought to think of blogging

9. Two legal companies doing Twitter the right away

8. Could now be a good time to go to law school?

7. Four reasons Google+ is important for blogging lawyers

6. Are we seeing the end of lawyer profiles on websites?

5. Law blog more valuable for law grads than law review in landing job

4. Getting followers on Twitter : What’s a lawyer to do?

3. Do not confuse writing an article with blogging

2. Are we seeing the death of law firm homepages?

1. 5 LinkedIn privacy tips every lawyer should know

Thanks for following along in 2014. I wish you health and great success in the new year.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Boris Drenic