Several times, I’ve seen people trying to promote law firms in ways that struck me as quite counterproductive. A couple of times, this was using spam comments pitching the lawyer’s services. Most recently, I got an e-mail asking whether I would take guest posts from a law firm’s lawyers — but the e-mail was badly written (which doesn’t augur well for the future guest posts) and also began with “Hi Eugene,” a salutation that many people find off-putting when it comes from a total stranger.
And in most of these cases, when I e-mailed the lawyers or law firms about this, I was told that they hadn’t authorized the promotion, and that it was the work of a rogue publicity person or web site management company. Now maybe I wasn’t getting the straight dope on this; it’s always hard to tell about that. But at least the most recent response I got, about the guest-post e-mail, struck me as very likely candid.
So a warning to lawyers and law firms — and, I expect, other professionals: Be careful whom you ask to promote you online. Some marketers’ standards of what’s likely to be effective may not reflect the professional image that you are trying to cultivate for yourself.
UPDATE: For comments along a similar line (with more details), see Ken (Popehat). Ken has a good way of putting it, which paraphrases Eric Turkewitz: “when you outsource your marketing, you outsource your reputation.”