It's not Watergate 2.0 yet, Bob Woodward tells POLITICO. For example, there's no clear line to the White House on the IRS' providing extra scrutiny on the tax-exempt status of conservative organizations.
However, take it from a Baby Boomer who survived Watergate 1.0: Productivity will take a hit. The hit will be bigger than when the Watergate 1.0 hearings were broadcasted on television. That's because there are so many more venues for presenting the news and opining. Name one person who will not be caught up in this? I will be hitting all my three syndicated blogs, tweeting, and commenting on Facebook.
Back during Watergate 1.0, everyone took the time to express thoughts about government, human nature, power, the GOP, Richard Nixon, all the president's men, and Everyman. In addition everyone caught snippets of the hearings. Sometimes in university towns like Ann Arbor, Michigan, where folks have flexible schedules, we had Watergate-hearing parties.
Watergate 2.0 will bring the nation a nice pause after so much tragedy. If there is no Watergate 2.0, there will probably be great disappointment throughout the land.
For many businesses in New York City Sandy represented a tsunami. Their first concern was for their employees. But, it seems from a leaked memo that for the beleaguered law firm Farqui & Farqui, the focus was on getting the work done. Here is a copy of that memo published on the site of Abovethelaw.com. There is also a second leaked memo warning lawyers not to do any ordering of hearing transcripts without approval or else they face immediate termination. I haven't bumped into that tone since I was bullied by the Roman Catholic nuns at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Jersey City.
Now, Faruqi & Faruqi's brand is really in the soup. That's because we in communications know if there are leaks of internal documents there are likely unhappy employees. Therefore, we have a hunch that working at Faruqi & Faruqi might not be the Happy Valley.
Prior to this we only has suspicions about its sexual harassment policies. Former lawyer Alexandra Marchuk filed a lawsuit against the firm as well as partner Juan Monteverde for alleged sexual misdeeds. In turn, the law firm then countersued, positioning Marchuk as kind of a "Fatal Attraction" babe. Could such legal going-ons in themselves drive away clients and cause prospects to bypass checking out the law firm? Now, with the leaked internal material, the law firm has taken another image hit. If employees are that unhappy will the also sabotage work products?
There are many incentives for someone to "wear a wire." Maybe like Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, as THE NEW YORK POST reports, the person is seeking a deal with law enforcement. That was Big Pussy's motivation on "The Sopranos," when Tony unfortunately found the wire in an upstairs bedroom and took his son's godfather for a boat trip.
Or the wire could be part of a righteous mission to accomplish whistleblowing of some kind. There is a burning desire to rid the world of some wrong.
Then there are the wires in pop culture such as television crime shows. The motivations there are mixed.
With "wearing a wire" so commonplace, we have come to assume that those contacting us in-person or on the phone could be recording the interaction. Few of us have remained unguarded.
So when Alexandra Marchuk first filed her lawsuit against her former employer law firm Faruqi & Faruqi and a partner there Juan Monteverde last March, we felt a sense of solidarity. She alleged sexual harassment. You lean in, girl.
Now, as reports in the legal media indicate - here you can read my post on Law and More - Faruqi & Faruqi has countersued. It alleges defamation and tortious interference. And it means business. It has pit bull Epstein Becker & Green representing it. And BigPR firm Rubinstein wrote and distributed the press release.
Instead of leaning in, did this female lawyer flip out? Some are now attaching the label "Fatal Attraction" to her. The Faruqi & Faruqi lawsuit seeks $15 million.
The communications tsunami happened with no warning. When it was done, two people had lost their jobs, the tech world can't figure out why the catastrophe took place, and those of us in communications are groping for what is the new decorum in professional rhetoric and conduct.
As BUSINESS INSIDER reports, at the PyCon Conference, where developers for open source PyCon programming gathered, a sex-laced joke was made in a "private conversation" by two male attendees. The woman sitting in front of them turned around, smiled, took their photo, and ranted in a tweet. Of course, that kind of material is bound to go viral and it sure did.
The snitch Adria Richards lost her job at SendGrid (yeah, nothing changes in that the snitch still winds up in the ditch) and the joker lost his at PlayHaven. One thing is clear: There must be a consensus, just as there had been in 20th century professional life, about what are the rules in public discourse and what are the channels of approval.
In Corporate America, where I had started out, there was no ambiguity. "In the legal sector," observes Chief Executive Officer of Laws.com Boris Kreiman, "at one time what was acceptable as well as effective in marketing or 'commercial speech' was practically codified. Now, both as a result of social media and accelerated competition, lawyers have to differentiate themselves. Our recommendation at Laws.com to lawyers is to 'test market' approaches as calculated small bets."
Post-PyCon, the tech world recognizes that it is not exempt from the prevailing mores in professional communications. Those keep changing but for right now, here's what is:
Daily, we who are actually employed in communications struggle with both the appropriate and effective tone, organization, and word choice for client messaging. We can't assume anything and more tries are rejected than accepted. Even the brandnames in public relations find themselves hitting the wall.
Full Disclosure: I assist Laws.com with communications
Many high-stakes transactions require a formal written essay, proposal, presentation, report, or review. The result must be a homerun. In a sense, the process in binary: Win and it's a big win or lose.
For example, the student in medical school is applying to Yale Hospital for a residency. The enterpreneur is seeking investors in the startup. The executive is pitching to the Board of Directors for a stay of execution on the project.
Yet, formal writing skills are not developed in the curriculum in the sustained manner they had been when we Baby Boomer ghostwriters were going to elementary and high school and attending college. Therefore, what the DYI (Do It Yourself) movement demands for people to bypass the experts doesn't exist. In RECON INTELLIGENCE SERVICES, Jeremy Conaway observes that confidence and knowledge are prerequisites for the leap from being tethered to an expert and trying to put it together oneself. Many members of Generations X and Y don't have confidence in their writing ability because they know they weren't forced to develop and keep improving it. It just isn't there. Given that formal writing is required, despite the conversational prose of social networks, fear verging on panic has taken hold when a writing assignment is due.
That's the reason why we ghostwriters haven't been put out of business by DYI. And the business has become global. Increasingly I edit articles for U.S. journals developed by Chinese experts. In Canada, those whose English is a second language also come to me for coaching about organization, tone, and word choice. Clearly, not only U.S. education has neglected putting adequate emphasis on writing fundamentals.
About 18 months ago, an executive coach rcommended I stop investing so much marketing in social media, which is glutted, and return to my core competence of ghostwriting. She was right on the money.
With the economic shift from recession to growth, the herd is headed back in search of success. Therefore, this blog has invited chess master and Chief Executive Officer of Laws.com Boris Kreiman to tell what he knows about all that.
Guest Column by Boris Kreiman
Just about every culture has its version of the archetypal journey in search of success. In some eastern societies it often takes the form of the ambitious man who leaves his village to find the secret for how to turn his peasant self into wealthy overlord. Decades later ragged and dirty he stumbles back into his village to find great prosperity in the land. The emperor had chosen the crops there to feed his family. The message, of course, is that success comes from within us, not encased out there in an absolute.
That's what I tell the legal writers who apply for jobs and assignments with Laws.com and the lawyers who ask us to help them create their profiles and advertisements on the site. The unique branding they need to stand out amidst a glut of talent is an inside job. That provides the mooring for what differentiates their personal services from all the rest.
Throughout professional services, be you a writer, lawyer, management consultant, or financial advisor, the unfortunate trend is commoditization, born of fear. In the white paper "The Seven Megatrends of Profesional Services," Ross Dawson of Advanced Human Technologies observes:
" ... we live in a desperate 'me-too' economy, in which most ... look at what others are offering, and imitate them."
Our mission at Laws.com, both for our writers and the lawyers whose marketing needs we serve, is to transmit the courage and confidence and equip them with the technological tools to succeed in their own ways.
Boris Kreiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is available to the media for interviews.
Full Disclosure: I assist Laws.com with its own creative outreach.
We know all that. But we also know that a well-done sustained blog can be an effective and cost-efficient branding tool. In addition, the research and original thinking it requires forces us to become more proficient in the subject matter.
I am convinced that my legal blog Law and More played a major role in my hooking a nice-sized fish. Monday I start a job developing content for a legal ecommerce firm. Unlike Yahoo, this operation allows telecommuting so I will be in Manhattan only about once a week.
In existence since 2006, the legal blog demonstrated the ability to stick with something that was demanding. It was also about legal matters. By posting several times a day for seven years I had to keep up with legal developments and to keep audiences interested I had to come up with unique angles on material everyone else had access to. As I told my new employer during the interview, blogging made me both a better thinker and a better marketer.
Of course, there are many other ways to enhance our ability to attract work. Blogging is just one. But for those able to make a commitment to this medium, there's no telling what competitive advantages could develop. For the position I start Monday I was up against professionals in their late 20s and early 30s. I wonder how many of them had been investing themselves in blogging.
Players in communications as well as the legal sector paid close attention to Patton Boggs' announcement yesterday that it was laying off 65 staff. As the media, including POLITICO, report, the lobbying and law firm earned $2 million less in 2012 than it did in 2011.
The issue is whether this distress at Patton Boggs is an isolated incident or a signal of hard or harder times to come in the businesses of persuasion and law. Because of the media, thought leaders, and fear associated with two brutal recessions in the 21st century, many of us have been conditioned to frame events in terms of possible trends.
The downside of that is that we may force fit the pieces, providing us with misleading information. Also, given that organizations are driven to create their own space or brand their behavior has been more idiosyncratic. Some may hit on winning best practices while others keep losing ground.