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It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It

It's easy to get stuck in the trap of focusing on media instead of message. A variety of communication avenues is worth the commitment it takes to learn to use new new tools as well as the tried-and-true, as long as you keep it all about the content.

By Jon D. Huddleston, September 21, 2009

In the past three months that I have been working on my presidential mission, the Virginia is for Good Lawyers project, my journey of telling the story of the Virginia lawyer has been incredible. I have heard from their peers many stories of lawyers putting into their communities amazing amounts of time, energy, and money; and then when I approach these lawyers, I try to convince them to be interviewed. The only way these active lawyers seem to be convinced to acknowledge their fine works is to explain that the project will help to promote their causes. It is all about the cause and not the glory for these lawyers, and they do not advertise their good works.

The components of my project
The Big Picture, a video project featuring some of Virginia’s citizen lawyers, is both embedded on our site and hosted on the VSB YouTube channel, and Reflections, a continually updated series of essays written by and about Virginia lawyers on myriad subjects, is available to read on the VSB website. My entire multi-faceted project is about the message, not about how we spread it, but we continue to look for ways in which we can spread our message, through means technological, like social media, and basic, like face-to-face meetings and speaking engagements. We have already connected and interacted at the state and national level and continue to do so in a number of ways.

Getting out the word
In addition to this blog, Raising the Bar; this site; and my president’s column in Virginia Lawyer magazine, we are using many avenues to promote my mission to document the stories of the good lawyers of Virginia: a number of communication tools, both old and new technology, are being used: buttons, promo cards, video, YouTube, Twitter, and old-fashioned networking facilitate my project. These venues have not only spread the word but have helped me to make meaningful connections in the law community and to learn more about the promotion end of my project and how technology can help me to do all of this efficiently with less negative impact on the environment and the bar’s budget.

It’s not just about technology
As my new friend, Dan Schwartz (danielschwartz), tweeted to me, “(we embrace) technology not because it's new but because it's a good tool.” I could not agree more. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan at the ABA Annual Meeting where he was a panelist at Ins and Outs of Social Media, a great introduction to the subject. I had just started tweeting at that time, and it was a fast-paced learning experience as I live-tweeted the meeting and met others in person as I met them online.

What I would have missed without social media
Dan was also generous to feature my Twitter account in a video interview with the Legal Rebels (LegalRebels) last week. The Legal Rebels are a group looking to change the appearance of our profession, and doing it in energized and entertaining ways. They are a product of the ABA Journal (AbaJournal) and have created a movement unlike anything we have seen in the past in our profession. The effect is an exciting portrayal of the lawyers blazing trails and making our profession more available to the general public and the younger lawyers and law students. Please take a look at their website. I am looking forward to working with them in the near future.

Just a few other greats on Twitter are Scott F. Gibson (TradeSecretLaw); Anthony Bushnell (anthonybushnell); Justin Call (fastmammoth); Jared Correia (jaredcorreia) Virginia lawyers Timothy R. Hughes (vaconstruction), Christopher Hill (constructionlaw), Andrew McRoberts (AndrewMcRoberts) and LawgalUS (LawgalUS); and VSB Executive Committee and Council member Sharon Nelson (sharonnelsonesq).

Want to be involved?
Do you want to be a part in Virginia is for Good Lawyers, learn more about social media, or make new contacts? Please email me at and create a free account on Twitter and follow me and the many great tweeters whom I recommend. Each Friday on Twitter, users promote their favorite tweeters, so in no time, you will have a community to follow, interact with, and learn from.

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