Case Study: Murphy & King Associates Networking Challenge Gets Results

Local Boston-based law firm Murphy & King, P.C. has come up with a unique way to engage associate attorneys in developing their networking and business development skills. Called Raising the Bar 3.0, the networking challenge spanned five months and involved not only associate attorneys but also shareholders who served as advisors and mentors to each associate. The initiative also coincided with Murphy & King’s business development and marketing plan that involved creating new content for social media, new website videos and other programs.

Co – founder and shareholder Harold B. Murphy said that the initiative was a success. “The networking challenge, Raising the Bar 3.0, benefited not only the individual associates but also the entire firm. We gained new clients and new matters while helping to develop networking skills of our associates. It was a win-win for all of us.”

Raising the Bar 3.0 was set up as a business development initiative where each associate attorney was assigned a secret identity known only to the administrator of the initiative. Each networking and business development activity was assigned a point value and each week the points would be calculated and posted internally by the firm under the secret identities. At the end of the contest, Murphy & King had established 11 new matters, originated 5 new clients, developed 9 new videos, participated in 41 new one-on-one meetings, participated in 37 events and created 150 new contacts.

This is the third time that Murphy & King launched this type of business development initiative, starting with Raising the Bar in 2012, followed by Raising the Bar 2.0 in 2014 and the most recent Raising the Bar 3.0 in 2017.

The winners of “Raising the Bar 3.0” are: Amanda Rettig (1st), Aaron Rosenberg (2nd) and Andrea MacIver (3rd). They all received prizes for their accomplishments. What were the secrets to their success? Amanda, Aaron and Andrea share their experiences in this short video: http://www.murphyking.com/raising-the-bar-3-0/

For more than 35 years, Murphy & King has been “unraveling complexity” for its clients through prompt, practical and cost-effective solutions addressing the legal needs of individuals and businesses. From startup and incorporation, to maintaining day to day operations, to resolving internal and external disputes, Murphy & King attorneys are skilled at effectively and efficiently unraveling the inherent complexities of each client’s business to ensure that it can attain its maximum potential. The firm’s principal areas of practice are Business Litigation, Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring, and Corporate and Real Estate Transactions.

Preview of the Legislature’s Fall Session

By: Lindsay Toghill, Vice President

Massachusetts lawmakers have begun a busy fall session. Their packed agenda contains a lengthy to-do list they will address in the coming months. Below is a preview of items that could catch the Legislature’s attention this fall:

 

  • The State Budget – FY17 finished below revenue projections, though leaders are still trying to assess the consequences. When the Legislature broke for the summer, they still had not dealt with the Governor’s vetoes on the FY18 budget. Though they can tackle these at any time this fall, they’re closely watching the monthly tax collections to see if overrides are sustainable. At the current time, collections are below benchmark so overrides may continue to wait for the foreseeable future.

 

  • Masshealth Reforms – Governor Baker sent the Legislature some suggested reforms to the Masshealth system to go along with the increased surcharge on employers to help pay for significant increases in cost. The Legislature rejected those reforms, choosing to instead pass the surcharge on employers before the summer break. However, because cost containment is necessary to help reduce pressure on the state budget, the Legislature will likely tackle this in the next few months.

 

  • Criminal Justice Reform – Legislative leaders are interested in some reforms that would drastically affect the criminal justice system. On the table for discussion – thought not a done deal – mandatory minimums on bail reform.

 

  • Short Term Rentals – The Senate earlier this year advanced a measure that would tax short-term rentals as lodging establishments. The House is presently looking at another version of this bill, with some expected actions this fall. The issue will gain interest if the state revenues continue to stagnate.

 

  • Initiative Petitions – This week, the Attorney General certified twenty-one initiative petitions as constitutionally compliant, setting up the process for ballot questions for the fall of 2018. Proponents are required to gather thousands of signatures for each initiative petition before the end of November. While the Legislature is not required to take action until early 2018, there will be considerable wrangling and media attention about some proposed ballot questions.

 

  • Marijuana Sales Implementation – The recent creation of the Cannabis Control Commission will officially start the process of developing regulations and a structure for the implementation of retail sales of marijuana in mid-2018. The Legislature will be closely watching this process for its effects on state revenues and their own local communities.

 

  • Opioid Crisis – An ongoing issue, the opioid crisis will require some cooperation from the Executive branch in conjunction with the Legislature. All parties will be watching this issue closely to see if the recent decline in overdose deaths is a temporary or permanent trend.

 

*Cover photo from Boston metro

Five things to know about the Cannabis business in Massachusetts today

  1. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is a new regulatory body established to oversee the marijuana industry in Massachusetts. The CCC is a new independent entity created by Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017, comprised of a five member board of commissioners. Appointments to the Commission were made by the Governor, Treasurer, Attorney General, and two other appointments were made by a majority vote of the previously mentioned constitutional officers.

The newly appointed Commissioners are:

  • Chairman Steve Hoffman (Treasurer Goldberg)
  • Former Senator Jennifer Flanagan (Governor Baker)
  • Britte McBride (Attorney General Healey)
  • Shaleen Title
  • Kay Doyle
  1. In the coming weeks and months the CCC will be responsible for hiring staff, setting policy and issuing regulations on a wide range of important issues for the adult use industry, including establishing a process for entities interested in pursuing cultivation, products manufacturing and retail licenses.
  1. The “head start” provision for teams that had previously submitted an application for a Registered Marijuana Dispensary, part of the original ballot question, was eliminated by the Legislature.
  1. To operate successfully in Massachusetts, businesses will also need to do important work at the municipal level. While many municipalities previously approved moratoriums for adult use facilities, the new law stipulates that cities and towns that had approved the ballot question with a majority vote must hold a city or town wide referendum to approve such a ban, while cities or towns that did not approve the ballot question with a majority vote may do so through town or city elected officials like a Board of Selectmen or a City Council. Working with residents, local and state elected officials, planning and zoning offices will be crucial in moving any project forward.
  1. The CCC will have to move quickly to meet its statutory deadlines. Under the law, applications must be received by the CCC on April 1, 2018, and licenses will not be issued until June 1, 2018 at the earliest. In comments this week, Chairman Hoffman indicated that the goal is to have business ready to open July 1, 2018. The CCC is expected to meet for the first time next week.

By: Chris Niles, Vice President

Disaster Response in the New Economy

By: Anthony DeMaio, Director

As Houston continues to reel from the effects of #Harvey and Florida braces for #Irma, American generosity is once again in full display as individuals, nonprofits and the business community come together to help those in need. In this outpouring of compassion, we are also witnessing a transformation in corporate philanthropy. While many legacy corporations continue to operate business as usual, newer companies, including disruptive technologies, are exhibiting a new kind of corporate citizenship. Delta Air Lines would do well to take a cue from Uber, for example.

The Miami Herald reported today that airfares had skyrocketed in recent hours prompting some consumers to vent their frustrations with the major air carriers on social media with some posts going viral. On the other side of reality are major tech players like Airbnb and Uber. Once again, the hospitality company Airbnb is pushing its Disaster Response Program, encouraging hosts to open their properties to people displaced by the storm, helping them find warmth and safety free of charge. Airbnb’s program launched in 2013 is an outgrowth of its grassroots efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. Uber is offering free rides to and from Harvey shelters in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and other cities in Texas. According to the company, “No action is required to receive a free ride to or from these locations – the full discount will be applied and reflected in the app when you request UberX.”

To be fair, most legacy corporations, including the big airlines, have robust #CSR operations, contributing valuable support to the relief efforts. In many cases, however, their playbooks could benefit from a refresh. There’s still a need for big checks, aircraft and trucks loaded with supplies, free flights for responders and aide workers, and other traditional response initiatives that only large-scale organizations can muster. But, when compared to the immediate utility of Uber and Airbnb’s contributions, the conventional response programs seem outmoded. And their humanitarian response is largely eclipsed by the negative PR engendered by allegations of price gouging.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see airlines – and other big companies – looking to make a more substantive contribution in the face of a devastating storm. At the very least, they need to know that corporate greed has no place during a natural disaster. Every company should be thinking about their CSR plans.

Senior Vice President, Ann Murphy, featured on NECN’s The Take with Sue O’Connell

WebRes_120403_ONeill_AnnMurphy-0085Would having a better gender balance in Congress mean less gridlock? Earlier this month, Ann Murphy, was featured on NECN’s The Take with Sue O’Connell on NECN to discuss the topic of whether electing more women to Congress would reduce legislative stalemate and lead the way to getting more women involved in politics. Ann was joined by Gail Jackson-Blount, president, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

Watch interview here!

Peter Goelz on the Benefits of Safety Stand-Downs

By: Peter Goelz, Senior Vice President

Following two deadly aviation accidents in the past month, the United States Marine Corps is considering a “stand-down” for all Marine fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.  A “stand-down” is a technique to focus intensely, on a short term basis, on an issue of real importance. The Marine Corps have used this technique in the past, as have other branches of the Armed Services particularly after accidents. In this case, the Marine Corps lost 15 service members (plus a Navy corpsman) when a KC-130T transport crashed in Mississippi, and then three more when an MV-22 Osprey crashed into the water off the coast of Australia as it attempted to land on the USS Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock. Top brass are considering now whether a system-wide review of safety and operational procedures is in order. Last year, the Marine Corps ordered safety stand-downs following crashes of F/A-18 fighters and after problems with their AV-8 Harrier jets.

The “stand-down” approach, while more common in aviation, has migrated to other fields as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has done an annual construction industry stand-down focusing on preventing falls on construction sites. Additionally, law enforcement, utility companies, and trucking companies are all utilizing variations of the “stand-down” as part of their efforts to increase safety and efficiency.

The approach to conducting a stand-down involves focusing system wide on a specific activity — usually safety or operations, and taking time out of the workday to talk top-to-bottom about the importance of the incident, to explore new approaches and, most importantly, to get feedback from employees on ways to improve. By initiating the stand-down event with top management at the forefront, a clear communication is sent: This is critical and we can do better together. A stand-down can last anywhere from a few hours to a day-long event.

O’Neill and Associates is experienced in planning and executing stand-downs for companies. As a SVP in the O’Neill and Associates Washington, DC office and former Managing Director of the National Transportation Safety Board, I have led our agency’s professionals to implement stand-downs on safety and operational issues for a number of organizations and helped create the positive messaging surrounding the event to enhance its impact. For more information on our Crisis Communications practice and safety stand-downs, email me at pgoelz@oneillandassoc.com.

Three Questions with Christopher Tracy, Senior Director

 

Proposal Boston Sky Line

Christopher Tracy, Senior Director

What are you seeing right now in real estate development in Greater Boston?

It’s pretty clear that there’s tremendous growth taking place. You see it every day with more people and new structures. We can now add Amazon to the growing list of companies calling Boston home. Amazon expects to bring 900 new jobs to Fort Point channel, where GE is relocating its world headquarters. And according to census reports in May, Boston has seen an 8.4 percent rise in population since 2010 and is now the 22nd largest city in the United States. In the City of Boston and surrounding municipalities, housing and planning agencies are continuing to work with developers to approve residential housing proposals and increase the housing stock, which will hopefully soften housing prices.

What strategies does O’Neill and Associates employ to support real estate development clients?

We use a multi-pronged approach to help clients successfully navigate the arduous processes of permitting approvals to expedite their ability to get shovels in the ground. When I say multi-pronged, I mean that we combine our grassroots community outreach strategies with our experience, relationships, and understanding of relevant government agencies involved in permitting and use, along with public relations and social-digital media tools to close gaps and meet any audience in any venue. It used to be that you reached people at an address. Today, you need to reach people digitally. O’Neill and Associates is uniquely qualified as a development partner because we can capably guide clients through these often confusing approval processes. We have an experienced team from the public sector with first-hand knowledge of the goals that cities and towns hope to achieve when considering smart growth opportunities.

What excites you most/do you enjoy most about your sector?

Boston is absolutely booming and thriving with energy, opportunity and community right now. When this building boom is complete, it will be the largest in Boston’s history, bypassing the infilling of the Back Bay and the construction of the high spine corridor. The City has never been cleaner, more active and exciting. I like being a part of this chapter. O’Neill and Associates and our clients are making an impact by increasing housing, including affordable units, enhancing vibrancy and activity in communities and improving neighborhoods in and around Boston. I have the ability to help clients make a tangible impact on the city and its future.

Grassroots Social Media and Digital Engagement

A Q&A with Shakeir Gregory, Senior Account Executive Digital and Social Engagement, on how social and digital platforms are used to support clients’ initiatives

How do you assess a client’s social media capabilities?

I think correct and comprehensive utilization of a platform is most important. Is the client’s content compelling? Are they on message? Are they using the platform the way it’s meant to be used? And are they using it regularly? I think those are core factors that determine whether somebody is doing social media well. Posts should occur regularly—most people would say daily, multiple times daily, but the rules vary depending on the client’s resources and objectives. If target audiences are not seeing your content, then you’re not using the platform correctly. You need to post things that are relevant to both what you do as an organization and that are meaningful to your audience.

One advantage I think about when it comes to social media is that it is instantly measurable and can be easily recalibrated. If audiences are not liking or commenting on your content, or you have a lot of followers but little response to your call to action, then what’s going wrong? It probably is that your audience does not feel compelled to engage with your content. Social media fosters two way communication as with an everyday conversation, so what do you have to offer as a company, nonprofit or a membership organization like a union that will move your audiences to act? What are your objectives for your audiences and what can you communicate to achieve those objectives?

What objectives might an organization have in its social media strategy?

Let’s take a union as an example. Internally, a union might want to foster better communication among its membership or better explain union benefits, contract details or to activate members around a legislative issue. Externally, a union may want to rally the general public around a cause that is important to workers such as pushing back on things like privatization and the destabilization of programs that protect union workers and their interests. And, you want to call out worker exploitation wherever it’s seen. Social media’s two-way communication and mobile reach is the union’s modern day organizing and activation tool. Most people today in every age group are reachable in some way shape or form online. Even at the oldest age group 65+ use some form of social media.

What steps are often successful as an organization tries to increase its social media presence?

One of the biggest first steps is to look at what platform is being used and whether it effectively intersects with the target audience. For example, if I’m doing a campaign to raise awareness on the cost of credit card debt and the rising burden it is placing on young people across our country, who am I going to talk to? Probably people below the age of 25. What social media platform do people below 25 use? They are Reddit, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. They may also have a Facebook, but is that their preferred platform for content? All of these answers are measurable. These metrics are attainable so you have to choose your outlets first and foremost when making a calculated decision about who you’ll be talking to.

And then it’s a matter of format. What messages are going to be most compelling to your target audience and is your message properly formatted for the medium you’ve chosen? For example, if you have a multi-paragraph long statement to share, Snapchat may not be the right place to distribute it. If you have a chart it may not be the best idea to post that to Pinterest. So it really just boils down to these three things: Who are you talking to? Where are they? What should you be saying to them and how?

Teamsters Labor Union: An O’Neill and Associates Case Study

For the Teamsters we were engaged to help rally membership and raise awareness of right to work legislation that was being considered in the NH legislature and heavily advocated for by the governor. The Teamsters realized was that their membership wasn’t fully engaged, and so we looked at their membership’s age range and noticed that it skewed older. They had a larger audience on Facebook and not as much on Twitter. Therefore we made sure we were doing everything we could to activate their members via Facebook, including using paid advertisements, publishing videos, placing content that was visually appealing with pull quotes, and complementing this with a traditional earned media PR strategy. If members skew older, they probably still subscribe to and read their local paper whether that is online or in print. We made sure to share that PR content online and extend the lifetime of that content through regular posting on Facebook. This might sound simple and straightforward, but every campaign has a lot of variables to consider.

Ultimately members were commenting on posts and saying “I was definitely against this right to work legislation– I might have been aware of it but I started seeing some of your posts” or “My spouse shared it.” Really the goal of a grassroots movement is getting to that word of mouth stage where people are so aware of what the issue is that they start to form an opinion on it, they start talking about it, and they take action. The goal is to get an audience to see it numerous times and get them thinking about the cause for which you’re advocating.

A Look Ahead at What Congress is Addressing This Summer

By: AmyClaire Brusch, Vice President

Even as Congress remains divided on many important issues that will dominate the news this summer (health care, budget, homeland security…), there are also areas in which Republicans and Democrats are working together as their constituents expect. The average American only has time for short snippets of news a day which is dominated by these divisive, if important issues. We all know that the level of political discourse has grown more heated, as displayed in the recent violent attack on Members of Congress practicing for a charity ball game. But below the surface, aired on CSPAN for those who may have more time, House and Senate committees have held several hearings and legislative markups this month that are surprisingly devoid of partisan divide.

One such measure passed both houses of Congress with broad support and was signed into law on June 23rd.  The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will give the Department of Veterans Affairs more resources to help restructure the department to better serve the needs of our nation’s veterans. All Americans have been upset by the long waits veterans face for health care and the inability to swiftly respond to the need for other services. The public has pressured Congress and recent administrations to better support veterans and public officials have answered the call. There is still more to do for veterans, but the enactment of this bill in the midst of a negative political climate gives one hope that Congress and the administration will continue to make progress on improving VA service.

Another issue that also affects people in every state and of every demographic is access to broadband services. From education and communication to telemedicine and economic development, broadband access is essential to meeting the needs of 21st century Americans. Both the House and Senate have held hearings this month examining the challenges to full nationwide broadband access. Listening to the Senators and Representatives, one was struck by the number of bipartisan bills they referenced to achieve this goal and it was hard to know their political affiliation from their comments and questions.

Similarly, both the House and Senate have been considering reauthorization legislation of the Federal Aviation Administration. There are some controversial issues in these bills, but they do not fall into partisan categories. Instead, there are Republicans and Democrats on both sides of drone policy, privatization of air traffic control, and financing issues to name a few. As I monitored these hearings and then the markups for clients, it was heartening to see a robust debate that lacked partisan edge.

These are just three of the issues Congress is addressing in a bipartisan way this summer. While they may not be as dramatic as the scene of unity on the baseball field, they are a more significant sign that the legislative body is still working. There will be more vigorous debates on top line issues, as there should be. That debate will dominate the national news. For a look deep into the process, sneak a peak at CSPAN every so often to remind yourself that public officials haven’t completely lost their ability to work together.

Demystifying the Facebook algorithm: A guide to reaching your audience

In the span of an internet minute, the content your organization shares online competes for the attention of millions of users—and for the assistance of the Facebook algorithm.

To provide an individual experience to each of its users, Facebook employs a complex algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank, that ensures the content displayed in your news feed is interesting to you, specifically. Facebook wants to put engaging and entertaining content in your timeline. The company’s goal? To increase the time you spend on its website—and to up its share of the internet minute. While the algorithm and the tactics Facebook uses may change, that fundamental motivation is here to stay.

For companies and organizations, this means that simply posting content cannot guarantee reach. Having 5,000 likes on your page does not mean those 5,000 people are regularly seeing your posts in their News Feeds.

While the intricacies of the algorithm remain a mystery to those outside Facebook, we know the algorithm at its most simple follows three main tenets—affinity, weight, and time decay. Affinity determines how relevant certain content is to you based on your previous activity, while weight and time decay prioritize posts based on post type (photos, videos, text posts) and relevancy (how old is your content?).

So, how do you compete for space on the news feeds of your audience? Following the algorithm, it is essential to generate original content that is relevant to the people who like your page. It must be easy to absorb, encourage user engagement through likes, shares and comments, and should be timely. For example, natively uploaded videos (which keep users on Facebook rather than redirecting them to other sites like YouTube) are much more likely to show up on your audience news feeds, as are photos that encourage user engagement and discussion in the comments section.

Engaging with hot-button issues, current news in your industry, or local trends are all ways to increase your exposure on the site.

If the message and content you send through Facebook is not going to be important or interesting in the eyes of your audience, you cannot expect reach or engagement.