The Best Policy: Advocating for Truth in Marketing Online
What Is Going On?
We are supposedly living in the Information Age. Yet we have also simultaneously entered the “post-truth” era. On the surface, these two positions seem to be at odds with one another, until we consider where our information is coming from. Today, we have a new yellow journalism characterized by conjecture, misinformation, and slander that is being circulated by fringe media outlets. From there, it is recklessly disseminated through social media and hotly debated by clueless keyboard cowards resting safely in their anonymity.
It is the antithesis of honest reporting and civic dialogue.
Understanding this phenomenon allows us to appreciate how confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and other fallacious thinking have contributed to our present divisive state (in both a social and political sense). The raw (and real) information itself is not to blame; our collective approach to conveying and understanding it is.
The modern paradigm is a scary and insidious one. Rather than thinking critically about trending civic, religious, and political discourse, we simply read a headline and share it. Rather than demanding evidentiary source material and research, we simply nod our heads at whatever validates our worldview. Rather than holding those in power accountable for their misrepresentation of the facts, we merely accept and trust that they know more than we do.
This is a comfortable arrangement, but it doesn’t facilitate personal growth, build up communities, or promote a better world. It divides, isolates, and indoctrinates — and it needs to change.
How Did We Get Here?
Throughout the election cycle and continuing into the current administration, widespread doubt has been cast on the journalistic practices of media outlets that have long served as trusted news sources to the American public. Whether this doubt is warranted has been deemed irrelevant, as labels of “fake news” and “alternative facts” are utilized to undermine others’ claims or bolster one’s own assertions lacking both merit and sincerity (not to mention actual evidence).
The result is that facts, science, and critical thinking are now under scrutiny, while half-truths, baseless declarations, and flat-out lies are being championed by elected officials and parroted by so-called pundits who value ratings over integrity and truth.
While the ironies of this situation are not lost on us here at LaFleur, we know that it is more important than ever to address our approach to truth in marketing for our current and prospective clients as well as the public at large.
We value the opinions of all our employees and trust them to safeguard the integrity of our chosen profession through their ethical decisions each and every day. We trust our team so much, in fact, that we’ve invited everyone to offer their own perspectives on honest marketing practices during these confounding and disconcerting times.
Please keep reading to hear directly from the LaFleur team about how we work together to uphold the strongest ethical standards within the legal marketing field and advocate for our clients in a way that is both honest and compelling.
Chip LaFleur – President
“What is truth?”
It’s a question I heard many times growing up ― quoted or read from the Gospel of John as Pilate mocked Jesus with the question. For most of my life, that question was actually more of a statement declaring that absolute truth did exist, that we as humans could know it and be certain of truth in our lives.
In time, that question took on greater meaning to me. As I started to realize our inability to truly grasp absolute truth, I’ve found that not claiming to know absolute truth holds a greater value than truth itself. That’s not to say “truth” and “facts” are identical – we live in a world where we can establish facts based off observation and our continually improving understanding of the world. But establishing “truth” is more challenging.
When Kyle asked me to contribute to this article, the first thing that came to mind was the same question posed above: “What is truth?” I’ve asked myself that question many times throughout my life, and I’ve gone from one extreme to the other ― from feeling that I knew what truth was to feeling that absolute truth is elusive, mysterious, and subjective. Today, I live somewhere between those two extremes ― open to the pursuit of truth while recognizing that no one has a monopoly on it.
As a group of people here at LaFleur, we share a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs ― cultural, religious, and otherwise. The truths that some of us hold dear are not truths at all to others on our team. Despite that fact (and perhaps to some degree because of it), we function incredibly well as a team. We bring our own perspectives to the table every day and advocate for our beliefs.
While we save the metaphysical discussions for after hours, all of us passionately advocate for what we feel is most important to our clients’ success in our discussions at work. And sometimes, the certainty that we feel about our own perspective gets checked by an equal or greater certainty coming from another team member and the evidence they present.
When we first founded our organization, much of the work we did was based off educated intuition and informed supposition. As time goes on, those intuitions and suppositions are being replaced (or affirmed) by hard data and careful analysis. We get closer to concrete knowledge and answers, but we still sometimes do not arrive at a conclusive endpoint ― even after a thorough analysis and deep crunching of the same data. Unlike the “alternative facts” we’ve seen presented by various individuals and media outlets, alternate interpretations of the data may each have a degree of validity. Ongoing measurement of those differing approaches then drives us forward, moving us even closer to more concrete answers.
So, when I think of truth in marketing, I consider the truths that we spend our days trying to unearth for our clients. I don’t think about whether to be honest in our messaging or in how we represent our clients or even our organization. We inherently do that at all times, and we won’t deviate from that fundamental approach. We won’t misrepresent ourselves or our clients, and that’s why we love working with the best of the best. We highlight the strengths of our clients and ourselves, and that gives us the structure we need to foster our messaging and support our clients’ brands.
This unity of purpose combined with the diversity of truths that our team members bring to the organization is exciting, and I believe it drives us as an organization. Resisting the impulse to insist that our truth is the truth is a foundational component of any civilized society, just like it’s a fundamental necessity of a successful organization.
We uncover a diversity of truths when we bring on a new client with new expectations, new perspectives, additional empirical and experiential data, and a unique vision for their firm. These truths broaden and deepen our understanding of the work we do — and we uncover these truths together. We sift through the structure of these ideas together. And hopefully, in the end, we arrive at a place where we find success together ― helping our clients grow their businesses with the tactics we’ve refined, along with the facts that make our clients stand out from their competitors.
As we bring ourselves closer to a more complete knowledge of the most effective means of reaching our end users with truthful messaging, we help them find our clients. And in doing so, our clients can help them pursue and achieve justice, regardless of the legal circumstances they find themselves in.
Dave VandeWaa – Managing Editor
In the past, we have discussed the importance of ethics in digital marketing, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between sponsored journalism and advertorials. The vast majority of quality content marketing for law firms is essentially sponsored journalism: law firms spend marketing dollars to have content developed for their online properties, like their website or blog. While these financial considerations incentivize us to put our clients’ interests first, we do not consider them an excuse to misrepresent the truth (let alone fabricate so-called “alternative facts”) to further a client’s agenda.
Here at LaFleur, we take our jobs as content creators seriously, and we recognize the ever-increasing importance of ethically sourcing and representing data. We cite our sources. We include research and fact checking as essential parts of the writing process. We always have at least two different team members work over a piece before it is sent to a client for their own review.
And we let facts dictate the story we tell rather than allowing a story to dictate the facts we choose to include (or omit).
We live in a time where people routinely slough off their responsibility and culpability by making mistakes seem insignificant within the larger scope of their online presence or the vastness of the internet itself. “That was just one misleading blog post.” “That was just one insensitive tweet.” “I wrote that so long ago.” While no one will get it right 100% of the time, the integrity of your brand is the sum of all your online contents’ parts. Get your marketing right by being mindful of long-term outcomes, conscientiously approaching the creation of each new asset, and keeping truth at the center of all your efforts both online and off. Then, success will follow.
Emily Brown – Demand Generation Representative
I love my job. I love what I do because I get to truly help people; if they win, I win. Each day, I get to contact and speak with law firms across the country to try to help them grow their caseloads. What’s more is that the incredible people I work with make my job so much easier!
When I reach out to a firm that could use our assistance, my job is to educate them about why and how we can help them. I have been successful because I’m honest with these firms. I tell them the truth and in the end, they respect me for that.
And whether they ultimately become a client or not, they walk away with valuable information that they can apply to see better results.
Falon Peters – Project Manager
As the main point person for many of our clients here at LaFleur, I spend a lot of my time communicating directly with the people we serve. From answering their questions about website performance to updating them on the status of their projects, my words are trusted by each one of them.
From the very first time that I talk with our clients during an onboarding call, it’s important to me that we establish trust, mutual respect, and open communication. Our clients’ time is valuable, and they are paying us to complete a service for them in the most efficient and successful way possible. If a client is spending their time second-guessing what we’re up to, we’re both losing.
Now, we all make mistakes (don’t tell my husband I said that), and sometimes the best laid plans fail. Being transparent with our clients about a missed deadline or an underperforming campaign is not always easy, but it’s necessary in building trust. While those communications may not be desirable, I have found that honesty is always the best policy. After all, exposing a weakness is only detrimental if you don’t have a plan to improve.
Transparency, trust, and tact: it’s what we do here at LaFleur, and I couldn’t be prouder to serve alongside this team and the legal community.
Jane Newton – Content Developer and Strategist
Truth is a foundational pillar of our personal and professional lives, relationships, and economy. Truth dictates how we behave, relate to others, spend our hard-earned money, choose what to study or where to work, seek medical care, and fill our free time.
When considering the nature of truth, I often think of a short conversation I overheard between two salesmen from different companies at a trade show a few years ago.
“How did you transition from engineering to sales?” one salesman asked.
“I actually never wanted to be in sales,” the other responded. “But my managers convinced me I should.”
“Why didn’t you want to be in sales?”
“Because I didn’t feel like I could lie to get a sale. The idea made me really uncomfortable. But my manger told me that in order to be a good salesman, you must always tell the truth. Because when you lie, you have to remember which lies you told to whom and when. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything else.”
I think about this conversation often. The message of truth-telling and trustworthiness applies in every aspect of living a life with purpose and working for a business with integrity.
Approaching the work we do with the same trustworthiness and integrity that our legal clients show their clients (and each of us shows in our everyday lives), we are able to build the long-term, trusting partnerships that are required for lasting success.
Kaleigh D. Simmons – Digital Marketing Strategist
I love working in the marketing industry, and specifically the legal sector, because I get to witness how the work we do empowers our clients to reach and represent those in need. As a marketing strategist wearing several hats for LaFleur, I have the opportunity to oversee quality assurance and execution for many different projects ― ensuring that the final results are polished and align with our clients’ principles and core values. This sort of work requires an honest and ethical approach.
I believe the concept of truth in marketing is more than just focusing on the act of telling the truth. To me, it’s living the truth: portraying the truth, exposing the truth, and embodying the truth in the LaFleur brand as well as our clients’ brands. How can we get from point A to point B while enabling our entire team to remain honest, ethical, and transparent? It’s easy — we all believe in it, and we make sure that honesty is non-negotiable for ourselves and our clients.
We also maintain an open and accountable work environment that raises the standard of work we set for ourselves. When there are discrepancies in expectations due to poor communication or dishonesty, it makes for an unhealthy situation for everybody involved. And I am very thankful to work for a company that works diligently to prevent those discrepancies.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from a favorite author, Brené Brown: “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Kyle McCarthy – Content Strategist
It’s not always easy to maintain an ethical stance within the legal vertical, but I’m proud that I work for an organization that supports truth and transparency in everything we do ― both in-house and on behalf of our clients.
It’s frightening that we seem to be living at a time in which facts and objectivity are being put on trial while off-the-cuff assertions and accusations are accepted at face value. As a marketer, I do my very best to rail against this dangerous inversion of common sense. Granted, I’m not a journalist for the New York Times or Washington Post, but I take a lot of pride in the work I do for our clients, and I am excited to contribute to a more truthful, reliable online experience for individuals who need legal help and are seeking the best possible representation to assist them in their pursuit of justice.
As we work to grow and expand the LaFleur brand, I have a great deal of responsibility as the primary editor of our blog. It can sometimes be difficult to ideate topics that will draw significant interest and also provide our readers with practical knowledge of digital marketing. But our entire writing staff works together to propose, schedule, and craft relevant articles that are compelling yet truthful, opinionated yet informative, and passionate yet objective. Our work is always supported by numerous reliable resources, and our editorial process ensures accurate fact-checking and a steady, straightforward tone.
Our clients are held to the highest ethical standards, so we know they expect us to adopt a similar approach in our work. When interfacing with clients, I am encouraged by my managers and colleagues to maintain an honest and forthright approach by setting reasonable expectations to achieve manageable goals. This helps foster trust through open and candid dialogue, and it also makes our organization accountable for growing our clients’ businesses, as we are subsequently tasked with meeting or exceeding those established benchmarks.
Steven Thomas Kent – Content Developer
In general, I think the issue of truth and falsehood in marketing and advertising goes far beyond the simple question of whether any given claim about a product is factual or false. Most ads I see on television, in magazines, and on the internet prey on people’s emotions and insecurities so shamelessly and crassly that it’s hard to stomach. They promise people they’ll shatter their inhibitions and achieve the life they want if they just buy X product or Y service — which is the grand lie that informs a consumption-obsessed society, and it is just as fundamentally dishonest as claiming your product rust-proofs rocket ships or dissolves bunions when it doesn’t.
I’m able to do the work I do at LaFleur, though, because at the end of the day we work to connect people who have a genuine need with capable experts who can help them. It’s ironic because most people have such a mistrust for lawyers, but they have no problem trusting their household brands — the junk food companies that are slowly killing them, the overpriced cleaning products and medications that work no better than generic versions, the disposable appliances that break down after six months by design. In reality, we don’t need any of these brands or their products, despite them dominating so much advertising bandwidth.
But we do need lawyers, and so many of the stories we’ve heard from our clients and the people they work with reinforce the fact that capable, ethical attorneys make our society a more equitable and just place to live. Believing in the fundamental value of what our clients do, combined with the strong sense of ethics and values that I get from our company president and my colleagues at LaFleur, lets me believe I work on the right side of truth in marketing.
LaFleur: Your Honest, Uncompromising Legal Marketing Agency
LaFleur is comprised of conscientious and compassionate marketing professionals who are dedicated to positioning your firm in a way that is authentic, compelling, and principled. We feel very strongly about our core values of family, transparency, and education, and we put our integrity into action each and every day for all of our clients.
If the perspective offered through the testimonies above resonate with you and the ideals you have set for your career and your law firm, we would love the opportunity to speak with you further about your marketing. Please contact us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete the simple form on this page to learn more about our holistic approach to digital marketing.