2018 Winners – Communications: Promotional and Collateral Materials

First Place


Reimagined Alumni Program

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Summary: Dykema developed a multi-channel alumni program focused on business development with the goal of maintaining sustainable relationships with departed lawyers. Its strategy included creating an alumni network on LinkedIn, producing an engaging alumni newsletter and hosting alumni events. The objectives were to achieve at least 200 members in the LinkedIn group, create a biannual newsletter to keep alumni informed of updates, and host alumni events to record over 150 registration touchpoints.

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Coordinating with HR, Dykema generated a comprehensive alumni list and undertook extensive research to update contact information, recording approximately 640 updated records. It researched various alumni network directory platforms and surveyed its alumni, and determined a private LinkedIn group was the best strategy. Dykema launched the LinkedIn network via an electronic mailing that coincided with its main alumni event in May 2017. It developed Directions, a newsletter featuring alumni news, firm updates and alumni spotlight articles. The alumni spotlight interviews and articles serve as business development tools for the firm's attorneys. By interviewing alumni for the stories, Dykema's attorneys have the opportunity to get to know a client and/or prospective client, and vice versa. To connect alumni with the firm's current attorneys, Dykema organized social events throughout the country. It created branded, themed email invitations, and tracked responses through the use of Cvent.

The alumni program yielded the following results within six months:

  • Conducted an alumni feedback survey, revealing a private LinkedIn group was the preferred platform for an alumni directory. The LinkedIn group replaced an outdated and expensive alumni portal on Dykema.com resulting in $2,400 in cost savings.
  • More than 200 have joined the firm’s LinkedIn Alumni Network Group.
  • The first edition of Directions, launched in August 2017, was distributed to more than 800 alumni via email and had the highest open rate (39 percent) of any firm mailing -- ever!
  • Hosted five events with a combined total of more than 165 registrants.
  • Generated new business from two Chicago alumni from outreach efforts, including one in the banking industry and one at a consumer products company.
  • Received unsolicited appreciation about the program from alumni, such as: “It adds glue to the firm, holding people together. We all have occasions to make referrals, and it’s important to have those connections.”

Second Place

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.

Reinhart Ale

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Summary: The Milwaukee Business Journal's Book of Lists event theme in 2017 was Early America. Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren's booth recreated an early American tavern, and required a give-away item for each visitor. The firm's solution was to partner with a local craft brewer to develop its own "Reinhart Ale." By opting for cans with custom labels, the firm was able to create powerful branding while telling a very specific story. Reinhart Ale was also meant to highlight the firm's recently launched Craft Brewing practice area.

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Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren located a Milwaukee brewer called MobCraft that had recently launched a custom program. It is important to note that the firm was not looking to merely have a small logo or sticker placed on an existing label - it wanted something that looked like genuine Reinhart Ale. Once the firm selected a style of beer to be brewed for it, it turned the project over to its talented in-house graphic designer who created a custom label that captured the feel of the law firm. The design was filled with interesting detail: a scale of justice made from barley and hops, "Since 1894" referencing the longevity of the firm, and a play on an old, well-known Milwaukee brewery slogan. Most importantly, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren was able to use the reverse side of the can for a short narrative launching its newly revised brand messaging and "Clients First" tagline. The cans were handed out at the firm's Book of Lists event booth by marketing staff wearing period costume. Reinhart Ale was a huge hit with all who attended.

This project seized on an opportunity to stretch the boundaries of creativity and execution that most law firms impose upon themselves. By leveraging an event theme, it allowed Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren to produce something memorable, effective and on-strategy while breaking free of the "run of the mill" branded items. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Representatives of the Business Journal and attendees alike gave Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren feedback that its booth — and especially the Reinhart Ale — was the hit of the event. It sparked multiple conversations about the firm and, very importantly, its Craft Brewery practice area. As an added bonus, the brewer that produced the Reinhart Ale became a client of the firm's midway through the brewing process. The firm was able to further utilize the remaining Reinhart Ale for subsequent seminars/mixers targeting the craft brewing and food and beverage industries, where it was equally well received.

Third Place

Thompson Hine LLP

Thompson Hine's "Sports Answers" Change The Game.

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Summary: Following many years of low visibility in the marketing space, 106-year-old Thompson Hine set out to re-establish its name and brand position with a campaign of high visibility that could also drive engagement. The firm's goals were to speak directly to its Cleveland C-level constituency and general counsels, create buzz in the industry, feature its SmartPathTM project management solution, build internal pride among employees and use an awareness-building channel to drive traffic to its website.

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Thompson Hine's campaign strategy was to go beyond generating interest and use unconventional messaging and design to create intrigue. The technical and rarely exercised rules of popular sports served as the lure with ads presenting exceptionally bizarre circumstances in baseball, golf, football and basketball where rulings would be in question. The answer was then offered on a page located on the firm's website. These once-in-a-blue-moon scenarios offered the perfect analogy, representing Thompson Hine's highly technical knowledge base when it comes to legal field of play. The firm’s position of “experts at the technicalities” was further reinforced with schematic-like drawings depicting the sport in question. For optimal visibility, full-page color ads were placed on the inside back cover of Cleveland’s leading business publication, Crain’s Cleveland. Roughly 80 percent of readers hold C-level or executive positions. Thompson Hine's direction was further informed by Cleveland’s exceptionally passionate fan base.

With approximately 20,000 subscribers spanning an eight-county area (of which 74 percent read three out of every four issues), Thompson Hine's target market was effectively blanketed by its Crain’s Cleveland campaign in 2017. The firm's tracking platforms confirmed that its website’s “answer page” was visited by hundreds of Cleveland’s most reputable businesses and organizations, spanning financial, manufacturing, consumer goods, technology, media, academia, real estate, healthcare and retail. As a law firm sized in Cleveland’s top four, Thompson Hine once again looked the part across a breath of vertical markets. Equally important, but hard to quantify, was the spike in employee morale generated from the campaign’s consistently high visibility in a reputable publication.

Honorable Mention

Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP

Graydon Collateral Project

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Summary: Graydon rebranded in October 2016 with the vision of being “Cincinnati’s most innovative and vibrant law firm.” That’s a strong statement for any company to aspire to, let alone a 145-year-old law firm. The new brand raised the bar in the legal industry. With a new set of standards in place, Graydon set out to bring a fresh, innovative perspective to a brand built on deep connections to clients, community and each other.

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On October 3, 2016, Graydon launched a new brand and new website, and moved into new, modern offices. This provided an opportunity to hit the reset button on all marketing collateral, as everything with the old brand had to be replaced. A couple notable projects were Graydon’s unique approach to business cards and a powerful recruiting video by Brandflick. The business card project presented an opportunity to bring a personal touch previously unseen in the legal industry. The cards featured different branded backs, including one with an artfully cropped portion of that employee’s signature. Believing every employee should feel empowered and equipped to develop business, Graydon gave every employee, including administrative assistants, a set of business cards. Graydon engaged the company, Brandflick, to create a recruiting video with the goal of attracting talent to the firm. This recruiting tool was posted to the website and promoted on via social media.

The Graydon collateral project was imperative to bringing the Graydon brand to life. All the marketing collateral was done by high-end vendors, and no expenses were spared. The business card project was so well received that Graydon employees are routinely asked for all three branded cards – almost like collecting baseball cards. Empowering all levels of employees with the resources to embrace the aggressive business development culture, the firm has resulted in 11 new clients (including one with five figures in revenue), specifically because Graydon armed their employees with the tools to develop business. The Brandflick video was also a raging success. By numbers alone, the video was the most viewed in the history of the firm.

  • YouTube – 754 views
  • LinkedIn – 7,030 impressions; more than six times Graydon's next best LinkedIn reach
  • Twitter – 903 impressions
  • Facebook – 654 engagement; 5,566 people reached