Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Here is a preview of my editor’s column in the January 2016 issue. It’s all about the arts, baby, and getting those submissions in by January 13:

Vision in, vision out

Sure, creativity may reflect individual talent. But it may take a community to spur your muse.

Oddly enough, it was an advertisement—for our annual Creative Arts Competition—that made me think of that. For it is our experience that marketing matters, and although there are many talented lawyers in Arizona, getting them to submit their work by our deadline of January 13 takes prodding and cajoling. And part of that encouragement comes via ads.

Our current ad seeking submissions from artistic attorneys is on page 23. But only the close-reader will note that the ad is part of a four-month series, each with a slightly different headline. The ads were created by our own talented Production Manager, Michael Peel. And the headline variation? Crowdsourced, o’course. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, though, I ask your help in communicating a contest rule change to your own crowds: Those submitting photos are now limited to a maximum of 15 submissions. We’ve found that digital photography makes it all too easy to submit 30, 40, even 100 photos. No mas, as Ansel Adams probably said. Friends don’t let friends submit terabytes. (Enjoy all of our legalistic rules here.)

Back to our rotating headlines.

You’ll see that our current ad asks readers if they’ve “got verve?” In previous months, we asked if they’ve got passion, inspiration, and oomph. Yes. Oomph.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Those were merely the most popular arty-nouns among staff who voted on the visual array displayed and available in our office. “But” (you ask), “what ended up on the cutting-room floor? What words were rejected?

I’ll tell you. And then I want you to write to me to say which of those terms you think deserved a better fate. What are your faves?

Here is the also-rans list, each preceded by the question “got … ?” ideas – forte – moxie – insight – creative – imagination – voice – entries – vision – knack – flair – skills

Tell me which you prefer—and why—and I may pick my own most-creative responder. I’m at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll determine the most headline-worthy riposte, and you may win your own little something–something for your troubles.

If comments are “advertisements,” should we just go back to chatting?

Not to be overly dramatic, but the conversation may be the heart of social media, its very lifeblood.

Anyone who has ever launched a Facebook page, blog, Twitter handle or Pinterest board knows that what they really seek is engagement, a dynamic involvement by readers and other posters.

To social media, the comment is a nutritional daily requirement.

But what if that comment were both sustenance and a poison pill that could undermine your entire site?

Lawyers who have created their own websites or Facebook pages should be interested in the evolution of the following important question: Are comments “advertisements”?

A ruling by an advertising standards board—in Australia—ruled that the two are essentially equivalent, at least on Facebook pages of companies that sell products.

Here is how a recent article on the topic opened:

“A ruling that Facebook is an advertising medium—and not just a way to communicate—will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.

“In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook ‘brand’ pages.

“Last month the advertising industry watchdog issued a judgment in which it said comments made by ‘’fans’’ of a vodka brand’s Facebook page were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes, and therefore consumer protection laws.”

Read the whole thing here.

A few factors suggest to me that lawyers need not be too concerned about this quite yet.

First, there’s been no such ruling stateside, so this may be an outlier.

Second, the reasoning underlying this ruling applies to products. There may be such a thing as legal products, but a law firm Facebook page is more along the lines of communicating its services, a different thing entirely.

Third, we already know that posts and comments may cause legal problems, and so we look out for that.

Finally, most firms get substantially fewer comments from readers than, say, Target or (ha!) Chick-fil-A. The process of reviewing recent posts for appropriateness likely doesn’t take very long.

But all of us who enjoy that give-and-take with readers should be aware that comments may take on even more legal significance in the future. Keep those comments coming—at least as long as they’re not advertisements.