The Importance of Jelly Beans in Today’s Legal World

All aboard the Jelly Belly Express with Tom and Elizabeth

 Recently, I was on vacation with my family in Racine, Wisconsin. The great thing about small towns near Chicago is that they can be as interesting as Disney World for our 22-month-old daughter. On the way home we stopped at Jelly Belly for one of the free tours that provides a multimedia presentation on the history of the company, how those little beans are made and a drive through the warehouse.

As you board the Jelly Belly Express train, they give you a paper hat because its a legal requirement in a food storage facility. You also have to wear a safety belt. Although I saw no real danger in a train that goes .5 miles an hour The “real danger” is Jelly Belly’s free sample kiosk in the store (I limited my requests to six samples).

I know we live in a litigious society where so much of life is about covering yourself legally. However, a Jelly Belly warehouse tour is a good example of being legal and having fun. Yes, you need to protect yourself by following rules and regulations, like having you hair covered in a food facility. Yet, as you can see in the picture, the hats were good fun for Elizabeth and me. And we can be sure that no one will sue Jelly Belly for finding one of Tom Ciesielka’s hairs in a cherry-flavored bean.

Additionally, the fact that they provided plenty of staff to monitor the safety for guests (and give away bags of free Jelly Bellys at the end of the tour) made it a very sweet experience.

I know that when law firms think about public relations they often think about presenting papers at trade shows, writing articles in business magazines, or sending out e-cards (to be “green”) at Christmas time. Those are safe ways to handle your public relations and they follow the “rules” of such a conservative profession.

However, why not have a little fun? Find a way to interact with clients in a unique fashion. I work for an attorney who brings his clients and prospects to karaoke bars for business development.  Sure there are a million excuses for not doing that, one being to avoid over comsumption of alcohol and another to guard against people singing “I Did It My Way” off-key. However, he’s not worried about that because he knows it will be a memorable experience.

I hope that lawyers and their marketing departments will find ways to lighten up. By the way, Jelly Belly offers a service where they can print a law firm’s logo on their product.  If you decide to try that at your firm, please send me a couple bags for our office. Thanks.