Harrison Law July 2019

July 2019 Te Contractor’s Advantage

www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000 jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com

Making the Most of Summer

Come Fourth of July, the temperatures really start to climb. Last year for the Fourth, our family drove up to Hunt Valley for a concert and fireworks. It usually gets hotter in the city, but as we drove north, I watched the car’s thermometer slowly climb. By the time we got to Hunt Valley, it was up to 107 degrees! Of course, as hot as it was that evening, it was worth it to see the show of music and light. permitting, I’m sure we’ll get out and enjoy another fireworks show celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the declaration of independence from Britain. The kids always love a good spectacle, and I know they will have a good time. like to get out of the city to visit fruit and berry farms. We make a day of it, picking berries and just enjoying the great outdoors. At home, I may do some grilling, but I’ll admit, I’m more of an indoor cook. That said, I do like a good grilled burger or hot dog now and again. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, I own a bike trainer. It’s a device you use to ride your bike indoors. You set the back wheel in the device and it keeps it elevated. It’s designed to simulate an outdoor ride from the comfort of inside. This year, we don’t have any specific plans for the Fourth, but weather Over the summer, we do many different activities as a family. We

As convenient as a bike trainer is, I didn’t get around to using it as much as I could have, and once cycling season arrived, I was not ready. I hope that by the time you read this, I’ve gotten back on my bike more and am on my way to getting back into shape! In the meantime, our family is heading down to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, for a family reunion. It will be my family, my sister’s family, my mom and dad, and a few cousins. I mentioned the reunion last month, but I didn’t mention that this family gathering marks something of a milestone. This gathering will be the first time since I moved out of the house at age 18 that we’ve gathered like this. It’s certainly going to be a new experience for my kids. Well, it’s going to be a new experience for all of us. We’ll all be packed in one beach

house. Hopefully, the weather will be nice, and we won’t be confined to the house for the whole trip. While we might be in close quarters, it should be a good time. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and for my kids to spend more time with their cousins. I hope you are having a great summer. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and have fun!

-Jeremy Wyatt

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And What You Can Learn From Them

A great advertising campaign transcends the company that creates it. The Budweiser Clydesdales are nearly as iconic as the beer itself. People still say, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” in 2019, despite the fact that PCs aren’t even a major part of Dell’s business model anymore. When it comes to creating an ad campaign that Don Draper would be proud of, it’s best to look at massively successful examples from recent history. Here are a few of our favorites, as well as commentary on why they work and how you can use similar tactics. BRAND DIFFERENTIATION: APPLE This mega-popular ad campaign consisting of 66 spots personified the difference between PCs and Apple computers. Playing the role of “PC” was a buttoned-up, nebbish character you’d expect to find in the most morose workplace on earth. The “Mac” character, by contrast, was laid-back, youthful, and effortlessly cool. After launching the campaign in 2006, Macs became the default laptop for nearly every incoming college student. Clearly, the lighthearted jabbing at the competition worked. OFF-THE-WALL IRREVERENCE: OLD SPICE Most deodorant and shampoo commercials are bare-bones basic. They describe the “odor protection,” “moisturizing effects,” and the like. Old Spice takes the opposite approach. Their ads often feature absurd imagery, insane special effects, and Terry Crews literally yelling at you that you smell bad. Would this tone work for a life insurance company? Probably not, but it’s a great way to make simple consumer goods feel fun and exciting. SOCIAL AWARENESS: DOVE Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which launched in 2004, was a long overdue change of pace for the beauty industry. Since time immemorial, fashion and beauty campaigns featured only impossibly beautiful women who had body types that the average person could never attain. Dove threw this aspirational, and potentially toxic, messaging in the garbage and decided to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. If you can create a campaign that includes those who aren’t used to widespread representation, you’ll increase your reach in a hurry. CURATED COOL: DOS EQUIS Here’s a dirty little secret the beverage industry won’t tell you: Most industrially produced beers are made by one of two companies, and the vast majority of them taste remarkably similar. The difference, for the most part, comes down to the way they are marketed. Dos Equis, with their “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, carved out a name for themselves as the beer for urbane, thrill-seeking drinkers, despite the fact that their product is about as exotic as a Coors Light. Sometimes, perception really is reality.

'FIERCE CONVERSATIONS' Learn How to Get Your Message Across So often, we talk to our friends, coworkers, and loved ones without actually saying anything. We’ll beat around the bush on important subjects or hesitate to bring up sensitive matters. Global business coach and best-selling author Susan Scott has set out to change that. In her book “Fierce Conversations,” Scott argues that the key to get more out of our personal and professional relationships is to learn to lower our barriers and convey our message honestly. “Fierce Conversations” is one of those works born out of a simple idea with big implications. As the author explains it, “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.” By having the communication skills necessary to create lasting bonds, handle strong emotions, and overcome barriers, you’ll be prepared when crucial conversations present themselves. Those who tend to judge a book by its cover may make the mistake of associating the word “fierce” with “aggressive.” However, as a master of meaningful communication, Scott has found that it’s important not to force emotions one way or the other. As she observes, “If your behavior contradicts your values, your body knows.” Instead of relying on fake bravado or false modesty, the author argues it’s better that the bravery be genuine. Breaking down those social barriers to be authentic in our conversations takes true ferocity. Scott does more than simply explain why frank and honest communication is important; she gives readers the tools to get there. Having spent years as a business coach, and now as the head of a firm that trains CEOs around the globe, Scott is well-versed in the art of teaching exercises. “Fierce Conversations” is brimming with action items, tactics, and tailor-made examples of how to communicate in every situation, from board meetings to parenting. If you’re someone who likes concrete guides over vague concepts, this book will pleasantly surprise you.

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Take Advantage of the Summer

And Host a Great Company Picnic

PICNIC FOOD/DRINK Let’s not forget the most important part of a good company picnic — the food! First, you need to consider what type of picnic will go best with your theme. Will this picnic be a potluck, or will the food be catered? Will alcohol be allowed at the picnic? If so, will the company provide it, or will it be BYOB? When in doubt, just choose the realistic option for your budget and remember to stick with your theme. Ultimately, the purpose of your company picnic is to give your employees opportunities to bond outside the office and celebrate one another through awards and team building. Follow the above tips and your company picnic will go off without a hitch!

HAVE A Laugh PICNIC LOCATION Large public parks can easily accommodate big groups, but if you’re in a pinch, you can also use your company campus. If you have enough in your budget, you can rent a venue nearby that works with your theme. Make sure your location has enough seating for everyone and keep track of the weather reports for that day if you’re grilling outside. Are you tired of watching perfect summer days pass your office by from the wrong side of the window? Instead of leaving work to enjoy the weather, bring your company outside! A company picnic is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the warm weather and foster team camaraderie through awards, team building exercises and, of course, good food. Putting on a slam-bang company picnic is no easy feat, but if you start with these three fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to pulling off an event the whole company will remember for years to come. a theme your employees will be excited about. From a Hawaiian luau to a country western barbecue, the possibilities are endless. To generate more hype at the office, you can hand out fun invitations that go along with the theme, like lei necklaces or custom sunglasses. At the actual picnic, the theme should influence your setup, team building exercises, activities, and food and drink. PICNIC THEME The first step to organizing a company picnic is to choose


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Jeremy Wyatt jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000


40 West Chesapeake Avenue, Ste. 600 Towson, MD 21204

Inside This Edition


Meeting the Family in Kitty Hawk


The Absolute Best in Advertising

Make Yourself Heard


Hosting a Company Picnic

Have a Laugh

* 4.

Is Yelp the Enemy of Small Business?

Level With Me: Medical Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation

Yelp and Small Business Does the Review Site Do More Harm Than Good? “Yelp is destroying my small business.” These words are becoming more and more common. Small-business owners are taking their stories public, claiming Yelp is hurting their brand. But is this true? Can Yelp harm businesses? At a glance, Yelp is a website and app where people can promote their businesses, and consumers can post reviews of those businesses. Yelp can be a consumer’s deciding factor in which restaurant to visit, which cleaning service to hire, which grocery store to shop at, and so on. Business owners claim that Yelp tries to extort them. For example, Yelp calls a business to sell ads. The business declines and, suddenly, good reviews get buried. Some business owners have even claimed that the best reviews disappear altogether. In their place are the lowest reviews, or even poor reviews that weren’t there before. When people search for the business, the worst reviews are front and center. Additionally, business owners have noted that Yelp cold- called them with the news that they have won an award for exceptional reviews. However, Yelp charges for the award, which is a plaque that can be displayed in the business, costing hundreds of dollars.

While the second example certainly isn’t extortion, it raises questions. The fact is that Yelp does cold-call businesses to get them to sign up for advertising packages, and in this, Yelp has leverage. If you don’t comply, they can alter what people see when they search for your business. Business owners also point to discrepancies in reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. They may have four- or five-star reviews on Google and Facebook, but their Yelp reviews may be noticeably lower. It’s no secret that advertisements represent Yelp’s primary source of revenue, and cold-calling businesses can help drive that revenue. But can businesses defend against ad extortion? The answer is not really, unless businesses are willing to pay a big expense. Instead, the best defense is focusing on stellar customer service — and directing customers and potential customers to Google and Facebook reviews, ignoring Yelp altogether.

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July 2019

Level With Me By JeremyWyatt

Medical Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation: Moving Targets

This month’s edition of “Level WithMe” features a guest author: JoshMarvel.

courts, and, for the time being, they’ll be decided one at a time. Courts in general will hesitate to intervene in the doctor-patient relationship, so we would expect the trend to continue toward providers being required to pay for medical cannabis. There is some good news for employers: That same bill stipulates that if a worker is injured due to misuse of medical marijuana, the employer is not to be held responsible. Against this changing backdrop, it makes more sense than ever to head off workers’ compensation claims. Ask yourself the following questions. Does your company have a formal, written substance abuse policy? This should be a cornerstone of your onboarding policies and procedures, and it should include pre-hire screening, post-accident screening, reasonable suspicion, and random testing. Further, your Employee Handbook should include an Employee Assistance Program. Employees want to know you’ll be in their corner if they have a problem. Do you review public records, require a background check, and review references prior to hiring? We mean really check references, not just require that they be submitted. Sadly, there are still individuals out there with a track record of trying to game the system. A little homework on your part can help ensure that they don’t become your problem. Does your company require an accident investigation after a work- related injury or incident? If not, get a procedure in place. The process should be thorough and surprise-free to all involved. Does your company have a Safety Committee? This is a great way to bridge the employer-employee tension that can be inherent in

Josh is a Commercial Risk Advisor with Consolidated Insurance + Risk Management based in Owings Mills, Maryland. Armed with a unique background that started as a commercial insurance underwriter, Josh began his career as a Risk Advisor with Consolidated in 2008. Drawing off of his experience, Josh proudly works with clients to align their corporate and risk management goals in a way that will help them stand out in the insurance marketplace. Josh specializes in Business, Strategic, and Hazard risk identification and planning, as well as Experience Mod., rating management, reputation management, and insurance contract reviews. Josh has earned the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI), and Certified Authority on Workers’ Compensation (CAWC) professional designations. Josh lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with his wife and son. It’s a conundrum the construction industry continues to grapple with: Everyone wants safe worksites, and that means unimpaired employees. But marijuana is now legal in Maryland for medical purposes, and, to complicate things even further, your workers’ compensation plan may include a requirement to pay for medicinal marijuana for an employee recovering from an accident or injury. Where does the law stand now, and what should you be doing? Here are some answers. The Maryland Senate recently passed a bill that requires workers’ compensation providers to cover the use of medicinal marijuana as part of an employee’s treatment plan. And from there, it gets murky: The bill is not yet law, so cases are pending in Maryland’s appellate

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workers’ compensation. A properly constituted Safety Committee builds employee buy-in by design and holds both the employees and employer accountable for meeting safety-focused goals. Does your organization support light duty? Many employers resist this, wishing to avoid the appearance of creating “busy work.” But consider the statistics: After 12 weeks off, the chances of an employee returning to work are only 50/50. And the longer an absence drags on, the greater the chances of an attorney becoming involved, to say nothing of the cost of training someone new if a worker doesn’t come back. A recent study shows that the employees of companies with a light duty program average 5.1 weeks to maximum medical improvement, compared to 13 weeks for those without. That in itself should motivate you to get a light duty plan in place. The medical marijuana situation has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. What won’t change is the best way to deal with workers’ compensation claims: Have systems in place that lay the groundwork for preventing them in the first place and minimizing the impact to both employee and company when they do occur.

-Jo sh H. Marvel

CIC, AAI, CAWC Commercial Risk Advisor Consolidated Insurance + Risk Management jmarvel@consolidatedinsurance.com (443) 738-2746

This column is intended to provide educational material only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Before proceeding with or defending any claim, you should carefully evaluate your contract and related legal rights and seek the direct counsel of a construction attorney.

If you want to learn more skills and tips about avoiding construction claim pitfalls, you can receive a free copy of my book, “The Subcontractor’s Roadmap to Getting Paid for Extra Work” by emailing me at jwyatt@harrisonlawgroup.com.

-Jeremy Wyatt



(410) 832-0000

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