The recent Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference in Las Vegas provided great stimulation, not just in sights, music, slots and color, but also in ideas and conversation. The biggest buzz came from sessions that focused on technology, diversity, artificial intelligence, analytics and content.
Susan Kostal, legal marketing and content strategist; Brian Kiefer, director of PR at Seyfarth Shaw LLP; and I spoke about best practices for integrating PR and content as panelists during the LMA Pre-conference, “Breakthroughs in Public Relations, Content and Communications.”
We challenged our audience – and now you – to think of legal PR in a new way. We suggested that PR ought to involve crafting the strategy and leading the charge of sophisticated, content-driven campaigns that pull together public relations, content, marketing and business development tactics. To help legal marketers and communicators accomplish this integration, we provided several examples.
Integrated Marketing from the PR Perspective
“Research what is it that your firm’s clients are worrying about most,” Kostal said. “Come up with a focused campaign on that single issue; for example, cybersecurity. From there, consider what content can be developed, what PR opportunities can be generated. Then distribute it in a variety of ways, including print, video, webinars, client alerts, blog posts, LinkedIn and Twitter.”
Kiefer discussed the interesting challenge that Seyfarth posed to its commercial real estate practice, which was to literally create something from nothing. This law practice generally does not produce much content, nor is there opportunity for case law. Aside from doing deals, how could they promote the scope of their work and attract the interest of general counsel in the real estate space?
“We took a design-thinking approach,” said Kiefer. “How are clients consuming content? On phones? Then we needed to package our content for them to scale easily. We considered all types of files and mediums. Additionally, we found client surveys to be the perfect cornerstone of content. PR controlled the process, driving the executive producer role, with our decisions about which clients to ask, how to make it look, what questions to include. Prioritize the most valuable questions for marketing and business development purposes, as well as what would be newsworthy. Time the release date of survey results for optimum visibility, and if you can plan to replicate year after year, you own that space!”
Seyfarth found tremendous success in digesting and quickly analyzing a winning formula of a 10-question format that exploited gaps in data. Clients, and media, took note.
During the course of the panel, I shared some success stories Jaffe has had with integrating PR and content to help further illustrate how PR and content can work together to amplify results.
Blurbs & Snippets
One of these examples focused on the law firm Freeborn & Peters.
Freeborn takes a tongue-in-cheek “B.S.” approach, through its internal “Blurbs and Snippets” effort, which integrates and disseminates all PR impressions, with approval. The firm uses its existing content assets to further leverage PR results. Primarily, the focus is on the firm’s website, which runs like a well-oiled machine, with all content automatically published in other relevant locations through a back-end system of tagging. By integrating PR into the website, the firm aimed to feed PR results to their posting process for maximum ROI/effectiveness.
The “blurbs” in the firm’s B.S. process are short summaries of PR impressions that get posted to the firm’s intranet and website, which automatically distribute the information to the appropriate attorney’s bio page via tagging. Snippets are short, optimized Twitter posts that get relevant tweet @s and hashtags. All PR impressions receive the Blurbs and Snippets treatment. This repeatable, integrated process has increased the efficiency of converting PR impressions into web content and maximized each exposure.
KEY TAKEAWAY: However you set it up, whatever you want to call it, just do it: Create a repeatable process to maximize the value of every PR result on all possible platforms.
Aiming to Achieve Business Goals
Another example focused on a boutique law firm that also leverages a strategy where the PR initiative flows into the content effort, and all PR successes are repurposed through the website and firm social media channels. This firm specifically focuses its integrated approach to achieve its specified business goals; for example, having increased visibility with key decision-makers in the insurance/reinsurance and healthcare spaces who could potentially hire the firm.
To accomplish these results, the firm relies on a targeted PR strategy to pitch attorneys as thought leaders to relevant industry publications. When an interview or bylined article is published, the impression is sent over to the content team, who then repurpose the impression across all owned channels of communication, from website to social. Specific tactics include:
- Creating original content inspired by the impression
- Optimizing content for SEO
- Linking to a third-party publication or republishing
- Developing original content promoting a speaking engagement and posting speaker slides to the firm’s website via Slideshare
- Using a spreadsheet to keep track of each opportunity and how it is leveraged
In just under a year, metrics show that traffic to the website is stronger, and the body of original content continues to grow on the firm’s website.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Be strategic. Be mindful of business goals and practice priorities. Focus PR efforts on activities that drive the firm closer to achieving these goals, and then repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
How PR Affects Website Traffic
Another example involves a whistleblower and employment law plaintiffs firm. Each quarter, firm leaders and the marketing team prioritize three practice areas to focus on; a fluid approach that accounts for external (e.g., new regulations, executive orders, legislation, etc.) or internal (client interests) factors. The top three priorities then set the agenda for PR, content and digital marketing (e.g., blogs, email marketing, website content, home page content, Google ads, etc.). The team reviews analytics monthly and meets quarterly to discuss if the current strategy is still the right strategy or whether to redirect.
Analytics show that when PR results in an attorney quote or published article, the website sees a correlating spike in traffic. When these PR efforts are combined with a content marketing initiative, the analytics have shown a measurable and steady incline.
After a one-year cycle with this integrated approach, the firm has noticed an improved quality of the leads received. Organic search traffic, plus PR activity, has resulted in a 46 percent growth in website traffic compared to the same timeframe one year ago.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Consistency across all tactics is key. By integrating tactics and identifying measurable indicators, you can analyze the increase in ROI.
Remove the Silos
Kostal reminded the audience that keeping PR in a silo, along with shotgun and random acts of content marketing, wastes valuable firm resources. Strategic PR-led, content-driven marketing and business development campaigns will result in improved metrics.