Does your law firm have one or more blogs? Chances are, one in four of you will nod yes. According to the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey, about 26 percent of law firms currently have blogs, continuing a rising trend over the past few years. And of those lawyers who blog, an average of 40 percent have been able to attribute new clients as a result of that activity.
The ABA Journal wrote in April this year about an October 2015 LexisNexis survey concerning law firms and marketing. The survey indicated that “a majority of firms said they are planning to increase their investment in blogging and content marketing this year. According to LexisNexis, of the roughly 400 law firms that responded to the survey, 57 percent said they anticipated doing more blogging as a means of generating business.”
With all signs pointing to the fact that blogging is an effective element of a comprehensive business development strategy, what is holding your firm back?
Jacqueline Madarang, senior marketing technology manager at Bradley, provided many tips and recommendations for making the most of a law firm blog at the Legal Marketing Association Southeastern Chapter annual conference in September. She should know, since the firm has launched five blogs under her deliberate and effective guidance in the past two years.
“There are certain action items that must be done before we will even consider launching a new blog,” said Madarang. “We have a long checklist. It includes a lot of behind-the-scene commitments, such as that attorneys who request a blog have to seek their practice group leader’s approval and also meet with us. They must commit to writing at least two blog posts a month and they have to find at least two editors for the blog. They also are required to submit at least five blog posts before we will launch the blog, and we create a timeline on a calendar of blog development and content development that we follow.”
Find Your Internal Champion
“We have found that the attorney who requests to develop a blog becomes our internal champion in making the blog successful. After the practice group leader supports the effort, we have another champion. We work hard to earn their trust, we seek press and other coverage and awareness of the blog when it goes live, we show them results of their posts, we look to get their content repurposed through media interviews or published as bylined articles, and we always provide them with the support they need to keep it going,” said Madarang.
“We felt even greater success after large Fortune 100 companies (not clients, yet!) emailed our bloggers and complimented them when they were mentioned in our blogs; when Forbes reporters reached out directly to our attorneys because of a blog post; when reporters who followed cases our attorneys blog about asked about status of cases; and when we opened new matters from blog posts.”
“Our internal champions have become helpful advocates who have furthered our own PR within the firm about blogging and the successes we are having,” Madarang said.
Why Do a Blog?
Madarang poses this question to the attorneys to develop a strategy with defined goals and objectives. Some motivations include:
- Build online visibility to help drive business development
- Raise their profiles as thought leaders in the industry
- Become a go-to resource in the area/industry
- Boost their Google search engine ranking results
She said the firm’s marketing department has to complement and work cooperatively with the attorneys.
“They have to work together,” Madarang said. “The attorneys are the ones writing about the legal topic, but marketing provides the platform and provides all the marketing, social media and technical support.”
What Should I Write About?
“This is a frequent barrier for producing quality blog content,” noted Madarang. She offers these helpful tips for generating topics:
- Write about topics you are passionate about. If you’re bored by it, your readers will be, too.
- Talk to clients. What are they asking you about – what do they want to know?
- Look at analytics. What are people searching for in the firm’s website, search engines and blogs?
- Identify trending topics. Keep on top of current events and listen at conferences you attend.
- Repurpose content. Repackage topics you are delivering in other formats, such as presentations.
Bradley Blogging Bootcamp
One of the most important pre-launch activities that Madarang has instituted at Bradley is required attendance to the Bradley Blogging Writing Bootcamp.
“During this bootcamp, we coach the attorneys on how to write an effective blog. We teach them to write to a specific audience and be more conversational, to find their own style,” said Madarang. “We coach them on how to craft titles, how to hook in a reader with an opening paragraph, how to make their blog posts more digestible and readable without any legalese, how to include the appropriate keywords and how to focus on the key issues. This has been an extremely successful approach that the attorneys have learned from and appreciate. They are committed and want the blog to be a hit, and we provide them with the tools and consistent strategies they need to help them.”
Once the blog launches, Madarang pays close attention to the results and fine-tunes with the attorneys as needed.
“We have several ways we extend the life of a blog post, whenever possible,” she said.
Her tactics include:
- Measure success and show ROI. Look at the analytics and share with the bloggers to help them understand their performance. Create infographics to help them visualize how their results have translated into ROI.
- Repurpose and reuse. Use blog posts for PR opportunities; publish on LinkedIn, JD Supra, National Law Review, Lexology and/or Mondaq; and share on social media.
- Celebrate! Create fun awards for the attorneys with the most-read or most-shared posts or for those who wrote most often and opened new client matters as a result. Recognition is a motivator.
Developing and maintaining a law firm blog requires a deep commitment from the attorneys who are going to have to write regularly, as well as from the firm to support that effort from A to Z. Bradley’s blogs have become a well-read fixture under Madarang’s organized strategies, and these tips should provide aspiring law firm bloggers with a foundation for their own success.
This article originally appeared on The National Law Review website on October 11, 2016.