Ah, spring! It’s a time for new beginnings, along with overdue cleaning and removal of clutter around the home or office. I’ll leave the cleaning tips to someone else – perhaps your mom can help. But what better way to get energized and rejuvenated than by springboarding your law firm public reputation efforts into the 21st century, particularly if you or your law firm are among the late adopters.
Spring also is a time for reflection, so I thought it might be useful to take a look at five predominant trends in legal marketing as they relate to media and public relations. Many or all of these overlap and involve multiple tactics, so I’m offering just one or two takeaways from each for your spring renewal. Even if you step up your game in only a few key areas, you’ll be on your way to making measurable strides toward enhancing your attorneys’ and law firm’s public reputations.
Shift to Mobile and Social
Lawyers, clients, business partners and the media are moving further away from their desktops and increasingly sharing information via their mobile devices. Therefore, it’s important that your law firm’s website be optimized for mobile viewing and interaction. Also, if you want to continue to get your messages directly and quickly to your stakeholders, your attorneys and law firm leaders should be fully using social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There are many tactics for using Twitter for public reputation management. To start, find your audience. Follow colleagues, clients, prospects and others on Twitter who are influencers in your industry. Many will follow you back, so you’ll be able to share and keep them engaged with your insights and other valuable information. Twitter also is an increasingly viable channel for reaching key reporters who cover your practice area. Connect with them to increase the odds they may seek you out as a source.
We’ve been talking about law firm content marketing for a long time now. If you haven’t heard us, it might be because the movement requires a paradigm shift, and that means significant new investment of time and resources. In keeping with the theme of taking baby steps this spring, think about how you can dip your toes into elevated content marketing to help generate brand visibility and get yourself or your firm noticed by prospective clients and influential media. Read our article on law firm content marketing in the February issue of ALM’s Marketing the Law Firm to get a sense of how you can leverage media articles, client alerts, white papers, webinar videos, practice area news and events that your firm can create and post to your website, as well as push out via social media. Why not start out by developing and maintaining a practice area blog? You’ll want to choose subject matter that ideally differentiates you and then commit to producing high-quality content that will keep readers coming back while making the case for your leadership in your field. A word of caution: Don’t start unless you can commit to blogging regularly (at least once a week, if not more frequently); otherwise, it’s better to stay offline until you can.
This speaks for itself. Again, with the trend toward social and mobile, audiences are more in tune with visual representation of the information they receive. Make a concerted effort to incorporate photos into news blasts about law events and people at your firm. Every announcement can benefit from the power and storytelling layer of a photo. Even amateur shots can translate well to social media. Also, think about this: Is there any news or information website today where you cannot instantly access video that adds visual interest? If your answer is yes, and it’s your law firm’s site, then consider these tips for developing a law firm video strategy.
Make It Personal
Don’t just report your happenings or insights like a New York Times news brief – draw your audience in by telling them what it means to you and your law firm beyond the mere facts. The informality and brevity of social media is well suited for this type of dialog. And it really is a dialog because you want your readers and followers to engage and respond back. The key is to always at least try to tell a story to help readers emotionally connect with whatever content you produce. Even in the span of a tweet, there’s room for teasing a story and inciting interaction. And, by all means, avoid using programs that automate tweets. Also, get in the habit of responding to anyone who engages directly with you, whether it’s through a tweet, blog post comment or direct email.
As dictated by the evolution in media, technology and communications, today’s news cycle is 24/7. We need to be able to react for our clients at any time of the day or night. If you’re not psychologically or hardware-equipped to be virtual (accessible away from your desk), you may be giving up ground to competitors. At Jaffe, we have been working as a virtual company for more than three decades, all of us spread around the country and working in home offices. Our past may also be the future of legal PR – at least to a greater extent than ever before.
For tips on managing a virtual team or for on-trend best practices in legal marketing and PR, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.