Any marketing strategy should include tactics for getting content in front of the audiences you are trying to reach. Most law firms have a blog or news feed where they publish press releases and firm news, but savvy marketers take it a layer deeper and establish attorneys as thought leaders.
They make that happen with blog posts about topics revolving around a law firm’s focus areas, whether that means dissecting recent major court opinions, offering tips about navigating certain areas of law or sending out client alerts about recent legislative developments that could affect their businesses.
Search engine optimization, aka SEO, is critical to getting a firm’s website in front of potential clients when they’re searching for law firms on the internet. But law firms should make another offering to the all-mysterious algorithm gods to get ahead on search results: consistency.
Algorithms on platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook favor consistency, but asking attorneys or content creators for a constant churn of articles about legal news or practice areas can dry the creative well quickly. However, most attorneys also have passions and interests that are beyond the realm of their practice areas, and tapping those passions for content can help boost the consistency of your firm’s blog feed.
Turning Passions into Business Development
Writing takes work, which might come as a surprise for some people, but which time-strapped attorneys appreciate. An attorney’s responsibilities include business development, which means marketing. But it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and write articles for a firm’s blog when an attorney has a heavy caseload, or a big presentation, CLE course or conference coming up on the calendar.
If the firm’s marketing department asks an attorney to write a dry assessment of a recent court opinion or legislative development, don’t be surprised if the returned product is uninspired — and late.
Marketers are often creative, and shouldn’t take for granted that attorneys are as well. It might be worth having a 15-minute discussion with each lawyer at your firm to find out what kind of passion projects they have going on. Are any of the attorneys taking pro bono cases? Are they serving on the boards of local nonprofits? Do they moonlight as essayists on personal blogs? What kind of community service do they engage in?
While some lawyers get fired up over writing appellate briefs, they might also find deep fulfillment and satisfaction in service outside their legal work, and those passions can be fodder for content.
For instance, an attorney I interviewed recently for a magazine award submission was a board member of a local organization serving families with housing instability. She was so passionate about helping women and families, she lit up when she talked about it. Although her legal practice area focuses on toxic tort defense, this attorney would easily talk for an hour about homelessness; or the state of women in business; or her work as chairperson of the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
Another attorney I recently interviewed for a rankings submission enjoys coaching baseball and spends a lot of time mentoring younger attorneys on using friendliness as a weapon in a jury trial. It would be easy to integrate baseball coaching into a play-by-play of his litigation strategy for an article in a legal publication or client newsletter.
Marketing departments can invest time on generating ideas with attorneys based on their passions, community service and side projects to begin building out a potential publication schedule.
The next challenge is sticking to the calendar without impeding on the attorneys’ case work.
Solutions for Establishing Consistent Content Writing
There are two ways to get attorney bylines on blog posts or articles: Have them write the content themselves or hire a ghostwriter.
Some attorneys love writing and might be thrilled to have the opportunity to pen a blog post about a passion project. But for most lawyers, an extra assignment is the last thing they need.
It’s often most cost- and time-effective to hire a content writer to write articles for your firm, whether in-house through your marketing department or through a PR agency such as Jaffe.
What are the advantages of using a ghostwriter? One, you get a seasoned, experienced writer with a firm grasp on the elements of style, so your blog posts will be polished, well-written and consistent from post to post.
Two, a seasoned writer is likely to charge much less per hour than a seasoned attorney would, and will probably write more quickly, making ghostwriters more cost-effective than asking the firm’s attorneys to write blog posts.
Three, using an agency to create content gets an integrated team involved — in addition to a ghostwriter, you get a marketing strategist who will help you integrate overall content strategy with your brand vision, and copyeditors and proofreaders on the back end of the writing process.
A good ghostwriter will take 30 minutes to an hour of an attorney’s time for an interview about the article topic. During that interview, the writer will gather the nitty-gritty information while also hearing the attorney’s voice and noting quotes so the article will reflect the attorney’s personal style and turns of phrase. The ghostwriter provides the content, the attorney reads it over and bam — ready to post.
The same strategies apply to placing attorney bylines in outside publications, which helps spread the name of your law firm on the internet while establishing attorneys as thought leaders and as active and helpful members of their communities.
Cascade of Benefits
The benefit of tapping into attorney passions and service work for content creation cascades down to other areas. When it comes time to submit attorneys for awards and rankings, you can add a line or two about their frequent writing about the topics that exemplify their passions and dedication, in addition to noting community service, pro bono work or extracurricular activities. It all strengthens and rounds out the submission.
If you want to brainstorm more content creation ideas or learn more about ghostwriting, reach out to me, Ada Kase, at email@example.com.