The .law top-level domain (TLD), one of several new domains targeting the legal community, opened for business in October 2015. As a business concern, .law has struggled. That’s not news, and it’s not my intention to waste 3,000 words pointing out that .law is among the many domains struggling to get a foothold in the challenging new top-level domain market.
Instead, this post will take a look at what is actually going on in .law. My hope is that this exercise will prove enlightening for lawyers considering whether — and what — to register in the .law top-level domain.
Every year, just around the time the crocuses emerge from my front lawn, the World Intellectual Property Organization publishes a cybersquatting report.
Not only are the reports published at the same time each year, they all follow the same formula: stats and scary talk about “risks” and “concerns,” followed by a reminder that the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center — “the leading global provider of domain name dispute resolution services” — stands ever-ready to slay the cybersquatting beast in a convenient, cost-effective and expeditious manner.
This is what the WIPO timeline looks like:
I’d say the odds are good that WIPO will announce sometime next month that, according to their statistics, cybersquatting is again on the rise. When that happens, news coverage will focus on the remarks of WIPO officials and their interpretation of the data. There won’t be much room for law firms to wedge their voice into that conversation.
Today, the London-based law firm EMW LLP jumped out in front of WIPO, publishing the firm’s own analysis of the cybersquatting situation, Record High In Legal Disputes Over Domain Names As Companies Fight Off Overseas Squatters. The analysis was sourced with statistical data freely available on WIPO’s website. The story was there for the taking. No need to wait for WIPO’s interpretation of the numbers.
EMW’s public relations crew had the presence of mind to anticipate WIPO’s inevitable cybersquatting report and put out its observations several weeks in advance. For its trouble, EMW received press coverage that it would not have enjoyed had it merely reacted to the upcoming WIPO report. EMW used its moment in the spotlight to attach itself to the cybersquatting conversation and claim the role of trademark rights defender.
I call this strategy “newsjumping,” meaning, a conscious attempt to get out in front of news events and enjoy a few moments alone in the spotlight. Smart law firms that plan ahead and look for open spaces in the routine news cycle will be able to attract attention with content that is — at least, momentarily — original and unique.
So … you’ve just published a great article with a legal publisher or a niche news site. Naturally you want to publicize your newly validated expertise and upload a copy of the article to your website immediatamente.
Not so fast, amigo.
That beautifully formatted PDF file provided by the publisher looks great on the outside. But it’s got problems. In the first place, the document was created to promote the publisher not your law firm. Secondly, when you crack open the PDF file, you’ll see that none of the critical metadata mentions you or your firm. The PDF is also lacks metadata necessary to help search engines properly index the article and associate your law firm with its contents.
In this post I’ll show you how to fix these and other issues.
I’ve lately been examining the blogging habits of the top law firms in the world. Granted, this is not the white-hot epicenter of law blogging, but it is a window into attitudes about blogging among firms that can throw considerable resources at online content generation, if they wanted to.
As Yogi Berra reportedly said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” I’ve been watching. The world’s largest firms aren’t 100 percent sold on blogging.
I looked at the 12 law firms (hereinafter the “Dominant Dozen”) listed in Wikipedia’s ranking of the world’s largest law firms by annual revenue. The firms are:
I visited each firm’s website and catalogued each blog (or, in some cases, blog-like publication) that I could find. I tallied each blog’s posts for December 2016 and January 2017, and I read through nearly all of what the big firm blogs published during those two months. Finally, I ran these blogs through my favorite backlink analysis tool, SEMrush, to attempt to gauge whether or not these blogs were attracting web traffic.
Here’s what I learned.
This will be a short post on the subject of law firm public relations, written from the perspective of someone who speed-read thousands of press releases during a 20-year hitch at a large legal publishing company.
Press releases are broken, everybody knows that. What I’m going to offer here are several alternatives to traditional press releases. Bottom line: Unless a law firm’s press release can plausibly form the basis of a good news story, it ought not to be distributed at all.