The eighth in a series about useful law blog post formats.
The creation of a regular weekly feature article is a good way to boost productivity among the law firm’s blog-writing team — and stimulate reader interest as well.
Regular features promote editorial planning by giving everyone a clear target to shoot for each week and they calm the “What can we put on the blog today?” stress that often attends regular care and feeding the of law blog beast.
A law firm that runs a regular feature is not hostage to the day’s events or, worse, the day’s lack of bloggable events.
Finally, a regular feature article is a clearly defined bit of editorial content that can be delegated and managed by the firm’s marketing department.
Here’s a fun game to play. Whenever you encounter a law firm slogan or tagline, say, “Prove it.”
Most taglines crumble in the face of this command. Decades of being subjected to commercial messaging have made us wary. Whether we know it or not, at some level, when we encounter marketing, we all say, “Prove it.” Websites that can’t respond to this constant challenge will not connect with visitors.
Too many taglines are like drive-by shootings. A quick rhetorical hit before the website speeds away on other business.
Fortunately, law firms can deliver on their tagline’s promise in a number of ways. By fleshing out the tagline’s meaning in content on “About” or “Mission” pages. By using the tagline as inspiration for blog posts. As a unifying theme for a series of case studies. Through copywriting that tells stories that make the tagline meaningful and real to prospective clients. Through visual imagery or through profiles that give the firm’s attorneys opportunity to deliver on the tagline’s promise. Or simply through the design of the website. Let me show you what I mean.
Most law firms with business practices are anxious to get their names in front of in-house counsel. If you’re in that boat, you should look hard at publishing with state bar journals. Here’s why: Every attorney reads these publications.
Specialty legal publications such as those produced by American Lawyer Media, Law360, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg BNA, and others, do a good job reporting news for a niche readership in many subject areas. In theory, they should be attractive vehicles for reaching in-house counsel. In practice, however, they’re not. I’ve been told more than once that the steep prices charged for these services place them beyond the budget of most in-house counsel law libraries. (Mentions of publication in these services look good on the firm website, however.)
Law blogs? In theory, the audience for a blog post is vast. In practice, information overload and findability challenges limit the effective reach of blog posts. According to a 2015 Greentarget/Zeughauser Group survey, just 35 percent of in-house counsel respondents rated law blogs as the most valuable form of law firm content. They liked client alerts more. Not everyone agrees, however. Regardless of where you come down on this debate, clearly many in-house counsel regularly read law firm blogs. Still, there’s no guarantee that they are reading your blog. This is particularly true if your firm is not actively promoting its blog posts.
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.
There are several good reasons why a law firm might want to publish an article with a niche publisher before posting it to the law firm’s blog. This post gives a framework for looking at this issue along with negotiating tips to ensure the firm gets the most exposure possible for its work.
Publishing in professional journals, trade publications and even general news publications is a business development strategy for many law firms. Although mainly the province of large law firms, there’s no reason why smaller firms can’t appear in these publications as well. If the article is strong and timely, it will find a publisher.
This post is a quick run-through of the factors a law firm might consider when deciding whether, and where, to publish an article exploring a current legal issue. It’s based on the 20 years I spent soliciting and editing such pieces for a large legal publisher.