The Law Writers

Law firm content marketing and writing about the law

Dangerous Liaisons: Mixing Personal Data and Web Habits for Lawyer Marketing

Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Email Newsletters

Privacy missteps can create crippling financial liabilities for a careless marketer. In the case of law firm marketers, the additional reputational fallout for being caught surreptitiously collecting and processing a client’s personal information could be catastrophic.

During last year’s LMA Philly 2016 Conference, one speaker threw out for consideration a “new” approach to automated online marketing.

It went something like this:

  1. A law firm sends email messages to clients and prospects that contain hyperlinks to the firm’s website content.
  2. The hyperlinks are coded in such a way that, when clicked, the link will take the user to the desired article and surreptitiously place a cookie on the user’s computer, thus allowing the law firm to associate a particular page view with the user’s email address and other personal information.
  3. With this data in hand, the firm creates a profile of the user based on his or her activity on the firm’s website.
  4. Armed with this valuable personal information, the firm can effectively market to the user by sending targeted follow-up email messages that reflect the user’s revealed interests.

No mention was made of a privacy policy, or of making a disclosure to the email recipient that clicking on a hyperlink in the email would allow the law firm marketer to collect information about the recipient’s activity on the firm’s website. Or of the fact that the law firm would be combining web usage with other personal information, storing it all in a database, and using that information for commercial purposes.

The reaction in the conference room was, roughly, “What a great idea.”

And I thought, “What a terrible idea.”

Therein lies the gap between marketers and lawyers.

Today, the Federal Trade Commission indicated where the federal government stands on this issue.

The FTC extracted a $2.2 million settlement from Vizio Inc., a television manufacturer that allegedly violated the FTC Act by selling television sets that tracked purchasers’ viewing habits without their informed consent. According to to the FTC, Vizio’s surreptitious tracking amounted to an unfair and deceptive trade practice, in violation of the FTC Act and New Jersey consumer protection laws.

From the FTC press statement:

The stipulated federal court order requires VIZIO to prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices, and prohibits misrepresentations about the privacy, security, or confidentiality of consumer information they collect. It also requires the company to delete data collected before March 1, 2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program.

The message here is clear. Personal privacy protections come into play whenever a marketer collects or processes personal information. Not only can privacy missteps create crippling financial liabilities for a careless marketer, but, in the case of law firm marketers, the additional reputational fallout for being caught surreptitiously collecting and processing a client’s personal information could be catastrophic.

How to Successfully Publish Legal Articles With Commercial Publishers

Posted in Commercial Publishers | Content Marketing | Planning | Promotion

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.

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Trump Immigration Order a Golden Opportunity for Lawyers

Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms | Policy Analysis | Press Releases

President Trump’s recent executive order limiting immigration rights for some non-citizens is a golden opportunity for lawyers to highlight the valuable role they play in a democratic society.

Ten days into the presidency of Donald Trump, this much is certain: the new president is a blessing for the legal profession. Trump promised change during the presidential campaign. He’s delivered on that, in spades.

Trump has also brought uncertainty, discord, litigation, and perhaps planted the seeds of the nation’s next big constitutional crisis. From a public relations standpoint, this is all good for lawyers.

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Turning Keyword Research Into Legal Content

Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms

The recipe for creating legal marketing content that stands out and ranks well is Law + Professional Judgment + Local Knowledge. Without professional judgment, the article won’t be much better than something produced in Bangladesh. Without local knowledge, the article will resemble the bland output of directories and legal publishers.

In a prior post, I made the case for law firm marketers to publish educational materials that meet their prospects early in the attorney search process. Instead of waiting for an Internet searcher to query for “Cleveland Ohio divorce attorney,” and thereby plunging into a crowded and expensive shouting match with the rest of Cleveland’s divorce bar, I suggested that a better strategy might be to set up shop at the educational stage of a prospect’s attorney search.

In practice, this means conducting keyword research for search terms that suggest the prospect is attempting to find answers to common concerns arising from a particular legal problem. In my example, divorce.

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Law Firm Marketers Stand Out by Educating, Not Pitching, Potential Clients

Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms

Law firm content marketers who target prospects at the moment they are first educating themselves about a legal problem can reach a wider audience with less competition.

The longer I work in law firm content marketing, the more I see that there are two different groups toiling away here. The first group is composed of big firm bloggers who are content to establish thought leadership over time, plugging away at legal news and analyses, behaving very much like commercial legal publishers. For them, blogging and other law-related publishing are an adjunct to traditional business development activities.

The second group is composed of plight lawyers, those attorneys who serve individuals in personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal, divorce, product liability, and other consumer-related legal fields. Prospective clients for plight lawyers have short time frame for considering, then retaining, legal counsel. In most cases, they need an attorney immediately. These lawyers don’t have the luxury of publishing purely for relationship-building or thought leadership. They want their publishing efforts to attract prospects to their websites. More accurately, they want Google to bring those prospects to their websites.

I’m writing today for this second group.

Press on / 1288 words