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Law Firm marketing with weblogs

By November 14, 2003Uncategorized

Here at our 40+ lawyer firm in New Orleans we are scratching our heads trying to figure out how to make one of the pages on our website into an effective marketing tool. We’ve managed to make our News & Events page into a weblog using Movable Type software. And we’ve even gotten into the irregular habit of posting news to that page.

But now we want to be more regular and more strategic in our posting. Brainstorming has produced some potentially good ideas. For example, we have assigned some young lawyers to cull news stories that might be of interest. We show them how to use sites like Daily Whirl to scan for news ideas in the blogosphere. Then they forward the post ideas to a central place (i.e. one person who sifts through the story ideas with an overview of which stories make the most sense and which ones will allow us to market a particular segment of the firm).

We don’t have “categories” enabled on the News & Events page yet, but we’re thinking that might be a good idea. Then we can make each firm practice area into a “category” and try to generate posts for each category on a somewhat regular basis. If we find a tax-related story then we try to find a way to get some input –or preferably, a quote– from our partner who has tax-expertise. The goal is to have each post assigned to at least one category (i.e. “practice area”).

We hope to accomplish several beneficial things at once with this scheme. First, the young attorneys will be taught to look for ideas that market the firm. They will learn, through the submission process, which story ideas are used –which ones are deemed ‘valuable’– and also how the story ideas are used. Hopefully, this will give them a stronger sense of how to market effectively.

Second, if we use the category/practice-area approach, we can create a steady diet of useful information (the news stories) that regularly remind our clients of the areas of the law that we have expertise in (i.e. the “categories”). Finally, the clients can self-filter the information that they look at. If they only care about our bankrupcy posts then they can click on that category link and have all posts that relate to that topic show up, but only those categories.

For an example of how categories work, just click on the link to below this post that says “Law Blogs” and you’ll see a page with just the posts that I have under that category. I’m sure that we can tweak our firm News & Events page to have categories for each practice area. Another thing I’d like to investigate is an E-mail notification option. I’m sure many clients would like to be able to subscribe to an E-mail notification for “Firm News” or matters related to their practice areas. Hmmm, I wonder if it would be possible to make the E-mails tied into “categories”? That would be nice.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

3 Comments

  • aaron wall says:

    I like the idea of seperating things out. It makes you seem bigger, can make you seem more independand, and would probably give the writers more pride in their work. I would also recommend a central blog that acted as a directory. If there is something that you guys do not do, you can link to your friends who do.

    Make it a directory that is THE SOURCE for current legal information. If you did something like that I know thats where I would go to read legal news…

  • Shel Israel says:

    Ernie,

    It seems to me that aggregated news on a Web page will be any more effective than a junk mail flyer. These days, service organizations need to market credibility. What you’re marketing these days has to be reputation. The Web site should be integrated into other programs that demonstrate thought leadership. This is not a job to be relegated to junior lawyers who are still learning the difference between their buttocks and their elbows, but should reflect the best thinking of your most accomplished partners.

    A couple of ideas that I’ve seen work for organizations that I’ve worked with:

    1. An e-newsletter, tastefully integrated both to your firm’s site and your own blog. The newsletter would come out about once every six weeks. It would be used exclusively as a vehicle for demonstrating thought leadership in each segment of the firm’s practice. Each newsletter should be about 1200 words, covering a single subject—one that would be concerning and confusing prospects and clients. The closest to market hype you would get is to mention how you firm has solved such problems in the recent past. The newsletter, would invite follow up questions from readers. Important is that the newsletter remain on a high level, never attempting to really sell (which of course it is doing). It should be treated as a reputation marketing device.

    The newsletter would go to existing clients, press and anyone else who opted in—but never unsolicited or in spam-like context. The newsletter would be posted to your Web site along with some of the best reader questions. Topics for future newsletters might be gleaned from user feedback. A short excerpt of them would be used in your legal blog, telling those readers that they can subscribe to the full newsletter by request. You can also send it-unsolicited to the myriad legal publications and online services as free content, with attribution required.

    You might consider using an outside professional writer to work with each of your partners on their piece so that it reads in intelligent, focused, non-adjectival language rather than legalese. I happen to know a fabulous writer who currently has schedule availability.

    2. Influencer dinners

    Choosing a topic for discussion, you could set up small, regular influencer dinners. Hold them in an elite, private restaurant. Ask all members to come prepared to discuss the topic. Have no keynote speakers. This is more of a networking event, themed around an issue that your firm wants to use to demonstrate thought leadership. When it’s done, send an accurate report to all attendees, and invitees who did not attend summarizing what was said, agreed upon, fought over, resolved and remains unresolved. Probably every-other-month, would have a set a good rhythm to the program. Invite different people toeach of these, allowing some overlap. These dinners should be kept to under 100 people. A cheap PR non sequitur-never skimp on wine at one of these. Whose elbows yourub and what label is poured are the two things that people will discuss after it’s over.

    Hope either of these might be helpful. You have been so very helpful to me in my attempt to become a known blogger.

    Shel

  • Patrick says:

    Couple of thoughts come to mind: If its not someone’se job, it won’t get done. At a firm I was formerly with, we realized early on that only some folks will heed the call to market in this fashion. Also, having been a new lawyer, I’d hope that there’d be billable credit or somesuch for this. Just my .02.

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