Everyone can be a publisher.
Websites and social media have made it extraordinarily easy to communicate directly with clients and potential clients. And that's a good thing for lawyers because it's increasingly more difficult to land an interview with a shrinking staff of reporters who often are overloaded with the breaking news of the day.
So you're in charge of publishing your own message. But what is your message and what do you want to accomplish?
- Did you win a trial, a decision on appeal, or negotiate a major settlement?
- Are there new regulations that beg for interpretation to help your clients?
- Is there a new court decision in your practice area that offers a chance for you to demonstrate your knowledge and business savvy?
- Is there a news story that raises legal questions that you can answer, providing an opportunity to show thought leadership?
- Will certain market changes, such as a turnaround in oil prices or real estate, create
potentialfor new business?
Notice in those examples the word "new" was used a lot. Timeliness matters. Your messaging will get more attention if it's something fresh, rather than offering insights six months after a legal development has been heavily dissected by the competition and legal news bloggers.
Once you've decided on your goal — whether it's advising current clients or generating interest from new clients — how can you best communicate that?
First, remember that everyone's busy. So don't make readers labor over dense information and have to search for the point. Tell readers the bottom line right away. Then explain more fully the nuances they need to understand. Think big. Imagine all the possible businesses and situations that might fit under the umbrella of the topic you are explaining.
Here are some methods for communicating your insights:
Tout your success in simple story form. No need to belabor the legal details. Whether it was winning damages for a plaintiff or defending a company against unfair claims, explain that you won and achieved justice for your client. Explain why it was important to your client. Even if you can't use names or dollar figures, you can describe the case and make it clear your client came out ahead. This news should be easy to find on the firm website.
Share advice or thoughtful insights in a conversational way in a blog post. If you or your firm don't have an established blog, Androvett Legal Media & Marketing has one that can be hyperlinked. A blog can be a quick analysis that addresses legal questions raised in a news story. Or it might be bullet-point tips for handling a problem that you find many of your clients are encountering. Or it could be explaining the effects of a new regulatory change, or a new legal trend that clients may need to understand.
Some law firms blast out timely client email alerts when a court ruling requires a change in accepted practice or when an agency or new law means important regulatory changes. Sometimes these client alerts use heavy-duty legal jargon and simply explain the details of the decision or rule change. More useful to a wider audience is a white paper explaining the impact and larger ramifications in a big-picture, more conversational way.
All of these pieces of content should be on the firm website, but LinkedIn is also a great platform for many communications. Facebook and Twitter are best for more consumer-facing content. Targeted emails to clients or prospective client lists are also effective for many types of content.
Finally, update your bio. Be sure to add big case wins and deals in your list of accomplishments. A lawyer's bio page is the first place prospective clients will look to learn more about you. And it should be included in your self-publishing efforts.
Kit Frieden has more than 30 years of experience in the news business. Most recently, she worked at the Associated Press, where she served as the national Health & Science Editor. Her deep experience handling major news stories offers her clients a special advantage in their relations with the media.