Content strategy is one of the biggest buzzwords in legal marketing and PR right now, and with good reason. While reliance on good content is nothing new for legal PR pros, the way we are using it is very different today than even a few years ago.
By Rebecca Devine
Principal, Maven Communications
Over the last five years, the way we consume information has fundamentally changed. Web, social, and mobile marketing has broken down traditional barriers and changed the way we consume information.
The objective of a content strategy is to draw interest in, rather than push messages out and hope someone reads them. It’s about creating content that speaks to the audience’s interests. It requires PR pros to know what is being said and where it is being said, and then developing content that engages.
The Changing PR Landscape
So what does this mean for law firm PR pros? It means that we need to help our legal clients create truly interesting and useful content that reaches their clients where they live.
The fact is that PR has moved way beyond press releases and media events. We are no longer just pushing out news from law firms and attorneys, though that is certainly part of it. We’re helping law firms brand themselves; we’re inserting attorneys into the conversations that help them execute their business plans, and helping our clients engage in a meaningful way.
Interestingly, as newsrooms have shrunk, PR has actually become more relevant, rather than less. Understaffed media outlets mean more opportunity for non-journalists, including attorneys, to provide meaningful and impactful content. Staying tapped into what your attorney’s clients are interested in can make lawyers invaluable resources for byline articles, guest columns, and blogs. The key is asking “what would my audience want to read?” rather than “what would the firm want me to say?”
Below are several ways legal marketers can use the changing PR landscape to create meaningful content for their clients.
Publish Your Own Content: Traditional “media relations” is no longer the most powerful tool PR folk have in their toolbox. Today, law firms have an arsenal of self-publishing platforms at their disposal, including blogs, video, and social sharing tools. Want to communicate news about a new legislative change? Don’t wait for the Legal Intelligencer to call. Have your client create a two-minute video on what that means to their clients’ business, and post it on your law firm’s YouTube channel. (Turn off comments, to reassure nervous attorneys.) Have attorneys share it with their contacts as a client alert and host it on your firm’s website. Tweet, share, email, repeat.
Repurpose and Share: With every piece of content you create, ask yourself: How can I maximize its visibility among target audiences? Can the video update be repurposed as an email, client alert, blog entry, or bylined article? Have we shared it with our social media followers by posting it to the firm’s Facebook page and Twitter feed? Has the attorney posted it to specific groups of interest on LinkedIn? Not every piece of content needs to be blasted across every channel, but there are far more targeted opportunities to share good content than ever before. Knowing where the message will resonate best will give your clients a significant advantage.
Review Marketing Plans: One way to help attorneys build their content strategy is to compare their marketing plans to what’s happening in their area of expertise. For example, if a partner is looking to build his labor and employment practice, talk to the attorney about what his clients need, and how the firm can help address those needs. Then see what topics the attorney’s clients or potential clients have identified as their biggest concerns in labor and employment this year, by talking to them and reading key industry trades and blogs. From there, map out the bylined articles, blog posts, client alerts, etc. The goal is to help marry your attorney’s expertise with information her target audiences WANT to learn more about.
Stay Focused: A successful content PR campaign takes time, attorney buy-in, and of course, resources. To maximize your campaign, choose one area of practice and focus on a limited number of keywords or topics. Add practice areas gradually to ensure you can support the efforts in a measured way. In some cases, this may mean working with the attorney to ensure he or she focuses on one practice, rather than trying to tackle all at once.
Make It Relevant: No one wants to read an infomercial about the law firm or a CV of an attorney’s accomplishments. The content should be relevant, educational, and engaging. Develop content that provides insight on recent news, impacts of upcoming legislation, or tips on a topic clients care about.
In today’s fragmented media landscape, it is more challenging than ever to help lawyers and law firms differentiate themselves. Having a good content strategy can help, by plugging attorneys directly into the conversation and providing information people want. Used effectively, it can help increase long-term visibility for attorneys and deliver real business results.
Rebecca Devine is co-founder and principal of Maven Communications, a full-service public relations, social media, and crisis communications agency in Philadelphia, and a Silver Sponsor of Metro Philly LMA.
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