By Rachel Patterson, digital marketing technology coordinator, and Aileen Hinsch, senior manager of practice group business development and management, at Crowell & Moring
This year has already been a newsworthy one, not least of which has been the change in presidential administration. The new Biden administration, which has been making news with more than 40 executive orders and actions, has enabled Crowell & Moring to continue its tradition of creating thought leadership and media campaigns surrounding presidential transitions. Given our firm’s regulatory and government-facing litigation focus, these campaigns provide a solid platform to showcase our attorneys’ insights. We are currently running a Biden First 100 Days campaign.
As you read this article, it will be too late for your firm to start a similar campaign. But it’s never too late to start keeping an eye out for news from the Biden administration or other areas that your attorneys can comment on in a way that brings value for clients.
Law firms can use recent news to position themselves as thought leaders by utilizing their attorneys’ unique expertise on the topics. Our campaign consisted of “a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers and policy advisors who met regularly and discuss the issues, always with an eye toward how the developments could impact our clients,” said Nicole Quigley, senior communications advisor.
This core – yet sizable – group of professionals ensured that the firm published content in a timely manner to take advantage of trending topics while they were still fresh. The news moves fast, and being first can be a challenge.
“Saying less is more when trying to get digestible information out the door,” said Deborah Feinberg, senior director of practice group business development & management and the business development leader of Crowell’s campaign efforts. “I think it is important to share actionable information quickly when news is released so clients are in the know and then follow up with more in-depth alerts, webinars and thought leadership that help guide clients.”
Key to the success of a campaign of this magnitude is an editorial calendar, which helps with long-term planning and ensures that the content covers a variety of industries and issues. Our First 100 Days calendar built on the “Election 2020” content we began sharing in September 2020. We started our post-inauguration coverage with several topic areas already identified. Some practices wanted to wait and see how the new administration would impact their areas of law, such as through key appointments. They provided topics on a rolling basis through the first 100 days.
Because a new administration’s agenda hits on topics across the spectrum of the practice of law, our presidential transition “First 100 Days” campaigns have been cross-practice initiatives within our firm. This allows clients and prospects to see the broad scope of the firm’s practice areas. Also, it introduces clients to attorneys they didn’t know previously.
The multidisciplinary campaign team naturally led to further cross-practice collaboration. Our government affairs attorneys co-authored articles with healthcare and environmental attorneys; our government contracts and labor and employment attorneys did the same. Also, as all attorneys firmwide were made aware of new publications and webinars being produced by the campaign, they were able to share relevant content with clients, or follow up with clients to offer personalized presentations.
We also used a variety of platforms to appeal to the widest possible audience. We used webinars, client alerts, blog posts, and podcasts to try to meet clients where they are. In every campaign-related item we put out, we promoted the whole campaign to encourage signing up for our emails and discovering what else we’re covering. All campaign activities were collected on a website landing page for easy access.
Covering a broad range of topics allowed us to appeal to a wide range of clients. Feinberg noted that in addition to the regular distribution of thought leadership, the core team “offered to provide briefings for in-house teams and then customized those briefings to the industry and issues most interesting to each client.”
Creating a strong brand for these transition campaigns was critical to helping our internal team stay focused on a common cause, and helped make our focus clear for clients. Both our Trump and Biden campaigns were branded under the title “First 100 Days.” While this is a common theme in the media, and not unique to the firm, branding the campaign as such has helped generate internal enthusiasm, as attorneys across the firm have been encouraged to think about what the first 100 days means for their clients in order to address key areas of concern. Additionally, the 100 days angle supports our approach of utilizing breaking news. Focusing on a specific time period keeps the attorneys and the public engaged since you have introduced a sense of urgency.
From a design perspective, we created custom imagery that we include in campaign emails. Invitations and alerts sent out under the “First 100 Days” campaign have a distinctly different look than our other firm materials.
Every law firm has certain practices or industries in which it has particular strength. Owning this strength – and identifying a newsworthy opportunity to highlight it through a comprehensive campaign – can strengthen the firm’s brand internally and externally among clients and with the broader market. Identifying upcoming news events transcends politics to cover timely issues that are shaping an industry or practice, as well as cyclical events in these areas.