Back at the start of the holidays I was interviewed for and quoted in an article on attorney blogging that ran in the Boston Business Journal and Portfolio.com. The article was titled Blogged down or Legal Nightmare depending on which publication it appeared in, and it weighed some of the benefits and challenges lawyers face in maintaining legal blogs. You can read that article here and here.
Ever since it ran, I’ve been meaning to follow up with more explanatory material. Here’s my take…
The Benefits of Blogging
Blogs can be a very effective way for professionals to raise their visibility and position themselves as accessible, helpful experts on a specific topic or niche practice. By writing about and commenting on and linking to other useful information in an area of expertise, a lawyer can help to demonstrate his/her knowledge around that subject and maybe even become a “thought leader.”
Blogs have an advantage over typical web sites in that blogs have a built-in syndication feed. Each time you publish a blog post, a news feed is sent out automatically that alerts the search engines and news aggregator sites. (A traditional web site waits for the search engines to come to it.)
So, the more often you post, the more attractive your blog becomes to search engines — not necessarily for its frequency, but for the collection of relevant information you’ve amassed around related keywords. Unfortunately, this is also what leads to a lot of the junk blogs out there. For instance, a lot of personal injury attorneys are notoriously bad bloggers that methodically regurgitate verdict and settlement reports from news sources in order to create a blog post that uses lots of keywords around, say, motorcycle accidents, or cerebral palsy. Then, as a last paragraph, they add on a statement about if you need a motorcycle accident attorney, contact us. That type of blogging is not flattering for the profession and some of it borders on plagerism.
Blogs become extremely effective when they provide “information of value” in the form of original material and commentary. If you can write something extremely relevant and informative, you will gain the benefit of viral marketing — where other web sites and bloggers will comment on and link to your blog post, as well as share it on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and the like.
It’s tempting for some to use the technology of blogs to gain the attention of search engines. But the real success in blogging comes from creating conversations, demonstrating your expertise.
Most lawyers I know are afraid of starting a blog. They are afraid because they don’t feel they have the time to do it, and they think anyone will be able to post crazy stuff on their blog. And they don’t really understand what a blog is. Blogs are still a little bit of a mystery.
Probably the best way for lawyers to use blogs is with help from the in-house marketing department and/or from a web marketing consultant. This way the attorney can concentrate on the content of the blog and allow the blog expert to setup and take advantage of the technology, execute and publish the posts, and provide ongoing direction and support for maximum impact.
I appreciated your post, especially since I’ve seen many attorney’s blogs that offer little value other than the regurgitated content to which you referred. It’s my experience that many lawyers become enveloped in their daily work and often fail to take the time to understand what a blog is and what it can do. So I applaud your recommendation to work with in-house marketing staff.
Attorneys that wish to cultivate their position as thought leaders should approach blogging with the intent of distilling and communicating their experiences in a way that creates interest and value within their targeted community. This could be with fellow practitioners, existing or prospective clients or the legal community as a whole. Regardless, approaching the process with the help of others will certainly maximize the desire impact.
Blogging is only one part of an overall social media strategy that lawyers should use to increase their exposure to their potential clients.
Great points Amy!
Blogging has so many pros it cannot be ignored, no matter what industry you’re in. Done right, blogging can really help build trust with potential clients and customers.