Get Your Attorneys to Write: 11 Tips
Do you find it difficult to encourage or coerce attorneys to write articles and blog posts? One of the toughest aspects of content marketing is generating content on a reliable basis. The bad news is you can’t take attorneys out of the process completely because they are the subject matter experts. The good news is you can use various tactics to motivate and help them to produce good content.
1. Start with a Good Example.
Is there someone in the firm who is interested in being your champion? Start with that person and explain to everyone all the ways his/her content is going to be distributed and promoted by the firm. Then make sure you showcase the results. How many people was it marketed to? Is the content being viewed and shared? Are other sites linking to the content? Has the person or the firm heard from clients, prospects or the media? Are there improvements in search rankings and web traffic? Ideally your champion will also become an influencer within the firm and help encourage others to participate.
2. Promote the Internal Benefits.
It’s great to be acknowledged by clients and prospects for your work, but praise and recognition within the firm is important too. Ensure that articles, speeches and other efforts are recognized by everyone internally. Even if there isn’t a tangible reward attached to writing, the internal exposure might be especially valued by those seeking raises, partnerships or other benefits.
3. Let Them Give You Content in any Format.
Maybe some attorneys prefer to be interviewed, or they can record themselves speaking. If they prefer to draft content, then let them provide outlines, bullets, run-on sentences, etc. The point is that so long as you have the core information needed, you can assemble it into an acceptable format.
4. Remind Them of Their Audience.
Lawyers tend to write for other lawyers. But the audience they want to attract may be nonlawyers. In some ways, that can make it harder to write, because it doesn’t feel natural. On the other hand, they don’t have to delve into minutiae or footnotes. They can simplify and speak more generally about a topic, keeping in mind that the purpose of the content is to raise issues readers will then want to discuss with an attorney.
5. Repurpose Existing Content.
Review any existing content from attorneys, such as client memos, briefs, presentations, articles and old blog posts, and consider how they can be repurposed. Every piece of content should be repackaged for multiple social media and digital marketing outlets. Longer formats may be shortened and made into one or more blog posts. Lengthen shorter pieces or combine them with related content and make it an article or whitepaper. Recreate the content as an outline, checklist or PowerPoint. Turn presentations into webinars or video clips. Develop other visuals like charts and infographics to highlight takeaways or statistics. Update an older piece with any changes in the law. In each case, you’re giving new life to the content without starting from scratch. Plus you also receive the added benefits of extending the promotional value and reach of your content. As you post these different formats on your website and push them out via social media and email, you’ll be attracting more people over a longer period of time.
6. Curate Content.
Attorneys can still provide useful content without writing it all themselves. Sharing other people’s content can be a great way to stay top of mind and provide something of value to an audience. There are content curation and social listening tools and even Google alerts to help curate information on a particular subject area. LinkedIn is also great for this. Attorneys can follow Pulse channels and companies, and join relevant groups to find interesting material to share. Of course, attorneys should still provide some commentary and insight on the material they are sharing, but that’s a lot easier than writing an article or entire post by themselves. Remember also that these services can help with crafting topics, keeping abreast of new developments and finding out what your target audience is talking about online.
7. Get Other People Involved.
Do attorneys need help generating new ideas? With writing? With research? Draw on internal resources and have individuals in the firm work together. For example, pair someone great at brainstorming ideas paired with a researcher who can fill in the details. A writer can be paired with a speaker who can come up with great presentations. A marketer, paralegal or associate can interview a more senior member and write up the interview. If all else fails, consider outside resources. Freelance writers and editors can transform ideas into great content. They are a worthwhile investment to ensure your content pipeline is high-quality and consistently maintained.
8. Create a Schedule and Realistic Targets.
An editorial calendar with clearly defined dates means everyone is on notice regarding their obligations. Guilt and a sense of responsibility about missing public deadlines can be great motivators. Remember to build in extra time to account for late material, however.
9. Have Them Write About What They Know and Are Genuinely Interested In.
Not surprisingly, it’s easiest to get content from someone who is enthusiastic and feels very comfortable with the subject matter. But sometimes firms want to position themselves as experts in new areas or take advantage of media interest in a topic. Realize that you need an exceptionally motivated person who wants to develop that expertise to take on the project. That person needs to be really interested in the subject matter or it will never happen.
10. Make It a Competition.
There are endless options – competing for most articles written in a certain period of time, articled with the most page views or shares, etc. Rewards can include public announcement, gift cards, day off, etc.
11. Tie It to Compensation.
For content marketing to succeed, it needs to be valued and treated as a firm-wide initiative. Make it a part of each employee’s evaluation.
No one strategy works with everyone and even the same individual might react differently at different times. So try these different tactics, mix them up, rinse and repeat.
By: Edie Reinhardt
Originally published in Marketing the Law Firm, April 2017, Law Journal Newsletters. ALM Properties Inc. All rights reserved. To view the issue, visit www.lawjournalnewsletters.com.