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Law firm blogs need to be more than standard PR speak

Amy Joyce of the Washington Post wrote an excellent piece on why corporate and CEO blogs can’t just be more of the same marketing and PR speak we see on corporate Web sites. These blogs need to be authentic. This also goes big time for law firms who are begging to blog for effective PR.

I have been handed press releases from company PR people referencing quotes from me – things I never said, but a message that served the company well. Now we’re going to have corporations hiring bloggers to publish blogs for CEO’s and other corporate executives. Problem for those companies is that such blogs will look phonier than a three dollar bill.

Spare me another opening on law firm Web site that includes a welcome letter from the managing partner or another mission statement that we’re committed to communication, outstanding client service and the other self serving junk none of the firm’s lawyers have ever read. God forbid we start to see that on blogs.

Here’s some highlights from the professionals Joyce sought out for her story.

Rebecca Blood author of The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog.

Repositing marketing materials on a blog is a waste of time I would advise them to just stop right now. Those materials already exist. The blog that is powerful is when it is real.’

David Weinberger, a research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Success in blogging is exactly the same as success in conversation, where if you stay on message, you’re being a bore,’ said . ‘It’s very hard to wean yourself. You stay on message then congratulate yourself for staying on message. Then what you do is alienate readers.

Meg Hourihan, co-founder of Blogger.

I think it’s going to be a while before we see actually that real honest transparency in public facing corporate Web logs. It would be nice if you could find a way to do it so it’s not sanitized. Just sticking press releases on the front of the blog just doesn’t cut it.

One corporate exec who does get it that Joyce writes about is Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz.

Authenticity is fundamental, blogs get pretty dull if you just blog your products. There has to be something personal…… I rarely have a lawyer look over what I’m posting. It’s like, am I going to have a lawyer read my e-mail? A blog is no more dangerous than e-mail or a mobile phone.

Blood in her “The Web Log Handbook,” defines blogs this way:

Weblogs are the mavericks of the online world. Two of their greatest strengths are their ability to filter and disseminate information to a widely dispersed audience, and their position outside the mainstream of mass media. Beholden to no one, web logs point to, comment on, and spread information according to their own, quirky criteria.

I know it’s tough being a real person when you are a lawyer, especially when inside a large firm who asked you to check your personality at the door. But people who have been open and candid have always commanded more respect. Until now, there was no penalty for not being transparent, open and frank in your marketing. But lawyers and law firms not showing their real side in this day and age when their competitors do so are going to pay a price.

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