John Cass, a Boston marketing, social media strategies, and public relations strategist, shares 5 keys in evaluating blogs for your company. I’ll borrow them and, with a little commentary, apply them to law firms.
- Build an understanding of the keywords used by your community. Keywords are just the terms and phrases people may use in discussing the items you will be blogging about. Such keywords and key phrases will not only be valuable in looking at what is being discussed (step 2), but they’ll be important in naming categories and titling posts when you begin blogging.
- Conduct an assessment of your audience’s blogging community. In blogging, you are not publishing a website. You are entering into an ongoing discourse in your area of legal expertise. By using your keywords in Technorati and Google Blog Search you can find out what blogs are being published on your topic and what blogs are discussing the issues you’ll be discussing in your blog. Even through there may not be a blog on the exact topic, ie, Atlanta IP law, there may VC’s, scientists, engineers, and business people discussing related issues.
- Assess the capabilities of your law firm to blog within your audience’s blogging community. The best blogs cite other blogs and create an open dialogue from blog to blog. Law firms are often uncomfortable in citing other lawyers and business people. That’s okay as you may wish to share legal summaries. Just understand that your blog will draw less attention and the ROI on the lawyer’s time will be less.
- Consider the capabilities of your law firm and the needed resources to blog within your audience’s blogging community. This process should help you to determine how often you need to write, what you need to write, who should write, and what resources you will need to build an effective blog. Here it’s important for the firm to understand it’s the lawyers who need to publish, not marketing or PR folks. At the same time, blog posts are short and a good blog may post as little as once a week.
- Understand your law firm’s unique characteristics and how they fit in with the current concerns of your audience. This understanding will help you to develop content and also target conversations.
- Focus on the legal niche for which you want to grow the law firm’s business.
- Do you have a lawyer who is an expert in the area and passionate about it?
- Will the lawyer enjoy publishing a blog and the notoriety it brings?
- Will the legal marketing professionals in your firm enjoy working with the lawyer in getting the blog kicked off?
- Can you trust the lawyer not to say anything inappropriate, ie would you trust her or him on the seminar circuit or in writing articles for business or bar journals?
As John says, “…[I]t’s critical to understand that blogging is a conversation, or a dialogue, attempting to just pitch your own ideas will probably mean you will fail to talk with people, and worse still produce some negative consequences in terms of public criticism of your company’s efforts. Rather the strategy any company should follow is to conduct a dialogue with your community that’s relevant to their interests.”