Since he began working with LexBlog in 2005, Greg’s input on design and idea implementation has been a major factor in helping the company succeed. No wonder high profile clients like the Today Show and the Sundance Film Festival turn to Airbag to beef up their web presence.
Though not a lawyer, Greg commands a strong knowledge of blogging and how it can be appropriately used by lawyers. Read our interview after the jump.
1. Rob La Gatta: When did you start to see blogs become a formidable force on the web?
Greg Storey: I want to say it was in late 2000.
1a. Rob La Gatta: What people or industries initially helped it take off?
Greg Storey: It was a lot of people who either at the time didn’t have work – because of the dot com crash – or who left the dot com scene before it collapsed. So you had people that were leaving six figure jobs and doing some interesting things, because they felt that the web should be something other than another vehicle for commerce.
There were people who were blogging before there was blog software, but it wasn’t really called that back then – it was more, “Hey, I’m updating my website on a daily basis.” And it wasn’t as elaborate as it is now: you didn’t have RSS feeds or Atom feeds…you didn’t even have comments.
“Blogging” has been around for a while, but it wasn’t really known as such. Once Blogger and Movable Type came out and someone coined the term “web log,” and the term became synonymous with those two applications, I’d say that is when blogging took off and became a viable tool to communicate; not principally for marketing, but to have a kitchen table conversation.
2. Rob La Gatta: What do you see as the most important element to running a successful blog?
Greg Storey: You have to have time. A common mistake is that people get fired up and go to the extent of customizing their blog – either through design or output – and then spend four hours on their first blog post. Maybe a week later, they’ll post again. And then the site’s dead.
It is a commitment to run a successful blog. You have to be committed not only to writing your blog, but to keeping up with the conversation that’s happening online within whatever peer group or interest group you want to be a part of. It’s one part writing, one part observing, and one part reading. And you’ve got to have time to do all three of those things. If you do those three things, I think that’s the start of what makes a good blog.
If you’re a blog author, you don’t want to write for an audience or expecting an audience. You need to write for yourself. I tell a lot of people that when I write for Airbag, it’s very rarely that I’m caring about anybody who is reading it. If I can make myself laugh, then I’ve hit the mark. And if I can make myself happy with what I’ve written, then that’s all I care about. Anybody else who comes behind me and thinks what I’ve written is good? That’s just icing on the cake.
3. Rob La Gatta: On the other side, what’s your biggest pet peeve? What do you think is the biggest misconception people have when they blog today?
Greg Storey: There are two. One is that it’s “hard.” I don’t like it when I hear people say that writing is hard, because anything is hard if you dwell on and fret about it. The thing that people need to remember is, this isn’t your college essay. This isn’t a business memo. This isn’t a sales presentation. This is you, writing as you’re thinking.
Blogs are more about conversation, not an essay. It’s not, “Here’s my research report, here’s the finding of fact.” It’s thinking out loud. And that’s what makes it interesting, because when you’re doing that, you’re conveying your sense of emotion (which is really important in good blog writing).
The other pet peeve is when people focus more on what their blog looks like than what it reads like. For the most part, a blog is a written piece of communication. You should want people to come to your blog not because of what it looks like, but because they want to read what you have to say. I really don’t like it when people get too involved in the design of their blog, and they’re constantly re-designing or tweaking it. Because that’s just part of the experience, not the priority. The priority is to learn how to write better and communicate better.
4. Rob La Gatta: What can blogs do for the lawyers and the law that is unique to that industry?
Greg Storey: The lawyers that I’ve worked with are for the most part very intelligent people, very much focused on their vertical. And the one problem I see with the law is that there are a lot of lawyers…if you’re a small firm, you’re just trying to get out there to get the cases you want; at the same time, if you’re one person in a large firm, how do you stand out amongst the crowd?
You may be very intelligent, you may be the best at what you do within a particular legal vertical, but your name is not big enough and there’s no reputation. I think the best way to hone your message and to get out there is to blog about yourself: showing that you are intelligent about this subject, that you do have the tenacity to get things done, that you’ve got the eloquence to represent someone in a way that no one else does.
Blogs in the legal world are a way for individuals to come out and say, “Hey, I’m here.” and I think that blogs can go a long way in helping in that effort, in a way that a bus ad or a yellow page ad or a directory listing cannot.
5. Rob La Gatta:
As we’ve seen, different states have different rules on legal advertising as it pertains to blogs. Where do you see this going – will it hit a wall, where certain lawyers are simply unable to blog? Or will the laws be readjusted to take technology into account?
Greg Storey: I can’t speak to that officially, because I don’t know the law.
But I would say that it’s definitely a fight worth fighting. A lawyer blogging, unless they’re giving away details about a case that undermines the justice system, is free speech. And I’m a big proponent for free speech. There is no reason why one lawyer can’t write about his or her expertise or opine on a case that is not theirs. Now, again, I’m not a lawyer…I’m just an American who enjoys freedom of speech. But I can’t see how stomping on that can continue.
Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:
- Edward Still, publisher of the legal blog Votelaw [2.14.08]
- Ken Adams, drafting consultant and author of the AdamsDrafting blog [2.13.08]
- Susannah Gardner, author of Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies [2.11.08]
- Doug Berman, professor at Ohio State University and author of Sentencing Law & Policy Blog [2.8.08]
- Toby Bloomberg, Internet marketing specialist and author of the Diva Marketing Blog [2.6.08]
Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.