A discussion on Twitter last week brought home how blogging is different than writing articles. Blogging by lawyers is more about networking, more of a conversation. And much easier to maintain.

The discussion kicked off when I read a post in my RSS feeds from Rocket Matter’s Tim Baran (@tim_baran). Tim shared an interview with business development consultant, Jennifer Topper, on how to get lawyers to write good legal content.

The gist of the interview was that strategic content in the formm of articles, though important, is difficult to get from lawyers. Topper, who knows what what she’s talking about in this regard, identifies just part of what can be a laborious process.

This, per Topper, after your marketing team has identified the hot issues that serve as the drivers for business development, what is driving legal spend, what is driving decisions within corporations, then tipping off the lawyers about these trends and encouraging them to be out in front on those issues.

Calibrate and moderate the expectation of content generation from lawyers. It is not their core competency, but as a marketer, you can identify the most salient issues, the areas that are of utmost importance, prioritize, and set the table for them. Write the pitch, talk to the PR group to get the placement, put together the editorial guideline, do your research to make sure no one else has published to avoid redundancy, That’s a days work before you even pick up the phone and call the associate or practice group head.

Then comes the drafting and redlining, revising, approval process, submission. It’s hard to turn this stuff around. Nobody has the time. You can’t realistically expect anyone to change their practice to accommodate a marketing plan. The marketing plan has got to support the practice. And if it means not writing 6 articles, but instead, writing 2 bylined articles.

A lot of work. A lot of energy. Not that much fun for anyone.

I shared the post on Twitter and asked why not have lawyers blog instead?

To which Hsiaolei Miller (@hsiaoleim), Director of Business Development for Breaking Media (parent of Above the Law), asked:

Tim jumped in with what is widely accepted as blogging.

I then tried to distinguish blogging from content, in general, and articles.

Tim explained how blogging can mean different things.

I saw Tim’s response as going to more how people use the tool, blog software, than actual blogging.

Tim made a good point as to the community function of blogging, acting as more than just an article.

But I wanted to make the point that blogging as a conversation with one person or company can lead to much more.

Larry Port (@larryport), CEO and founder of Rocket Matter, joined the discussion with a final point.

Hope you enjoyed the Twitter give and attack among the four of us.

The point I wanted to bring home was the power of true blogging. Listening strategically via RSS and then engaging in the conversation you hear.

This form of spontaneity is much easier than writing content, does not require an assist from marketing, brings energy to the lawyers as a result of responses, a growing word of mouth reputation among the influencers lawyers engage, and relationships leading to business.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Sean MacEntee