When Julia Bennett joined Brown Rudnick as CMO, she put together a marketing plan for her firm's senior leadership with the idea that she wanted to make Brown Rudnick a household name. Unfortunately (and these are Julia's words), although an incredible firm, a law firm is not the sexiest topic in the world. In her first few months, Julia had grand ambitions to transform internal processes, grow the marketing team with new hires, and launch new software platforms (including Passle). She then received word that a certain high-profile trial where Brown Rudnick was representing was going to be televised live.
Suddenly, there were over 5 million visitors to their website and her team was flooded with calls and emails - making their already busy jobs, incredibly noisy. While Julia had to throw her original marketing plan out the window, she had to enter crisis mode. One thing she knew she had to do was serve timely and relevant thought leadership across their website. Whilst their firm was under the spotlight, this would provide their new visitors with rich content and a reason to continue coming back to the Brown Rudnick website.
During the LMA Northeast Conference in New York City, Passle CEO, James Barclay sat down with Julia to discuss how she and her team, despite all the interruptions, were still able to create a world-class digital presence with their relatively new marketing team.
Here is how Julia launched her thought leadership program at Brown Rudnick:
1. ENGAGING LAWYERS TO WRITE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP:
Julia encouraged successful thought leadership by focusing on author-centric publishing. Enabling brilliant attorneys with incredible experiences to share their thoughts in a pithy and timely way. Realistically, not all attorneys are going to want to create content. So Julia pivoted her resources to those who value thought leadership and saw it as an opportunity for growth.
Julia Bennett: "Position content creation for revenue and value its your job as the attorney to build loyalty in your client"
Julia explained that encouraging attorneys to show their humanity and giving them a voice is how you demonstrate the expertise of people you want in the trenches with you. However, you do want a layer of governance to make sure no one is running rampant and getting into trouble with client conflicts. Associates usually work with a partner to review the content piece, but the idea is to keep thought leadership easy and fun.
Attorneys love positive reinforcement, so providing feedback is really key in getting them hooked on thought leadership. They want to know who is reading their content and how they're engaging with it so they can share those insights with their team, and plan more content out. The marketing team also put together a quarterly report for their top-performing content pieces.
4. ELEVATING YOUR TEAM AND THEIR VOICES:
Your attorneys shouldn't be the only people creating thought leadership at your firm. Your marketing and BD teams are experts in their industry areas as well, and their insights are just as valuable as your billable teams. Julia and her team are incredibly good at what they do - so much so that they're now able to bill clients for commercial work that they do, like graphic design, crisis communications, etc. Julia sees this work as providing strategic value to the firm.
Using these four points, Julia has been able to build out a robust thought leadership program at Brown Rudnick and has positioned her team as thought leaders in the legal marketing community. Be sure to keep an eye out for their content!