In the legal industry, great attorneys are considered experts in their respective fields. Through sharing their knowledge and publishing client-relevant insights, lawyers have an incredible opportunity to inform and educate their most important business contacts.
Effective content marketing will elevate your attorneys' status, help them to differentiate from their competition, and when their messaging reaches their audience at the perfect moment, it can also lead to revenue and won business.
However, despite the clear benefits of creating thought leadership, publishing content can be too time-consuming and daunting - particularly for attorneys who are already crazily busy.
To overcome these challenges, law firms can implement a well-designed thought leadership program built upon four key pillars:
- Effortless Creation - Driving Self-Service
- Effective & Efficient Governance
- Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE) Distribution
- Providing Relevant & Valuable Feedback.
By taking a strategic approach to thought leadership, law firms can not only showcase their expertise but also build stronger client relationships and drive engagement.
LMA PANEL DISCUSSION:
This was brought to life at the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) 2023 National Conference in Florida.
Passle's Freddy Dobinson and Eugene McCormick sat down with Julia Bennett, CMO of Brown Rudnick, and Kelly Harbour, CMO of Goulston & Storrs, to discuss how they've effectively implemented thought leadership programs in their firms.
The audience in the breakout session was also asked a series of questions to better understand their firm's sentiment about thought leadership. See their answers in the Slido polling results we've included at the bottom of this post.
1. Effortless Creation
Attorneys are already experts in their respective fields, so using that knowledge to inform clients can be incredibly valuable. However, creating and publishing content can be daunting and time-consuming.
To overcome this, firms can streamline the publishing process, creating a "single point of entry" for attorneys to submit content.
Reed Smith and Morris, Manning & Martin have had great success with their thought leadership programs by starting small and building momentum over time.
Julia Bennett mentioned that a big part of making thought leadership easy is making the process of publishing content easy and efficient - allowing attorneys to focus on the content itself, rather than the publishing process.
The secret is self-service. Marketing teams empower their attorneys with technology (like Passle) and proven processes to remove every hurdle that could get in the way of an attorney sharing their insights.
A good, transparent approval process involves a measured approach tailored to fit the specific needs of the content type and the people creating it. For example, Kelly explained at Goulston & Storrs, junior team members can create content but must have a partners' approval. The idea here is to enable everyone at the firm, no matter what position they have, to tap into their expertise and have it approved and published with a streamlined approach.
Fear of losing control over content should never hinder your firm's approval process and helps build confidence within your teams. Some key feedback from our panellists: if you're still emailing Word documents with red lines... you're probably doing it wrong!
Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) Distribution is key. Once an attorney has created a piece of content, it's important to make the most out of it by leveraging all its potential benefits. By owning the user journey and creating a cohesive experience, attorneys own the content. Our panellists at the LMA shared that it's this ownership from the attorneys who create content quickly and easily that are much more likely to share their content on social.
For example, Freddy explained that the Ropes & Gray lawyers increased their use of LinkedIn seven times after embarking on a structured thought leadership program.
Be sure that content is featured on your firm's website in all the right places - bio pages, sector pages, and home pages. That way the attorney starts owning the website too!
Finally, ensure your attorneys' content gets distributed on your third-party distribution channels like Mondaq, JD Supra, and Lexology along with your client-facing newsletters. This will exponentially increase the size of your audience.
4. Relevant Feedback
If the first 3 pillars are the engine, the feedback is the gasoline that keeps it running. Providing relevant feedback is key to keeping attorneys engaged in the thought leadership program. Feedback on who is reading their content is important if you want your attorneys to keep engaged. Regularly demonstrating ROI, highlighting commercial successes, and showcasing your top-engaged clients will encourage attorneys to continue participating.
Celebrating the people involved in the program can also help build enthusiasm and encourage inclusivity. It's important to weave the content process into what your attorneys are already doing, rather than making it an extra item on their to-do list. By doing so, attorneys will see the value in the program and will be more likely to participate.
POLLING RESULTS FROM THE AUDIENCE
In summary, a well-designed thought leadership program can help law firms showcase their expertise, build client relationships, and drive attorney engagement. Law firms can create a thought leadership program that benefits attorneys and clients by focusing on Effortless Creation, Governance, COPE Distribution, and the sharing of Relevant Feedback.
As Julia and Kelly expressed, "A rising tide lifts all boats". Start small and build!