Survey: Law firms plan more blog posting for more business
Well, get ready for lots of law firms with blogs. In an October LexisNexis survey concerning law firms and marketing, a majority of firms said they are planning to increase their investment in blogging and content marketing this year. According to LexisNexis, of the roughly 400 law firms that responded to the survey, 57 percent said they anticipated doing more blogging as a means of generating business.
Matt Thompson, the vice president of product marketing for the Foundation Software Group, which helped put the survey together when he was with LexisNexis, was surprised at the magnitude of the response.
The key, Thompson says, is that now blogs will be part of a centralized marketing and business development plan inside the firm. “In the past, maybe one lawyer would have a blog and it wouldn’t necessarily be connected to the firm’s marketing and developing plans. With increased investment from the firm, the hope is that there will be increased support from leadership and increased participation from attorneys.”
One blog that has been around for years is Socially Aware, a social media law blog run by Morrison & Foerster. According to John Delaney, co-founder of the blog and an intellectual property partner in MoFo’s New York City office, the idea for the blog came after he started getting questions about Facebook and corporate usage of social media. He and his fellow attorneys at the firm were fielding lots of calls from clients asking about things ranging from best practices to what the terms and conditions on Facebook meant.
“We realized that there’s really no law on this stuff,” Delaney says. “That’s because law always lags far behind technology and it can be years before law catches up.”
Delaney recalls that Socially Aware started as a newsletter to clients in July 2010. He and his Socially Aware co-founder, Gabriel Meister (currently vice president and senior media counsel for the National Basketball Association), wanted to start a blog, but the firm was reluctant to go that route.
“The firm was worried about legal risk, but we were advising people on how to minimize risk,” says Delaney. “Our firm wanted to see what our competitors were doing, but very few—if any—of our competitors had blogs at the time. So they suggested doing the newsletter first.”
Delaney says he and Meister published the newsletter every other month and usually put it together on weekends or after midnight during the week. “The newsletter did well and won an award, so the firm came to us in 2011 and suggested we turn it into a blog,” Delaney says. “We said ‘Great!’ “
Delaney says Socially Aware has generated business for the firm. “Soon after we launched the blog, there was a Fortune 500 company that was looking to retain counsel to advise on social media issues. Because of the blog, we ended up on the shortlist. The firm hadn’t done business with them before, but we had an advantage because of the blog.”
In addition to landing that Fortune 500 company, Delaney estimates the blog has helped the firm pick up social media-related work from at least five or six companies. “We start our pitch with the blog and we say, rightfully so, that almost any legal development you can come to us with, we have it covered in our blog,” he says.
Not all law firms should expect such a return. Frank Strong, communications director for LexisNexis Business and Litigation Software Solutions, cautions that firms should not adopt the mentality that if they invest in blogging, it will lead to a certain return the following quarter or else the whole thing is a failure.
“Law firms need to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Strong says. “It takes time to build trust. Consistency matters, and you’re not just conditioning writers to create content on a daily or weekly basis; you’re also conditioning the audience to expect it.”
To borrow a baseball metaphor, Strong says firms should resist the urge to go for the home run. Instead, he suggests a similar approach to that taken by Delaney and MoFo.
“If you focus on answering questions,” he says, “that is a better path than investing countless hours and efforts on something you’re hoping to go viral.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “A Blog Clog? Survey: Law firms plan more posting for more business.”