It’s a fundamental marketing decision for many law firms: How much content should we publish outside our website? For many years, the answer always seemed to be: none. Firms tried to serve and address every audience and every interest in one location. The predictable result was an incredibly cluttered website, both in its message and in its presentation.
The law firm website was never intended to be a single-subject, single-audience, publishing powerhouse. Fortunately, many firms have realized this and have wised up. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the rapid transfer of “commentary” from firm websites, pushing that content outward to other online locations in order to gain better exposure. I call this “distributed publishing”, a term I probably didn't coin, but first started using at ABA TECHSHOW back in March.
Distributed publishing is all about developing carefully targeted, highly relevant, single-subject websites that respond to the interests of a law firm’s clientele (or potential clientele). Blogs, microsites, and topic portals are all examples of publishing initiatives that fall under the distributed publishing model.
For a host of reasons discussed in this column, firms can create a clearer message by building these sorts of content-focused “destinations”. Search engines understand the intended topic of publication better, while audiences are directed to a subject- or issue-dedicated website to which they might actually be interested in returning.
Many firms invest significant time, effort and money in their websites, and that’s a step in the right direction. But unless your firm is a single-service boutique practice, there’s a good chance your website already addresses too many audiences with different interests.
Smart firms with diverse practices realize the necessity of strategically expanding their publishing beyond the firm website by establishing a distributed publishing model. They isolate each target audience’s commentary on a dedicated website, with the authorship (and marketing message) closely tied to a single sponsoring industry group or practice group or two. The firm website remains the hub, but it’s the blogs, microsites, and portals extending from that hub that establish the powerful, interlinked network of the firm’s online presence.