2011 – Law firm websites become “publishing platforms”
In my last post, I predicted that we’re heading towards a major shift in the way that law firms think about their websites. Here’s what it boils down to:
Old thinking: Law firm websites = online brochure
New thinking: Law firm websites = publishing platform for attorney-generated content
Why a publishing platform? Why now?
As I mentioned in my last post, there are several trends in the legal marketplace that are converging to make “content marketing” more effective than ever. And, as a result, attorneys are generating more articles, newsletters, blog posts and other thought leadership content than ever before.
The growth of “content marketing” beckons some interesting questions, such as: Where do we put all of this content? How can we maximize its business development potential?
Right now, it’s not uncommon for a firm’s attorney-generated content to be scattered far and wide. As a result, it’s nearly invisible to most prospective clients. For example:
Journal articles exist only in print (and end up in the attorney’s desk drawer)
Blogs reside on a server that is not connected with the firm’s website
Video interviews are on a DVD (also in a desk drawer)
Case studies live in past proposals
Twitter messages live on Twitter.com
Relevant photos are on Flickr
Lots of other content is isolated on the firm’s local fileserver
Even the content on the firm’s website is often scattered throughout sections like “Multimedia,” “Experience” and “Publications.” Very few prospective clients can be expected to bounce around the website looking for relevant content in all those different sections.
The Solution: A Publishing Platform
What’s a publishing platform? It’s a website that is designed to showcase a firm’s content in a way that maximizes its ability to help generate business. For example, a good publishing platform website has the following characteristics:
It acts as a repository for all of your content
It can easily accommodate oddball content like videos and photo galleries
It can import content from your blogs or Twitter accounts via automatic feed
It automatically optimizes all of your content for Google
It enables users to easily share the content with others
And, most important, it allows users to access relevant content from the most logical places — attorney bio pages or practice area sections. (A good publishing platform would never redirect users to other sections of the website to read an article or watch a video.)
Why is this important?
Because creating insightful content isn’t enough. The content actually needs to be read by prospective clients in order to help generate business. As a result, the advantage clearly goes to those firms that optimize their websites to make the content as accessible as possible.