The most effective podcasts are authentic conversations...
You’ve made the strategic decision to add podcasting to your client communication tool kit. But how do you gain buy-in from leadership to progress from the “shiny object” stage to reality mode? And with ever-changing technology, where do you begin?
1. Make a strong case to leadership
We all produce e-communications, webinars, events, content, and media placements. But few law firms, although it is increasing, take the initiative to start a podcast program. Research your competitors and the industries you want to serve and find an opening. If you market a full-service law firm, it will be difficult to build a podcast following if you try to focus on every practice group. If your firm wants to grow intellectual property services, create a series of podcasts about IP law. Be “known for” something.
2. Designate a podcast team
Evaluate your marketing team. Are there members of your team who have an interest in podcasting? You need strong, conversational writers with audio editing skills. Give them ownership and allow them to make their own creative touches. They will take pride in the project increasing the likelihood it will succeed.
3. Research technology
A lack of understanding of the technology needed is probably the main reason law firms have been slow adopters of podcasting. Unless you outsource, someone on your team is going to have to get “down in the weeds” to edit audio recordings and keep ahead of evolving technology.
There are many different types of software for editing, some very complex for professional musicians, and others more in line with recordings that feature mainly speaking. If you purchase something too complicated, it will take your team longer to acclimate. Many online editing systems want you to pay a monthly fee. For basic audio editing consider Audacity. It’s user-friendly and free. With some audio editing experience, your team can learn it in an afternoon.
4. Strive for quality recording
Laptops and phones have built-in microphones but the quality can’t compare with the rich sound you’ll obtain from an external microphone. It would be a shame to spend all the time and effort only to have your podcast sound like your attorney is talking through a tin can.
Allow your team appropriate time to work through these platforms.
Consider purchasing a professional device such as an Avid USB microphone online or at a music store. If you want to scale the podcast program to other cities, there are professional quality microphones you can attach to an iPhone, such as a Shure MV88 which allows you to easily upload your files to Dropbox for editing. To record two people talking to each other in different cities, research Zencaster, Cast, and my favorite, RINGR, which is mobile. Skype is also an option although extra software is needed if you use a Mac to record. Allow your team appropriate time to work through these platforms.
5. Select the right format
There are a variety of ways to present your podcasts. You can have the attorney record his or her own podcast, or have the attorney interview a guest. In my experience, I have found it is usually best to have someone interview the attorney.
Make it easy for the listener...
Have a member of your team handle everything from the research, writing, interview, producing and editing to allow the attorney to focus on the subject matter. Steer your attorneys away from wanting to read a script. The most effective podcasts are authentic conversations between two people, three at the most. Make it easy for the listener.
Be sure to treat your podcasts like advertising and include legal disclaimers. Follow your State Bar rules, and consider copyright issues on titles and music. Podcasting is a creative, user-friendly way to humanize your attorneys and share their knowledge 24/7. There are unlimited ways to market your podcast program so don’t be afraid to try something new. While podcasting may seem out of your firm’s reach, by working through these processes, it doesn’t have to be.
[Heather McMichael earned an LMA Award for her former Am Law 100 firm for its’ weekly podcast program where she led PR initiatives for a decade. The former television news anchor will speak on podcasting at the LMA Technology Conference Midwest in Chicago in September. She can be reached at email@example.com.]