6 Tips to Keep Your Law Firm's Content Strategy on Track

by JD Supra Perspectives
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Content strategy is a process of trial, error, and trial again... 

A content strategy within the context of legal practice is often devised with the objective of positioning lawyers, practice groups or industry teams as thought leaders in their respective areas of expertise. This kind of strategy rests on a simple foundation that answers two questions:

  • For what do you want to be known? And
  • Whom do you want to know it?

Once you've articulated a message and defined your audience, you move on to the more complicated exercise of devising and deploying tactics.

That's where things get tricky. Will you do a regular newsletter? Who will write it? Does your mailing list target your intended audience? How will you integrate social media? What are your opportunities for cross-posting content across multiple channels? Or repurposing it into multiple formats? The list of considerations is seemingly endless. But somehow, you will navigate all of this, design your tactics, and launch your communications for all the world (or at least your target audience) to enjoy.

The hard part is over, no?

No. Content creation and promotion is an on-going process. Depending on the type of communications you've planned, that process will go on for months or years. And it will involve many moving parts. Lawyers, who are typically the primary content creators in a law firm, will have varying degrees of free time to write. Your mailing list will inevitably change over time. New distribution and social media platforms will emerge. Trends in content marketing will evolve.

In short, there will be a lot happening, and therefore, a lot to distract you from your objectives.

Here are six ways to keep your content strategy on track:

1. Write it down 

Articulate your key message and your intended audience, write those on a piece of paper, and put it in a place where you'll see it every day. Of course, you'll document every detail of your strategy. But those two points should drive your decision-making, not only during the planning phase, but throughout the life cycle of your content initiative.

2. Be sure that each piece of content provides value 

Your content should be developed with your intended audience in mind. A HIPAA-101 piece may be easy to write, but it probably won't interest seasoned health care compliance officers. Likewise, avoid simply reporting on developments. Explain what those developments mean to your audience. Consistently demonstrate that you bring a sophisticated understanding of the subject matter.

...avoid simply reporting on developments. Explain what those developments mean to your audience.

3. Review analytics weekly (or monthly, at a minimum) 

Sifting through readership data from multiple platforms is time-intensive, and it often gets de-prioritized when there are many other competing demands on our time. However, if you're committed to a successful content program, you must be committed to assessing its performance on a routine basis. Looking at the data regularly will help you to identify patterns in engagement and to spot things that aren't working as planned.

4. Manage expectations among your lawyers early and often

Executing a content-to-thought leadership plan is a long-term endeavor. It will take months, at least, for your content initiatives to build real momentum. It will take even longer for that momentum to transform into successful reputation-building and thought leader positioning. Make sure that you and your lawyers understand this.

As you move forward and are in the routine of supplying them with readership reports, add value to those reports by providing useful takeaways. Be armed with information like law firm communications benchmarks to show them how their content can reasonably be expected to perform in the marketplace. Be honest with your lawyers when their readership is low, and be ready to offer insights or solutions. Avoid letting them become unnecessarily discouraged and disengaged.

5. Set and track goals 

The path from content creation to thought leadership positioning has some stops along the way. Those stops are your measurable goals -- markers that help you determine whether your strategy is headed in the right direction. They might include securing x number of speaking invitations or media interviews as a result of your content; generating inquiries from your website; or increasing engagement on social media.

6. Always be prepared to shift tactics 

The more you track your content's performance, the more you'll learn about your audience and how they interact with your work. You'll inevitably need to make adjustments as you go. If you've invested a great deal in creating a monthly newsletter, only to find that your audience isn't reading it, explore other ways to reach that audience. Or consider shifting your editorial focus. Or take a hard look at your mailing list. Content strategy is a process of trial, error, and trial again. 

A huge audience is worthless if it's not your intended one...

Above all, stay focused on your objectives. We are awash in content from seemingly innumerable sources. Resist the temptation to chase after massive audiences, and don't set your sights on going viral. A huge audience is worthless if it's not your intended one. Instead, take out that piece of paper with your message and audience, and remind yourself of what you want to be known for, and whom you want to know it.

*

[Gina Eliadis is Content Manager at Baker, Donelson, Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. This article originally appeared in the Legal Marketing Assocation Mid-Atlantic Region's August 2017 newsletter.

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