You can build your authority and show thought leadership through content you curate for your clients and referral sources, not just content you create yourself.
As you could have guessed by the company I founded and the content I publish, I’m a big believer in content marketing and thought-leadership marketing for lawyers and law firms. I think it is the key way for law firms and their lawyers to build their practices, to build their prominence, and to fuel their marketing and business development efforts.
But oftentimes, lawyers are too busy to be writing the kinds of blog posts and bylined articles, and producing podcasts and videos, that help them demonstrate the knowledge and wisdom that reinforces their authority and prominence in their legal practices. When that is the case, lawyers and their firms should consider curating content and not just relying on creating original content to do that authority building and to get out in front of current and prospective clients and referral sources.
When I’m talking about content curation, I’m talking about compiling relevant news articles, thought-leadership pieces (from outside your firm), and other pieces of content that are relevant to your past, current, and prospective clients and referral sources, and then including short (i.e., no more than a handful of sentences) blurbs that summarize the content and explain why the recipient should care. Most often, this is going to be in the form of an email newsletter, but it could easily appear in the form of a blog post.
It might seem strange that you can build authority regarding the areas of law you practice and the industries you serve merely by compiling content regarding both. But you can—directly and indirectly. Here are five reasons why curating content is an effective way for lawyers and law firms to build thought leadership and their authority when they’re unable to create content themselves.
Curating relevant content makes you appear knowledgable about the subject matter of that content
Curated content helps position the lawyer or law firm sending that content as an authority both regarding the areas of law they practice as well as the issues the content’s recipients are dealing with. When you send content regarding legal issues, business issues, and societal issues that could impact your recipients’ business operations, you’re showing you’re cognizant of the issues they might be dealing with, or soon will be, as part of their day-to-day responsibilities.
Your target audiences will interpret your inclusion of content regarding these issues as an indication that you are knowledgable about these issues, and that you might be able to help them deal with those issues as they face them. After all, to be cognizant of these issues and to curate articles and insights about them is to understand they are relevant to your target audiences. Additionally, your blurbs accompanying each piece of curated content, assuming those blurbs are well-written and show you’ve given some thought about why the topic of that curated content is relevant to your target audiences, will further evidence your ability to connect the dots between what’s happening in the world and how those events and trends are impacting your target audiences.
If you’re skeptical of this idea, imagine receiving a newsletter from a “handyman” company you’ve used in the past. Now imagine that newsletter includes best practices for installing outdoor security cameras, new trends for kitchen remodels, and how to “baby proof” your home. What impression does the inclusion of these articles give you? That the company is knowledgeable about these services—and related ones—and can perform them for you, right? For that reason, this handyman company will probably be among the first companies you call for help regarding those services or related ones.
Curating content takes less time than creating content
When you’re curating content, you’re not spending five, six, seven hours sitting down and writing a 1500-word blog post or bylined article for an external publication. You’ll be spending much less time than that compiling the content you’ll be curating (especially if you compile that content on an ongoing basis as you encounter it in the course of your own content consumption) and drafting the accompanying blurbs before sending both to a colleague to assemble and distribute as an email blast or publish as a blog post.
Going one step further, you could also delegate much of this work. You could task someone with monitoring 10, 15, 20 different online sources on a regular basis and pulling for you a group of potentially interesting articles from which you would select the handful to include in the next curated collection. You could also task a colleague with writing the first draft of the blurbs so that all you’ll need to do is to review them and, if necessary, edit them.
Curating content forces you to stay abreast of what’s going on in the worlds within which your clients exist
We all, occasionally, put our noses to the grindstone for periods of time during which we’re so busy with the work we have on our plates that we don’t pick our heads up and take a look around. We miss interesting news items and other pieces of content because we’re just too darn busy.
When you’re consistently curating content, you have no choice but to take a look at what’s happening around you and consume timely content. By being forced to stay abreast of what’s happening within the worlds which your clients (and referral sources) exist, you will be both a better lawyer/advisor and, perhaps, a better business developer. Issues raised in content you’re consuming as part of your curation efforts may prompt you to discuss those issues with your clients. Those discussions could strengthen that relationship, show that you are knowledgable about the issues your clients are dealing with, and position you favorably for more work from those clients down the road.
Content you curate can inspire the content you’ll eventually create
When you’re curating content for your target audiences, you’re being exposed to content containing different topics, angles, and perspectives that you might not have otherwise been exposed to in the course of your day-to-day work. Chances are good that these additional topics, angles, and perspectives will inspire you—consciously or subconsciously—to eventually write about a topic that is related to your legal practice and relevant to your target audiences.
For example, let’s say you advise fintech companies on regulatory issues. In the course of your curation efforts you come across an article in which a fintech startup founder is quoted as saying their company is operating within an area that has not yet been addressed by regulators. Skeptical about what you’re reading, you do five minutes of research concerning the regulation you would have assumed would cover what this startup is doing. You learn the founder is correct. You’re concerned about the implications for consumers if this startup grows like wildfire before regulators swoop in and regulate this gray area. You feel so strongly about this issue that you commit to writing an article for Reuters or Bloomberg Law about it.
Curating content gives you an opportunity to connect with the people whose content you’re curating
When you curate content, you have the ability to build relationships with the people whose content you’re curating, especially if you tend to include a particular author’s content on a regular basis. They’ll certainly appreciate you getting their work out in front of more eyeballs. For that reason, you could reach out to them and say:
Hi – I’m a lawyer who handles [insert practice]. I’ve included a handful of your articles over the past few months in my curated email newsletter that goes out to my [insert industry] clients, including [insert titles of/links to articles]. I think you’re doing great work. If you ever have a question about a legal issue regarding the [insert industry] industry, or if you’re interested in ideas or trends to write about, please reach out to me. I’d love to chat.
Likewise, you could ask the people whose content you’re curating if their publications accept articles written by lawyers. Again, by mentioning that you’ve been curating their publications’ content recently, you might start a relationship that bears fruit for you through your efforts to build your authority and get in front of your target audiences through content curation.
Content curation isn’t content creation, but it can still be an effective authority building tool
When you curate other people’s content, you’re not going to be seen the same by your target audiences as if YOU created all of that content. But that’s OK. For the reasons I described above, you are still highly likely to be seen as an authority concerning the work you do and the topics covered by the content you’re curating.
Interestingly, you have the opportunity when you curate content to be seen as an authority on a larger universe of issues than those you normally would have written about. You are unlikely to be covering pure business issues and tangential societal issues in content you write. But you’d certainly want to curate that content because it impacts your clients’ professional (and likely personal) lives. Plus, by curating content concerning a wide range of relevant topics, you may be seen as an authority when it comes to your clients’ industries and business issues generally because you are alerting clients to content regarding the whole range of issues they face, not just the legal issues that you would normally write about.
When building your authority, your prominence, and your book of business, few if any tactics are more effective than consistently creating relevant, valuable, and compelling thought-leadership content. But when you don’t have the time to do so, content curation can still help you position yourself as an authority in your field—and even brings with it benefits above and beyond those offered by creating content.