Thought Leadership for Lawyers
One of a law firm’s most valuable assets is its lawyers’ accumulated knowledge base. Yet a law firm marketer’s greatest challenge is how to effectively mine that resource to promote the law firm’s thought leadership to a larger audience of prospective clients. What happens when the attorneys actually insert themselves into the mix? In our recently released report, The Social Law Firm Index 2016, we revealed that a successful social media strategy did not correlate directly with the size of a firm or their marketing budget. It turns out that social media success might be more strongly associated with the level of involvement by a firm’s lawyers. Routinely outperforming in our indexes every year, law firm Polsinelli joined us at our recent The Social Law Firm Webinar to discuss the secrets to achieving their outstanding thought leadership presence online.
The attorneys at Polsinelli got involved very early in the process of developing the firm’s thought leadership strategy. “We have deep knowledge to leverage” explains Polsinelli shareholder Eric Packel. “For us the challenge was – how do we differentiate ourselves from the conventional webinars, decks and white papers published by every other firm out there?”
Client-centric content defined their way forward. Polsinelli’s team understood that bland position papers and opinions on regulatory issues were of more interest to other lawyers than to their current or prospective clients. They further understood that business and regulatory challenges don’t happen one at a time, nor do they happen in a vacuum.
Packaging meaningful legal lessons while engendering trust in a firm is a lot to expect from a social media campaign. Polsinelli wove their industry, labor and employment law knowledge into a series of fictitious case studies involving a year in the life of troublesome employee Ruby Breaker. “We devised a fictional persona and created a social presence for her,” describes Packel. During the course of the past year, Ruby has held “jobs” in three different industries in which the firm practices.
At each “job” Ruby presents different challenges for her employers: exempt vs. non-exempt vs. contractor status; confidentiality, trade secrets and NDAs; ADA compliance issues; the complexities of employee termination; even bathroom equality. These scenarios are played out through a series of webinars where listeners can eavesdrop on the incidents and conversations between Ruby and her employers, then hear Polsinelli’s attorneys weigh-in on the risks and best recommendations to resolve each. By moving Ruby from industry to industry, the firm’s attorneys can contrast common HR problems against the additional complexities introduced by unique local, state or federal guidelines and regulations in each industry.
Polsinelli generates easily consumed case studies that present real-world scenarios faced by employers daily. By taking a client-centric approach to packaging their knowledge for consumption, Polsinelli achieves enormous advantage in relaying its thought leadership on a global stage. The Ruby Files is an excellent demonstration of what can happen when lawyers come to the table to collaborate in creating meaningful, desirable client-centric content.
But how do you get the lawyers engaged with the firm’s digital marketing endeavor in the first place? Packel explains the rationale he uses with his peers, “Lawyers like to think that they’re the busiest people…but even the best lawyer is nothing without a client. Years ago there just wasn’t the competition for clients that exists today. In today’s marketplace where all lawyers appear identical to prospects, good lawyers need to [continually] generate awareness to distinguish themselves from the others and generate interest from prospects.”
As Packel describes it, the investment he and his team make into their marketing initiatives has proven to be a winning strategy for client relations too. He notes that to maintain their social presence attorneys need to allocate a mere 10-to-20 minutes each week towards outreach. “Clients want extra advice; to be kept informed and up-to-speed; it doesn’t need to be about their specific matter. Plan a good message and, if you can, tie it to your partners and clients; but don’t overthink it.”
Another unplanned benefit Packel discovered: development of The Ruby Files series gave him a great opportunity to reach out and spend time with his firm’s major clients under the guise of brainstorming ideas for the thought leadership series. These meetings provided excellent direction for how to craft the series; but more importantly, it allowed him to reinforce the value of the client relationship, which in turn enhances retention. In all he describes his investment of time and resource into social media marketing as “a win/win” for his firm and its clients.
Developing a successful approach to thought leadership for lawyers is difficult. Is your law firm properly leveraging its greatest asset? Begin by assessing your content marketing strategy. Contact us today and let us help you reach and engage with your target audience.