Publishing to Gain Exposure and Credibility
Publishing – either online or in print media – is a great way to get your name in front of a large number of potential clients while also establishing yourself as an authority in your practice area.
Once largely limited to legal journals, the opportunities for lawyers to publish articles showcasing their expertise have increased exponentially thanks to the internet. And with social media, those published articles are poised to reach more people than ever before.
Many lawyer websites include a blog, but many of those blogs are seldom updated and do little to promote the lawyer’s reputation or search engine rankings. The fact is, blogging is a lot of work, and a popular blog requires a long term commitment. Before launching a blog, consider whether you are willing to commit to any sort of regular blogging schedule – even if it’s only once a month.
If you’re willing to commit to blogging, an attorney at your firm should write the posts. You then must share the posts on social media platforms and/or through a regular firm newsletter – otherwise it’s likely that no one will see them. Blogging won’t produce short-term results, but over time, your blog may bring in both new clients and referrals from other lawyers or professionals in your social media networks. As an alternative to maintaining your own blog, consider guest posting on another blog that also appeals to your target audience.
What should you blog about? Write about current issues in your practice area, including case law updates. Answer the kinds of questions clients typically ask. Write about topics that interest your potential clients, even if they aren’t specifically about law. A divorce lawyer, for example, might write about resources for helping children cope with divorce. Or create a theme for your blog. One successful themed blog analyzes tort cases resulting from spectacular errors in judgment.
If you have a blog, it’s not hard to repackage a few posts into a newsletter that you send periodically to clients and other people who might be interested in your practice area. There are several services such as Mailchimp that make email list management and newsletter generation easy. Be sure you offer subscribers a way to opt out of future email communications from you.
Even if you don’t blog, you can still send a newsletter to current, past and potential clients that includes updates about your practice area and your firm, notifications of upcoming events or presentations, or general articles that might interest your clientele.
The contents of your newsletter will be dictated by your practice area and the level of sophistication of your audience. If you focus on complex corporate transactions, your newsletter recipients might be corporate counsel who will appreciate legislative and case law updates and analysis. If you practice estate planning for young couples, your newsletter might provide tips for choosing a guardian for your children or explain the value of a trust.
Lawyers have long tried to solidify their reputation in the legal community by writing articles for bar journals. But other publications could also benefit from articles written from a lawyer’s perspective. For example, the young couples’ estate planner could write for a local parenting magazine. These sorts of articles can be especially valuable because the publications where they appear are targeted directly at the types of clients you want to attract.
To write for a print publication, check its website for guidelines for submissions, or contact the articles editor. Most publications prefer to receive a letter describing the article you propose writing, rather than a completed article.
Once you have written an article – whether it’s online or for print media – be sure to publish it or provide a link to it on your social media accounts.
Also keep your eye out for articles written by others that might appeal to your client base. Sharing these articles with your network is an easy way to show that you are paying attention to developments in your field. Commenting on others’ posts is also a good way to showcase your expertise.
By blogging, publishing in print publications and posting content online, you establish your authority in your practice area – a key building block for creating a strong client base and referral network.