For those of you reading this blog – you undoubtedly know about “blogs” and “blogging,” but, for the inexperienced, “blog” is short for “Web log.” In the legal industry, they are also known as “blawgs,” short for “law blogs.” I maintain a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, and I write for The Legal Intelligencer Blog.
Blogs started out as online journals where people could frequently updated and share information about their lives. They have morphed into extremely valuable business development and marketing tools when executed with purpose, passion, planning, productivity, presentation and publicity in mind.
Blogs are great tools for attorneys to establish themselves as leaders in their fields of practice and to establish an online social discourse. They should be used to have online discussions with target audiences, including prospective clients and the media. What’s important to remember, though, is that your blog is “yours”. It should reflect your voice and thoughts, not those of a marketing or public relations professional.
In my book, Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, I quote Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog. He calls blogging “PR by participation.” That means getting involved and engaging yourself in the online social conversation. According to O’Keefe, “Blogs are imperative for attorneys who want to establish themselves in their areas of practice.”
However, Brian Solis, the principal of FutureWorks in Silicon Valley, recently questioned if “blogs are losing their authority to the statusphere.” He said, “A disruptive trend is already at play. While blogs are increasing in quantity, their authority—as currently measured by Technorati—is collectively losing influence.”
Note: Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. Technorati indexes more than 1.5 million new blog posts in real time and introduces millions of readers to blog and social media content.
It is important to understand what Solis means by “authority.” He says, “Links from blogs are no longer the only measurable game in town. Potentially valuable linkbacks are increasingly shared in micro communities and social networks and it is detouring attention and time away from formal blog responses.”
Solis also concluded that blogs are “entrenched in the mainstream” and with this, I agree. What I find even more prolific is that many of us who are strategic legal marketing and public relations experts have been telling attorneys who have solid niche practices to blog for years. And although the medium for communicating is considered mainstream – we are still trying to convince many lawyers that this is a valuable tool to add to their integrated marketing plans.
What should lawyers consider before blogging?
Before you decide to blog, ask yourself a few critical questions:
- Does your firm have social media, marketing or public relations policies regarding blogs or other online discourse to which you are bound?
- Do you have a niche area of practice to which you currently or will in the future devote a substantial amount of your practice?
- Have you researched the market landscape and determined how you can create a competitive advantage?
- Is there an online audience who will care about what you have to say and be engaged by your commentary?
- Are you interested and willing to provide valuable, meaningful content to your target audiences?
- Are you willing to set aside at least 15 minutes a day, three days per week to blog?
- Do you have the time to commit long-term to manage a blog?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will know whether blogging is right for you. Then, you need to commit to do it right. My colleague, Gil Marquez, law firm administrator for Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig said recently that “The only thing worse than no blog is a stale blog.”
What are the best practices for legal blogging?
Joshua Fruchter, a former attorney, president of eLawMarketing [www.elawmarketing.com] and author of the blog www.lawyercasting.com, published an article on the best practices for blogging in 2006. I asked Josh what he thinks has changed since then. He said, “The two biggest changes from 2006 are the increasing importance of customization, and the convergence of blogging and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.”
In terms of customization, Fruchter said, “On the design side, being able to create a custom look and feel for your blog is important to differentiate your blog from the growing competition in the blawgosphere. On the publishing side, being able to customize your title and description tags for individual blog posts is critical for maximizing search engine visibility and traffic.”
As for convergence of social media and blogging, Fruchter said, “With the convergence of social media and blogging has come an increase in the number of channels for disseminating your blog content. Now when you publish a blog post you can share it across all of your networks in a matter of seconds, rather than wait for people to visit your blog.”
In my most recent seminar, Social Media for Lawyers, I demonstrate Fructer’s point. The example I use happens to be this blog. Using Part 4: Twitter for Lawyers as the example, I demonstrate that once the blog was published, I shared it on Twitter with my tweeple. It was then retweeted to others thus driving traffic back to the blog. I shared the blog as a note on Facebook and shared it with several relevant groups on Linkedin. I also posted a status update using HelloTxt.com which updated all of my social media statuses with a link to the article. Within 24 hours, the blog post was picked up by The National Law Journal and then by the Wall Street Journal online. And on and on it goes – where it will stop, nobody knows. That’s the beauty of convergence.
In Part 7 of To friend or Not to Friend – Social Media for Lawyers, I will talk about JD Supra. Stay tuned to The Legal Intelligencer’s Lawyers and the Media blog.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq.
Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.