PR for Law Firms is Dying, But Not Fast Enough

PR for Law Firms: Automation Domination

PR for Law Firms: Automation Domination

The relationship-based “earned media” activities that once formed the core of PR for law firms — media placements, media training, contributed stories — have morphed to fit the way we live now. It’s no longer about who your PR manager or agency knows in the media. Instead, it’s about what you know and what you do to get influencers to like and share your content

Instead of vague measurements based on “media impressions” — the estimated number of people who might have seen a story or read an article — our brave new digital world enables us to track the elusive who, what, where, when, why (and how) of marketing.

Media Relations

Then..

  • Identify target media and contacts (newspapers, magazines, TV stations)
  • Craft 1:1 pitch emails and follow-up calls; cultivate 1:1 relationships with journalists
  • Track the number of mentions and multiply by circulation/audience share numbers to measure ROI

Now…

  • Identify target influencers everywhere they are (blogs, social media, podcasts, YouTube)
  • Friend, follow & comment; craft 1-to-many messages and engage in ongoing conversations/debates
  • Track shares and likes across social media platforms

Media Training

Then…

  • Construct soundbites for your key messages
  • Master bridging, hooking and flagging, techniques that will land your talking points and avoid questions you don’t want to answer during a media interview

Now…

  • Save your money. Media interviews are basically irrelevant to your marketing efforts unless you are a politician, sports figure or pop culture celebrity.
  • Rehearsed and canned interviews are usually called out for being inauthentic. The new expectation is to speak extemporaneously — or at least look like it

Thought Leadership

Then…

  • Significant time, effort and money spent on pitching contributed articles

Now…

  • One word: Blog

Speaking Engagements

Then…

  • Research conferences
  • Create speaking proposals
  • Pitch your topics and speakers to conference organizers

Now…

  • Build your own CLE package; host your own events
  • Create your own YouTube channel
  • Connect with conference organizers through social media

Nominations

Then…

  • Submit to every legal directory available

Now…

  • Monitor and manage comments on ratings and reviews sites

Moral of the Story: Friends Don’t Let Friends Hire Law Firm PR Firms

 

Law Students: 3 Reasons Why Journalism and Social Media Are Lousy “Safety” Careers

It’s too late for some grads, but it’s finally dawning on current law school students that there might not be a job as a lawyer for them when they finish.

Pragmatic law students are keeping their eyes on the prize (a career in law), but also identifying alternative career paths where their training will be valued and utilized. Despite what law school placement offices, purveyors of hosted blogging services for lawyers, and the publication that runs the law school ranking cartel say, pursuing a career in journalism or social media after law school would be like doubling down on a bet in order to win back half your money.

  1. Going from bad to worse: There are fewer salaried journalism jobs than there are salaried law jobs, and journalism’s numbers are declining faster. The few remaining journalism jobs are likely to be in niche segments where a legal background is not an advantage.
  2. Stiff competition: An interest in writing, and some desultory blogging and tweeting will not be enough to get you interviewed, let alone get a job. Even graduating journalism and public relations undergrads will have more direct experience with basic skills like writing for daily deadlines, knowledge of website development (HTML, XML, CSS) and social media monitoring platforms like Radian6. You’ll also be competing with unemployed/underemployed mid- and senior-level practitioners who will have even more experience and insights.
  3. Adjust your salary expectations downward: As the infographic below illustrates, salaries for entry-level social media jobs (without relevant work experience you’ll likely only be considered for those) don’t pay well, and salaries don’t ramp up into even the low six figures for several years (and that’s if you’re lucky). With undergrad AND law school debt to service, you might not be able to afford to chase your back-up dream.


One Bright Spot

As content marketing picks up speed in legal marketing, the demand for legal content — and therefore ghostwriters/paid contributors — is growing. Judging by what I’ve heard from former lawyers who are now full-time legal website copywriters, they get to do what they love for better pay than toughing it out as a solo.

 

Content Marketing for Law Firms: More, More, More

Blogging has moved from top billing in social media marketing to an ensemble role. A blog is still an important player in the markting ecosystem, but it now shares the stage with other major and minor players in a much bigger, more robust production called content marketing.

The following BlueGlass Interactive infographic illustrates the variety and range of content types and distribution models. BlueGlass executive Chris Winfield notes, “Instead of just investing in their blog and blogging strategies, [companies are] investing in content people will actually want to share. Even if it’s not directly related to selling something, it’s still branding.”

The top 20 content marketing tactics according to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey:

  1. Articles
  2. Social media
  3. Blogs
  4. eNewsletters
  5. Case studies
  6. In-person events
  7. Videos
  8. White papers
  9. Webinars/webcasts
  10. Microsites
  11. Print magazines
  12. Traditional media
  13. Research reports
  14. Branded content tools
  15. Print newsletter
  16. eBooks
  17. Podcasts
  18. Mobile content
  19. Digital magazines
  20. Virtual conferences
WARNING: This does not mean use ALL of these tactics. Rather, it suggests that your marketing program can benefit from thinking beyond the usual suspects: blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Greater depth, breadth, variety, ubiquity and frequency of content will generate more opportunities to be discovered.

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.02.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

  • 11 tips for a better Facebook ad campaign | SEOptimise
  • 5 Steps To Bootstrapping Your PR Efforts | SEOmoz
  • 5 Essential Qualities of Growing Your Blog Quickly in a Crowded Niche | Kikolani
  • 47 Essential Social Media Tools for Content Marketers | Junta42
  • 5 Ways to Brand Your New YouTube Profile | Social Media Examiner 
  • 15 essential tasks to complete after installing WordPress | WordPress Hosting SEO
  • Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid – Single Grain

 

News from the LexisNexis Social Media Survey That Didn’t Make Headlines

The recent LexisNexis/Vizibility survey of social media for law firms deservedly generated a lot of headlines, buzz and discussion in the blawgosphere. While many legal bloggers identified a pending deluge of new legal blogs as the key takeaway, some of the most interesting information in the study has been overlooked.

Worth Considering More Closely

  • Video – Despite being an even more nettlesome and expensive enterprise than blogging, nearly half of respondents indicated they plan to incorporate video into their marketing mix — a percentage more or less consistent across firms of all sizes.
  • QR Codes – To be honest, I don’t think Vizibility was a good partner for this survey because QR is a mobile technology for accessing online content through physical media. Despite Vizibility’s pitch, QR is not a social media networking or marketing platform. But the bigger issue is that even if you consider mobile applications to be social media marketing, there is no compelling data to indicate QR technology has staying power, let alone growth potential. The infographic distributed with the survey results announcement misleadingly correlates QR code growth with smartphone market growth, when its future is more directly tied to advertiser choices. While QR code-based gaming and discounting applications were popular with consumer product marketers over the past year, smartphone users themselves have not enthusiastically embraced their use, and the future of QR is uncertain.  Notwithstanding, the survey suggests that 80 percent of law firms will have QR codes in their marketing mix by the end of 2012, predominantly for mobile access to online marketing materials and business card data. So are legal marketers riding the tail end of a gimmick?

Notable for Their Absence

  • Budget and Resourcing Plans – A single five-minute branding video can cost as much or more than the out-of-pocket expenses for an entire year of blogging. Even low-budget productions can cost several thousand dollars apiece. Combined with aggressive movement into blogging and social networking engagement, does that mean marketing budgets will be increasing, or will it be funded through cuts to other marketing tactics? Which ones? Will there be new marketing hires, or a greater reliance on outside contractors?
  • Non-Blog Content Marketing – Content distribution and SEO optimization platforms like JD Supra and SlideShare are bona fide forces in content marketing for law firms. However, the survey did not mention them by name, nor include content marketing as a category.

Worthy of Its Own Category

  • The infographics accompanying the survey results press release literally and figuratively animated the narrative, and elevated the overall impact of the announcement. It would be great to see adoption and utilization of infographics in law firm marketing explored in a future survey.

What did you think of the survey results? Anything surprising? What kinds of questions would you have asked?

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.10.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.

Social Media ROI Measurement for Law Firms, Part 1: A Starter Kit

The term “ROI”  is one of those acronyms marketers liberally use without reference to the source phrase — Return on Investment — because the underlying assumption is that anyone serious about business already knows what the abbreviation stands for. What it actually means, though, is like a Rorschach inkblot test — an ambiguous concept interpreted differently by different people based on their individual experiences, needs and mental framework.

The definition of ROI has been a trending topic in legal marketing blogs lately, with posts ranging from the insightful, to the sentimental, to the slapdash and gimmicky. What they all have in common is a recognition of the inchoate demand for more rigorous and productive tracking, measurement and analysis of law firm marketing programs, particularly social media participation.

To get this multi-post survey of ROI measurement for law firms rolling, it’s useful to start with a general framework for performance tracking and analytics.

Corey Eridon provides an excellent social media ROI measurement primer in a recent HubSpot post:

1.) Start to measure social media networks together and separately. Every social media network has its own set of strengths. For example, you may find that Twitter drives the most site traffic, Facebook generates the most leads, and LinkedIn generates less but more qualified leads. Yes, you should absolutely analyze your social media strategy as an aggregate of all social media networks so you can compare it to other campaigns, but then be prepared to break it down network by network. This will let you determine which networks are best helping you meet specific sales and marketing goals…and which aren’t making the cut.

2.) Track visit-to-lead conversion. Social media helps drive traffic to your site, but traffic doesn’t bring home the bacon. Track (network by network, and as an aggregate) how many of those visitors convert into leads. Knowing exactly how much of a role social media plays in lead generation will help you meet your monthly lead goal by giving you the historical data to set an educated goal based on how much social media brings in, and what that rate of growth looks like month over month.

3.) Track lead-to-customer conversion. The next logical step, right? Now that you know how many leads you get from each social media network and social media as a whole, make use of closed-loop analytics to see how many leads turned into customers. This insight will help you implement a mature lead scoring system so your sales team can focus time on the leads most likely to close. When you use closed-loop marketing on social media leads, you can also learn metrics like how much social media customers cost to acquire, and how much they spend with you compared to leads from other campaigns.

4.) Score leads and monitor the sales cycle. Score social media leads and monitor how much time it takes a social media lead to make it through the sales cycle. Not only does scoring leads help your sales team prioritize its time, but this insight will also help inform your lead nurturing program so you can shorten the sales cycle for social media leads. It also helps you understand how valuable a social media lead is, and where it ranks compared to leads from other campaigns.

5.) Watch site behaviors from your social media traffic. Understanding how to properly nurture social media leads will depend heavily on this step. By understanding where social media leads enter, leave, and spend their time on your site, you can see what type of content addresses their specific needs. So before entering them into a lead nurturing queue meant for, say, people in the middle of their buying cycle, you can provide content that addresses their specific problems.

Future posts in this series will cover topics including:

  • Matching the right metrics to you firm’s business objectives
  • Dead-end metrics
  • Measuring the unmeasurable
  • Tracking social media from tactic to revenue
How extensive are your social media ROI measurement processes? Have you had any “Aha!” moments along the way?

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.07.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.30.11

 

What to Do When a Reporter Calls

Yes, there are still a few traditional media outlets out there that actually matter, and yes, sometimes reporters call you out of the blue. Are you prepared?

Whether you’re a solo who answers his/her own phone or a small- to mid-sized firm with the good fortune (and good sense) to have a marketing and communications professional on staff, following a few simple steps will help you manage media interactions with less stress and greater effectiveness.

  1. Have a single point of contact for media. Unless the reporter is a personal friend and everyone who answers phones knows that, all media calls should be directed to one or two designated spokespeople for vetting and disposition.
  2. Don’t panic. When an unsolicited media call comes in, don’t automatically treat it as urgent — even if the caller insists he is “on deadline.” Always vet the caller and the request before  deciding whether to respond at all.
  3. Trust, but verify. If they’re asking to speak with a specific person, always make sure to dig deeper about the nature of what they want to discuss, and what their deadline is. This will help you determine whether and how to respond, and will allow you gather background in advance of the return call or e-mail message.
  4. “Let me call you back.” Whether it’s a favorable opportunity or crisis communications, it’s always best to make time to prepare.
  5. Promise nothing. Unless you’re certain that someone in the firm will want to take part in an interview, indicate you’re taking the inquiry seriously but that you’re not committing to anything (e.g. “I don’t have any information on that right now, but I will look into it and get back to you.”
  6. “No comment” is not an option. “I don’t have any information to share with you right now” or “We do not comment on rumors” make the same point with fewer stonewalling overtones.
  7. Put it in writing. Get both phone and e-mail contact info, and confirm name spellings. You can use that information in Google searches to help you prep. Also, e-mailing your responses reduces the risk of being misquoted or misrepresented, and it cuts down on phone tag.