5 Ways for Law Firm Marketers to Support Their Attorneys’ Writing Efforts

…from those who know. (With excellent bonus tips to boot.)

We’ve been asking CMOs, marketing managers, and biz dev folks at law firms that use JD Supra how they support the writing efforts of their attorneys and practice groups. The idea: put together a list of “Think Like an Editor” tips by law firm marketers for law firm marketers. Here’s what we’ve heard so far in reply:

1. Create Editorial Calendars

“At Fenwick & West, we’ve found one of the best ways to keep the content trains running is the use of editorial calendars. Each quarter, we get the practice or industry group to agree upon the topics that are likely to be of interest to clients and reporters in the upcoming two quarters. Partner and associates are then assigned roles for those topics: article, alert, PR contact, blog post, twitter feed, etc. These assignments to specific tasks and topics help keep the content flowing because the attorneys know they only have one or two things to do each quarter. A marketer serves as project manager, reminding people when content is due, as well as coordinating proofing and distribution if applicable. For a firm our size, this method helps us generate a relatively significant amount of content and press visibility.”

Rob Kahn, Fenwick & West

2. Follow the Leads

“What are your competitors writing about? What new cases have been decided? What news articles are trending? What are the other bloggers saying? Any new legislative actions? I subscribe to numerous RSS feeds and have them all categorized so I can quickly scan to see what’s happening in our industry sectors. I can then relay story ideas to our team of bloggers.”

– Heather Morse, Barger & Wolen

3. Foster Group Accountability & Assign Manageable Writing Tasks

“At a monthly practice group meeting we ask for someone to commit, in front of their colleagues, to a single article for that month, with a hard due date. (The practice group itself has committed to producing twelve such publications in a meeting at the start of the year.) A single article in a given month for one attorney is a manageable amount of work – it’s easy to imagine getting that done. Couple the assignment with the group accountability, and usually we see a finished article within a few days after the meeting.”

– Carla Cogan, Manatt

4. Spotlight the Right Stuff

“When we kicked off our social media plan, we recognized that lawyers might lack the internal motivation to be regular participants in these tactics. It was new, unproven, took time and they would be personally responsible for it. So, we started a feature in our regular internal marketing news called “Whooz Famous Now?” (so called because of a long firm tradition of “Woohoos” for victories and significant events). Each issue, we shine the light of recognition on the PR side, skewed to social media, both for participants and what results we gather anecdotally. Not only does this make our contributors more visible among their fellow lawyers, but it has demonstrated itself to be an incentive for them to report to us.”

L. Russell Lawson, Sands Anderson

5. Educate Your Attorneys

I help the attorneys in our firm understand the power and reach of the Internet: “Remember the days when attorneys had to pay absurd amounts of money to be found in a big yellow book?  Today, your clients and colleagues use search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo for the latest news in their industry. If you want to be found then writing is the solution. Once you write an article, that article can also be included on your website, cited by mainstream news sources, promoted through third-party news providers, and shared across various social media outlets. Now your article can be found in more than one place and eventually could lead to another marketing opportunity, such as a speaking engagement, or even a new client…”

Kyle Shumate, Dinsmore & Shohl

Bonus Tips: we cast a wide net for these tips, and will be adding others as they come in. (Please send yours!) Here are two:

6. Nag

“Nag, nag, nag. And learn early not to take rejection personally.”

Beth Cranson, Warner Norcross & Judd

7. Use JD Supra’s Trending Topics

“We encourage attorneys to author by posting their published work on our website, sharing it in our internal newsletter and by using the published articles for business development opportunities, which is a testament to the attorney’s knowledge and experience in the authored area. More often than not, the most difficult part of authoring is selecting the topic.  In order to assist, we often provide them with the list of trending topics from JD Supra, which helps identify what topics are at the forefront each month.”

Lori Foleen, Lane Powell

8. Leverage existing content

Proactively seek opportunities to leverage content being written or prepared by your attorneys for client memos, legal alerts and upcoming seminars. Typically this content has already been researched extensively and is very timely – no arm-twisting needed. For example, when an attorney tells our marketing team he or she plans to send out a legal alert, we immediately reach out to the legal publications to gauge their interest in an article on the particular subject area. Once the article has been published, (with permission from the publisher of course!) we take the content and distribute it via online channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and JD Supra. We also share the article link with the attorneys in our weekly “Marketing Minute Monday” electronic internal communication which provides both peer recognition and an opportunity for our attorneys to share valuable content with their contacts. Attorneys usually express how grateful they are to see their hard work go further than it would have just a few years ago. As marketers, our team is excited we have the opportunity to add tremendous value with online tools at our fingertips.

Sara McKibben, Snell & Wilmer

What works for you as you support your attorneys’ writing efforts? Send me a note and I’ll include your tip here…

@adrianlurssen