How to Create a ‘Content Culture’ In Your Law Firm

Recently my colleague Adrian Lurssen shared a HubSpot piece on cultivating a content culture in your company, to which attorney Justinian Lane responded on Twitter:

Generally speaking, I think content creation in law firms is “hard to do” because attorneys (most still beholden to the billable hour) are extraordinarily busy, their days filled with so many other tasks already.

And I also think at least one other reason for the challenge to regularly produce timely content also happens to be the reason why law firm content can be so good, so valuable in an age when content is king.

Something Worth Saying

To whit: lawyers are trained to understand that their written words must stand up to professional scrutiny. That sort of rigor (requires research, and the time to understand the issues at hand) is a hard habit to break when speed is of the essence. And yet it often means that, unlike copious amounts of content produced these days simply for the online eyeballs, lawyers and law firms tend to produce substantive analysis and commentary in which the author actually says something worth saying.

That’s why I like seeing supremely practical posts like the one Adrian shared from HubSpot. While not all of the advice applies to the inner workings of a law firm (see: “Enable anyone to contribute”), much of it does. And so, for your reference, here’s a quick overview of HubSpot’s guide to cultivating a content culture – plus my take specifically with law firms in mind:

– Encourage Content in Different Formats

“That could mean they create a video, an infographic, a SlideShare presentation, present data they’ve researched, or stick with the written blog post we all know and love…”

What might take an attorney half a day to summarize in a blog post or article could well take just 30 minutes in a video shoot. Also, many of your attorneys speak regularly at industry conferences. The slides for those events? Good online content. (Venable regularly posts attorney conference slides to the firm’s JD Supra account. You should, too.) Recently at a Barger & Wolen lunch, CMO Heather Morse suggested that attorneys include favorable decisions in their JD Supra portfolios of alerts and blog posts. It’s all good material with which to communicate expertise and professional competence.

– Explain the Benefit(s) of Being a Published Thought Leader

“Authoring content gets their name — and how wicked smart they are — visibility with important people, both inside and outside of your organization…

The content is a built-in online portfolio they can refer to years down the read.

Their content might lead to future opportunities, like speaking engagements, or being quoted as an expert in other publications….”

Enough said.

– Communicate the Bottom Line Results

To keep your entire company enthusiastic about the importance of contributing to content creation efforts, use numbers to communicate the impact it has on your business…

This is why I spend so much time encouraging you to share your analytics internally. You’re able to communicate with your attorney authors just exactly how their writing was received and, as applicable, how it was picked up and referenced online.

– Play Into People’s Competitive Spirit

“[S]ometimes a little friendly competition is all you need to get your company into the content creation spirit…”

While at Sands Anderson, our friend Russell Lawson began an internal report called “Whooz Famous Now” that recognized the attorneys who had achieved good PR and visibility for their online efforts. It was, of course, also meant to foster competition among attorneys. Nothing wrong with that. You might consider, at the attorney or practice group level, begin keeping score within your firm. Who is getting the most visibility for their written work? Share it internally!

Those are my quick takeaways. Of course, I think the entire piece is worth a read. Here it is: