John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall. I’m back with Christopher Newman, the LMA Chapter President for New England and the Senior Vice President of Client Development at Cooley LLP at Boston. Welcome back, Chris.
Christopher Newman: Thanks, John. I appreciate it.
John: We’ve been talking about law firm content and blogging, et cetera. How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys and, at the very least, is it a negative when you click on social media icons and they reveal almost no followers on Facebook, Twitter, et cetera?
Christopher: It’s a good question. Like most things in the legal profession, lawyers have been somewhat slow to embracing social media.
I don’t think there’s necessarily a fault by having a few followers as long as you’re building credible, strong readership through credible content. There’s definitely when you look at through the generational split.
You’re finding that younger folks coming into the marketplace or been in the marketplace for say, a decade or less, have really entrenched themselves with a different social media platforms and trying to figure out the best ways to really execute using it.
In this day and age, going back to what I pointed out, social media, it’s critical to the overall marketing game plan but it’s not a stand alone effort that’s going to sell any one in the long run.
The way I see it is social media is one piece of the pie that is really going to drive the B to B marketing efforts. So many different people feel comfortable with various platforms, it’s going to help promote their practice best.
We talked about before about blogs and how they’re being viewed right now at GCs and the value there. Certain folks find Twitter to be a really easy tool to get the message out there about your content as well as content other people.
At your firm are doing or even content that’s being published by third‑party news sources. Being a thought leader, using social media is a critical component but I don’t think it’s one of those things where it’s making or breaking anyone in this day and age.
The reality is that this is still a relationship business. What drives growth in business is getting out there, and talking to people, and developing those relationships in person.
One of the advantages you do have with social media is that it allows you to stay in contact with people a lot easier than what you had a few years ago.
By following someone on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Google +, it’s an easy way to stay on top what’s going on in a person’s life, both professionally, and potentially, personally.
It’s a lot different than say, five or 10 years ago, where, or more like 10 years ago, where email, or handwritten notes, or phone calls were really the only ways to do that.
Social media is one component to what goes into marketing and doing the BD around the law firm but there are definitely people out there that can survive without necessarily thriving in the social media realm.
John: It’s quite a bit different for law firms in some ways than some traditional or some other industries, travel, entertainment. Certain things just lend themselves to social where maybe not everyone is dying to be on an attorney Facebook page.
Your point was excellent in regard to extending human relationships onto online. It’s just maybe a little different than other industries.
Christopher: Yeah and that’s the challenge a lot of times with marketing legal services. So many of the details that we often deal with are confidential or is not necessarily information clients want out there, promoting it.
In some ways, if you travel and really promoting a great vacation, it’s a lot easier to tell that story than that’s a company with a litigation success that you get for a high stakes patent infringement trial.
It’s a great result but are clients going to want you out there talking about it on social media or pounding your chest and getting praise for cleaning up a mess that a company made not appreciate.
John: Right. [laughs]
Christopher: That’s really the biggest challenge about doing legal marketing. It’s just how do you position stories the right way to make sure that your attorneys and your firm is getting the right amount of credit.
But then also, not taking pride in the situation that others may not necessarily want out there.
John: Very good point. If a picture’s worth a thousand words and research has indicated over 70 percent of what we communicate is through our tone and body language.
Not just through our words, doesn’t that make images, audio and video an incredibly important part of influencing website visitors?
Christopher: You’re starting to see that push. If you go to websites now a days for law firms, you’re seeing a lot more videos embedded in them.
It hopefully gives a little bit more of a personal feel. I do think pictures, going back to what we talked about with bio pictures, standing outside versus standing in front of a wall of books. It personalizes the experience.
When you’re looking at GC’s or other in house folks that are trying to hire counsel, especially with the number of attorneys that are out there, especially with the number of attorneys that work at excellent firms that have wonderful reputations.
A lot of times it is those personal components that can help drive the decision to hire you.
And to your point about having pictures or videos through website platforms ‑‑ sorry, through law firm marketing platforms. Like a website, it gives the potential buyer of services to get a better feel for you.
One of the challenges that law firms still do have is getting someone or convincing someone to want to watch a four‑minute video about an interview about a firm acquiring another firm or giving background on a particular issue.
It’s a very focused market that’s going to want to have interest in that. And one of the things that law firms are trying to position themselves to differentiate them.
The firms within the market, is giving a little bit more of a character, a little flair, around what they do, so it’s personally and professionally or what they do to sell the firm’s culture.
I know one of the things that Cooley prides itself on is being one of the Fortune 100 best places to work in the country, and if you go on our website one of the first videos you see is our Fortune 100 video.
Which is a collection of different images or different video profiles that we brought together. It’s about a two‑minute video, but it gives you, in that short amount of time, a real feel for what Cooley’s culture is all about.
When you think of law firms as sometimes being a little bit stuffy or a more challenging work environment, Cooley’s able to really step aside from the rest of the pack and say, hey, we do really, really good work on the legal front, but we also know how to have fun.
We know how to take care of our people like they’re our family and really embrace the culture. And I think, to your point, it’s a lot easier to get that message through in a two‑minute video than trying to write a five‑page article about what makes Cooley different.
John: Yeah, it sounds like a really good video. I’m going to have to check that out. It sounds great.
Does thought leadership and/or blogging matter more to B2B or B2C attorneys in your opinion?
Christopher: That is a good question. I don’t think there’s necessarily a clear‑cut line. It’s definitely different audiences have different appreciations for the variety of social media vehicles out there.
I personally haven’t seen a clear‑cut indication that one is having an impact on more than the other group, but with anything, it’s depending on the actual audience that’s viewing it.
John: Are you guys doing much blogging?
Christopher: We are. We have five blogs right now. I want to say three of those five blogs are pretty stale. We’re in the process right now of relaunching one of our popular practice groups or one of our very successful ones.
And there’s been this debate back and forth for several months on whether or not we do a blog. It’s tough, because it goes back to the concept that as soon as billable work tends to come up, the habit usually is that the billable work gets done before the blog post.
And a lot of times the blog post, because of the dense nature or the legal issues that they’re tackling, it’s not really something that could be ghostwritten by people that are non‑lawyers. So that often creates this bottleneck of getting the work done on the blog.
We’ve found blogs to be a bit of a struggle in terms of keeping them successful for months on end. There’s always a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement around watching a blog and doing that first month, probably first one or two months, worth of posts.
But once you get into months three through six, that’s when you can really test the quality of your blog and the sustainability of it. In our experience, and I’m sure there are plenty other legal marketers out there, have dealt with similar things.
It’s just one of those things where there’s a tendency to push it to the side. People lose sight of how quickly that will turn away the audience that was initially tuning into your constant postings.
John: Keeping it fresh is important. What we’ve found works really well is pod‑casting with attorneys, really with anyone, but attorneys and doctors and people that are really busy. The likelihood to keep the blog up isn’t good a lot of times.
We do pod‑casts with three questions each 15‑minute segment, and if you take an attorney a month, we do six‑month segments usually, so an attorney a month for six months, each attorney just puts in one hour talking to us on the phone.
Then we put the transcripts of the pod‑casts under the playable audio file in a blog post and it’s really good for Google Hummingbird, because Google Hummingbird is now the new basis of Google’s algorithms.
And they had to do that because of natural search, people searching with voice recognition on their mobile phones. Q and A content where you’re answering customers’ questions, Google likes that a lot.
That’s just one creative outside‑the‑box way, either using pod‑casting, or you’d still have to write it if you did this, but when I blog, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking.
If I’m not doing pod‑casts on the radio show here like with you today or doing interviews with my different team members, then I use Dragon Naturally Speaking. But yeah, Interviews are probably he quickest way.
Christopher: Yeah, they are. It’s good, because even with interviews doing the podcast, verses, even watching a video, a lot of us like to multitask.
And a podcast is a very easy thing to put on in the background if you’re going for a jog or you’re working out in the morning or whatever else you like to do. It’s an easy way to multitask and really get informed at the same time.
Even the natural companion with that would be a video. A lot of times, that demands your attention in terms of watching it, so I can imagine that the podcast would be a great source for people to be able to get information.
John: Yeah. And YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so doing both pod‑casting and video you’re going to end up with content that’s easier to create. Little two‑minute videos where you just answer one particular question, that’s a great way to get YouTube content.
That pops up in the search results. Pod‑casting has multiple benefits, like you said, listening while you’re exercising.
There are ways to solve the content dilemma, but interesting how you said too much content sometimes. I don’t know what’s next. Any final thoughts what might be next in legal marketing or any trends you think?
Christopher: It’s a really good question. Technology’s going to be more and more involved with what we do on a regular basis. In some ways at least from marketing in the legal industry, it’s going to become more simple or simpler.
In some ways, though, it’s going to become more difficult and I know that contradicts each other, but with the way technology’s evolving and even just going back to raise about enhancing websites through news stats and analytic.
Building out websites with videos using things like YouTube, Google‑plus. There’s a lot of different avenues out there that you haven’t necessarily been able to reach the right target buyers before and now you have the opportunity to do so.
But on the flip‑side, there are a lot more different systems and components that need to be managed. Not everything is created equal, so with that, it’s the balancing act and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.
Using YouTube as a great example, one of the things that we’ve talked about is do we convert doing things like client alerts, which usually are about a two‑page summary of a key decision or key piece of legislation that just got handed down or something like that.
Moving that over to more of a video platform and seeing if we could develop the YouTube channel around it.
With a lot of these things, there’s a lot of great ideas out there that seem like they’re going to work, but when you test them out or if you haven’t really put together a solid game plan on how to execute, these things can backfire very, very quickly.
With law firms often being resistant to being first to market with some of these enhanced platforms, I guess in some ways it’s a good thing because we can see how other companies are using it, especially other professional services industries.
But at the same time, often when we go to adopt a new service, companies have been doing this for a number of years and we feel like we’re late to the game and playing catch‑up pretty quickly and not necessarily having the full framework and the best ways to use it.
Mobile is obviously going to be a huge continuing growth area for law firms to do marketing and B to B. There’s no doubt about it that video, pictures.
Building out social media platforms to get to new users it’s all going to continue to grow and it’s just a matter of figuring out what sticks and what doesn’t.
That’s the fun part of what we do. It’s always changing. There’s no set game plan. Some firms are willing to take more experiments than others.
In the end, through organizations like LMA and some of the other professional marketing associations, we have the opportunity to bat around the ideas and to figure out as a group what makes sense and what doesn’t.
John: Yeah. No, those are all really great thoughts. Any upcoming LMA events to share?
Christopher: We have an LMA event tomorrow. It’s on generational marketing. This plays into our conversation fairly nicely and it’s really how do you market to different generations? How do you deal with internal clients as well as external clients that are from different generations?
Obviously technology plays into that if you have a younger group of individuals, social media and some of the new platforms that are out there are going to be much more appealing to, say, someone that may be in the later years of their career.
It’s going to be an interesting program that really addresses the best ways to approach the different generations. The guest speaker is aiming to give practical advice that will really help you approach things differently, not treating everything as one.
It can often be a trap for people to view every situation as the same, so we’re hoping that our guest speaker will have a lot to share on that.
John: Yeah, it sounds like a great, great event. That would be at the LMA New England Chapter website? There would be details there?
Christopher: Correct, yeah.
John: And then your main firm, what’s the URL?
Christopher: It’s cooley.com.
John: All right, good. Well, great talking to you today, Chris. Really fun chatting and look forward to doing it again soon.
Christopher: Great. Thanks for having me, John. Take care.
John: Talk to you later, Chris. See you.