John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall. Welcome to the Legal Marketing Review, and part two of my interview with Linda Pepe, Director of Marketing and Communications at Burns & Levinson. [Listen to or read part 1 here.]
Linda Pepe: Hi, John. Thank you for inviting me.
Social Media & Increasing Trust for Attorneys
John: Yeah, absolutely. How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys? Isn’t it a negative when you click on social icons, and they reveal very few followers on Facebook, and Twitter, etc.?
Linda: Absolutely, it’s a negative. Almost everyone goes to the Web, and Googles for information, including my 80‑year‑old in‑laws. They go to the Web, and they Google. If you aren’t there, it’s a problem. If you are there but not active, it’s just not going to be impressive, to today’s tech-savvy social networker who is a buyer of legal services.
Audio & Video on Attorney Websites
John: Yeah, I agree, definitely. If a picture is worth a thousand words and researchers indicate that 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?
Linda: You hit on a really good point, John. I’m a big believer in content marketing, and as one of those pieces of content marketing, a big believer in video content being an important part of your marketing strategy.
At my last firm, I initiated a hugely successful video hot-topic strategy that resulted in a huge number of views of our video content. As a matter of fact, within the first two weeks of launching our practice‑based topic videos, we had over 32,000 views of them.
John: That’s a lot of views.
Linda: It is.
John: That’s amazing. Legal content isn’t always the most popular viral content, but 32,000 views is really good. In what time frame, again?
Linda: That was the first two weeks when we started launching.
John: The first two weeks, wow.
Linda: What we did was, we did a series of videos interviewing attorneys on their practices. Then edited them down to little bite‑sized chunks on different topics. 30‑ to 90‑second information bites that were valuable. We released them staggered, over a period of time. Again, those first two weeks together were 32,000 views.
Now, part of it was because of the distribution network that I set up, but a part of it was just being willing to take the time and take the money to do some quality videos with really good content.
John: What type of videos, again? How did you get the attorneys to open up and cut a lot of videos? How did you schedule that out?
Linda: Taking a little bit of a step back — when we first launch our new website, we created a series of about 60 videos that were more culture‑based. Talking about the firm, the value we provided to clients, and why you might be interested in working there. We launch the site with that.
We then did a round-two of videos, what I like to call “Hot Topic Videos” with the attorneys speaking about their practice. We picked a number of attorneys in various practice groups and worked out some questions with them in advance, sat down and did a series of interviews at various offices, and then went in and edited them down to these smaller bite size chunks.
Personally, I don’t think anyone has the time or the motivation to spend time listening to a long form video or even for the most part, people don’t like to read really long articles or documents because — I don’t know about you, but I’m too busy. I don’t have time.
I’ve been trying to push all the content to being at a glance, quick, bulleted. When I started working on the video project, I did the same thing. It’s got to be quick. It’s got to be something fast to listen to. You get information in a short period of time. It doesn’t require as much of the time commitment on the viewer, if you can keep it to be a short video.
Thought Leadership of B2B vs B2C Attorneys
John: Yeah, those are great tips on video for law firms. Excellent. What about thought leadership in terms of — does it matter more if — thought leadership and blogging, does it matter more for B2B versus B2C attorneys?
Linda: It’s very important for both groups. In various surveys, B2B legal services have stated repeatedly, their written thought leadership has had a big impact on them. In fact, 84 percent of in-house council have said that they perceived legal blogs to be very credible. That’s saying something.
I can also tell you for an absolute fact that for the consumer audience, it makes a big difference. We have an attorney here with a blog directed to consumers who gets most of her clients from the blog. In fact, she’s told me that every single new client she gets either found her through the blog or has read her blog.
So that blog, it credentials and validates their choice. It’s amazing. In fact, she’s even got clients through the Twitter feed.
John: Yeah, being able to track the ROI directly to a lead on Twitter. That’s great. We’ve had some where — kind of back to the YouTube stuff — where we’ve done attorney YouTube videos. And then our attorneys will get a call ‑‑ this has happened several times ‑‑ where they specifically cited, “Yeah, I saw you on YouTube and was really impressed and thought that I could work with you and liked what you had to say. That’s why I’m calling.” That’s great when you can get direct, trackable results.
So you’ve seen it, both on the B2B and B2C side, blogging and Twitter and YouTube working?
Linda: Most definitely.
John: What are some ways that you have found to extend your content beyond your own website, whether it’s a blog or whatever types of content you have? How can you get it out there further, beyond your own little world?
Linda: That’s another really good question. Using a distribution network is really key to getting that thought leadership out there. Originally, anything written was just printed and mailed out to existing clients. It wasn’t very effective. It was a slow process.
Then, we started posting to the website and emailing it, which was much better but it still reached a limited audience, mostly just your clients. Now, we have a number of distribution partners that we can utilize to get the word out much farther and much wider.
The National Law Review, for one. This site began as a printed publication. It’s very well thought of. They distribute the thought leadership through their site, through newsletters, through Google News, and lots of other sources.
They don’t require a sign‑up, which is also an advantage, in some ways. They’re a terrific distribution partner to work with.
By the way, all the ones I’m telling you about I’ve personally worked with. I would recommend every one of them.
JD Supra is another terrific distribution partner. They don’t require a sign‑up, as well. They distribute their thought leadership through their site, social media, and various newsletters. They also have a partnership with law.com that they distribute through. They have a very, very high‑volume readership.
They also provide some trending reports, which are terrific. If your attorneys need ideas on what to write about, their monthly trend reports can be really helpful.
A third site that I work with is Mondaq. Mondaq’s a little bit different because they require a sign‑up. But because of that, they can provide actual reader information on an individual basis. They can provide the name of the reader. They can give the company where they work, their title, their contact information.
All this information, like if someone that’s been reading your content on their site has actually printed it, has forwarded it, has clicked on your bio link. They also have another great feature, which is automatic author LinkedIn updates. By the way, JD Supra provides that one, as well.
The fourth one that I think is worth looking into, another terrific partner, is Lexology. They, again, have their readers sign up so they can get information and provide more detailed analytics. They provide reader information on a company basis. They also have those automatic author and company LinkedIn updates.
They have a really extensive distribution list, which includes various state bars. One of the most important is the Association of Corporate Council. If that’s one of your target audiences, this is a great place to be.
John: That’s a great list. Are these all really expensive?
Linda: They vary in price. As far as pricing, the most reasonably priced one is the National Law Review. If you haven’t worked with any distribution partners, they might be a good one to use to stick your toe in the water, see how it works. The others, I believe, are similar in price. Usually, it’s an annual fee, and it depends on some of the features that you get.
They would range from, overall — and I think it depends on the size of the firm — from these four different distribution partners, the National Law Review, JD Supra, Mondaq, and Lexology — the range of price is probably about $3,000 to $15,000, but don’t quote me on that.
John: No, absolutely. That just gives people a rough idea. I heard you speak at the National LMA event, Legal Marketing Association, and I was amazed. You had such an awesome case study when you were with Mintz Levin, I think it was, where you did a lot of these feeds. You had, was it like 100,000 visitors a month to a legal website or certainly tens of thousands, right? Or in aggregate?
Linda: The monthly I don’t remember, but the figure using all four of these distribution partners, as well as our blogs and our website, was over a million article reads over a period of a year, which is huge for a law firm.
John: Yeah, that is. Absolutely.
Linda: And I’m in the process — I haven’t been with Burns & Levinson that long, but I’m in the process of building up a distribution network. I’m working with the attorneys on their content marketing and that’s one of my major initiatives here. To push out content and start to really utilize social media and get our attorneys known for their thought leadership.
Attorney Thought Leadership Activities
John: Is it hard to get them to write, even if they are thought leaders and have a lot of experience? Are they afraid of compliance issues or what are some of the issues to get them going now that you have these proven methods to make it work?
Linda: One of the main problems is really time because good attorneys tend to be very busy. It’s difficult to convince them to put time aside to do writing on a regular basis. However, the reality is if you’re writing and working on a blog post, it really doesn’t need to be a huge commitment of time. It’s not the same as putting 15 or 20 hours into a legal article.
It can be written in a more casual tone. It can be done much more quickly. It can be linking to another article and giving your opinion on something. I’ve been working with them on that, as well as the issue of topics because there are a lot of people that start wondering and thinking about “what topic am I going to write on, what are people going to find interesting?”.
For that I always tell them, “first of all, think about the kinds of questions your clients are asking you. What are they talking to you about? What’s going on?”
One of the other things to do is to look and see what’s in the news. Now, it’s one thing to look at the legal news. You can see what cases are out there and people are talking about, but sometimes there’s just something going on in the news period that you can put a legal twist on.
For example, we had one of our attorneys write a blog post on something that had to do with the National Football League and she tied into an employment issue, I believe. It ended up being a hugely popular blog post that got picked up by other blogs and had a tremendous number of reads.
If you think about that, what people are talking about, what they’re thinking about, what they might find interesting, that’s where you’re going to get your ideas from.
John: Yeah. That reminds me of news jacking. Is that a tactic that you were shooting for? Have you heard of it phrased that way, “news jacking”?
Linda: I don’t know what that is.
John: It’s a cute little term. Basically, you’re riding the coattails of a news story. This person you just mentioned tied the NFL story into an employment issue, which was a little bit different of a spin. But that creative thinking to attach yourself to a newsworthy topic, sometimes can make you go a little bit viral.
Sounds like you…
John: Yeah. You were doing that.
Linda: You don’t want to stretch it to a point where it doesn’t make sense.
John: Oh, yeah. No.
Linda: Sometimes, it really makes sense.
John: If you can do it creatively without making something ridiculous or appearing to be spammy, you can do it in a good way. It’s David Meerman Scott, the thought leader on news jacking.
Linda: I’ll look it up.
John: Check that out, yeah. Really great thoughts. How can people get a hold of you? What’s a good place to connect with you?
Linda: You can either reach me via email at lpepe, that’s P‑E‑P‑E, email@example.com or look for me on LinkedIn. Connect with me and send me an invitation and let me know that you heard this podcast.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for your thoughts today. This is John McDougall with The Legal Marketing Review. See you next time.
Linda: Thanks so much, John. It was really fun.