• Doug McPherson

Blog writing for lawyers and accountants: What have we learned since March?

For obvious reasons, the already quickly increasing volume of content being produced by law firms has absolutely exploded over the last 6 months.

World events took traditional face-to-face type business development initiatives off the table. This meant fee earners had to find alternative ways to stay visible to their clients, contacts and targets. Moreover, they needed to do it quickly. If your firm wasn’t speaking to your market, your competitors definitely would be.

For many firms, this meant revisiting their content marketing strategy. It meant finding new ways to not only educate our audiences but also to reassure them during a period of huge uncertainty for all of us. For others that maybe hadn’t quite embraced the huge marketing benefits of regular blogs, articles and top tips, it meant a steep learning curve.

As you can imagine as an agency we were suddenly called in to help law firms, accountants and patent and trade mark attorneys work through those reviews. I thought it may be worthwhile recapping some of the main issues that came up in case they can help you develop your digital and content strategies.

1. Write for your audience

If your blogs are going to work in the search engines, you need to be specific. This means writing specifically for your market.

If you’re a property solicitor, don’t worry that your content won’t be relevant to your private client colleagues’ audience.

If you specialise in IHT, don’t worry that the schools and academies your audit and auctions colleagues’ work with won’t find it useful.

The primary objective of any content strategy is to generate eyes and enquiries. If you are being too generalist the search engines will gloss over your blogs and articles. Niche (and the keywords, search terms of points of reference that involves) really is the only way to go.

And remember, content should be split between a team that includes at least one person in each department (or outsourced to a specialist). This will give you enough pairs of hands to tackle one or two topics each week so all of your capabilities are covered regularly.

2. Always update, never advise

Remember blogging isn’t about providing advice. People’s situations, requirements and levels of understanding are far too different. If you try and offer advice, you will find yourself in hot water.

Instead, simply update your readers on the issues they need to know about:

1. Highlight the issue

2. Explain a possible solution (with the obvious “e.g.” style caveats)

3. Ask them to contact you for further details

This simple structure not only eradicates the potential for your content to be questioned, but it should also increase response rates.

3. Agree on a publishing schedule and stick to it

The best performing blogs are the ones that are added to regularly.

Not only does this tell your audience when to expect your next piece, it also helps with your search engine rankings. The major search engines favour frequently updates sites and besides, more pages = more keywords.

4. Use the news

If you can, try and jump on the news. The fact the subject of your blog is already in the public eye will help it get found because people will already be searching on those keywords.

For family and private client lawyers and for tax accountants this is pretty simple. New government legislation (and remember reporting on it before it becomes law will still help your SEO) and celebrity divorces always make very potent pieces. Issues being covered in soap operas and TV dramas also make good angles.

For commercial practices, you could look at what is happening in the industry sectors you work most closely with. A quick look at the home pages of the leading trade publications serving those sectors will give you a steer.

5. Mix in a bit of reportage

Remember your blogs don’t just have to be focused on what you do professionally. At the end of the day, you want to look like a participant in either your chosen sectors (commercial practices) or in your local area (private client practices).

This means that reporting on what’s going on is often just as effective as writing something about how to structure an employment contract or how ring-fencing your R&D could provide much-needed tax relief.

And, I don’t mean instead of. I mean as well as.

6. Use FAQs

Sometimes the solicitors, accountants and IP attorneys I work with say they’re struggling for inspiration. My answer is often to ask them what the last tricky question they got from a client was.

Bang! That’s it then … use their question as your heading and answer it in 2 paragraphs!

7. Content should be complementary, not standalone

Blogging on its own will never be the answer to marketing success. It has to be part of a multi-channel strategy (sorry for the marketing-ism!).

Tie what you are covering in with the webinars you are running.

Turn the key topics into video and infographics.

Collect up your blogs and articles and republish them as a white paper or special report.

But most of all squeeze the lemon.

Make sure every link is promoted via every fee earners’ social media accounts as well as the firm’s. And where you can, send the link to clients, contacts and targets in a ‘saw this and thought of you’ type email.

The more platforms you use to promote your new content, the more likely it is that it’ll generate results.

8. Measure the results

Although there are never any hard and fast rules as to what sticks and what doesn’t, try and keep an eye on what is liked and shared.

If there are certain times of the day that work best, use those for that department’s content.

If there are topics that generate more engagement, do more on those.

If there are formats that work better (bullet points, ‘7 things …’ type lists or top tips rather than standard articles), incorporate more of those.

Einstein once said the definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over whilst expecting a different result. Content marketing is no different. You only have a finite amount of time to write new content so invest that time in what works best for you.

If you would like to discuss your firm’s approach to blogging and producing content or find out how you could use us to write that content for you, please email me today.

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