• Doug McPherson

How lawyers and accountants can avoid claims of #covidwashing by varying their blog topics

I think it’s fair to say there are few industries that love jargon, acronyms and hashtags as much as marketing does. It’s one of the reasons some still look at their marketers with a combination of incredulity and distain when they speak at meetings. It’s also the reason why the sound commercial sense lying behind their ideas can be missed.

However, let’s not get bogged down in history. Let’s stay in the present and, never being one to miss out on shooting down the latest jargon/acronym/hashtag, may I present …


Covidwashing is the term that’s just been coined for the practice of co-opting either Covid or Coronavirus into every headline, blog and article you write and into every graphic or video you produce. It is also a practice that’s starting to provoke a bit of a backlash.

Well known consumer brands and financial institutions have been ridiculed for their anodyne cut and paste overuse of the ‘we’re with you’ template email. There have also been some public snooks cocked at certain brands who are using teary celebrities to endorse roughly the same message in TV ads.

The professional services have also been giving their marketing communications a quick covidwash.

Before I suffer a backlash of my own here, let me be clear that this has been done for all the right reasons and with the very best of intentions. Life has changed immeasurably for all of us over the last few weeks and with the government pumping out a constant stream of new initiatives and new terminology, it is every lawyer and accountant’s duty to make sure their clients know about them, understand what they mean and, most crucially, understand what impact those changes will have on them.

However, I would suggest this is the perfect time for law firms and accountancy practices to re-evaluate and maybe start to develop their messaging. After all, one of the reasons unflattering new monikers are coined is to mark the point where something new and vital starts to look a little well worn.

I am certainly not suggesting you overlook the current crisis or the effect it is having on your clients. We can’t ignore this or airbrush it. It’s already the biggest thing that’ll happen in our lifetimes and it is also almost certainly going to cause a seismic shift in the way we do business and look after our clients going forward.

What I am suggesting is it’s probably time to employ a much more varied range of content.

By shifting focus away from re-reporting the same news as everyone else, you will be able to punctuate your updates with pieces that look specifically at the different things your clients need to be doing/thinking about/putting in place to get them through tomorrow and, longer-term, successfully through the recovery period.

There are 3 key reasons why broadening your approach will pay dividends:

1. We all need something to look forward to

We all know what’s going on and bad news does take its toll. But we are going to get out the other side at some point and that, for me at least, is massively motivating.

I want to be reassured we are starting to come out the other side. I also want to know what I need to be aware of (even if it’s a bit finger in the air until things get clearer) and what I should be looking at to drive our business’ recovery.

Why not be that positive voice? After all, people are more likely to engage with your content and want to carry on the conversation if your outlook is optimistic.

2. Your efforts are hitting stoney ground

In my last blog I reported Google has now indexed well over 3 BILLION blogs (never mind articles, reports, videos and other forms of content).

Since then a client has sent me a stat that says 79% of ALL of the content on the internet is related to COVID-19.

Given much of this will have their been published or backed by media giants with deep digital marketing resources and that these topics will have been tackled by every other law, accountancy or intellectual property firm, how likely is it that it’ll be your piece that gets top spot in the search engines?

3. Different people react to different things at different times

Putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea marketing-wise. In the same way that you would split your efforts between networking, content and events during more normal times, you need to hedge your bets with your content marketing now.

Try different tones of voice, different approaches (and that means different formats and media as much as different angles or perspectives) and promote your links at different times of day.

Then compare what pulls best and use that insight to inform your approach and your promotional plan for your next tranche of content.

Never lose sight of the fact marketing has to work in step with business development, not independently to or (gulp!) in place of business development. Task those fee earners who are still talking to clients and contacts to ask them what information they need, what format would work best for them and what the best time to send it is.

And, if you can also get those fee earners to report back on the questions they are asked during those conversations, that will give you even more covidunwashed topics to cover in future blogs.

If you’d like to discuss how to adapt your blog to meet your clients' current demands, please email us today and we’ll find a convenient time to for a call.

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