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Content Under Pressure

Becoming a Top Legal Blogger

By Susan Kostal

For three years running, Linn Freedman of Robinson+Cole in Providence, Rhode Island, has been the most well-read author on data privacy and cybersecurity on JD Supra. That success offers a wealth of lessons for lawyers aiming to connect with clients and achieve industry recognition through publishing.

Her blog strategy was born of necessity. Six years ago, while a partner at Nixon Peabody, Freedman found she was crafting multiple client alerts a week in an effort to keep clients up to date in a rapidly developing environment. “We didn’t want to overwhelm clients, and decided to do a weekly alert, and have the whole team work on it.”

A Blogging Schedule Is Everything

Robinson+Cole posts their blog, “Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Insider,” on JD Supra, with links back to the firm’s website, which hosts the complete publication. Individual posts run in full on JD Supra. Linn and her team post on the site at least three times a week, and sometimes daily. Many posts are short, just 175 words, but all link back to the firm page hosting the blog.

Freedman began by sharing weekly privacy tips — simple, actionable steps readers can take to beef up their protection. With readers knowing that each issue would contain valuable information they could put to use immediately, the posts developed a loyal following.

Now Freedman and her team have a weekly blog schedule. They assign lawyers with knowledge and experience in specific areas to cover subject matter based on their interests, strengths and client base. “We have a core team of 10 to 12 authors, and we post about eight to 10 articles a week,” Freedman says, and the blog gets “about 100,000 hits a month.”

She doesn’t try to cover what’s on the front page of The New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Rather, she and her team focus on specialized information CIOs need day in and day out to do their risk management jobs well. Freedman and colleagues draw on what they learn about what their clients are facing.

The firm posts content on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Freedman publishes the weekly alert on Thursdays. “Wednesday evenings come quickly, and I block out that time. My husband and family know I need to spend two to three hours on the blog.”

Freedman admits that writing a successful blog is a huge commitment: “You have to do it for years to get the benefits, but once you hit that place, the benefits are exponential. The first years you are slogging away, but once you are established, you reap those efficiencies.”

Reaping Rewards and Monitoring Metrics

Freedman and her colleagues have generated clients from the blog, as well as speaking opportunities. And the winning model is catching. Freedman’s partner Kathryn Radigan writes weekly on drones, helping propel the firm to the upper tiers on JD Supra for writings about aviation, from a cybersecurity perspective.

Freedman uses her reader analytics to determine what content is resonating with clients, and where to focus her efforts. “That’s very helpful in figuring out what the content should be. We get a lot of very positive feedback from our clients. That is very satisfying to me, that clients read it and appreciate it. My goal is to educate and inform companies and individuals about the risks of cyberattacks — about things I see every day — so that other people and companies won’t be victims. It is very much about paying it forward; 100 percent that’s my goal.”

Publishing, the Great Equalizer

Many of JD Supra’s most well-read authors are women, across multiple practice areas. In cybersecurity, women took five out of the 10 top slots in the 2018 Readers’ Choice awards, which is worth considering given that it is not known as a practice area dominated by women.

Blogging is also a significant equalizer for those in small and midsize firms. With consistency, many authors from less well-known firms compete more than ably against those in national brand-name firms.

And Freedman’s model of consistency wins readers. While none of her articles hit the top four most-read cybersecurity posts last year, it’s her stream of content that ensured her slot as most well-read overall.

Key takeaways from Freedman’s model are:

  • Assemble a team.
  • Assign a managing editor.
  • Adhere to a publishing schedule.

Most importantly, do it because you want to inform and connect with clients, not merely as a business development tool.

Freedman’s content went first to clients, and then out on a publishing platform. That kind of engagement results in the type of content that wins readers and keeps them coming back for more.

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Susan Kostal Susan Kostal

Susan Kostal is a legal affairs PR, marketing and business development consultant based in San Francisco. She is a contributing editor for Attorney at Work and writes the “Content Under Pressure” column. Susan has covered legal affairs as a journalist for nearly three decades. You can follow her on Twitter @skostal and view more of her content at www.susankostal.com.

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