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Content Marketing Tips for Lawyers
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Content Under PRessure

Create Breakout Bespoke Content That Builds Brands

By Susan Kostal

The mother lode of content creation is unique content that can be branded as solely belonging to the lawyer or firm. This can be produced and updated quarterly, annually or as news and events require. It establishes the publisher as an authority with its finger on the pulse of its chosen market.

Notice I write “chosen” market. This has to be highly focused and should dovetail perfectly with your brand. Let me give you some examples.

Fenwick & West publishes a quarterly Silicon Valley Venture Capital Survey. This makes sense; the firm is ranked by Dow Jones and Chambers as having one of the top VC practices in the country. The survey is widely quoted, and last year its Q1 issue was the second-most well-read piece of content the firm produced.

Allen Matkins has set out to own the California commercial real estate market, and has done so in part by partnering with the Anderson School of Business at UCLA to produce the Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey. Published twice a year, it is the foundation of numerous major firm events and publications, which positions Allen Matkins as one of the most authoritative sources of information on the California commercial real estate market.

Seyfarth Shaw’s annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, now in its 14th year, is a best-in-show report that makes the firm synonymous with class action litigation. At 800 pages, it is a giant publication and is consistently referred to as the source for countless media stories. Not coincidently, this year Seyfarth Shaw was again named a Law360 top employment “Practice Group of the Year.” It has won the accolade for seven consecutive years.

Archer Norris, by comparison, took a smaller content budget but went big with its Business Litigation Playbook, in which the firm partnered with ALM to survey California in-house counsel about their top concerns. The firm threw the bulk of its editorial budget into the project, which resulted in a product that now drives the firm’s homepage; gave it a new tagline, “Our Business Is the Business of California”; and branded Archer Norris as the firm that cares about the state of the California business climate.

Granted, these projects take significant time and budget. But the links and cites from third-party outlets repay that investment in spades. Why? People are hungry for quality data accompanied by experienced insight.

Three Ideas to Run With

So how can your firm do some of the same on a smaller scale? Here are a few ideas.

Employment law. The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces monthly employment data reports and detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employment, hours and earnings of workers on payrolls. CES National Estimates focuses on national data, and CES State and Metro Area produces estimates for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and about 450 metropolitan areas and divisions.

Break out the stats for your region, compare them with the national stats, and include unique context such as: “Our clients tell us that they are cautiously optimistic in the wake of a balanced state budget and the announcement of a planned autonomous vehicle manufacturing facility.” Or, “Local employment should rise once the vacant shopping mall on Highway 10 is fully rehabbed and leased in early 2018.” You now have the makings of a must-read monthly client alert.

Real estate. The National Association of Realtors publishes a wide range of statistics, including on existing home sales. Take these stats, quoting the source, of course, and compare your region with the state and national stats. Add a monthly tip for prospective buyers or sellers, such as ensuring property lines are uncontested by conducting a survey. In 250 words or less, you have a monthly post that readers will soon come to rely on for keeping up on the market.

Immigration. The Pew Research Center conducts some of the most respected research and data analysis available. It frequently posts research findings on immigration and immigration-related issues. Sign up for these alerts and make them the basis for a post or news alert, adding some commentary from your attorneys that provides the kind of context your market and clients need.

In each of these examples, I am suggesting the firm align itself with a respected brand known for quality data. This linking is important in associating your practice with keen market insights and trusted brands.

Bottom Line: When and Where You Can, Go Big

When big isn’t in the budget, or you don’t have the time or resources to create your own unique data set, borrow (with credit) the established work of others, adding the context acquired through your expertise and work with your clients. Do your clients the favor of doing the hard work of cherry-picking what’s really important to them, and then presenting it in a tailored fashion, with their needs in mind.

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Susan Kostal Susan Kostal

Trends at Work columnist Susan Kostal is a legal affairs PR, marketing and content strategy consultant. She is a former contributing editor for Attorney at Work and previously wrote a monthly column, Content Under Pressure. 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

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