Somewhere along the line you’ve likely heard that content is king. If you want to rank high on Google, if you want to build the online reputation of your law firm, if you want to convert leads into clients, you have to create content.
But while there is some truth to this adage, it’s worth remembering another famous saying: live by the sword, die by the sword.
There is no such thing as risk-free law firm marketing strategy.
When you produce your own content, you put you and your law firm at risk of ridicule, backlash, or far worse.
Take, for example, what occurred for the folks at BCG Attorney Search of Pasadena, California. Managing Director Harrison Barnes wrote an article which he published on both his company’s website, as well as on LinkedIn (following pretty standard yet effective marketing tactics).
The piece focused on reasons why an attorney applying for a job at a law firm may not hear back. The piece was quickly blasted for sexism due to a specific passage of the article. That passage was quickly modified after complaints surfaced, but a version cached by Google remained online for some time after:
4. Recruiting Coordinators Are Expected to Be Presentable, and in Many Cases They Will Be Expected to Be Attractive (Most Are in Their Early 20s to 30s) If you have not noticed by now, most legal recruiters are women, and most are quite attractive and fit. This is because they are in positions that involve public relations–sort of like an on-air television newscaster. There is nothing wrong with the fact that most law firms put people like this in these positions because they are the public face of the law firm. What is problematical, though, is that some of these people can also–occasionally–be a little ditzy and not have the other sorts of qualifications that would make them qualified for the job. Not only do they sometimes have more beauty and fewer brains, but they also may have more beauty and less interest in people, less ability to connect with people, and similar negative characteristics. This means they expect people to treat them as if they are special and sometimes are more focused on themselves than their jobs. It is not uncommon for recruiting coordinators to use their workspaces as a hunting ground for mates–and it works. Many recruiting coordinators marry (or get married to) associates and partners inside of the law firm. This is what happens when attractive and successful people are put in confined spaces 10 hours a day. Once a legal recruiting coordinator gets close to an associate or partner in the firm, the recruiting coordinator may start playing favorites–and often does. People who are close to the associate or partner may get special treatment when applying to the firm, for example. If there is tension in the job of the associate or partner (i.e., getting fired, getting a bad performance review, or leaving), this can affect the performance of the recruiting coordinator a great deal.
Yikes. That’s not good, particularly since a good portion of BCG’s target audience is female. Barnes spoke with Inc.com about this controversy. In the call, Barnes told contributing writer Erik Sherman that the topics he discussed in the article are “observations of some things I’ve seen. It doesn’t mean it’s true about everybody.”
But that’s not how this piece is interpreted by a wide variety of readers. Despite being reviewed by several people in the office– as is customary for the company – the material ran as is.
Producing content on the web is a phenomenal way to make a splash and build your branding. But anytime you make a remark that could be construed as offensive to readers, you risk long-term collateral damage. You can apologize; you can remove the material, but your reputation may still be forever damaged.
So, what could Barnes and BCG have done to avoid this catastrophe? What types of procedures can your law firm put into place to safeguard your content marketing efforts?
Here is what our SEO marketing company does for law firms; if you are a lawyer, you can do it too.
Always review content yourself
In the example above, Barnes trusted others in his office to review the content and post it live. Sure, we can assume he is the one who penned the offensive material; however, he relied on others to get the last look on his content.
We suggest that as the face of your law firm, you should have the last say in all of the content produced and published. You very well may have a marketing team on staff, or a colleague you’ve dubbed as your go-to writer; however, to be safe, review articles before they’re seen by the world. That way you can ensure the words on the screen represent your law firm appropriately.
Create a content calendar to avoid hasty writings
We’ve seen it firsthand: folks put off writing until the very last minute. It’s human nature to procrastinate. But that procrastination can lead to mistakes and misjudgments.
That’s why one of the very first things we do for our clients is to help them develop a content calendar. This content calendar outlines the topics that will be discussed, and in what format they’ll be published (articles, e-books, webinars, etc.). We usually build out content calendars a quarter at a time, with the understanding that last-minute ideas and breaking news may need to be accommodated.
Look outside your firm for support
Often times you and your colleagues are too close to the material to catch mistakes or to understand how content might be misinterpreted by a wider audience. Hiring an editing professional outside of your firm with expertise in law can give your content that extra layer of protection and provide you peace of mind that your words won’t offend anyone or do more harm than good.
Build your branding, don’t break it down
Content continues to be an extremely effective way for law firms to demonstrate their expertise and boost their rankings for key search terms. But we urge you not to get lazy or sloppy with your digital marketing strategies. Follow our tips above to ensure that the content you produce does its job of attracting your prospects and turning them into leads and clients.