Creating a compelling online presence for your law firm might sound difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy with the right tools and approach. While the language of the law might be dense and arcane for many internet users, you can make your approach to practicing law—and the team you rely on to do it—more relatable, approachable, and relevant for anybody who’s seeking representation online.
One of the most important and interesting tools in your arsenal might just be “newsjacking.” If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the practice of leveraging breaking morning news stories to establish your credibility online.
A study jointly conducted by Greentarget, the Zeughauser Group, and American Lawyer Media Legal Intelligence concluded that 2014 was a turning point for the law community, with 84% of respondents indicating they wanted to produce more online content for that calendar year. It’s now 2017, and the need for authoritative and authentic content is stronger than ever.
One of the best things you can do to establish your identity and credibility online is to leverage the news. Newsjacking is simple enough in concept: it means staying ahead of industry developments, new regulations, a shifting national legal landscape and breakout local legal cases that touch on your particular branch of the law. Whether yours is a local focus or you deal with clients from across the U.S., there’s almost always something going on that touches on your areas of expertise.
Newsjacking Done Well
What does it take to be successful with newsjacking in the legal niche? It means keeping a couple fundamental practices in mind.
Stay Up to Date With Breaking News
It goes without saying when we communicate at the speed of the internet, it can be easy to overlook even high-profile news stories from time to time. So if you want your newsjacking efforts to stay on the cutting edge, make sure you know how to stay informed.
What does staying informed look like? It looks like building out a Feedly or Flipboard account with relevant voices in the industry. It looks like setting up Google Alerts for specific keywords that apply to your practice and area of expertise. There are literally dozens of tools to help you keep abreast with industry developments, so make sure you’re using them.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Mimicry
Maybe the most important thing to remember about newsjacking is it’s about more than just mimicking breaking news stories or reproducing content you’ve seen elsewhere. It means recapping the important stories and events you’re covering, and then saying something unique about them.
For example, if there’s a new regulation floating around your state’s legislature that might bring significant changes to the way your branch of law practices, don’t just report that news—give your unique take on it. Explain why you’re singularly talented to approach legal topics of that nature or give your readers some insight into why they should or shouldn’t support that piece of legislation.
The point is: you have a finely honed legal mind at your disposal, so make sure you’re not just telling the news but that you’re also explaining to your readers, clients, and followers, in plain English, how the letter of the law might affect them on a personal level.
Turn Bad News Into Awareness
Until you’ve seen some of this put into practice, it may sound difficult or feel a little bit abstract. Here are a couple examples of successful newsjacking.
In light of the recent high-profile allegations of a sexist company culture at Uber, Pennsylvania legal firm, McCarthy Weisberg Cummings, P.C., used a topic-specific guide they created to remind working professionals of their rights when it comes to employee discrimination.
Another example of newsjacking was a $60 million pot bust in Texas, which gave local attorney Mitch Jackson ideas to use in social media and blog posts. The story provided an opportunity to speak about a trending local news story and at the same time allowed legal minds to speak to the ongoing national controversy surrounding medicinal and recreational marijuana.
Watch and Leverage Social Media
There’s no shortage of “channels” you can leverage to add your voice to the national or international legal conversation. It’s quite likely you’ve already built out a section of your website or even developed a more formal blog to share your thoughts with the community you serve.
But if you’re leaving out social media, you’re missing out on half the conversation. People frequently visit social sites to solicit advice from their friends and family members, and, increasingly frequently, to interact with the companies and brands they follow. This means you have a great opportunity in front of you to establish yourself on social media as an authoritative voice on legal matters.
Just as importantly, you can come at this from the other way around as well. Instead of using social media to disseminate your expertise and opinions, you can also leverage your social circles to help you figure out where the conversation is turning. Facebook can show you which news stories are trending, and Twitter makes it easy to follow hashtags and jump on in-progress conversations. Investing some of your time in social media is like taking the pulse of the nation.
Add a Nudge at the End
As you set out on your own newsjacking campaign, here’s a final reminder. Don’t forget to give your audience that final nudge through your funnel to complete a signup, contact you or complete any other task you consider a conversion “success.” You can make all of the insightful commentary you want on breaking news stories, but if you’re leaving off a compelling call to action (CTA) for your readers to “Get In Touch” or “Learn More,” they might click away without connecting with you further.
That’s what it’s all for, after all: establishing yourself as a leader and then making it clear to your potential customers why they’ll benefit from partnering with you. So what are you waiting for?