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Reaching In-House Counsel with Corporate Journalism and LinkedIn

Reaching In-House Counsel with Corporate Journalism and LinkedIn

Note:  The following is a guest post by Larry Bodine.

Corporate clients are feeling an information overload from all the marketing newsletters, blogs and social media updates sent out by law firms. But new research proves that lawyers can cut through the clutter by publishing “corporate journalism” and by interacting with in-house counsel on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is another good way to reach in-house counsel. In each age group, 60% of in-house counsel had used LinkedIn professionally with the past week. Overall, 37% said they had used it within the past 24 hours. This contrasts sharply with their lack of interest by in-house counsel with Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Readers like news reporting

Corporate journalism allows law firms to “act like media companies” by shaping and sharing their most compelling stories as  news reporters do, in order to demonstrate thought leadership and build brand awareness, according to the 2014 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey.

The information overload is caused by firms sending self-promotional press releases, new-partner announcements and propaganda touting themselves. Corporate journalism, instead shows:

  • A commitment to accuracy fairness and credibility.
  • The critical notion that journalism serves its audience above the firm.
  • Direct, succinct and lively writing that favors plain English over legal terms of art.

Corporate readers trust traditional news organizations – such as the Wall Street Journal and CNN, finding them “very credible.” Legal news curators and aggregators such as JD Supra are also considered “very credible.” Accordingly, it makes sense for law firms to adapt their storytelling techniques in their content marketing.

Interestingly, 84% of chief marketing officers at law firms expect to produce more content in 2014, but only 29% have a dedicated manager overseeing content strategy. Smart law firms hire an outside professional writer who knows both the law and journalism to get the job done.

LinkedIn is a necessity

“In-house counsel are using LinkedIn to interact with outside counsel on multiple levels – to  connect, participate in groups led by outside counsel and consume content produced by outside lawyers,” the report says.

Asked how they are using LinkedIn with regard to outside law firms, corporate counsel responded:

  • 56% – To contact and/or build connections with outside counsel.
  • 42% – To join and participate in groups that outside counsel lead on specific legal practices & specialties.
  • 37% – To access content that outside counsel are pushing out via LinkedIn or other channels.
  • 34% – To research potential outside counsel.

In addition, nearly half of in-house counsel (46 percent) envision a future in which the diversity of a lawyer’s engagement on LinkedIn — number of connections, participation in groups and use as a vehicle for distributing quality content — will play an important role in influencing clients to hire that lawyer.

Meanwhile, most in-house counsel are on “listen only” mode on social media. 71% said they listen to news, developments and conversation occurring on topics that interest them – but only 29% said that they actively use social media to disseminate information and engage with other users.

GCs are as mobile as any other business executives. Some 46% said they accessed social media sites with tablets, such as an iPad, and 46% accessed social media sites with smart phones, like a Samsung Galaxy 5. These facts emphasize the importance that law firms use responsive design for their websites, so that they are easily viewed on screens smaller than the office computer monitor.

Law firm blogs

The report found that blog readership is plateauing – and that readership by in-house counsel actually dipped slightly this year. The number of respondents who had read a blog in the previous week fell from 46 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2014, after years of steady increases.

Ask how they are using law firm blogs, in-house counsel responded:

  • 65% – To access substantive content & perspective within narrow legal practices & specialties.
  • 47% – As a supplement to legal industry trade (and other) traditional media reporting.
  • 18% – To connect with thought leaders in my company’s industry.
  • 15% – To evaluate the perspective and credentials of prospective outside counsel before making hiring decisions.
  • 9% – Not using law firm blogs.

Notably, the type of law firm-generated content that GCs found most valuable is practice group newsletters (77%), followed by client alerts (63%), blogs (38%), and website content (36%).

The survey was conducted In February 2014 by Greentarget, ALM Legal Intelligence and Zeughauser Group. They surveyed 189 corporate in-house counsel who identified themselves as GCs, chief legal officers, deputy or assistant GCs, in-house counsel and related titles.

* * *

Larry Bodine is a lawyer, journalist and marketer who speaks and writes frequently about law firm marketing. Currently he is the publisher of the National Trial Lawyers and is the former Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com. Readers can follow @Larrybodine on Twitter, on Google+ and on LinkedIn, where he moderates several marketing groups.

Photo credit: Flickr via Creative Commons; CC 2.0

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director with Business of Law Software Solutions (BLSS) a division of LexisNexis. In this capacity he directs communications strategy and execution in support of BLSS products including those for large law, small law and corporate counsel. With 15 years in experience in the marketing communications for the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of PR for Vocus, which develops marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He’s held multiple roles in PR both in-house with corporations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms both large and small. A veteran with two deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an Army officer. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University.