At Lexblog, we talk a lot about blogs. Here in Please Advise specifically, we love to offer up our blogging best practices to our legal bloggers.
But this time, we wanted to bring in the big guns. We asked Jacqueline Madarang of Bradley a few questions about creating a successful blog network. She shared with us how she keeps her bloggers engaged and successful.
What do you see as the biggest hurdle to blogging today? For the firm? For the bloggers?
I recently attended an advisory group meeting hosted by one of our attorneys and the topic of blogging came up. Someone in the group asked, “How difficult is it write the blog posts?”
I think the biggest hurdles are:
- thinking that blogging is technical
- coming up with topics to write about
Once you get that blogging is not technical, but is conversational and that you’re writing to an audience, then it gets easier. At least that is what our attorney who writes for one of our blogs said during the meeting.
Getting ideas to write about should not be difficult either. Talk to clients or colleagues and ask them what they would like read on the blog.
For the firm, the hurdles are:
- getting buy-in
- finding your internal champions.
Over two years ago, our firm didn’t have any blogs and now, we have five. Our labor and employment attorneys championed our first blog and made it successful.
I usually say two things to attorneys when they say they are interested in developing a blog.
- One is that they need to be passionate about what they will be writing about.
- Two, they need to be committed.
Otherwise, the blog will fail – and our attorneys who have championed our blogs are passionate and committed.
What process(es) do you have in place for attorneys/practice groups requesting a blog?
We have a pretty defined process at Bradley before we even begin to develop a blog.
We meet with the attorney(s) who request to develop a blog and request that they seek practice group leader approval before we get started.
Once we get approval, we start the process of developing a strategy and timeline.
So, what does that entail?
We send them a strategy questionnaire to help us understand their goals, objectives and target audience.
While they fill out the form, we research competitor blogs in the Am Law 200 and their target geographic reach.
We share this list when we meet once again to review the strategy and timeline.
We then ask them to identify the editors – they are typically the attorney(s) who request to develop a blog – who will wear the hat of reviewing and approving the posts before they go “live” on the site.
The editors understand that sometimes we will need to get the blog posts reviewed and approved in a timely manner.
We work with the editors to develop an editorial calendar, help identify the topics and the other contributors/writers for the blog.
Who manages the day-to-day content on the blog? How does that work for your firm?
Our marketing communications/technology team manages the day-to-day content on the blog.
We remind when blog posts are due; we are the marketing editors; and we post and select the photos on the blog.
We also share the blog posts on the firm’s social media channels and republishing platforms.
Our business development and marketing team also helps the attorneys find topical ideas for the blog. We find trending/hot issues that they could potentially write about.
And our communications specialist works with our PR agency to make sure our attorneys stay top of mind of the media.
I would say that this process is pretty seamless for us and I think the attorneys appreciate that all they have to do is pen a blog post.
We try to make sure that we make it as easy and painless as possible for the attorneys.
How engaged/hands off is the marketing team with the blogs?
We do a lot of coaching with the attorneys to help them with writing. However, when we are editing, we want their personality and voice to come through.
We see the blog as a platform where they can write specifically to an audience they have in mind.
While we do assist with strategy, creating an editorial calendar, posting, sharing on social media, we want our attorneys to shine with their writing.
How do you keep your authors engaged in blogging?
We provide analytics in the form of infographics to our attorneys. We also share weekly JD Supra emails on companies and individuals that have been reading their content.
We point these out to them – for example, we may have recently pitched a financial institution who read our post on blockchain and cybersecurity – our attorneys would want to know that.
We have also awarded trophies to attorneys and have created different categories such as:
- Most Popular Author of the Year with the Most Reads,
- Received the Most Media Attention, etc.
These are fun and we have received photos of trophies in their offices.
What type of training, coaching, best practices, etc. do you offer your bloggers?
This is a great handout to provide on 10 Rules for Writing to Be Read by JD Supra.
As part of our internal blog launch process, as mentioned earlier, we do a lot of coaching which we call a “blogging boot camp.”
Our attorneys commit to writing at least five blog posts before we launch and we coach them to rid of their legalese.
Since blogging is more conversational, we coach them on how to write for their audience – they sometimes forget this since they are used to writing legal briefs, how to craft titles that would address the issue, how to hook in a reader in their opening paragraph and how to make their post more digestible.
What tools do you use to manage the firms blog network?
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us Jacqueline.
Jacqueline Madarang is Senior Marketing Technology Manager at Bradley, an AmLaw 200 law firm with over 500 attorneys. She leads the firm’s digital marketing efforts, works with firm wide attorneys and focuses on developing digital, social and communications programs that further business development objectives. She oversees and manages the firm’s marketing technology tools including the implementation of new tools firm wide to assist in marketing and business development.
Photo credit: Cropped image by Flickr user NOGRAN s.r.o.