These five writing tips for authors in your firm follow my previous post about the need for law firms to be strategic about essential COVID-19 guidance and commentary right now, in the noisy news landscape.
Written for my marketing and BD contacts to share with anyone producing thought leadership in a firm right now, these pointers come from JD Supra editors who have been working around the clock organizing and publishing enormous amounts of COVID-19 content. Now more than ever:
1. Do Not Report the News, Actually Explain Its Impact
Reporting what everyone already knows provides little value to your readers. The news is well covered - your job is to make sense of what is unfolding for specific client segments who need what only you can provide: insight and guidance on what it means. Don't waste your time, your support team's time, or your valuable readers' time with anything else. You risk turning off that latter group, now and longterm.
2. In Every Title Answer: Who Should Read This & Why?
We're seeing a lot of posts with good information but titles that don't communicate this. Best case, they tell readers nothing about the actual value the article provides (and for whom it is written) and, worst case, occasionally seem to be directed at an audience different than the firm wants to reach. Consider your title as important as the body of writing that follows. Who are you trying to reach and why should they click on your post to read your input? Convey this in every title; it's the first way to earn a reader. Avoid being generic.
3. Get to the Point, Quickly
We are seeing the same introduction, time and again, in much of this analysis and commentary: long paragraphs about how unprecedented these times are and how varied the impacts are/will be. Your readers know this already, that's why they are here. They've come to your work not for the obvious, but for the insightful. Provide it quickly, up front, and in a concrete way.
4. Make Key Points & Takeaways Easy to See, Immediately
Now, more than ever, is the time to avoid walls of text. Yet, we are seeing quite a lot of it. Legal issues and considerations are indeed complex and often require much thoughtful analysis. But right now, your readers need to be able to see the key points you are capturing for them, quickly and easy - for example, in subheds, pull quotes, headlines, lists, and anything other than a wall of text. Write to be scanned. Those whom you engage will read deeper as time permits.
5. Don't Self-Promote
The single most worthwhile form of self-promotion you can do right now is to be useful - essential in your perspective and guidance - to your clients and readers. And yet, firms more than ever right now are overtly promoting themselves and practice groups in gratuitous opening paragraphs and elsewhere throughout their writing. Now is not the time for it. If the article addresses an issue of importance to prospective clients and does it well, that will speak for itself. With that in mind, avoid such promotion, it detracts from your insights.
As I said in my previous post, lawyers and law firms play a vital role right now, as readers around the world - media members, business leaders, parents, everyone - try to make sense of the disruption. We offer these tips to our partners with the goal of helping you get as much out of your guidance as you are putting into it. Thank you for being here with us.
Anything to add? Please send my way.
Paul Ryplewski, VP Client Services