Over the past days and weeks we have inevitably seen an extraordinary uptick in the publication of law firm thought leadership and guidance around the COVID-19 crisis. On JD Supra we're also witnessing exponential engagement with that content, as readers around the globe scramble to make sense of the new landscape in which we find ourselves.
Attorneys in almost every practice group play a key part in this sense making. The implications of this crisis appear to touch everything and everyone, from the obvious (insurance, employment, healthcare, financial service, etc) to the new and, at first glance, unexpected (what happens to a shared child custody plan during quarantine? What constitutes an essential business?)
As our team works overtime to publish the massive output of our clients, I offer two considerations for anyone supporting a firm's content and communications strategy during this time:
1. Your Goal: Add to the Signal, Not the Noise
The situation is fluid and your clients need to know that you are monitoring it, available, and helpful. With that in mind...
Focus on Actionable Guidance
In the reality of online readership, weigh that drive to be available against the vast amount of content already being churned out hourly and daily that sometimes loses its significance before the week is over. Right now, your readers don't need to be told by you what they already know; they need actionable and penetrating guidance for the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Produce Quality Over Quantity
However you creatively respond to this unprecedented moment, my advice is to balance your desire to be seen as completely on top of every last development against your production cost and timing, against your readers' need for more signal and less noise. Now more than ever, favor depth over speed, quality over quantity.
Play to the Strengths of Different Media
Monitor all developments, but also consider the medium by which you report on them for your audience.
For example, if a practice group is churning out short releases all day every day (which require your team to convert to the web and then publish and then email and then etc...), consider turning that into a business morning or late afternoon podcast or webinar. Twenty minutes of audio, once a day, in which your thought leaders run through real-time developments. We live in a time in which everything from a polished, ON24-hosted webinar to an audio or video clip recorded by an attorney in a remote location is appropriate. Use what you have.
The time you save on production should then be used on a written publication that takes a longer, in-depth view for your clients. They, and all the other readers awaiting your measured analysis, will appreciate it.
2. Be Clear About Who You Are Trying to Help (For You, For Them)
I have seen impressive engagement with law firm content at a rapid scale these last few days and weeks. Our clients are being linked and referenced in mainstream media and responding to all manner of contacts by reporters, industry media, business leaders, and families in need of answers. Takeaways:
Address Your Readers Directly, In Clear Titles
I saw a single update on COVID-19 considerations for boards of directors being shared into a 28,000-member-strong LinkedIn group for board members. The title of that post explicitly stated its audience and its focus: as above, considerations for board members. This makes all the difference, today more than ever.
I saw a client's article on the risk of securities litigation in this landscape linked in the opening paragraph of a Reuters article on that same subject. The title of that article and it's focus made it a prime candidate to be found and used by the reporter. The measured thinking that went into the piece made a difference.
Being Generic Can (Significantly) Impact Your Time & Resources
I saw an update about what constitutes essential business in California generate so many inquiries to the firm - including by businesses that are outside of its target market - that it chose to depublish the article.
The article was clearly of great value to a large number of businesses - but the subject matter was not ideally targeted to the law firm's own business objectives. It's a difference of time and resources, when so many of you have so little to spare right now.
I offer these two tips in conjunction; they play off of each other.
As global readers' need for meaningful information and guidance (the role you play) rises to a fever pitch so does the output of content by everyone.
As you plan next steps and adjust your content and communications, know that this is one of those critical times in which your thought leaders can make a difference and it is one of those times in which your signal can be lost in the noise.
Start with the goal of favoring quality over quantity, consider the way various media can help you with your coverage needs, and focus every action on talking directly to specific readers. They await your guidance.
Also, dear partners, know that JD Supra editors are working non-stop to process and publish your valuable content, which is coming at us at an extraordinary rate. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out. You know where to find me.
We're going to get through this together. Your role is vital.
Paul Ryplewski, VP Client Services