Lawyers don’t always get fair treatment from the general public. Most of this negative perception is unfair, but sometimes it’s warranted. And one of the most common critiques levied against attorneys is their occasional penchant toward opportunism.
Spreading awareness about current events is an important responsibility that many lawyers take seriously. Unfortunately, your target audience might interpret your input and legal analysis as shameless grandstanding to win clients and manipulate the justice system. In fact, I can’t think of any other profession (other than perhaps news journalists in the post-truth era of Donald Trump) where expressing an expert opinion is so universally ignored, condemned, and abhorred. This makes it even more important to position yourself and other stakeholders at your law firm as thought leaders offering insights about current events rather than profiteering carpetbaggers dredging for vulnerable clients.
Why Is Developing Content Based on Current Events So Important for Lawyers?
Regardless of your firm’s proximity to a given event, if it’s relevant to your practice area(s), you should consider developing related content for your website. You will exhibit your expertise on the topic and let current and future clients know you’re a reliable option if something similar happens to them. And if multi-district litigation or a class action lawsuit arises, you could receive inquiries from potential clients or referrals from other attorneys.
Reporting on current events in a timely fashion can also impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Certain generic keywords are exceptionally difficult to rank highly for due to intense competition. Examples would include terms such as:
- “Chicago lawyer”
- “car accident attorney Los Angeles”
- “tax attorney Florida”
Thankfully, Google takes hundreds of factors into account when determining your ranking, and one of them is timeliness. If you have recently created or updated content on your website and/or blog, then you’re more likely to perform well when Google ranks your site. One excellent way to do this is to track relevant current events and write about them.
Google also cares about consistency. Far too many lawyers (and professionals in other industries) create a blog, publish a few posts right away, and then never bother writing again. This directly contradicts any notion that your law firm is consistent and reliable. If you can’t be bothered to write a few hundred words each month to at least keep up appearances, why should Google boost your rankings? Why would potential clients believe you’re going to fight for them when things get tough? By keeping an eye on current events and creating original, relevant content, you’ll maintain a constant presence on your blog and encourage readers to continue checking in with you to receive expert legal opinions and advice.
Convert Current Events Into Evergreen Content
When writing about current events, it’s important to take the long view. With the rapidly evolving news cycle, whatever story you’re discussing won’t be newsworthy very long, so you want to make sure your words have staying power, both for your audience and SEO efforts. Getting out in front of a story can be helpful for your website and your firm in the short term, but you also want to take a tasteful and sustainable approach that will deliver long-term results from your content. You want to answer potential questions before they’re asked and position your firm as a thought leader in your area(s) of expertise.
The first thing you want to do is include pertinent, accurate details related to the event. If you’re a personal injury attorney and there has been a school bus crash in your state, you want to explain where the wreck occurred, how many people were injured (or worse) and their current status, relevant details about how the crash happened, and any quotes from victims, eyewitnesses, authorities, and other experts.
Do not give any specific opinion on the event itself. You weren’t present and probably don’t have enough information. Instead, stick to the facts and convey them with a sympathetic, respectful tone. If you are going to present an argument either way, be sure to explain that your thoughts are speculative and that the truth will be exposed in time through due process. Your primary goal is to establish and comment on the facts as you understand them and to communicate your legal perspective on what is known for sure.
Once you have covered the facts, you can take several different approaches to transition into a long-form piece that will have a positive long-term impact.
Use Your Blog Article to Speak to a Wider Issue
Newsworthy events are nearly always part of a larger trend. To continue the school bus crash example, it would not be the first bus crash to occur, and it will unfortunately not be the last. You can use a specific event to discuss a larger issue. If bus crashes are declining, explain how a specific crash is an outlier. If they are increasing, discuss why, what can be done to reduce them, and how people can stay safe.
You can also take a wider view by comparing the effectiveness of different policies in other states or even other countries. Don’t hesitate to take a stand on what laws or actions could be implemented to address a problem.
Relate the Current Event to Your Experience and Expertise
While there are certain benefits to tangential content marketing, you should always write about current events that directly relate to your law firm’s primary services. This allows to you link to the relevant service page on your site and keep potential clients moving forward in the sales process. It also allows you to use current events as a springboard to discuss your experience and expertise.
For example, you can discuss similar cases you have (successfully) resolved. You can speak in-depth about a specific, relevant case. You can describe the unique qualifications and resources you and your team have to handle similar cases.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that you want to keep this type of content focused on how you have helped your clients. People are drawn in by stories, but if your piece seems even a bit self-aggrandizing, your potential clients will tune out and leave your site — and they won’t be coming back.
Offer Your Expert Opinion About the Current Event
Be sure to keep your opinions rooted in your personal history and legal knowledge. Let readers know what you suspect will be the next steps and how the case may move forward. You could also include a discussion of similar events that have happened within the last several years and describe the outcomes.
You could also pull in details about statutes related to what happened and if any new or pending litigation might impact the process. Focus on providing information and educating your readers about what rights the injured parties have and the actions they and their families should (or shouldn’t take). Without getting too sales-focused, provide the sort of advice a reputable firm would provide to someone in this position who had requested a consultation.
These are just a few styles of long-form, topical content that we consistently see positive results from. Many other approaches could be effective, depending on the unique goals, branding, and size of your law firm.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Write Great Legal Content
Don’t Forget the Essentials of High-Performing Blog Content
Regardless of which approach you take, always close your piece with a strong call to action (CTA) that lets your readers know that you and your firm are available to answer their questions and take their case if they experience something similar in the future.
In addition, you should remember to follow basic on-page SEO best practices:
- Use a 60- to 70-character title tag that includes organic keywords and, potentially, your firm’s name.
- Create a 160-character meta description that provides an engaging preview of the article.
- Implement descriptive heading tags that reveal the structure of your piece and allow readers (and search engines) to easily understand your content.
- Naturally incorporate relevant keywords throughout the piece. But don’t overdo it. Google’s algorithms are highly sophisticated and have been designed to weed out spammy content with contrived keyword usage.
Effectively using SEO best practices throughout your content will improve your page’s visibility, clicks, time on page, and search ranking.
A word of warning: You want to be exceedingly careful if you are trying to reach people who were involved in the event you are discussing. You do not want to come off as opportunistic, exploitative, or insensitive. The best way to avoid having your writing backfire is to work with content marketing experts who have successfully leveraged timely, relevant events into lead-generating assets.
LaFleur Can Help Your Law Firm Capitalize on Current Events in an Ethical, Effective Way
Staying abreast of relevant events in real time, developing ideas for long-form content, regularly writing several pages about those events, and getting your content posted and live on your site quickly enough to capitalize on trending topics may seem overwhelming. As a busy attorney, you are likely sitting at your desk with a pile of work that needs to be done. The first thing running through your mind may be, “That sounds like a great idea!” But the second thought is probably, “Where would I find the time to get all this done?”
This is where LaFleur comes in. We can reduce strain on you and your staff by tracking news, providing commentary, and posting content on your website so you can improve your online visibility and position yourself as an expert without having to lift a finger. We offer holistic marketing solutions with affordable packaging built for law firms of every size.
Plus, our writing and editing team includes former attorneys, master’s-level writers, journalists, and other talented professionals. Our expertise gives you ultimate flexibility:
- We can write complete articles for publication and get your approval before they go live.
- We can outline the majority of the article and incorporate feedback from you for specific quotes or commentary.
- We can take your written content or dictation and edit that into an article that’s ready to post.
Whether you already have a content marketing strategy or you’re starting from square one, we can take your firm’s marketing efforts to the next level. Please contact us by calling (888) 222-1512 or by completing this brief form to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss your goals and objectives and build a customized marketing plan uniquely tailored to your budget and ambition.