Blogging about news stories is very controversial in the legal field – especially in the personal injury one. Since the general public tends to have a negative attitude toward this field of law, personal injury attorneys who create content around news can be easily criticized as “ambulance chasers.” In many cases, this label might be an accurate description of what a lawyer is engaging in. We’ve personally seen articles written about car accidents, etc. that seem to be directly aimed at reaching the victim and converting him or her into a client. Don’t do that. It’s rude. But don’t make the mistake of assuming all news blogging is rude blogging. It’s not. News blogging, in general, falls in the traffic generation and branding categories. There’s a lifecycle of interest in a news story. Writing in a timely manner on a “hot” subject captures the attention of a larger audience than when the news story has died down (this is where the Google “Freshness” algorithm update comes into play). Blog on a popular news topic and Google will send you a significant amount of traffic. Through this you introduce more consumers to your law firm and educational resources. Another consideration: people who interact with the news stories you blog on may be going through a similar situation as the characters in the article. One of the worst feelings people can experience is isolation. If people feel their problems are unique to them, the shame from being different may prevent them from coming forward. Covering real news stories about real people experiencing real problems can help third-party readers who are going through similar situations feel more at ease about what they are experiencing. Producing that kind of good feeling is marketing gold – because PNCs are more likely to contact someone who makes them feel better about themselves than a random attorney with a 10/10 AVVO rating. So how do you do it? Here are some tips for writing an effective blog post about a recent event:
- Eliminate the protagonist and antagonist as audience members. If you are a personal injury attorney, don’t write for the victim to read. If you are a criminal defense lawyer, don’t write for the person arrested to read. That’s ambulance chasing, and your audience won’t stand for it.
- Identify the actual audience. Having excluded the characters in the story as audience members, try and determine who will actually be reading the post. Did the Consumer Products Safety Commission just recall a popular baby swing? Guess who cares about that. Did a local high school lose a student in a horrific and avoidable street racing accident? Who’s online looking for information about that?
- Identify and write what the audience will appreciate. Were children drugged at a daycare so they would all nap at the same time? People with toddlers want to know a) how this could have happened and b) how to prevent this sort of thing happening at their children’s daycare. Answer both questions. Did a respected teacher at a local elementary school pass away when his motorcycle hit an 18-wheeler? Students who knew and liked him want to pay homage. Write a tribute.
- Link to external resources. Is a community having a fundraiser to support the children of parents who died in a vehicle accident? Link to the event page. Tell your blog to open the link in a new window or tab (so that they stay on your website and have a second chance to see it once they are done with the linked-to resource). For you techies, that means adding the target=”_blank” tag to your link. You might also consider using the rel=”nofollow” tag to prevent link juice dilution.
- Link to similar stories or category pages on your own blog. Has there been a rash of fatal drunk driving accidents in one city over the last three months? Reference and link to those within your article.
At the Rasansky Law Firm, we have seen cases come in through this strategy (in addition to some nice SEO benefit for other web pages in our network!). Some cases we receive are from readers who saw our post, found that they could relate to the situation, and called for a case review. Other leads we receive are from the victims themselves (two of the examples listed above are actual cases where the victims called us after reading the blog post). We didn’t write the article to attract them, but these clients so much appreciated what was written that when they were ready to hire an attorney we were the ones they came to. Every market is different. Test for yourself. One more word of advice – this time from author Seth Godin: The world is jam-packed with books and manuals on how to do the [magic] trick, whatever the trick is. If it’s so easy to figure out how to do the trick, why do so few people do it? Because, of course, it has nothing to do with knowing how the trick is done, and everything to do with the art of doing it. – Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us Knowing how to understand an audience and write for it is much easier than actually doing it. It’s a skill that requires practice – and in some cases – delegation to a seasoned writer or team of writers. Done correctly, reporting on news stories is a fantastic way to generate traffic, build links, and earn cases. About Steve Wade:
Steve Wade is a member of the Rasansky Law Firm’s client relationship team who specializes in developing interactive experiences for existing and potential clients. Joining the team in February 2010, he rigorously applies the never-changing principles of human nature to the ever-changing tools modern client-relationship nurturing requires. Connect with Steve on Twitter or Facebook.