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2003.12.17

Blogs > reputation building

Some professionals got it from the beginning that maintaining a blog allowed them to keep up with and organize information on their area of expertise while building a reputation across the Internet as an expert in their profession. The first folks to jump on the opportunity were employed or hobbyists in the tech arena. Now lawyers are starting to get it. Here’s how a blog builds a lawyer's reputation.

With any blog, people first come for information, but in time, if the blog is topic specific, the blogger will begin to recognized as an expert in their field. The blogger’s commentary takes on a significance for people that wasn’t there before.

This is makes some sense. The blogger is out doing research and reading in their area of expertise. They assimilate this information and formulate their own thoughts about it as they post to their blog. We all want to rely on people who stay well informed.

We also want to rely on people who exercise their judgment. A trusted professional is not someone that sits at their desk, browses the Internet and posts bare information to their blog. A trusted professional is someone who has real world experience in their profession allowing them to put in context their research and commentary when posting to their blog. The blogger is sharing their judgment as an expert.

Isn’t this what we lawyers do without a blog? If we practice in a focused area (or we are looking to), we lawyers are out there learning all the time. Frankly, when we graduate from law school we are scared to death we will never keep up with everything we need to know.

We subscribe to trade journals, email newsletters, listservs, and bar section magazines like crazy. We make mental notes, we yellow tag pages, and we tear out articles adding them to the stack on our credenza or our floor. We go to seminars to listen to good lawyers for ways we can improve our service to clients. These seminar outlines become a never-ending resource we pull off the shelves.

With a blog, a lawyer takes this information to the Internet. In little time, compared to other marketing, a lawyer can post information from these resources to their blog. More and more the information we receive is online and can be linked to. A lawyer adds their own thoughts and comments, including how they can use this information in their practice. If a lawyer does not have the time to do this on their own, they should hire someone who understands the lawyer & their practice to publish the lawyer’s blog. It is far more cost effective and dignified than other types of marketing.

The commentary added by the lawyer can be to an 'audience of one' – themselves and work very well. You do not need to think that because you are posting information to the Internet that you need to write for thousands. Just adding your judgment as a lawyer is invaluable to people coming to your blog for information.

Quoting Rebecca Blood in The Webblog Handbook:

“Make no mistake this stuff works. I’ve seen businesses, especially individuals make names for themselves, going from unknown to “expert” in a year by providing a hub of information about a specific profession. When a reader’s first impulse about wanting information about a given subject is to visit a topic-driven weblog, it is a small leap to hire its editor to speak, consult, or otherwise practice their craft when the need arises.”

Reputation building blogs include pages with the blogger’s bio, experience, clients etc. It’s the same promotional information professionals put on Web sites in an effort to get new clients. With a blog all of this information is now in a context demonstrating the blogger’s expertise and depicting them as a trusted professional people feel comfortable hiring.

Reputation building blogs are also maintained by organizations where multiple players post to the blog. Their individual voices as well as the values and expertise of the company will shine through. Again promotional information about the company, including bios, clients, and history, will be provided.

There will be a difference between blog posts published for a lawyer audience and those published for current & prospective clients. With a lawyer audience, the blog becomes akin to resources, notes and commentary for continuing education. Both the lawyer publisher and blog readers will use such posts as resource in their practice.

When addressing a public audience of clients and prospective clients, the lawyer blogger needs to think of what would be of interest to such people. What new information has the lawyer learned in their reading that would be of interest to such folks? What news from the legal arena would be of interest? There’s lots of it.

Critically important with a blog for current and prospective clients is consumer friendly substantive information about the area of the law the lawyer ‘specializes’ in. This is the core content you must provide & add to – people need and expect it. If you do not have it, write it, have someone write it for you or go get it.

In many cases, blog posts will be of interest to both colleagues and the public. Good blogging software makes it easy to place blog posts in multiple categories. That way, one blog post can reach separate audiences.

Blogs build reputations. If you know of a faster, more cost effective and easier way to get the job done, let me know.

For more information please see Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook, my source for much of the above.

December 17, 2003 in Blog basics | Permalink

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