This is part 2 of our Content Marketing for Law Firms: Best Practices Guide. For part 1 of this series, click here.
Technology is changing the way businesses approach clients. In this fast-paced world, chock-full of apps, videos, and social media, it is a challenge to rise up and be noticed.
Legal services are no exception. Old school marketing methods such as exchanging business cards and word-of-mouth recommendations need to be amplified with something that gives a much stronger impact. These days, videos and online presence spell the difference between being just another law firm or the one that clients seek.
In the second of this two-part guide, we will discuss two key pieces of content that are often overlooked in firms’ content marketing strategies: videos and press releases.
Keys to Making Effective Video Content
Video content may be the most important content asset you can add to your website. Video is rapidly becoming the preferred medium to connect businesses with their audience. Nowhere is this more important than the legal industry.
Law firms often have stigmas of operating behind the scenes without a client knowing their firm or attorney. Video can provide a quick glance into the personality of a law firm.
To understand how to make good videos, it’s important to first know the strategic foundations of success. (You’ll probably recognize a lot of these ideas from general advice from part 1 of this guide.)
When creating any content, including videos, a lawyer should present an image that is professional, authoritative, and knowledgeable.
Think about the way people make documentaries – that is the idea. A legal marketing video should be informative and compelling. It is something that draws you in, makes you reflect, and leaves you craving more. To achieve this, here are our top 3 tips:
Clarify Your Niche
What kind of clients are you looking for? Depending on your practice, there are various ways to connect to social media followers.
Divorce lawyers can reach out to groups and pages that focus on parenting, marriage, and counseling. Not that you intend couples to separate of course, but to offer information to those who need it. Sharing videos that explain common divorce facts can help people know that you can help them with their issues.
Real estate lawyers can provide useful information on property acquisition, rent laws, and other legalities involved in the real estate industry. Exchanging comments and replying to inquiry posts will put your name out there, as well as sharing videos to real estate/property finder pages.
Immigration lawyers on the other hand, can market their services by sharing informative videos to pages dominated by multicultural ethnicities.
Better yet, subscribing to the paid advertising services of social media channels like Facebook can help you achieve remarkable results. Facebook sends unique ads to people’s newsfeeds based on the interests of each individual. The algorithms are dependent on the type of content that they view and the pages they open. This means that your videos and your page will most likely be recommended by the site itself to the people who have recently browsed for lawyers and attorney services.
In the world of advertising, you need to capture your audience’s attention in the first 5 seconds. What happens afterward predicts the effectiveness of the ad. However, since legal marketing videos are done in a more formal way (read: no flashy editing tricks and cheesy musical scores), we can attribute it to a generous 30 seconds.
30 seconds — that is enough time to deliver a headline that will motivate your audience to continue watching your video. You can start with an intriguing introduction about the most common legal issues that you handle in your practice.
You may start with a line like, “How to Save your Business from Drowning in a Lawsuit” or “Are Taxes Taking Too Much from your Profit?” Offer straightforward solutions that will make your target audience believe that you are a reliable and credible source of information.
Demonstrate Your Knowledge
Trust us: people are looking for answers to their problems. If you are a lawyer seeking clients, be generous with valuable information. Since the internet is already filled with millions of answers, the people who are searching for solutions will most likely find it whether you tell them or not.
The more value you offer to prospective clients, the more people will reach out to you for help. This is where you establish your personal brand and your position as an authority in the field. Establishing yourself as a trusted figure in your areas of practice by maintaining a strong social media presence will keep your name at the forefront of potential clients’ minds. This means that a tip you offered on a social media page weeks ago could lead to more future success than you ever could have imagined.
Why Videos Work
You may be wondering if producing a video will be worth your precious time and effort. Here are some facts that may surprise you, but will definitely enlighten you:
- For the past decade, businesses are shifting to video content creation as a crucial marketing investment. 83% of today’s marketers believe that videos are now more important than ever. In fact, video generally has a 35% to 45% higher click-through rate than regular print.
- In the same report, 87% of businesses are now using video content as a marketing tool. In short, videos are now an essential part of attracting clients online.
- Video content boosts your SEO. A study conducted by Forrester concluded that video content is 53 times more likely to turn out on the first page of the search results. Google algorithms place a high ranking value towards informative content, especially videos, so if you want your firm to move up to the first pages of Google, create videos.
- Youtube now has over 2 billion users. It dominates one-third of the internet, and is the second most popular social media platform, which means more people are watching online videos than ever before. If you want to be seen, heard, and known, then by all means, be on Youtube.
- In the latest forecast issued by the Cisco Visual Networking Index, global video traffic generated on the internet is already up to 82% this year, an increase from 73% in In other words, a majority of online users are watching videos more than other internet activities.
10 Tips for Effective Legal Marketing Videos
Now that we’ve covered the basics and importance of making video content, let’s get into a bit more detail. Here are our top ten tips for creating successful videos.
- Write a script relevant to your practice and study it well. Focus on the content of your message. Don’t forget to include a strong call to action.
- Limit the length of your videos, ideally between 15 seconds to a maximum 2 minutes, to avoid boring your audience. This is video marketing, not a lecture. You can create a video series if you want to cover more topics.
- Avoid discussing your educational and professional background. Your clients will get to know it once they become interested. But right now, concentrate on how you can solve their problems.
- Less is more – as much as you can, avoid music with lyrics or overly prominent features which may distract the viewers from understanding your message.
- Speak clearly. Avoid legal jargons that only you and your associates can relate to. Carefully choose positive words especially when discussing facts.
- Record the video in a well-lit area.
- Remove background noise, clutter, and distracting objects around you.
- Talk directly to the camera. Speak calmly and naturally as you would upon meeting your client face-to-face. This gives a personal feel to your video.
- Place your video recording device on a stable, non-moving holder or tripod. A blurry and shaky video will cause an amateur effect on your message.
- Call a videographer for a smoother, professional video production. This will enable you to focus on delivering your message well, instead of worrying how the video will turn out. You will benefit more from the better production value.
Best Practices for Video Blogging
Just like content blogging, there are best practices that should be implemented when brainstorming, creating, and uploading your videos:
- Post a minimum of once a month (the more the better).
- Establish a rhythm in your posting. This will prompt search engines to come back and check your channel. Adhere to the schedule you create.
- We recommend YouTube, but Vimeo will also do the trick.
- Keep it short – under five minutes for more in-depth videos, but sometimes all you need is 60 seconds and that’s fine.
- Optimize the title and the video description with your targeted keywords.
- Add tags and categories that are relevant to the video content.
- If you are using YouTube, make sure it is connected with your Google+ page or profile. Every time you upload a video it will automatically get added to the posts tab of your Google+ page or profile.
- Ensure there is a place on your website for your videos to live (category for the blog, stream on the home page or footer).
- Style your YouTube account to include your firm artwork, photos, updated description, custom URL, and links to your website and social media pages.
- Choose the best thumbnail for each video. You can verify your YouTube account to upload a custom thumbnail.
- Include a YouTube/Vimeo social media icon on your home page.
Your videos can be about something current, a popular topic that is always relevant, or something specific to your firm. If you have the means to react to news when it happens, take advantage of that resource. Otherwise, stick with evergreen topics that are always relevant.
- News – updates regarding the law, local developments, coverage of big events in the area (Mardi Gras, football games, festivals).
- Opinion – did a local story make national news? Share your opinion on it. For example, recently a woman was kicked off a plane traveling to Boca Raton from New York because she caused a scene when the person in front of her reclined her seat. Can this be a legal matter? Sit an attorney down to discuss.
- Question and answer – Answer frequently asked questions and have another member of the firm moderate, or ask questions from clients and provide an answer (bonus: you can tag the person on social media when you share the video).
- Recent cases – If your bar rules allow, recap a case that your firm recently won.
- Meet & greet – Introduce the members of your team or show off your office.
- Firm events & happenings – Record any activities your firm participates in such as charity events, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.
- Commercials & press – If you have been featured on television or mentioned in the press, see if you can get a copy of the video for your channel. Always make sure you have permission to post the video publicly or you can get penalized for copyright infringement. (More on press releases below.)
- Announce awards — Win an award? Talk about it – show excitement. Your video can feature someone holding the video and talking about it for 25 seconds – get excited! You won!
- Start a video diary – Let your audience follow you in a segment called “30 Days of Being a Lawyer.”
- Give advice to budding lawyers – Every year the industry booms as new faces get their licenses to practice. Share some advice, or congratulate new lawyers.
Examples of Strong Video Blogging Implementation
- Thorn Tax Law – Notice how the branding on the YouTube channel is consistent with the main site. The channel description and blog posts are optimized and videos are less than 5 minutes each.
- Bloom Legal – Good implementation of answering questions and providing topical information.
- South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers – Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge craze? This law firm took the challenge – a great example of making a quick video to join the conversation of a trending topic.
There’s a perception among law firms that production and filming videos are too time-consuming and expensive to be an effective tactic. Our new explainer video service challenges this assumption.
Explainer videos are short-format videos that use animation and narration to explain your firm’s practice areas, unique approach, or competitive advantage in an accessible and engaging way.
What is the Process?
The best part about these videos is that you don’t need to film at all!
- PaperStreet can help you select a worthwhile topic and create a 250 to 300-word script for the video.
- We will create a storyboard with a scene outline and identify the art, text, and animations required.
- We will create custom art assets for characters, objects, and concepts.
- We create animations following the scene outline. As the story comes together, last-minute changes and adjustments are often required.
- We record, edit, and modify the narrative track to give it a professional feel.
- We build the video by piecing together the animations, syncing the scenes with the voice-over, and adding any last-second polish.
Stand out from the crowd and leverage the marketing power of video with our new custom packages. Explainer videos can be used to attract potential clients, engage current followers, and increase your reach.
Creating, Editing, Uploading, and Posting Videos
Whether you’ve decided to create an introduction, blog, or explainer video, the next key step is implementing and publishing it. Here are the basics you need to know for recording, uploading, sharing, and posting videos.
Creating Law Firm Videos
Once you have your ideas planned out, you need to determine how you are going to record your video. Check out our tips below for executing your videos:
- Film multiple videos at one time. Bring in 12 ties and six shirts. In half a day, you will have enough videos to post monthly for a year.
- Professional videographer too expensive? Seek out the video editor at a local college newspaper (or a videographer student). They will likely do the work for half the price and are happy to get the experience. If someone in your office is particularly tech-savvy, skip hiring someone and do the project in house with your iPhone and a tripod (just make sure the end result is still of high quality and professional).
- Make sure the final videos are in a format YouTube supports.
Once you have edited and finalized videos, you will need to make sure they are correctly optimized and transcribed for the web. Take a look at PaperStreet’s to get some inspiration. To effectively reach your audience and get properly indexed the videos, each needs to be:
- Transcribed – Make sure all audio is made into plain written text.
- Optimized– The video should include any keywords and metadata that relate to your content.
- Shareable– Be sure your video can easily be shared.
- Good Thumbnail– Be sure your videographer provides an excellent looking thumbnail image.
- Catchy Description– Make sure your readers will click on the title of your video.
- Captions– Optional, but to take a step further, make sure your videos have captions.
- Alt Attribute– Make sure your video has alt tags to abide by ADA Guidelines.
Uploading Your Video to YouTube
Most of our clients are using WordPress or Total Control as their content management system. Both platforms make adding videos to your website easy, but first you have to upload them to your video hosting platform, YouTube or Vimeo.
Instructions for YouTube:
- Login at YouTube.com.
- Click “upload”in the top right hand corner.
- Select your files to upload (your videographer or tech-savvy in-house person should send you the final files).
- While it begins to upload, fill in the title and description. Remember to optimize.
- Select the most appropriate category and add accurate tags. For example: lawyer, real estate law, Florida …
- When the bar at the top disappears, the video is ready to publish. Click ”publish.”
- The screen will reload with the link to your video.
Once you have the link to your video, you can share it on your social media accounts (and you should). If your Google+ account is synced with your YouTube channel, it will already post, so don’t dupe.
Posting Videos to Your Website
The instructions for posting videos to your site are going to vary depending on where the videos live on your website. However, adding a video to your blog is a popular way to share content and easy to do.
- On YouTube, under your video display, there is a button that reads “share.” Click on it.
- Click “embed” and copy the code that appears in the text box.
- Next, open up your content management system and add a new blog post.
- Copy the embed code into the text area and format the blog as normal (add a title, author, body content).
- Preview your work to make sure the code is producing the video. Hint: If you are using WordPress sometimes you have to help WP recognize that the text is code and not normal body text. You can do this by selecting the Code button that appears on your text toolbar. Add the Code verbiage before and after the code.
- Publish your blog post and share the link.
Getting Content Published
No matter the content that your firm has produced, you don’t need to stop just at posting on your website and social media. Publishing in national news and trade publications is a great marketing tool for attorneys. It can help boost your online visibility. The more you publish, the more you are going to be seen and shared on the web by other people, which can translate to increased page views, conversions and sales.
Note: information from this section was taken from a PaperStreet webinar. You can download the full presentation here.
Steps for Getting Published
Getting published in higher profile publications like Wall Street Journal or the New York Times involves more than just simply submitting an article. Since national publications receive such a high rate of submissions, they can be very, very selective in the articles they accept.
So in most cases, you must pitch your platform and your story idea to an editor before you get the chance to send them an article. There are five steps to getting an article assignment:
- Identify the publications to pitch
- Research the submission guidelines
- Develop a strong query
- Write the article
- Build relationships with editor
We detail these steps with more explanation below.
Identify Publications to Pitch
The first step of getting an assignment is identifying publications and media outlets that fit your practice focus. You know the type of articles that you want to write and that you’re qualified to write. So what you want to do first is look at articles of recent issues to understand what media outlets publish, the format, the length of articles, and popular topics that are covered.
Most publications have a website with an About Us page. The About Us page is a great resource. It can tell you a lot about the publication itself, about their target readership, and the type of articles they seek.
Research Submission Guidelines
Once you have developed your list of potential publications that you want to approach, the next thing you’ll want to do is research submission guidelines. Every publication has a different submission guideline, and the more prominent the publication, the more hoops you’re going to have to jump through in order to get published there. Submission guidelines tell you what type of articles they accept, the process for submission, style guidelines, and what materials you need to submit.
Finally, you’ll need a query letter, which we discuss more below.
Develop a Strong Query
A query is your story idea or article pitch. Major media outlets receive hundreds of these every week. So you really need to make yours stand out. The key is developing a pitch that’s targeted to your publications.
If you write your article first and send it in, you just might be wasting valuable time creating an article that’s ultimately going to be rejected. So here are the five elements of a query letter.
Personalization is a lot like writing a resume and a cover letter. You want to do a little bit of research on who you’re sending it to. And if you can find the name of an editor, a particular editor that you want to pitch your article to, that’s really ideal.
2. A Solid Hook
A hook is a strong opening sentence that grabs the reader. You want it to be sure and concise, and the goal here is to entice the editor to read the entire query letter.
Some ideas for strong hooks are breaking news or a controversial angle/fresh approach on a hot topic. Your hook should be no more than one to three sentences.
The synopsis is an outline of the proposed article. In this section, you are going to elaborate on what your article’s going to cover.
The idea here is to make the editor’s job easy and convince them to assign the article to you. So the synopsis is really the body of your query letter, and it should be one to three paragraphs.
The next element of the query letter is the platform. This is essentially your bio. You’re going to want to market yourself in a way that convinces the publication that you are the right person to write on this topic. Ideally, you will customize your bio for each publication to emphasize the most relevant and compelling aspects of your background.
Some things that you can include is a discussion of your experience and background, links to your published clips, or any honors, awards or accolades you’ve received, and your education.
5. Closing Statement
The last element of a query letter is the closing, and this is just a brief sentence thanking the editor for considering your query. The goal here is to make a strong impression, and convince the editor to assign the story to you.
Overall, making your article engaging and easy to edit will be key to getting an assignment. So, we also suggest building relationships with editors, journalists, and staff writers. This is an ongoing process, but it really can bring a lot of rewards.
Quoted in the news? Get the most out of free press
Sometimes, you don’t need to ask others for press opportunities — they may come to you. For decades, journalists have turned to lawyers when a local story breaks that has a legal angle. As a legal professional, it is an opportunity you should be excited about. So, when you snag the interview and the article is published what do you do? You should absolutely take advantage of the positive PR, but it can be difficult to create additional marketing materials out of the original article.
A client of ours was recently in this position when his law firm was quoted in a local newspaper article about a national political figure who is getting tons of coverage on a local and national level. Our editors put their brains together to develop a list of ideas to help push the original article and the positive publicity that followed:
- Create a follow-up blog post for your own site, expanding on the issue at hand (PDF the original article and add it to the post)
- Create a press release and submit it to your local channels (if applicable)
- Explain the court case (or whatever the legal issue is) in detail in your own article and provide the original documents and briefs
- Create an infographic outlining all the numbers in the article (no design experience needed, try Canva – it’s free and easy)
- Record a video interview further discussing the issue and your legal opinion of it
- Share the original press on all of your social media accounts with the appropriate hashtags
- Create a report on the topic and submit the material to other local news outlets (don’t forget about local bloggers)
- Write an Op-Ed piece and submit it to all the local newspapers
- Pull out strong quotes in the article and create images for easy sharing on social outlets (again, check out Canva)
- Search Twitter and Instagram to discover what hashtags that are trending about the topic
- Update the News & Publications section of your website (if applicable)
- Update your biography (if applicable)
Leveraging HARO for media coverage
Although getting published and quoted in the press are great opportunities for your firm, you may not have the time to cultivate relationships with the press or the budget to hire a pricey PR firm. Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a shortcut to free publicity and can be a powerful marketing tool for attorneys. HARO is a platform that connects journalists to sources for their stories, distributing over 50,000 journalist queries from highly respected media outlets each year.
Pitching a reporter can be an intimidating process, and many HARO queries receive hundreds of responses per day. How can you capture the attention of journalists and build relationships with the media? Over the past 12 years, I have used HARO as both a journalist and an expert source. HARO has helped me secure press mentions in leading media outlets such as The New York Times, Business Insider and Psychology Today. Below are five tips to help you do the same.
1. Respond Quickly
HARO sends requests to your email inbox three times a day: 5:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. EST. Since HARO queries receive so many responses, it is important to send your pitch as quickly as possible so that it does not get buried in a sea of other responses.
How quickly do you need to respond? Responding within the first half hour is ideal. A same-day response is important; if you do not have time to answer the query that day, it is best to move on.
It is also important to double check the reporter’s deadline, which is always listed in the query. Some deadlines are set only a few hours after HARO sends the request.
2. Be Concise and on Point
In your HARO response, it is important to answer the writer’s questions and prompts specifically and directly. In most cases, you want to keep your entire response at 150 words or less. This is not the forum for lengthy, complex responses. Tailor your response to the query, avoiding answers that may appear generic or templated. Include your answers and tips right in the pitch itself so all the information the journalist needs is right in front of him. Do not link to your response, request an interview or require that the journalist contact you by phone or email to gain the information. The goal is to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible.
3. Write in Soundbites
A soundbite is a brief statement or phrase that is memorable and relevant. Journalists love short soundbites because they are quotable and allow the writer to pull the most important bits of information you have provided to weave into their story. When a query asks for tips, I generally list three to five tips along with a short explanation of each. The journalist may choose one of your tips or print all of them.
4. Create a Pitch Template
Pitching HARO is a numbers game; the more pitches you submit, the better your chances of getting quoted. To streamline the process, it is a good idea to create a pitch template that contains the basic elements needed in every pitch.
My pitch template includes a greeting, my bio (I have several bios, depending on the pitch), my contact information, and my social media information. In the body of your pitch, break up the text with headlines, short paragraphs, and bulleted or numbered items to make it easier to scan. You should also include a link to your website or blog, since backlinks can help drive traffic to your site.
Many queries require a headshot, so it is also important to have a quality headshot that you can send via email or link to online.
5. Recycle Your Content
Not all your HARO pitches will get accepted, but that does not mean you have wasted your efforts. You can recycle your responses into blog posts, client tips, articles, slide share presentations, short videos and other content assets.
Capturing the attention of journalists is not easy, but these tips can help you get your pitch noticed, build relationships with the media and establish yourself as a thought leader in your practice niche.
Alternatives to PR Web
In addition to HARO, PRWeb.com is a well-known source for attorneys and law firms to distribute their news. However, they can be selective in what they accept and distribute.
A client was looking to submit press releases announcing case-related investigations for distribution. The press releases were announcing that the firm was trying to attract claimants for class action lawsuits.
Here are some examples of the “investigation” type content.
- Zamansky LLC Investigates Losses Stemming from Puerto Rico Bonds
- The Cochran Firm, D.C. Launches Investigation into Claims Arising from the Navy Yard Shooting
The material borders on the line of advertising, which may be the reason PRWeb.com decided to no longer distribute the copy.
Regardless, we found two companies—similar to PRWeb.com—who will accept press releases with language that asks consumers to contact them regarding a particular type of claim that they are investigating.
This company offers packages from free to $385 dollars. Depending on the package you choose, anyone submitting to the legal category may have to provide additional paperwork (sign a Conditions of Service), but we confirmed with a representative that they would accept these press releases, although all content is subject to edits to meet their criteria.
“The style is fine,” said a representative of lawfirmnewswire.com, too. However, they reminded us that the copy has to be submitted through them before it is posted to a website blog (Google’s rules).
How to publish awards
The last piece of content that we will discuss is when your firm has won an award. You have shared the news with your team and found ways to celebrate. But now what?
At PaperStreet, we recommend showcasing your awards in a place of honor on your site. Giving these logos visibility by displaying them high up on your homepage will instill trust in users, and will help those conversions come flying in.
Here are just a few of the numerous options for incorporating recognition into the design of your site:
- Use a scrolling Award Bar like YLaw Group or Oles Morrison Rinker Baker, LLP, or a slider like Marks Gray, P.A.
- Create a recognition showcase section on your homepages like West Coast Trial Lawyers, or even a full Recognition Page like Goldstein Law Group.
- Incorporate your logos into one of your homepage slides like Brais Law Firm, or put them in a sticky footer like The Gumprecht Law Firm.
- Consider highlighting the logos by adding functionality elements (such as each logo changing color when you hover over it or having them slide onto the page when you first open the site).
- Match your award logos to the color scheme of your site, like Klenk Law.
Additionally, you can make more content out of your award! Make sure your exciting news reaches as many people as possible by writing a blog post, posting on social media, and sending it in your email Newsletter. Remember, this is big news. Don’t be afraid to brag! We encourage you to shout it from the e-rooftops.
Maximize Your Content’s Success
The content creation and publishing process can be a daunting one, especially given how essential it is in our increasingly digital world. Luckily, PaperStreet has expertise in all aspects of content marketing for your law firm — from strategizing to brainstorming ideas to posting.
To learn more about how we can help you succeed in all your content marketing objectives, contact us today.