Don’t ignore PR when developing legal content strategy

August 22, 2018

In another lifetime, when I was a legal reporter, I remember getting a slightly queasy feeling in my stomach when I noticed legal blogs sprouting wildly 15 years ago. While some were dry, others were lively and engaging. I saw the future and it was filled with more competition.

Instead of me quoting or paraphrasing a lawyer about some clever take on a recent court decision, that same lawyer could write it herself. She didn’t need me, I thought. I was doomed.

OK, I was being a just tiny bit dramatic, but I was right that a fundamental shift was underway. Over time, law firms started building up their capabilities in what marketing professionals call “owned media”—content that the creator controls. Today, at law firms that means much more than just blogs and client alerts. The most sophisticated firms are producing excellent podcasts, e-books, newsletters, interactive graphics and videos—the kind of work that rivals what is offered by traditional media companies.

This high-level editorial production by brands, of course, is nothing new. But increasingly, it has given the booming content marketing industry reason to be smug. With media companies shriveled and content tools widely available, brands are hiring former journalists, designers, and directors to tell their own stories. Some companies have even built what are called brand newsrooms.

Taken to the extreme, this shift in marketing may spur an argument that goes like this: Who cares if the media doesn’t write about us? We can write about ourselves in our own way, control the messaging and speak directly to our target audiences.

Armed with this psychological leverage, it may be tempting for content marketing converts to disregard or de-emphasize traditional PR and “earned media.”

That would be a mistake.

Let’s get real about one thing: content marketers need the media. The main reason can be summed up in one word: validation.

That’s especially true in the legal market. The fact is, there is overabundance of legal content, and it won’t get easier to stand out from the pack. While the universe of content seems to grow every year, the relevant audience does not.

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