Thought leadership in legal contentIf your firm’s website has a news and blog section, who is it for? Do you have an audience in mind when you plan and produce the content?

Many law firms have new sections that read like a list of press releases, aimed primarily at sector media titles. These cover the appointment of new partners and associates, events sponsored or hosted by the firm, or perhaps a response to a key legal development.

This information is certainly worth sharing with the world, but does it belong on your news and blog section? Unless you only want your website to be looked at by journalists in search of a news in brief or appointments piece, you will need to step up with more engaging content.

Thought leadership is a much more fruitful way to attract and retain visitors to your site, and to help your brand become distinctive and memorable. Thought leadership means generating original, informative and occasionally slightly provocative content which shows your mastery of the fields in which you offer services.

How can you get started with thought leadership? Let’s look at a step-by-step process.

Step 1: Identify key issues

At your next partners’ meeting, board session or team meeting, take suggestions about the top 5-10 key issues facing your field in the next 6-12 months, depending on how you want to plan your marketing cycle. You could even do this as an employee engagement exercise, taking suggestions from everyone in the organisation.

Narrow the suggestions down to the most interesting and thought-provoking topics, avoiding too much overlap.

Step 2: Appoint authors

Each topic will need input from one of your in-house experts, or a team of people. The topic can be handled in many different ways: four separate articles arguing from different points of view, a single longform piece, or a series of blogs which give background, the current position and the outlook for that topic.

You will need to identify some crucial questions relating to your topic, then seek to answer them. For example, you might want to write about the advent of big data, asking what the risks and opportunities are for businesses. This question can then be approached in terms of security, strategy, marketing and IT services infrastructure.

Step 3: Develop a schedule

Are there key dates when particular topics will be most relevant? Prepare your material to be available when people are likely to be interested and searching for helpful commentary.

The content you produce can also be repurposed for columns in industry publications, local newspapers, social media, and any other suitable channels. Think about your audience carefully before you decide when to publish – for example, content aimed at school head teachers will probably go unread during the first weeks of the summer holidays.

Step 4: Engage

Thought leadership pieces are a great conversation starter. Why not invite comments, or organise an event or online seminar so people can engage with you in more depth? For a more low-key approach, you could simply drop a line to selected clients, informing them that they might be interested in a certain topic which is relevant to them.

It is important to plan how to sustain and develop newly interested readers. Do you want to alert them to a new service you provide, or plan a follow-up thought leadership piece which will keep them interested in your brand?

Is it time your firm considered a fresh approach to your content marketing?