You might have heard about the newest marketing craze sweeping the legal profession. It’s called a “newsletter” — a funny word, certainly, crammed together from two words (“news” and “letter”) that we’re already familiar with. You might be wondering whether this new fad is the right marketing vehicle for your law practice, or you might have concerns about whether it’s smart or even ethical to use these “newsletters.” Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
1. Just what is a “newsletter”?
A newsletter is a publication in which a lawyer writes an article (or more than one!) that describes or explains something important about the law. The newsletter is made available free of charge to anyone who’d like to read it. Since newsletters are typically electronic, people can access the newsletter and its articles by email or through a social media system like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
2. What are the benefits of a “newsletter” to lawyers?
There are lots! A newsletter keeps your clients and potential clients up to date on what’s happening in areas of law that affect them. It lets you show off your expertise and knowledge, building confidence in your readers about your legal excellence. If you write enough articles about a specific topic, it allows you to carve out a niche specialty for which you’ll become well-known.
3. Does anyone read these “newsletters”?
Absolutely — starting with your current clients, then moving on to their colleagues, friends and relatives who might have similar interests, especially if the articles are practical and actionable. Reporters and journalists also read newsletters and use them to identify lawyers who can be interviewed on a topic. Other lawyers read them too and may decide to refer a matter to you in a specialized area.
4. Is it ethical to publish a “newsletter”?
Why wouldn’t it be? All you’re doing is providing information about the law and generic tips about how clients should conduct themselves in legal matters. You’re not giving actionable legal advice because you’re not responding to a client inquiry or a specific fact situation — you don’t do that in person, so you wouldn’t do that in a newsletter either. Writing an article for a “newsletter” is no different than giving a presentation at a CLE or speaking at your local Chamber of Commerce.
5. What if I mix the personal and professional in my “newsletter”?
I can’t see why you would. You decide in advance what you want to write about — why would you tell a business audience anything about your personal life? This seems like a strange question.
6. Is it difficult to start a “newsletter”?
Not at all! There are many low-cost, high-quality programs available to publish your newsletter, all of them very user-friendly. You can write newsletter articles as often as you want (although the more articles you publish, the more impact you’ll have).
Really, the only reason you wouldn’t want to write a newsletter is that you don’t have the time or the interest in marketing yourself by producing content. There’s nothing mysterious about newsletters — thousands of lawyers publish them every day. You can publish a newsletter too — just so long as you have something to say.
Okay. Now go back and read through that again, this time substituting “blog” for “newsletter” and “posts” for “article.” And that should hopefully answer the most common questions that, for some reason, still get asked by lawyers about blogs, as if blogs were some exotic phenomena recently arrived from Mars that have defeated all our efforts to understand them.
A blog post is an example of content marketing. It’s no different from a live presentation, a media interview, or a newsletter article. Either you think content marketing is worthwhile, or you don’t. If you don’t, pay no attention to blogs. If you do, please be assured, really and truly, that there’s nothing unusual or problematic about them.