Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on motherhood in the legal profession, in partnership with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Stacey Freeman back to our pages. Click here if you’d like to donate to MothersEsquire.
As a law firm owner building the various teams that enable your organization to run as you envision, each individual on those teams should check certain boxes. Your legal content marketing professional/content writer is no exception.
Specifically, your legal content marketing professional should be a skilled writer and editor with in-depth knowledge of editing rules. You might not know, but the rules of editing for the internet and for books aren’t the same. They follow different style guides, and which one you use where matters because, well, presentation matters.
If you see yourself authoring a business book or memoir one day to elevate your thought leadership efforts even further, consider searching for a content marketing professional possessing both writing and editing skills. That person will know you better than a writer/editor coming in off the street since they’ve already been working with you and your organization.
But, perhaps most importantly, the legal content marketing professional you hire should understand and embrace your core values, which, hopefully, you’ve already spent time refining and have communicated across all of your teams. In other words, your legal content marketing professional should understand multiple aspects of you — your law firm’s marketing goals, your law firm’s challenges, and you personally. You see, your story, i.e., how you got to where you are (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and where you see yourself going personally and professionally, can be leveraged in multiple ways.
Take the law mom who transitioned from Biglaw to solopreneurship to have more control over integrating work and life, so she could still be a class mom, head the PTO committee for the spring carnival, and chaperone the occasional school trip, even if it means returning to her home office at 9 p.m. each night once the kids are bathed, read to, and asleep. Or the law mom who decided with her spouse that she would pursue partnership — and eventually made partner! — at the law firm where she worked while her husband agreed he would field, at least for the foreseeable future, more of the daytime responsibilities at home because his creative career allowed him that flexibility.
These are the stories that matter, the ones that help others make important decisions in their own lives as they stand at their personal crossroads. They’re the stories that draw people — colleagues and clients alike — to you.
Whatever the details, integrating your personal story into your content marketing strategy takes vulnerability, guts, and commitment. Commitment not only to yourself and your goals but also to your legal marketing professional, to whom you’re paying your hard-earned money so they can partner with you in your legal content marketing efforts. That means it’s in your best interests for them to succeed. But to reach new heights, you need to support your legal content marketing professional in a few pointed ways, not work against them, which sometimes happens unknowingly.
Your legal content writer knows you’re busy. But as your partner in up-leveling your exposure through the world of legal content marketing, they will inevitably have a few simple and logical requests of you to do the job you’ve brought them on to do. Those requests are to …
Create A Teamlike Environment
If you have a marketing team performing numerous functions, consider including your content writer in regularly scheduled teamwide marketing meetings. This creates cohesiveness between the content writer and the rest of the marketing team. It also allows the content writer to witness and participate in the idea flow, infusing their expertise.
Often, these conversations spark topic ideas. They can also help point to subjects in the law firm’s arsenal of client resources that could benefit from further elaboration or updating by the legal content writer. Lastly, the legal content writer is likely not privy to all of the law firm’s marketing department’s data, which, when discussed openly with the content marketer, can help focus marketing initiatives even more.
Keep A Running List Of Ideas
Creating a central location where you can jot down ideas for future content is a huge asset when working with a legal content marketer/content writer. That brilliant idea you had a moment ago may be gone in a moment if you’re not careful.
If you’re digitally minded, take advantage of the notepad on your phone, which also allows you to use the microphone to dictate. If you’re a pen-and-paper person, set aside space in your daily planner. Even better is if you take your notes and transfer them to a document you and your content writer share. That way, when you need to put your heads together and choose upcoming topics, you have a running list from which you can cull. Speaking of putting your heads together …
Meet One-On-One Regularly
As the founder or leader of your law firm, meeting with your legal content writer regularly, at least once a month, will increase the quality of your content many times over. God, as the saying goes, is in the details, and only the individual with the experiences can communicate them with the nuance needed for a skilled legal content writer to communicate them to the public with any authenticity.
Regardless of the type of content you task your legal content writer to create — a law firm blog post, newsletter, ebook, thought leadership piece, pitch letter, social media post with accompanying engagement, etc. — the overarching reason behind why, as a law firm leader or as a law firm, you’re creating it matters. It’s the people, places, and objects in each communication, like ingredients in a recipe, that help to get your message across, reinforce it, and make it memorable. Content writers need you to talk to them one-on-one to do that.
Honor Your Meetings
Of course, emergencies come up. That said, do your best to stick to the schedule you create with your content marketing professional. If they’re worth their weight in salt, they’ll come to those meetings prepared. Again, your content marketing professional knows you’re busy, and they respect that your time is valuable.
But so is theirs, and they’re working on a timetable just as you are. Like you, legal content writers have deadlines they must honor regarding their own workflow. Those deadlines could very well affect you, such as when they’re working with an outside publication on your behalf. In the same vein …
Respond To Inquiries Promptly
If your content writer is reaching out to you with a suggestion or for a quote, clarification, approval, or any request of that nature, understand they’re doing so for a reason that is in furtherance of your legal marketing goals. Content marketers are hard at work behind the scenes researching trends, finding publications where they can pitch your content, establishing relationships with editors, writing and tailoring pitch letters, and multipurposing existing content so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Often, the requests from your content marketing professional come to you with time constraints built into them because of their editorial calendar, a publication’s, or a combination of both. Therefore, your content marketing professional depends on you to answer them promptly, for your benefit and their own.
Your content writer will try to make those inquiries of you as clear, concise — and, hopefully — as painless as possible. When your content writer must make repeated inquiries to obtain the information they need to move forward with a project or get the final go-ahead from you even after you said you were engaging, and the content writer held time on their calendar for you, it becomes painful for everyone involved, not to mention uncomfortable. Ghosting is disrespectful and unprofessional.
Legal content marketers like me have chosen this career. Even though it’s not our names in the byline, not our names in lights, and the brand recognition you receive — the credibility you get from the exposure we provide that can become the tipping point for a client choosing you over someone else — is not ours, we feel the thrill as if it is. This feeling means we’re doing our job, a job that takes time, skill, experience, and attention to detail — your details. But to continue doing that job well, we not only need your feedback, we want it.
We take immense pride in the work we do and every “win” — a blog post that goes viral or earns a first-page Google ranking for a commonly used search term, or a thought leadership piece we created with you that results in you seeing your name (either as an author or a quoted expert) in a publication you were once just a reader of — is yours as much as it is ours. But to continue the streak, we need your head and heart in the game, too.
Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer, journalist, author and editor and the founder of Write On Track LLC, a full-service consultancy dedicated to providing high-quality content and strategy to individuals and businesses. Her writing has been published or syndicated in The Washington Post, The Lily (published by The Washington Post), Forbes, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, InStyle, PBS’ Next Avenue, AARP, SheKnows, Yahoo!, MSN, HuffPost, POPSUGAR, Your Teen, Grown & Flown, Scary Mommy, CafeMom, MariaShriver dot com, and dozens of other well-known platforms worldwide. Her memoir-in-essays, “I Bought My Husband’s Mistress Lingerie,” was published in 2022 by Unsolicited Press. Stacey holds a B.A. in English from the University at Albany and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, Twitter/X (book), or by email at Stacey.Freeman@WriteOnTrackLLC.com.