When should your law firm hire a journalist to ghostwrite content?

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To attract your ideal legal clients or referrals and increase revenue, your law practice potential clients need to see it as a trustworthy industry leader that is an expert at solving legal challenges. This is particularly challenging for smaller B2B law firms who may not have as much marketing reach as larger ones.

However, larger firms are finding this increasingly difficult, too. One method of proving credibility is through content marketing, and its most crucial element is robust written content.

The Best Law Firms Are Legal Information Publishers

Your current and prospective clients expect coming to your website to be an educational or at least informative experience for them. They want to know what you know before hiring you to do their legal work.

That means your firm should regularly be producing authoritative written content and expertly distributing it across the web using tactics that put your message before the right prospective clients and referring attorneys. Quality content can keep your law firm top of mind with them.

Your content should display your small B2B law firm’s expertise in a particular practice area. You must deliver your message in a believable, professional manner to be taken seriously and considered a legal expert or “go to” law firm in your legal specialty.

But in a small law firm, who should write this content, especially in cases where you don’t have the expert marketing staff in-house? Should attorneys try to write that article, white paper, report or other marketing content themselves and put their own and your law firm’s name on the content? Of course, your law firm’s name should go on any content written on its behalf.

Know When It’s Time to Get Outside Help

While it’s always ideal when content can be written directly by the source, there are cases when attorneys should not write an end content product for public distribution. In fact, if yours is a small law firm without in-house marketers, there are three situations when your law firm should consider hiring a journalist ghostwriter.

When Your Legal Professionals Are Not Experts at Branding

Your law firm’s attorneys may be experts their practice areas and your paralegals may provide research and document construction as support. But, usually, none of them are experts at researching and crafting marketing messages or telling your law firm’s brand story in writing.

Your firm’s lawyers indeed should be involved in generating the content’s key ideas and brand messaging, providing the research and even writing drafts of your content. They usually know the message the firm is trying to convey to target audiences about its capabilities. But, when your legal professionals can’t write this content, your law firm should call on a journalist who also specializes strategic content writing.

These journalists are best equipped to help you develop your articles, client alerts, white papers and other content you’ll distribute under your law firm’s name. They can ghostwrite your law firm’s content while incorporating core elements of its content marketing strategy. But, because they are journalists, they write your law firm’s content so that it reads like editorial content rather than marketing collateral.

When You Don’t Write Like a Journalist or Storyteller

Most lawyers are great legal writers but write like lawyers. Your law firm has to tell its story well to gain and keep the attention of readers long enough for them to consume your content entirely.

Your content needs to be engaging, even if it’s a dry subject like taxation, corporate compliance or SMB government policy. You’ll still need to convey your expertise in these important but usually not controversial areas without dull your readers.

And, if it’s a legal subject area that’s not very well-known or well-understood, you’ll need help from an expert ghostwriting journalist to make it reader-friendly and relatable. Moreover, if it’s digital content, the right strategic content writing consultant can make it SEO-friendly and craft it specially for social media use, too.

They’ll also write the content in plain language without talking down to your smart business audiences.

When You Don’t Have Time to Produce Content Consistently

Legal thought leadership content writing is not “one and done” activity. Your small firm has to produce content consistently for both your law firm and its attorneys to gain traction as experts in your practice areas.

Scholars, many doctors, big law attorneys or high-profile solo practitioners know this. This is how those professionals raise their profile. For almost all, it’s “publish or perish.” 

Like them, if your small law firm is not routinely producing high-level, written, legal thought leadership content, you will remain unknown or quickly be forgotten. You have to get the attention of the top executives whose organization your firm represents, or wants to serve, and most still prefer written content to make decisions about hiring law firms.

Your law firm must continually produce content proves your small B2B law firm’s legal value to its prospective clients and even to its current ones.

A strong ghostwriter can help ensure your small law firm becomes recognized as a legal profession leader. One who can collaborate with you successfully to produce the content you need to achieve that goal is especially valuable. 

What can an excellent ghostwriting journalist help you create?

When most people think of ghostwriters, they think of them writing or substantially editing books. However, today’s ghostwriters often are journalists who’ve become full-service strategic content writers. So, there is a variety of other content they can work with your firm to produce, including:

  • News pieces (including op-eds)
  • Blog articles
  • White papers, client alerts, and reports
  • Short ebooks and legal guides
  • Newsletter articles
  • Email copy
  • Website content
  • Press content

If the type of content you need isn’t listed here, ask the journalist your small firm is considering for its projects whether they can write what you need. Or, look at their website to see what they’ve written and for whom to determine if they might be a fit for your project.

Whose name should be on the ghostwritten content?

This next concept is important to understand, especially for small law practices. All content written by a ghostwriter should be published in your firm’s name only, never in any individual attorney’s name. If the ghostwritten material wasn’t written by a lawyer but shows their name as the author that is considered plagiarism.

You also must be careful allowing others, even other lawyers, to edit attorney’s written content. There is a fine line between editing the content and substantially rewriting it so it is entirely different from the original.

Whether you’re planning to edit attorney-written content in-house or hire an outside editor, you should check your local bar association’s rules about this process. Also, do some research and talk to legal industry experts about how to do this correctly.

But, for ghostwritten content that will be under your law firm’s name, the right strategic content writer can write content that integrates seamlessly into your law firm’s content marketing strategy without violating your state bar’s code of ethics and rules on advertising.

Frequently, strategic content writers who specialize in law firm marketing know your local bar rules. But, even if they do, your law practice is responsible to the local bar for whatever it publishes on its behalf no matter who wrote the content.

Hiring a Journalist to Ghostwrite Might Be Worthwhile

As you can see, done correctly, it is worth the investment of time and money to obtain the services of a journalist specializing in strategic content writing to ghostwrite content for your firm. Doing so allows you to use strong content to build solid relationships with your target audience.

That includes current and prospective clients as well as referring attorneys. They will see that your firm cares enough about its reputation and their perception of your lawyers to invest appropriately professional expertise where necessary.

By extension, they’ll conclude your small B2B law firm provides the same excellent legal knowledge and client service to them that the content a professional ghostwriter helped you create suggests.

(c) 2016-2018. Dahna M. Chandler for Get Money Moxie, Inc. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission of the author.

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