Over at the Drug and Device Law Blog one of the authors stirred the pot by posting: Why Are Blogs Undervalued? The post got picked up by the WSJ.com Law Blog: Law-Firm Blogs: Marketing Device or Mere Diversion? Since, the Drug and Device Law blog called him out, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. also chimed in: The Marketing Value of Publishing: 1440 to 2008.
The first thing to think about with a blog is how is it different from the other publications from your firm.
Is a legal blog really all that different than the client alerts and updates sent out by law firms? At the core, there is no difference. Information is just published to a website, rather than producing a pdf file and sending it out by email. With a blog the information is generally sent out by RSS feed, but can be sent by email. As of this morning, 15% of my subscribers get my feed by email rather than RSS.
A blog allows easier publishing. If I find an interesting case or story, I can have a post up in minutes. The client alerts do not match that speed. Most publications do not match that speed.
I do not agree with Mr. Hermann's fourth proposition that blogging is too much work for too little financial reward. It is nearly impossible for most big laws to justify that any particular marketing effort leads directly to new work (with the exception of an explicit client pitch). I never hear anyone saying that should not produce client alerts or substantive articles for public consumption because they do not generate enough business. Clients of big law firms expect to receive regular updates of changes in the law that affect their business.
Blogging, like any marketing or networking activity is about building your brand. With lawyers and other professionals that means showing your expertise, engaging in conversations about your expertise and publishing your expertise. Blogs allow all of these. And certainly do a better job than most firm's rather static websites. Over at the Drug and Device Law, they measured 25,00o page views per month on their blog. They call that a "drop in the bucket." But I would guess that number rivals the page views than their law firm website gets. And that is with zero assistance from their IT departments or marketing departments and zero out-of-pocket costs.
All of the dangers that people express are there because people can find the content. Blog posts get indexed by search engines and the linking and and cross-linking are the magic ingredients that makes your blog rise up in the search results ranking. People can find the bad content. But they can also find the good content. All that good content rises up and enhances your brand.