Monday, September 22, 2008

Blog vs. Flog: Promoting Professional Services

A review of SCOTUSBLOG


Providers of professional services, including lawyers, consultants, accountants and doctors, face a uniquely awkward sales challenge. Discouraged or prevented by law or practice from conspicuously flogging their services, most market their services through bone-dry websites. A few have begun to realize the potential of blogging to help them make more personal, but unobtrusive, contact with prospective clients. Among those leading the way is Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a US law firm with 700 professionals and 12 offices.


Their traditional website at www.akingump.com, with a reported Google PageRank of 6, draws an estimated 5100 visitors per month. That site lists their service areas and offices, provides white papers, supports recruiting, and highlights company news.

However, the firm also publishes one of the better professional services blogs, www.scotusblog.com, which itself has a Google PageRank of 6, and draws about 19,000 visitors monthly, according to Quantcast.com. “SCOTUS” means “Supreme Court of the United States” and the blog is an authoritative source of information of interest to anyone following that court. Divided into sections called “commentary and opinion”, “new filings”, “orders and opinions”, “multimedia” and “term tracker”, the blog leaves little doubt that this firm knows the Supreme Court and practices before it frequently. The featured commentators are pictured in the right-hand margin, with accompanying links for emailing them. The tone of their posts is authoritative but not stodgy, sometimes speculative, always interesting. For example, in the post “Wild Opinion Speculation” from June 23, 2008 one of the authors surmises that Justice Scalia will be writing an important upcoming opinion:

It does look exceptionally likely that Justice Scalia is writing the principal opinion for the Court in Heller – the D.C. guns case. That is the only opinion remaining from the sitting and he is the only member of the Court not to have written a majority opinion from the sitting. There is no indication that he lost a majority from March. His only dissent from the sitting is for two Justices in Indiana v. Edwards. So, that’s a good sign for advocates of a strong individual rights conception of the Second Amendment and a bad sign for D.C.

A post with that kind of immediacy must surely be designed to attract the attention of the media, who will have no trouble finding experts at the firm to interview.

The blog directs readers back to white papers on www.akingump.com and also links to a new sister site, SCOTUSwiki.com, a reference site that "features pages maintained by many regular SCOTUSblog contributors, top law students, and leading experts in various legal fields."

What does this effort bring to the firm? The blog is a quick, interesting read that attracts both a general audience and potential clients, collaborators, recruits and reporters. It has a kind of personality and newsiness that keeps people coming back frequently for a few minutes at a time. It personalizes the experience of meeting the firm in a completely non-threatening way.

For potential clients, it is the written equivalent of speed-dating, except the prospect never has to tell the blog “No”.

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1 comment:

JP Farrell & Associates, Inc. said...

Debra Snider at http://debrasnider.blogspot.com called my attention to an excellent post by Kevin O'Keefe, "7 Reasons Why Lawyers Using Twitter Need a Blog." Find it at http://kevin.lexblog.com/2009/01/articles/blog-basics/7-reasons-why-lawyers-using-twitter-need-a-blog-/index.html