What better way to show your clients and referrals sources that you are an authority regarding the area of law you practice or the industry you serve than to share your thoughts looking back at the previous year and looking forward to the next?
When December rolls around, the most wonderful time of the year gets underway.
While I’m channeling the Andy Williams classic Christmastime song, he and I have different ideas about why this time of the year is so special.
In my view, December kicks off the most wonderful time of the year because it provides lawyers the opportunity to create a two-part client alert, blog post, or bylined article that looks back at the previous year and looks forward to the new year.
This two-part series is the perfect piece of thought leadership content with which lawyers can show their clients, their referral sources, and other members of their target audience that they are an authority regarding the areas of law they practice and/or the industries they serve.
It is practically a lay-up in terms of reinforcing a lawyer’s authority in the minds of their target audience.
Start by looking back
Part one of this two-part series will recap the previous year. A lawyer will recap four or five things that happened within the industry they serve, or in the area of law they practice.
It could be cases. It could be administrative agency actions. It could be proposed statutes or enacted statutes. It could simply be big industry news.
Whatever events they choose, the lawyer should list them and be sure to explain the “so what” and the “now what” of each event. In other words, why is it important that this event happened? What makes it so important, and what now should the reader be thinking about or doing as a result of the event?
This should be published no later than mid-December.
Finish by looking forward
As enjoyable as part one should be because of the freedom and creativity involved in picking four or five notable legal developments or events from earlier in the year, part two ratchets up the freedom and creativity even higher.
That’s because the lawyer will be looking forward to what’s coming up in the new year. They’ll whip out their crystal ball and opine on what might happen in the coming year that would be of interest to their clients and referral sources, and probably more importantly, that could impact their clients and referral sources.
The lawyer can base these predictions on what they covered in that first part of this two-part series, or they can base it on other thoughts.
This piece should be enjoyable to write. It is fun to make predictions. Obviously, they have to be somewhat grounded in reality. But what’s especially fun about making predictions is that no one is going to hold you accountable if you get these predictions wrong.
Do you know what happens when sports commentators or political commentators get something wrong? Nothing. Nothing happens. They keep on doing their job and probably making wrong predictions in the future. No one cares. That’s the beauty of predictions!
Four pointers to keep in mind regarding your two-part series
When (not if!) you decide to write this two-part series, here are four things to keep in mind as you write the two pieces of content.
Remember, this series is for the benefit of your clients, your referral sources, and other members of your audience.
Make sure you’re tying the events you’re recapping or predicting into your audience’s concerns and interests. If your content is not focused on your audience or on what’s relevant to them, as entertaining as the content might be, it’s not going to be as valuable as it could be.
This pointer is more for your predictions. Don’t say wimpy things like, “We expect regulation to increase,” or “We expect prosecutions to increase in the DOJ.” Be specific. What kinds of prosecutions, and why?
The more specific you are, the more interesting your predictions will be and the better sense your audience will have that you are an authority because you are actually talking specifics and not giving the kind of broad statements that anyone with a pulse could make.
Weave in your personal experience
This is a bit sneaky, but if possible, weave in your experience over the past year, or content you’ve published over the past year.
If you’re recapping the year’s events or making a prediction about next year, and you’ve written about an aspect of one of those events or the basis for your prediction, you should link to that content.
Likewise, if you were involved in a case that concerned certain issues that you think could blow up in the next year, refer to that.
It further builds your authority to show that you had previously covered, or were involved in, some aspect of these important matters that could have an impact on clients, referral sources, and other members of your target audience in the coming year.
This pointer is, again, more for your predictions. Stick your neck out. Go out on a limb. Make a statement with the boldness of your predictions.
As I mentioned above, your predictions should be grounded in reality and shouldn’t make you look like an idiot or make your colleagues or your law firm look like idiots.
Be bold with your predictions and think outside the box. Have some fun. Make your predictions piece more entertaining than just watching paint dry. After all, if your audience is not enjoying the content and they don’t find it relevant and interesting, they’re not going to stick around.
Turn down the Christmas music and get to work
It’s no coincidence that when December rolls around, lawyers and law firms tend to hunker down to get as much client work done as possible, and as many invoices out as possible, ahead of Christmas and New Year’s Day. When doing so, it’s not unusual for them to cast aside their content marketing and thought leadership marketing efforts.
But a two-part thought leadership series looking back at the previous year and looking forward to the next year is a relatively easy lift compared to other pieces of content a lawyer or law firm might publish throughout the year. That’s because it is heavily opinion-based, and most lawyers should find this kind of content enjoyable to write, which means they can write both pieces in a relatively short amount of time.
When the calendar turns to December, ’tis the season for many things. For lawyers who want to be seen as authorities within the areas of law they practice and the industries they serve, a two-part series that recaps the year that was, and offers predictions about the coming year, is the kind of thought leadership content that can help further position them as authorities. If written well, the content will go down as easy for clients and referral sources as a fresh cup of hot cocoa on a cold December evening.
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