Despite what anyone might tell you, sweat the small stuff when it comes to the accuracy of the content you create.
I recently heard on a podcast what might have been the worst legal content marketing advice I ever heard.
It was 27 words long, and it was given by a public relations and content manager for a marketing firm when they were asked for a piece of advice about raising a lawyer’s profile via PR or content marketing.
This person said, “Try not to sweat the small stuff or get too hung up. The average reader is not going to fact check you to see if you’re correct.”
Now, in this person’s defense, perhaps they were talking about media relations and how to discuss complex concepts and topics when you’re talking to reporters from media outlets with large, general audiences.
But if this was a piece of legal content marketing advice, it is terrible.
For goodness’ sake, sweat the small stuff
Why wouldn’t you sweat the small stuff when it comes to the content you create?
Why wouldn’t you want to ensure that what you’re saying to your audience about the law is accurate and correct?
If you don’t, you’re going to run into several problems.
First, you’ll make a bad impression on clients and referral sources.
If you have a client who will look at different law firm websites before they decide between your firm and two or three other firms, and those other firms’ websites say X and you say Y but Y is wrong, that’s going to make your firm look bad.
Second, its going to wreak havoc on managing your clients’ expectations.
If you explain an important element of the law incorrectly on a blog post, social media post, podcast, or another form of content, you have given a prospective client or current client reason to believe their legal or business issue will go a certain way based on what you said.
When they come to find out that what you said was inaccurate, that’s a problem.
When you provide them the correct information, you’re going to mess with their expectations since you originally led them to believe that the state of the law was something other than what it really is. That could make clients feel as though they had a bad experience with you because the outcome they thought you could provide them based on your content is not the outcome actually supported by the law.
As a result, they could leave bad reviews on Google or other review websites. They could also not give you referrals and they could tell their friends and family to avoid going to your law firm, all because you produced inaccurate content.
Of course, if you’re in the B2B space with sophisticated prospective and current clients (like executives and general counsel from large organizations) consuming your content, and you put out content that gets the law or foundational facts wrong, you’ve also got a problem. In this case, your mistake could turn this audience off to you in terms of referrals or otherwise keeping you top of mind as a lawyer they want to bring aboard when they have the kind of legal or business issue that you normally would be able to handle.
Third, under the ethics rules, not sweating the small stuff could cause you another set of problems.
In many jurisdictions, Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1, which prohibits false or misleading communications by lawyers about their services, says a material misrepresentation of the law makes a communication about the lawyer or their services false or misleading.
So you can add “ethical problems” to the growing list of problems created when you do not sweat the small stuff with your content.
Save yourself the heartburn down the road and sweat the small stuff
I can’t understand why you wouldn’t sweat the small stuff when creating content, especially thought leadership content.
It doesn’t matter whether your clients, prospective clients, or referral sources are going to fact check you. Why wouldn’t you want to get the law right in the first place?
Perhaps this podcast guest was trying to say that you don’t want to get into the weeds and dole out case citations while exploring the deep contours of a 65-page summary judgment opinion.
Or, maybe they were talking about public relations and sound bites and not content marketing and thought leadership marketing.
In these contexts, the “don’t sweat the small stuff” advice makes sense. You can give clients and referral sources helpful guidance they can use to discuss broader themes of an area of law without discussing every relevant case within that area or every exception to the prevailing rule.
But again, why would you not sweat the small stuff with your content?
Always sweat the small stuff.
Always make sure your content is correct, relevant, valuable, and compelling.
Your content is a reflection of you and your law firm. You better get the substance of your content correct. It is the way that so many clients and referral sources today and in the future are going to find out about you and your firm, connect with you and your firm, and make the decision whether to bring your firm on to help them or to refer someone else to your firm.
It’s the primary way now and in the future that clients and referral sources will decide whether you are worthy of handling their legal or business issues, or in the case of referral sources, their clients’ legal or business issues.
Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.