Joe: How would you describe what you do to a five year old?
Denise: It’s a little like painting a picture of your favourite story to your friends in school.
You pick the best colours, think hard about the characters, places, and actions. Your friends will recognize it. Try your best to paint a picture that will help them understand the story. Then they can share it with their other friends too!
Instead of colours, I use words. Instead of characters, places, and actions, I think of numbers and what others say to me. I put them into a sort of storybook! And just like your picture, my “story” helps others communicate with their friends.
Joe: What’s your biggest professional achievement, to date? How did you achieve it?
Denise: Writing some global pieces on areas I never had formal training in has been amazing. These pieces have been picked up by global and local media outlets and even used in government advisory briefings or companies’ reference materials.
Achieving it was a combination of opportunity from my company and teammates as well as support from subject matter experts & data whizzes.
Ultimately, embracing what I didn’t know and really putting a passion for learning into both the content themes & the content development process helped.
When you’ve got a blank slate and an eagerness to try your best, it’s the best time to learn and achieve.
Joe: What’s your biggest professional “failure” to date? What did you learn?
Denise: Relying too heavily on my own “playbook” has caused me to be a little rigid and stale in the way I thought of ad copy or video storyboards or even edm copy.
The work came out flat and robotic, which is the exact opposite of what content marketing and content creation should be.
I learned that when the calendar’s looking full and the tasks are piling up, it is more prudent to stop, think about the audience, listen to your team and then together, match your concepts to the needs they have and then restart whatever you are working on.
I learned that looking at other creative works beyond your field can make a big difference in the way you think.
Joe: How can law firms get started with content marketing?
Denise: As with all great content marketing, I would say two main things are a great way to get started:
- understand the audience segments you have (and then decide who you are best off targeting)
Look at the size of your clients, the practice areas, and the vastness of their regional/global presence.
Check whether or not they have historical relationships with competitors and whether their legal relationships are tied to operating office countries or are grouped.
All these are ways to think about who you can bring the most value to and who can give your firm the most value.
- understand how your legal service lines fit those audience segments need
You can start tailoring content to suit the challenges they face and get conversations started! The need should always match a solution you are proposing.
Whether or not it is about emphasizing your ability to deal with a certain legal complexity or about offering them a way to get an edge over their competitors or to scale their business, understanding what your firm does is only effective if you know how you can fine common ground with potential clients.
Joe: How do you create a global content strategy?
Denise: It’s a constantly-evolving balance of macro and micro!
Knowing the firm’s main goals, knowing where each region’s/ practice group’s goals are give you a macro picture.
Company mission is important. It dictates culture. It is entrenched in purpose and this is heart of the brand personality. It affects the way you should be communicating with clients.
For global firms, it is important to be cognizant about cultural differences and the nuances of conducting business in each or across those cultures.
Understanding what your competitor’s/the market are saying helps you identify the hotspots to avoid or carve out your own space.
Knowing who are the right spokespeople and third-party collaborators for different types of projects (by region or practice) can help you understand what needs to be said, how it can be said, and “who” should be saying it.
As always, layering the content and humanizing the content are key. Putting a name to a quote, a face to the project, an experience to a content asset can all go a long way.
Humanizing content begins at the ideation phase. Every business challenge is based on how it impacts a person: a business owner, a C-suite decision maker, an investor, a customer, a manufacturer etc.
Understanding who you are speaking to and who you are speaking ABOUT allows you to take a step back from complex ideas and legal terms and “strip back” to the human emotions and actions you are conveying.
Take for example all the content on COVID-19. There are human elements of fear and panic. In your content you should not be amplifying that but feeding into the ‘positive’ reactions of the initial emotional reaction.
Instead of regurgitating information, forge narratives that speak to helping your audience find control, calm, and strategic action.
In terms of layering the content, you’re thinking of different formats or channels. You’re looking at different lengths of content. You’re looking at building a series of content so there’s a sense of growth or journey your audience can share with you.
Joe: Then how do you adapt that strategy for APAC?
Denise: AP is a vast region so there’s no easy answer to this one.
As a start, I’d say you’re definitely going to think about how similarly or differently
(i) the market conditions are
(ii) the media operates
(iii) the audience consumes content
(iv) your spokespeople can speak to the market/audience.
Joe: How important is that the law firm’s partners and team have a strong online presence? If it is important, what role should the content team play in training and enabling the legal team?
Denise: Extremely. We’re not just talking profile-raising and establishing presence.
Social media is definitely alive and well and this should be leveraged. Coming up with bite-sized content for social sharing can go along way because it doesn’t just come across as business, it comes across as an “i thought of you” moment.
We’re also thinking about content amplification, dissemination, and humanizing the content.
Looking at third-party integrations with your current platforms for partners and other professionals helps to take the “work” out of sharing. Another way is to build a culture of ownership in the content projects. Get buy-in early from those involved and hard-bake the social sharing and out-reach as part of the launch plan.
A content team should always work in synchrony with the legal team and the business development team.
You need to know what the challenges are for the business and what the opportunities are. This enables content to become usable, efficient and relevant.
Joe: We had a chance to collaborate on a content strategy and creation. How was your experience with that?
Denise: It was amazing what you helped us with in my previous job at TLL. You took a “bared-bones” structure and made it adaptable, flexible and manageable enough for us to make it our own and to scale the value of our content.
It was like being given a toolkit and the skills lesson so we could step up and build our content “house”.
This interview was conducted by Joe Escobedo.