Multimedia for Maximum Impact: Raising Law Firms’ Brand Awareness With Videos and Podcasts
By Penny Paul
March 24, 2022 | 7-minute read
Communications Media Relations/PR Content Type Article
Some lawyers are wary of posting too frequently on LinkedIn, let alone pioneering innovative platforms to heighten their profile in the marketplace — few CMOs would propose that their managing partner post dinner photos on Instagram or lead a flash mob in the lobby.
But a law firm does not need to forgo its more traditional culture to maximize the potential of interactive and engaging mediums. With in-person networking opportunities still limited and attorneys under increased pressure to extend and maximize their business development outreach, an open mind toward formerly unlikely marketing techniques can open doors to new clientele and dramatically elevate a firm’s brand.
Prospective clients’ shortened attention span and changing expectations now demand that lawyers adopt more tech-savvy and consumer-friendly approaches to communication than a bylined article in a scholarly journal. The good news: attorneys can benefit from this approach, too. They can more efficiently establish their thought leadership — with greater impact — by having a 10-minute conversation with a colleague recorded on an iPhone. Not only is it faster, it is less expensive to record a podcast than to fly to a conference or sit on a panel at a bar association event with costly sponsorship or membership fees.
In 2021, Lowenstein Sandler’s leadership agreed to support its marketing and business development team as it tried new, more efficient and effective ways to reach target audiences. Because many of our firm’s clients are startups and/or in the technology industry, we wanted to demonstrate a comfort level on the platforms our clients and their customers use, and in a way that made life easier for our attorneys. We also wanted to reach law school graduates through the media they frequent, and to impress lateral recruits in ways that would differentiate us from other firms.
Image courtesy of Living Group
In its 2021 Social Law Firm Index, Good2BSocial noted that video “can be more engaging, more memorable and more popular among consumers than other content on social media…. Video also performs best with most algorithms, since it captures a viewer’s attention for longer.”
Video has the advantage of spotlighting a lawyer’s personality. For those comfortable in front of the camera, the format allows them to get creative and show off their sense of humor. And on top of showcasing their command of their respective subject matter, video allows lawyers to illustrate the less quantifiable qualities that influence a prospect, from likeability and charm to determination and fearlessness. It can also visually depict a team’s diversity by including men and women of all races, ethnicities and age ranges.
Our first video series came about as ransomware became a growing threat across so many industries. We started with cybersecurity awareness, featuring leading authorities in the world of cybersecurity: Kathleen A. McGee, partner in the firm’s tech group and white collar criminal defense practices, Mary J. Hildebrand, partner and chair of the privacy and cybersecurity group, and Ken Fishkin, the firm’s manager of information security. Episodes focus on topics like phishing, the flaw in Log4j, data breaches and other areas of concern. The hosts have also interviewed guests from other practice groups to address issues that impact their clients, offering an opportunity for cross-selling.
Our next foray into video was a series by our bankruptcy and restructuring department, called the Lowenstein Bankruptcy Lowdown. In this series, practice group chair Jeff Cohen and other members of his team discuss trends and recent decisions, such as the role of consensual third-party releases and an update in the Purdue Pharma case. One especially popular clip from this series was neither exceptionally long nor highly technical: a group of Lowenstein’s bankruptcy lawyers shared holiday greetings while onsite at the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) Winter Leadership Conference, literally demonstrating that they are where the action is in this practice area.
Faster and easier to produce than a long-form article, we have found that videos, because they are appealing to search engines, drive both impressions and engagement on our website and across our social media channels. In the first three months, our videos increased our social media impressions by over 60% and engagements by over 40%.
In a related marketing initiative, we aimed to produce numerous podcasts across practice groups. We invested in high-quality microphones, trained a few members of our marketing team and launched our first episode in February 2021: the firm’s Insurance Recovery Group’s series “Don’t Take No for an Answer,” which, in just one year, has grown to over 30 episodes.
The series addresses topics ranging from ransomware to reps and warranties to SPACs. The hosts have interviewed other firms’ lawyers, in addition to in-house counsel, creating networking opportunities with clients and prospects by offering them a virtual “seat on the dais” with no travel or fees involved. Since its launch, this podcast has more than quadrupled its listenership and continues to grow in both numbers and influence.
Shortened attention span and changing expectations now demand that lawyers adopt more tech-savvy and consumer-friendly approaches to communication.
Other practice groups quickly followed our insurance recovery group. The employee benefits and executive compensation group launched “Just Compensation,” geared toward companies and senior executives, and our trusts and estates group followed with their “Splitting Heirs” podcast, an information-packed and entertaining guide to estate planning and the interesting world of trusts and estates.
Practice groups are not the only constituency to use podcasts to convey the firm’s brand. Before the pandemic, the Lowenstein Sandler Women’s Initiative Network regularly planned events for women lawyers at all stages in their careers. When COVID-19 put an end to those in-person festivities, the initiative’s leaders decided that a podcast would be a great way to maintain internal communications, while also demonstrating to external audiences the firm’s commitment to core values like diversity, equity and inclusion. The resulting podcast, “Real Talk,” addresses the strategies and practical tips that have been key to the success of Lowenstein’s women lawyers, colleagues and mentors, and explores constructive ways to deal with setbacks and disappointments. By including associates in conversations with higher-level lawyers, the podcast also provides an excellent business development training ground for younger lawyers.
As the ultimate imprimatur of this format, firm chair and managing partner Gary M. Wingens has also embraced the podcast format, and has started using this platform to deliver his annual state of the firm address. Showcased on the “Managing Partner’s Corner,” a webpage dedicated to top-level leadership messaging, as well as on our lateral recruiting site and on all of our social media channels, the podcast highlights the firm’s recent achievements, to inform legal industry professionals, recruiters and law students about the firm’s culture and successes.
Guy Alvarez, founder and chief engagement officer of Good2BSocial, says, “The number of people listening to podcasts has grown exponentially,” citing a recent survey of in-house counsel showing that general counsel actually want more podcasts from law firms. In fact, that survey’s respondents were found to place considerably more value on research and podcasts than all other content (emails, articles, webinars and blog posts).
Like all new initiatives, moving marketing efforts and budget dollars in new directions can create challenges. Some firm leaders may be less open to new technologies, and many want to wait until data over time more clearly shows the tangible benefits.
As well as learning how to create these new forms of content, an effective marketing and business development team must be well versed in best practices for sharing and promoting various forms of content on social media. They must develop strategic plans that integrate techniques like video and podcasts to support their firm’s overarching business objectives, and that complement traditional tactics like press interviews, speaking engagements and bylined articles. They must also educate the lawyers themselves and encourage them to participate in order to best leverage these platforms for increased visibility and, ultimately, new business. Legal marketers should also strive to develop and report persuasive metrics that measure the effectiveness of these new tactics through analytics, brand surveys and competitive analysis.
As we look back on our first year producing podcasts and videos, we are thrilled with the reaction we received both internally and externally. We were even recently listed at No. 5 out of more than 200 organizations ranked by employee influencer platform DSMN8 in its list of “The USA's Most Active Law & Legal Professionals on Social.” We know we still have a great deal of growth ahead, but our team and the entire firm have learned that if we remain open and willing to experiment with new techniques and strategies, that spirit of collaboration can inspire the kind of creative problem solving that leads to new ways of doing business, and to generating new business overall.