Friday, February 14, 2014

Law Firm Blog versus Newsletter

I am frequently asked by attorneys if they should start a blog or a newsletter or if they should convert their newsletter to a blog. Borrowing a common attorney phrase, my answer is, "It depends." In this blog post, I explain some of similarities and differences that law firms should consider when thinking of starting a blog or a newsletter or converting a newsletter to a blog.

Differences between law firm blogs and newsletters

Blogs

  • Blogs are generally one post/article at a time. Newsletters tend to have multiple articles per issue.
  • Blog posts tend to be shorter than newsletter articles. 250-500 words per blog post.
  • Blog posts are usually more timely. Newsletter articles are not as time sensitive.
  • Blogs can be updated quickly and frequently - daily, weekly, monthly. They do not necessarily follow a set schedule. Newsletters follow a  consistent schedule such as monthly, quarterly, biannually and often take longer to produce than a blog.
  • Generally a blog reader needs to take more initiative to read a new blog post such as signing up for an RSS feed or frequently visiting the blog. Newsletter readers have every issue delivered directly to their inbox or mailbox.
  • Blogs create more opportunities for dialogue with the ability to leave comments. Although practically speaking, this does not happen very often with law firm blogs.
  • Blogs can bring in new business. In my personal experience helping attorneys with blogs and newsletters, blogs generate more new business than newsletters.

Newsletters

  • Newsletters generally include multiple articles and topics per issue. Blogs have one post/article at a time.
  • Newsletter articles tend to be longer than a blog post. 
  • Newsletter articles are not as time sensitive as a blog post.
  • Newsletters are issued on a consistent schedule - monthly, quarterly, biannually. They can take several days to format and produce an issue. Blogs are easy to update and can be done any time.
  • Newsletters are emailed or mailed directly to readers.  With email tracking software, law firms can see who is reading the newsletter and which articles are more popular.
  • Newsletters are a one way conversation with attorneys talking to readers; they are less interactive than blogs.
  • Newsletters are perceived as more of a value added client service. In my experience helping attorneys with blogs and newsletters, blogs have been directly responsible for generating new business where as newsletters are one of the extra things clients appreciate (expect) from their lawyers.

Similarities between law firm blogs and newsletters

  • Both blogs and newsletters help promote the law firm's thought leadership and individual attorney's specialty area.
  • Blogs and newsletters can (and should) be promoted through social media - LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and on the firm's website.
  • Blogs and newsletters help with search engine optimization (SEO). Blogs are highly optimized for SEO and will generally result in higher search engine rankings than newsletters.
  • Both blogs and newsletter are time consuming. Depending on the frequency of the newsletter, a newsletter may be less time consuming than a blog.
 

So what's a firm to do? 

Carefully consider your goals and resources. Are you looking to generate new business or are you trying to deliver a value added client service? Can you manage and support a blog on a regular basis or would you be better off with a quarterly newsletter? Making a list of pros and cons can help you decide. And don't worry, if you try a blog and it doesn't work out you can convert to a newsletter or vice versa.


Read some of my other posts on blogs and newsletters here:
 

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Law Firm Newsletter 

Marketing Quick Tips for Attorneys: Make Your Blog Posts Easy to Read

9 Reasons Blogs are Good Marketing Tools for Attorneys

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