Photo by Kris Van de Sande

Photo by Kris Van de Sande

Lawyers and law firms often think of content marketing as a solo activity. While you may have a strategy that is firm or practice-wide, in general, you’re thinking of the producers of the content for that strategy as individuals.

But what about co-creating content?

I read a great piece today on 9 Free Tools to Co-Create Content, which not only included some great resources, but also some excellent inspiration on this Two for Tuesdays for ways we can be better content collaborators.

Before we get into the HOW, let’s talk about the WHY.

The article’s author, Ann Smarty, tells us that co-creating content can help you to achieve the following goals:

  • Build relationships with niche influencers (with whom you co-create content)
  • Create more diverse and in-depth content (easier to find more angles and discover more marketing channels)
  • Produce more content (collaboration improves your productivity)
  • Build more exposure (co-writers and co-editors more willing to promote the piece since they participated)”

I think we can all agree that these are goals we’d like to focus on! Imagine, for example, that there’s a client you’d like to get more work from, but you’re having trouble finding yet another reason to call him or her. Suggest co-authoring an article or blog post on a topic of mutual interest, from both sides of the table, and use that collaboration as a jumping off point to work together.

You’re not trying to make hard sells here; you’re simply trying to collaborate with other experts that you respect and admire to produce worthwhile thought pieces for a common audience.

With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of ways you may want to co-create content!

Tip One: Co-write

Co-writing is the obvious one, but that doesn’t mean we skip over it. This is great for writers of all levels – those just getting started right up through regular authors and bloggers.

You’ve got a lot of options to consider when looking at co-writing:

  • Colleagues in your practice area: you can co-write a piece on a relevant topic that highlights the collective strength of your department.
  • Colleagues from different practice areas: you can co-write a piece that showcases the breadth of expertise at your firm (think cross-selling, but less painful).
  • Influencers in the industry: You know who the experts are, and they may be people that you feel you should be better connected to. Offer to write a piece together to not only get on their radar screen, but also give them a reason to share your work now and in the future.
  • Existing clients: As I mentioned above, existing clients are an excellent source to consider for co-authoring articles. During a panel discussion I attended earlier this year, a few in-house counsel commented that they were surprised that more of their clients weren’t asking them to do just that – it was something they’d really like to be doing more of. So the willingness is likely there with some (of course it won’t be the case with all of them), and at the minimum, it’s opening a dialogue between you and the clients that you reach out to.
  • Potential clients: This would be the toughest pool, but it can act as a foot in the door for you. If there is a client that you would like to get work from, and haven’t been able to, reach out to them to pitch co-authoring an article. We all know that this is a relationship business, and it’s an opportunity to build a relationship with that person. The worst that they can say is no!

Take a look through Smarty’s suggestions for collaboration tools for writing – I know lawyers are a tough group when it comes to embracing new technology (come on, you know it’s true), but these are some nice options for working together on writing that wouldn’t require you to be sending Word documents back and forth!

Tip Two: Co-Teach

This is the one that really sparked my interest. Many lawyers are great teachers, and work at law schools while practicing, and afterwards. So why not take that show on the internet, and co-teach online? You’re looking at the same possible collaborators as above, and expanding your network and reach in a more ongoing way than an article or blog post would achieve.

There is obviously more work and commitment involved in this latter suggestion, but the relationship-development benefits are astronomical, and if you record the sessions and package them, they can market for you for a long time to come.

This can be further expanded to other areas too – you could collaborate on a weekly or biweekly podcast with a client or industry influencer. Why not do a road show of presentations with a client? One of my lawyers did this with one of his top clients actually – his client was an excellent speaker on the inside counsel perspective, so he teamed up with my lawyer, and they did a series of presentations together across the country, which were very well-received. They played well off of each other, and it was an opportunity not only to deepen the relationship between them, but also to strengthen their dual brands.

So get creative with collaborating. Smarty gives you some online tools, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these – find your own way, collaborate offline and online, and just co-create however you can. But remember that the key to content marketing is creating something that you can use to market for you (like an article, a blog post, a presentation, etc.) so that it can be doing the work while you’re on to the more important things that you can bill for.

What creative co-creating solutions can you suggest?