My title my be tongue-in-cheek, but my message this week is quite serious.
We’ll get to that in a moment. First, I want to consider for a moment what happens in a crisis. We panic a little bit, right? Even if we stay mostly calm, our world gets very small, and we’re often looking only at the three feet around us. It sometimes means that we’re looking only at what our firm, our office, or our team is doing, and not focusing on the larger picture. We’re also trying to do everything extremely quickly and efficiently, because the needs all feel so IMMEDIATE – clients need us RIGHT.NOW. And that’s not imaginary – they do. Orders have come down from state or national governments asking them to shutter their businesses within hours. They’ve had to move employees from in-office to remote immediately, sometimes with no plans in place. You may be assisting them in doing this often while having to make similar decisions for your own firms.
Now that we’re a few weeks (or in some cases, months) into this, it’s hard to come out of that GO.GO.GO mode and decide what actually needs to be done immediately, and what you can take a breath and do with some careful thought. It can feel this way with publishing content too. Every question that a client asks feels like it needs a client alert response shared with your whole mailing list and shared to every social platform.
“Let’s create a HUB!” I hear someone cry.
So hubs are the new law firm rankings. They’re necessary because everyone has them, and yes, you absolutely do need a place on your website that contains all the COVID-19 guidance that you’ve been developing and publishing. Even better if you can sub-divide these into practice and industry-specific sections, so that when someone comes to your site, they can find what they need easily.
Creating a hub is not, in and of itself, newsworthy. Each piece of legal guidance you post is not, in and of itself, newsworthy. I hate to tell you this, but there are thousands of law firms doing EXACTLY the same thing you’re doing. No one cares if you have a hub. They care if you DON’T have one, but it’s not worth announcing when you create one. (By the way, same with rankings).
But what does that MEAN? I can hear you asking.
It means, go back to the beginning – the same rules apply as they always have:
- What do your clients need? What do they need? Most of you will know this already. You’re getting the same questions from clients across the board on employment law, force majeure clauses, bankruptcy issues. Where you’re getting a LOT of those questions, answer them, in multiple ways (video, text, audio). Where you’re only getting one or two, keep these in your back pocket, but don’t immediately write a client alert about them – too much content only adds to the noise.
- Who needs it? SEGMENT your audiences. I can’t tell you how many alerts I’ve gotten from law firms that I shouldn’t be on the mailing list for. Please don’t blanket your mailing lists for alerts – assume that if you’re doing that, other law firms are doing it too. The more targeted you can be in what you’re sending out, the better. The BEST thing to do? TALK to your clients directly. Yes, of course, you’ll still need to provide this information in some kind of content format, but for your own clients, connect with them directly. Find out what they need, how they need it, and how you can really help them.
- How do they need it? This isn’t about what works best for you – this is about what works best for your audience. We have talked about this a LOT, but it has never applied more than it does right now. A lot of people are working remotely, and that means things have changed. Maybe lunch webinars used to work great, but now, your clients are trying to wrangle their toddlers over that noon to one hour, and it’s not convenient for them to sit in on a live session. Maybe they’d rather watch a video at night, once their kids have gone to bed, or they’re catching up on blog posts at 5am before everyone has gotten up. But rather than assume, ASK them. How do they want to get the information – direct from you? By video or live session? Podcasts while taking a walk break? Find out, and you’ll be meeting THEIR needs.
- Why do they need it? This also goes back to reaching out directly – at the moment, when things are happening quickly, and governmental orders seem to change by the day, it can be easy to assume that you know why a client is asking what they’re asking, and what they need. But don’t forget to dig a little deeper. You may find out that their questions are really linked to another issue you weren’t aware of, and can help them with, or there’s more to the story than you previously knew. We can all be so much in the weeds at the moment that we’re not seeing the forest for the trees, and it’s your job as your client’s lawyer to help them see the forest. Don’t forget that the personal touches right now make that difference.
- Where and when do they need it? Are you making sure to connect in the right places? We’ve already touched on the idea of using the right format and timing, but are you using all of the tools at your disposal? This is about more than just connecting with your clients; this is about keeping up with what’s happening in their industries. Use social media tools as a way to keep a check on the pulse of what’s happening with your clients’ businesses, and identify the trends that may impact your clients as they’re rushing to keep things afloat. See which tools your clients are using (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) and identify when your clients seem to be most active – that will help give you an idea of when they’re available to connect with you. Don’t forget to post content in those places without inundating them.
So what’s the lesson? Yes, we need hubs of COVID-19 content – but if you have one, everyone has one (even I have one!). It’s not press release worthy news – include it at the bottom of other content IF you mention it anywhere. At the forefront of everything you do should be “How am I adding value for my clients today?” and ask yourself that over and over and over again with each thing you do, whether it’s phone calls, client matters, referrals, blog posts, client alerts, webinars, zoom calls, etc. Be relentlessly valuable.