Before jumping into the podcast foray, law firm leaders must think strategically about podcasting as a tool for marketing and business development. Resources, bandwidth and buy-in are needed to produce a successful podcast — along with patience as podcasting success is determined by long-term results.
For buy-in, let’s start with some statistics. Podcasts are more popular than blogging, videos, and television. The average podcast consumer listens to seven podcast episodes per week, and 93% of podcast fans listen to most of an episode. Sixty-one percent of podcast consumers listen to podcasts more than watching TV. As of 2019, 51% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. It is expected that by 2022, 132 million people in the United States will listen to podcasts. According to Podcast Insights:
- Podcasts are most often consumed at home (49%) or in a car (22%);
- Listeners are loyal, affluent and educated;
- 40% of Americans 54 or younger listen to podcasts monthly; and
- 41% of monthly podcast listeners are more likely to earn $75,000-plus annually.
Before your law firm leaps into podcasting, answer these questions:
- What is the purpose of the podcast? Why do you want to enter the podcast space?
- Whom does the firm wish to influence? Will the podcast be focused on B2B, B2C or both?
- What does the firm have to offer via a podcast, and what will be its impact?
- What does success of a podcast look like for the firm, and how will success be measured?
Benefits of Podcasting
Podcasts deepen client relationships and trust, which lead to more work and referrals.
John Corcoran, co-founder of Rise25, LLC, and host of the ”Smart Business Revolution” says: “When used as a strategic business development tool, a podcast can have a significant ROI.” Corcoran started a podcast in 2011 when he was a practicing lawyer. His first recording was of a client for whom Corcoran had handled a small contract matter. He researched and found that the client was a successful serial entrepreneur. As a result of the relationship that was reinforced by the podcast, the account grew substantially. Fast forward to 2019. Corcoran has produced more than 500 podcasts and moved into the industry full-time. “The most important thing lawyers must do to benefit from podcasting is figure out how to make money from it,” he says. This means “interviewing, showcasing, highlighting, profiling and putting on a pedestal, your clients and referral partners, which will lead to more clients and referral partners. It’s as simple as that.”
“There is intense competition for attention in the marketplace,” says Nancy Myrland, the founder of Myrland Marketing and Social Media. “Law firms must stand out. Podcasting for lawyers and law firms accelerates the ‘know, like and trust’ factors clients need when choosing their lawyer. Being able to hear another person’s voice is the middle step in the relationship continuum.” An early adopter of digital technologies, Myrland is the first legal marketing professional in the world to launch and host an Amazon Alexa Flash Briefing, which also is the “Legal Marketing Minutes” podcast.
Podcasts build brand awareness and recognition, reaching the listening audience.
Kristin Dohan, the marketing manager for Klasko Immigration Law Partners, explains that podcasts help to promote their attorneys’ thought leadership and the firm’s strategic messaging while complementing much of their other content marketing. She says: “We often cover the same topic in a blog, article, infographic and presentations. People prefer to consume information in different ways. By adding a podcast, we have expanded our reach and brand awareness to those who otherwise might not read our thought leadership materials.” Dohan helped launch and has produced all episodes of the firm’s podcast “Statutes of Liberty: An Immigration Podcast.”
Podcasts are low-cost, high-value and agile business development tools.
“Podcasting is that perfect middle ground, from a cost, speed and content position, between electronic alerts and videos,” says Rich Bracken, the director of business development of Fredrikson & Byron. “Attorneys can convey their knowledge while showcasing their personality and legal prowess at a fraction of the cost of producing videos and with a much longer shelf life than e-alerts.” Bracken has worked on nearly two dozen podcasts, supported the launch and production of six legal podcasts, and is the host and producer of ”Enrich Your Soul.” He says: “Mid-market firms also have a unique opportunity to showcase their subject matter experts with thoughtful content in podcasts. Rather than trying to be first to market with the electronic update like BigLaw, an insightful podcast on the breaking news that one can listen to anytime and anywhere, allows mid-market firms to provide the utmost value.”
Podcasts establish credibility quickly and easily.
“In an age (of information) where the client decides how, when and what they need to understand complex legal issues, podcasting is a great way to reach target audiences,” says Adrian Lurssen, the vice president and co-founder of JD Supra, an online platform that distributes law firm content (text, video, audio) to target readers and subscribers. He explains that podcasting is “more versatile than textual content and much less expensive or resource-intensive as video (another good genre, albeit a more complicated one).” He says: “A mid-market firm law partner in the Bay Area invites CEOs of prospective client companies onto his ‘radio show’ to discuss clean tech. Their insights were invaluable and some guests became clients.”
Podcast Best Practices for Law Firms
According to the legal industry podcasters I spoke with:
- Set realistic expectations.
- Come up with a compelling and optimized podcast name and stick with it.
- Create a content schedule and be consistent.
- Invite clients, prospects, former adversaries, colleagues and thought leaders as guests.
- Keep content varied and interesting.
- Determine a format and voice that works for the firm.
- Keep it brief; 30 minutes or less (20 minutes is optimal).
- Engage willing attorneys and demonstrate performance analytics and ROI.
- Provide speaker training for all hosts.
- Write show notes, optimize the content and repurpose it.
- Record multiple episodes in one sitting and keep episode numbering simple.
- Use quality equipment or a professional podcast provider.
- Pay close attention to the sound quality. It matters.
- Use professional graphics.
- Draft a clear and compelling intro and outro with a neutral music choice.
- Create an outline for each episode while not scripting it fully.
- Promote the podcast across marketing channels and submit to multiple directories. Don’t forget to add it to the attorneys’ email signatures. If you want to see if it’s working, add a tracking link.
- Syndicate the podcast with platforms like JD Supra.
- Keep track of the highest performing episodes.
- Include a disclaimer, legal language and beware of copyrights when naming the podcast.
If you’re thinking about launching a podcast, read Heather McMichael’s tips for pioneering a podcast. She is the media relations manager for Shook, Hardy & Bacon and received an LMA award for a weekly podcast program she created while at her former Am Law 100 firm where she led PR initiatives for a decade.
If you’ve launched a podcast and your firm is struggling with its success, check out Erik Ericson’s article for The Resurgent, “Your Podcast Still Sucks. You Can Still Make It Better.”
Gina Rubel is the author of “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers.” An attorney and publicist, she leads Furia Rubel Communications, an agency supporting law firm growth and reputation management through integrated legal marketing, public relations, strategic planning and crisis communications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @GinaRubel. This article also appeared in ALM’s Mid-Market Report.
The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of their clients or other attorneys in their firm.
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