I realize that most of my posts so far have focused on what can go wrong with content (and how you can fix it). But I don’t want to harp constantly on negative things, so today I’m going to focus on the positive. I’ll point out examples of good content practices taken from actual websites and show how you can use these techniques to create distinctive content.
Law firms can get great ideas and inspiration by looking beyond their profession, and that’s true for content creation. I’ll show you two websites from outside the legal profession that I like, as well as one from a law firm outside the U.S. (I have no connection to any of these companies or firms.)
Each example shows different ways to craft a message that will capture the attention of your target audience and give them useful information.
GSK — The Power of Storytelling
Pharmaceutical giant GSK uses persuasive storytelling on its website to describe its efforts to combat a tropical disease called lymphatic filariasis. The company has donated more than eight billion tablets of its drug albendazole to to treat this disease, which causes painful swelling of the legs.
To bring this story to life, GSK describes the plight of Bhagwati, a mother of five in Nepal, who suffers from this condition.
GSK’s discussion of this drug could have been dry and clinical, citing chemical formulas, studies and data. Instead, the company gives its readers a vivid picture of the personal toll of this disease, in words and photos.
GSK uses a different technique to highlight a top researcher at the HIV Cure Center at the University of North Carolina, which is working in a partnership with GSK. In a short and compelling Q&A dialogue, Shari Gordon describes how her experience taking care of her sick grandmother when she was 13 motivated her to learn more about science.
Law firms can use this type of storytelling in lots of ways: in lawyer biographies, to describe client successes, and in recruitment materials. A little can go a long way, too. Just a few concise stories on your website can give your brand more personality.
BASF — Informative Discussions
Chemical company BASF offers an accessible, informative conversation on the pros and cons of diesel fuels. The company presents two experts on opposite sides of the environmental debate who discuss diesel fuel issues, including whether the fuel should be banned. Their discussion is easy to understand and serves as a helpful primer.
Sophisticated takes on complex topics don’t have to read like law review articles. Show that you understand your client’s business by writing a smart analysis that can be understood by a bright non-lawyer. Imagine the CEO of your client reading your take on the legal hotspots in her industry. Are you speaking her language or is your analysis laden with too much legalese?
Allens Linklaters — A Useful Client Alert
Here are two firms that understand the key goal of a client alert — They tell the client what to do. (Allens Linklaters is an alliance of Australia’s Allens and U.K.-based Linklaters.)
In a discussion of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Alien Tort Statute, the firm creates a boxed section near the top titled: “How Does It Affect You?” The box includes three, bulleted short pieces of advice. I’ve rarely seen such helpful information so clearly presented on a law firm website.
This alert is also divided into other helpful sections, including In Brief (which summarizes the ruling in one sentence). Background, Decision, and Next Steps. This is a great way to present useful information to clients.
Remember, you can find inspiration in unexpected places. Keep your eyes open for new techniques that can help you tell your firm’s story.