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Writing Content

Blogging, Blogs, Client Alerts, Content, Journalism

Why Traditional Legal Writing Fails in Content Strategy

Sometimes, lawyers need to write as if they were journalists. Here’s why. Let’s start with the idea that the “inverted pyramid” is the basic structure of any news story. Under this plan, the most fundamental facts, the ones the reader really needs to know, appear in the first paragraph of the story. This is usually the information that corresponds to the “five W’s” of journalism – who, what, when, where and why. Less essential information appears in later paragraphs, roughly in order of its importance. This time-honored structure, which was born in the days of linotype machines, continues to work well in the busy online world, where so much content is out there competing for the reader’s attention. It gives the reader an immediate idea of what the story is about and permits him or her to choose to read further in the article — or to move on to…

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Social Media, Writing, Writing Advice

When to Choose Vanilla Ice Cream over Rainbow Sherbet

I had lunch yesterday with Katie Wagner who owns Katie Wagner Social Media in Orange County, California. Our lively conversation over veggie burgers about posting content on social media turned to how creativity in writing can often get in the way of communicating a client’s message. We agreed that there are times when creativity works and other times when it’s better to just be straightforward – even when vanilla does not seem as exciting option. To understand the advantages of straightforward writing, look no further than The Elements of Style, the “writer’s bible” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White that was originally published nearly 100 years ago. Strunk and White say: Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not…

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Client Alerts, Content, Writing, Writing Advice

So What? How to Write Client Alerts That Get Read and Get Results

When you are writing or editing a client alert, have you asked yourself, “So what?” That is the first question you should ask according to Peter Darling of the Repechage Group, a consultancy that advises law firms and others on content strategy. Peter was the featured speaker on a Legal Marketing Association Webinar hosted by the PR SIG on November 29. During the webinar, Peter provided detailed advice and examples to help law firms increase the odds that client alerts do not become a wasted effort. Peter shared the first thing he learned in his writing career: before you write something, you need to ask who is the audience and why the content is important to them. More importantly, the author needs to give the reader a reason to care. As a former practice attorney, Peter said lawyers are trained to ignore the key principles of creating great content, largely because they…

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Writing, Writing Advice

Words to Write By: Practice Group Descriptions

No one ever hired a law firm solely because of the practice group description, but a poor description can drive a prospective client away. That was the focus of a recent writing webinar hosted by the Legal Marketing Association’s PR SIG and led by John Byrne, an experienced law firm marketing professional at Glencoe Media Group, Inc. John emphasized that excellent practice group descriptions are not lead generators but another key point of contact between a law firm and a prospective client who may already knows about the firm. Accordingly, before sitting down to write, it is important to think about: Who is the audience for these words going to be? Will it be a group of in-house lawyers, or possibly a set of non-lawyers? And then write accordingly. John encouraged professionals to interview attorneys before starting the writing process. Ask them why they think clients hire them. All this…

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