Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wait! Blogging Works!

When Herrmann published a post last week saying that blogging doesn't necessarily generate new business for lawyers, the blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. (The ornaments can be seen, among other places, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

The on-line community told us that, if our blog wasn't generating significant business, then we're bad bloggers. Among other things, (1) we don't know how to write, (2) we don't know how to use the blog for business development, (3) we're insufficiently self-promoting on the blog, and (4) we're too self-promoting on the blog.

On the other hand, we heard that the experience of at least some other bloggers (such as Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice) resembles ours.

We also heard -- intelligently, we thought -- that we work at firms that are already exceptionally well known in a practice area that is already overflowing with lawyers, and a blog naturally doesn't have much effect in that environment.

In this post, Herrmann (alone again; don't blame Beck) offers one final follow-up point. We'll then stop fretting about whether blogging works and go back to thinking about drug and device law.

Here's the one final point:

The fact that our blog hasn't generated significant new retentions from new clients does not mean that blogging yields no benefits.

To the contrary.

First, blogging yields many intangible benefits.

We enjoy blogging. Blogging forces us to stay abreast of our field of law. We stay remarkably current on breaking news, because readers send us information. We influence the public debate. And so on.

Second, we also receive many tangible benefits from blogging -- just not, to date, significant new business directly attributable to the blog.

We're not press hounds, but we view raising our personal and our firms' profiles as a tangible benefit. (Law firms pay public relations folks to draw media attention to the firms' lawyers; presumably there's some value there.) And blogging has fairly dramatically raised our public profiles. But for blogging, we would not have had the following opportunities, among others:

1. We have appeared on television on CNBC, Bloomberg News, and C-SPAN.

2. We have been interviewed by, and quoted in, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other publications.

3. We were solicited to write a by-lined book review that appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

3. We have been offered a possible book deal by a major academic press.

4. We have been invited to speak innumerable times, including at academic symposia, CLE programs, and bar meetings.

5. We have been asked to write for many different publications.

And, needless to say, blogging creates a relatively high on-line presence for us.

Please don't take our public confession that blogging hasn't generated significant new business to mean that blogging has no benefits at all.

Blogging has many benefits, both tangible and intangible.

The question we posed last week, however, was a narrow one: Does blogging alone generate significant new business for lawyers who handle large matters at large firms?

In our experience to date, it does not.

We continue to believe that the efficacy of blogging as a business development tool will vary with the size of a lawyer's firm and the nature of a lawyer's practice.

(Last week, the blogosphere shredded us for our heresy; this week, it'll laud us for our insight. Ah, well: As long as they spell the name right. It's "Herrmann" with two r's and two n's.)


shg said...

Just couldn't take the heat Hermann, could you? You had to capitulate. You had to make nice. Don't think this won't be on the agenda of the curdmudgeon's club, and frankly, it's not looking too good for you at the moment.

John Murray said...

Say whatever you want to say. You guys rock. Keep up the good work. You can always disagree with yourself later.

I am an industry veteran. If I needed counsel, I would know who you are and that I respect your thinking. At this time, the only reason I would know that is because I'm a regular reader of your blog.

Teri Rasmussen said...

I'd say that the list of "intangible" benefits that you list sound awfully TANGIBLE to me. Each of them have a corresponding opportunity to attract clients you would NOT have had absent the blog and personally (and perhaps economically as well) rewarding.

SOOO Mark, WHY, REALLY, do you keep doing it? Why do you "enjoy" it?

Tim Nuckles said...

Great follow-up post. You've added now added balance to your position on a controversial topic.

Anonymous said...

Published on: www.beforeyoutakethatpill.com
Historically, information sources provided to American citizens were limited due to the few methods available to the public, such as radio, TV, or news print. And also this information was subject to being filtered and, in some cases, delayed. This occurred for a number of reasons, which included political ones.
Now, and with arguably great elation, there is the internet, which can be rather beneficial for the average citizen.
Soon after the advent of the internet well over a decade ago, web logs were created, that are now termed ‘blogs’. At that time the blogs were referred to as personal journals or diaries visible on line. As time passed, blogs became a media medium, and blog communities evolved into addressing topics that often were not often addressed in mainstream media, as they crossed previously existing political and social lines. In addition, blogs provide immediate contributions by others, the readers of the posts of the blog authors, instead of the cumbersomeness of opinion and editorial pieces historically and not always presented in such media forms as newspapers or magazines.
The authors of blogs vary as far as their backgrounds and intent of what they choose to address on their blogs exactly, just as with other media forms. Some are employed by the very media sources that existed before them. Furthermore, they are not exonerated from the legalities of what is written, such as cases of libel. While we can presume that bloggers like to write, they may not be quality writers, yet several are in fact journalists, as well as doctors and lawyers, for example. But to write is to think, which I believe is a good quality one should have. Regardless, a type of Socratic learning seems to be occurring due to the advent of blogs.
Yet presently, blogs have become quite a driving force for those with objectives and issues often opposed by others, and therefore have become a serious threat to others. These others may be politicians, our government, or corporations- all of which have been known to monitor the content of certain blogs of concern to them for their potential to negatively affect their image or their activities previously undisclosed. This is why blogs, on occasion, have become a media medium for whistleblowers, which will be addressed further in a moment.
While one disadvantage of blogs is the potential lack of reliability, blogs however do allow in addition to the comments of its readers the posting of authentic internal or confidential documents that typically are not created to be viewed by the public, yet are acquired by certain bloggers. For example, blogger Dr. Peter Rost, a whistleblower himself, not long ago posted a newsletter published by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on his blog site, and this newsletter was given to him by AstraZeneca's employees who called themselves the ‘AZ Group of Seven’- with the intent of this group being to bring to the attention of others the illegal activity of off-label promotion of one of AZ’s cancer drugs promoted by their employer. Yet this particular concern by AZ seven, by surprise, is not what caught the attention of so many who viewed the posted newsletter by Dr. Rost and was read with great interest by others. It was instead a comment included in this newsletter that was stated by former regional AZ manager Mike Zubalagga, who was being interviewed by a district manager in this newsletter. Mr. Zubalagga, who in this newsletter posted on Dr Rost's blog site, referred to doctors’ offices as ‘buckets of money’, which caught the attention of several readers. This and other statements by this man were in fact published in this newsletter clearly not reviewed before its publication. . Again, the statement and the newsletter created by AZ was indeed authentic and further validated due to the content being in the written word, which added credibility.
Mr. Zubalagga was fired the next day due to this ‘buckets of money’ comment due to the effect it had on the image of his employer. His manager resigned soon afterwards from AZ.
Blogs, one can safely conclude, reveal secrets.
And there have been other whistleblower cases on various blogs in addition to this one described a moment ago, which illustrates the power of blogs as being a very powerful and threatening media medium of valid information disclosure that others cannot prevent from occurring.
This, in my opinion, is true freedom of information- largely free of embellishments or selective omissions. It’s a step towards communication utopia, perhaps, yet a force that has the ability to both harm and protect many others.
Yet again, the information on these blogs should not be taken as absolute truth without proof to verify claims that may be made, as with other media sources. Of course, documents that are authentic is an example of a good validation source. And this, in my opinion, is the blog’s greatest value, combined with the comments on blogs from the growing number of readers who are allowed to contribute to the subject matter so quickly, which fuels the objectives of the blogs, which may be a type of Socratic learning.
Like other written statements, some on such internet sites are composed with respect of the written word. Others are not. It's the freedom that may be most appealing of this new medium which has the ability to convert citizens into journalists who want to contribute to an issue of their concern they share with the blogger often with great conviction and accuracy.
Because we, the public, have a right to know what we are entitled to know and what we want to know. This is especially true if the information disclosed on blogs could potentially be adverse to our well-being.
Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.
“Information is the seed of an idea, and only grows when it’s watered.” --- Heinz V. Berger
Dan Abshear