Blogging is a huge opportunity for businesses to have an online voice, share original and valuable content with customers (current and prospective) and become a thought leader. This is especially true for personal injury law firms, which can struggle to appear genuine and personal.
However, the nature of personal injury law firms’ work (which often involves accidents and tragedies) can make blogging a touchy endeavor. It’s easy for PI law firms to unintentionally appear as online ambulance chasers through the content of their blogs by posting news about fatal, recent accidents.
Below is an example of a seemingly innocuous blog post by a personal injury law firm. Names and locations have been changed.
This blog post is not unlike an article one may read from a local news outlet. However, personal injury law firms are not the appropriate outlet to share this type of news, as it appears to be a disingenuous and unethical attempt to bring more traffic to the web site.
Why do law firms do this?
According to HubSpot, companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website and marketing teams who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to have positive ROI.
Blogging is clearly an immensely important practice for businesses. There is a huge opportunity for PI law firms to reach new clients and develop a strong reputation through blogging, achievable through ethical blogging practices.
However, a poorly executed and unethical blogging strategy can be detrimental to personal injury law firms. News stories like the example above can be tempting to post; they are SEO gold mines, filled with keywords such as injury, death, and paralyzed. These types of blog posts could rank No. 1 for every important keyword, but this type of practice is absolutely not worth it. Avoid writing about the misfortunes of others in your blog for these reasons:
Tragedies are personal
One personal injury lawyer that we work with was asked by an acquaintance: “Why do you have a blog post about my daughter’s car accident on your website?” You can imagine the rest of the conversation.
It’s online ambulance chasing
From Wikipedia: Ambulance chasing, sometimes known as barratry, refers to a lawyer soliciting for clients at a disaster site. See the connection?
Let’s be honest: Why is there a blog post on your website about someone being killed in a car accident? To get a new case, right? It’s not worth it, and it never will be.
It’s bad for your name
You’ve worked hard to overcome all the stereotypes about lawyers. You’ve heard all the jokes, and you’ve cringed at what your colleagues have done to grow their practices. Writing blog posts about the tragedies of others could chip away at the good name you have worked so hard to build.
It doesn’t lead to cases
We’ve worked with several law firms that engaged in this practice, and we’ve never seen it lead to a case. These blog posts can and do get visits, but will neither make you proud nor improve your business.
What should you do if you think your law firm has already done this?
Check your blog to see if it has posts about the tragedies of others. Look for keywords like “killed” and “died” in your blog. If you find blog posts in this genre, remove the posts from your site as soon as possible.
Going forward, practice the Golden Rule of blogging: Blog about others as you would have them blog about you. Make sure your team and your marketing team/agency know to never blog about individuals tragedies in this way.
When in doubt about sharing a story, ask yourself: “If this blog post was about your brother, mother, best friend, etc., how would you feel? Would you think that the topic is appropriate and sensitive?” Making this judgement call will save you and your business from embarrassment and allow you to develop an ethical reputation.
It’s important to develop a comprehensive blog strategy that helps drive traffic, generate leads from your website, and bring in new cases for your law firm. Write about topics that help people and put your authoritative wisdom on display without hurting others or compromising your firm’s ethics.