Is the Legal Podcast the Next Great Frontier for Attorneys?

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Recent data reveals that there are now over 700,000 active podcasts, and more than 29 million podcast episodes. 32 percent of the U.S. population listens to podcasts at least once a month, while 22 percent listens to podcasts weekly. Podcasts are truly all the rage at the moment, and unsurprisingly, more and more businesses are starting to explore podcasting as a content marketing tool.

Lawyers are always looking for new ways to reach consumers, and make their firm stand out in the ultra-competitive digital age. So it makes sense for attorneys to start their own podcasts as a method for generating new leads and referral business for their practice, right?

Our Data Says Most Lawyers Aren’t Podcasting Yet

This March, Answering Legal will be releasing a new eBook entitled, “How Attorneys Are Marketing Their Firms in 2020: A Survey Article.” For this book, 146 lawyers were asked a variety of legal marketing questions, including whether or not they would consider launching a legal podcast for their firm. Here are the results that came back from the study.

  • 0% of lawyers said they have started their own podcast.
  • 10.27% of lawyers said they were planning on launching a podcast within the next six months.
  • 41.78% of lawyers don’t see podcasting as a valuable tool for their firm.
  • 47.95% of lawyers said podcasting sounds promising, but is probably unrealistic for them to take on at this time.

While it’s not necessarily surprising to learn that most attorneys aren’t podcasting, the fact that none of the 146 surveyed have their own podcast is pretty shocking. While we recognize that there are already some attorney podcasts in existence, the findings from this survey tell us that the number of legal professionals actually podcasting is likely extremely small. Perhaps even more revealing was the fact that only 15 of the lawyers surveyed were considering starting a podcast in the near future.

Why Don’t Attorneys See Value In Podcasting

While it’s true podcasts have become extremely popular in the U.S. over the past decade, and have really seemed to boom in the last few years, it still remains to be seen how well the medium works as a legal marketing tool. Just because consumers love to listen to comedy and murder mystery podcasts, doesn’t mean they’ll have any desire to tune in and listen to a lawyer they don’t know share in-depth legal related thoughts and stories.

Attracting new consumers through content marketing has been a struggle for attorneys for years. While some have found massive success through blogging and vlogging, most fail to do it consistently or generate viable leads through the process. With this in mind, it’s not hard to understand why lawyers are hesitant to invest their limited free time and resources towards a content medium that to this point has had very little success in the legal community.

The Benefits Of Podcasting

According to a recent JD Supra article by Jay Harrington, there are many compelling reasons for lawyers to start podcasting. One of the biggest selling points he presents is that podcasting can help lawyers further establish themselves as experts in their given field, which will in turn make them very attractive to new prospects.

“Cultivating a reputation as a thought leader is the best form of legal marketing because it allows a lawyer to create a credible, authentic relationship with prospects and meet them where they are, which is online, in control, and searching for solutions to the challenges they face,” Harrington says in this post. “As a consequence of putting thought leadership out into the marketplace of ideas, lawyers generate business development opportunities because they remain top-of-mind with their prospective clients.”

Podcasting may work as a better thought leadership tool for lawyers than blogging, as it allows them to better show off their personality and make a more memorable impression on their audience.

“When someone hears your voice, your inflections, your sense of humor, and your passion on a podcast, they form a deeper connection with you than they would by merely reading something you wrote,” says Harrington. “Business development is still an intensely personal endeavor, so the more directly you can connect with your audience through your thought leadership the better.”

In her “Legal Marketing Minutes” podcast, Nancy Myrland echoed Harrington’s thoughts, saying that, “Podcasting for lawyers and law firms accelerates the ‘know, like and trust’ factors clients need when choosing their lawyer.”

According to long-time legal marketer Rodney Warner, podcasts not only give audiences a chance to learn about a particular attorney, but their firm as well.

“Family law, criminal defense, personal injury, business fraud, employment law all could provide stories that not only may keep the listener’s attention, but also serve as a way to communicate what their firm does, their expertise and the good the firm does for its clients,” Warner said. “They could be audio case studies if the story is a good fit.”

Lawyers may also find that their podcasts not only attract new client opportunities, but generate new networking opportunities as well. If another attorney finds what you have to say to be valuable, they may want to connect, and could end up being a future referral source. Inviting people to appear as special guests on your podcast is also a great way to build new relationships with both legal and non-legal professionals in your area.

Is Podcasting Realistic For Most Lawyers?

Almost half of the attorneys surveyed in Answering Legal’s study said they could see the value of podcasting, but didn’t think it was realistic for their firm to take on. Are these attorneys right in their assessment or are they just making excuses? Do most lawyers have the time to put together a quality legal podcast for their firm?

“I think podcasts are great, but 90% of lawyer podcasts suck,” attorney Jay Ruane told Answering Legal. “Too many lawyers throw up a podcast with no focus or follow through. You hate to see a podcast with 6-10 episodes and then nothing for months or years. If you are going to do a podcast, you need to follow through so you have consistent content. Consistency provides reliability which gets traffic.”

As is the case for a lot of things in the marketing world, lawyers will likely get out of podcasting what they put into it. If attorneys commit to a podcast release schedule, and actually follow through on releasing new episodes either weekly or bi-weekly, they are much more likely to see their podcast produce real results for their firm.

As Ruane mentions, finding the time to not only record podcasts, but create quality content is a major part of the equation. If people find your podcasts to be hard to listen to or lacking in value, they won’t be tuning in for very long. Lawyers need to figure out early on in the process what it is their legal podcast will be providing lawyers that will not only grab their attention, but keep it. If you have no idea what value your podcast provides, you probably aren’t ready to launch one.

Some Tips For Legal Podcasting

So is podcasting the next great frontier for attorneys? Perhaps for some it will be. Most lawyers out there probably aren’t ready to tackle podcasting at this time, and would be much better off dedicating their marketing time towards blogging and vlogging. However, if you are one of those individuals looking to become a pioneer in the attorney podcasting world, there are some things you can do to improve your odds of success.

Add a co-host

Consider teaming up with one of the other lawyers at your firm or perhaps even an attorney from another field of law. By doing this, the pressure to produce engaging content doesn’t fall directly on your shoulders. Also people generally prefer hearing back and forth conversation, rather than just one voice droning on and on.

Record practice episodes

Even attorneys who consider themselves to be master speakers may find the art of podcasting to be difficult. The first few episodes you record aren’t likely to be your best work, so instead of immediately releasing them to the public, why not have co-workers and friends give them a listen first. The feedback you get may prove to be game-changing, and can save you from making a less than desirable first impression on potential clients.

Plan carefully

While no lawyer should be reading off a script on their podcast, they also shouldn’t just be completely winging it. Developing an outline for what you want to cover on a given episode of your podcast is a must. This outline should include some key talking points, as well as facts and statistics that will support the things you are saying. Doing this will also help ensure you cover everything you want to in a given episode, and reach an appropriate stopping point.

Don’t go too long

Building an audience for your podcast will likely be a challenging process, and you want as many people as possible to give it a chance. One thing you’ll want to avoid doing is releasing episodes with lengthy run times, as most consumers that don’t know anything about your firm will see it as too much of a commitment. Keeping episodes in the 15 to 25 minute range should result in a lot more listens.

Choose a topic you’re passionate about

The whole podcasting process will quickly become a chore if you pick subjects to talk about that don’t really interest you. Not to mention, if you find a topic to be boring, do you really expect your audience to feel any different. Center each episode around subjects that you not only know a lot about, but can talk about passionately for days. Both you and your listeners will benefit from this.

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