The philosophy behind Norton Rose Fulbright’s blog network is simple: give the people what they want, and also what they need—possibly before they even know it.
Their network connects lawyers across dozens of offices around the world, which Sean Pratap, Global Head of Digital for Norton Rose Fulbright, believes elevates the content throughout.
“Our blogs are not individual. The best of our world is that we’re a global entity with cross-sectored teams that work as a whole,” said Pratap. “There’s no reason we wouldn’t want to showcase them to their fullest.”
Norton Rose Fulbright’s early talks weighing the pros and cons of blogging very quickly melted into how they would blog. As a way of expanding their online offerings, it was a non-discussion—blogging is king.
“The entire community and audience that we had classically dealt with was reading information and blogs,” said Pratap. “The push [to adopt blogging] was really an inherent need to communicate more effectively in a public forum to our online audience. We recognize that blogging is easy to consume and digest whether you’re on the go or in front of your computer, and it offers a sophistication not necessarily available through more classic channels [like email alerts.]”
That same mindset is ever-present in the bloggers on the network as well; for Will Troutman, co-editor of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Consumer Products Law Blog, it comes back to the preferences of the client.
“Our main responsibility is to help our clients do their jobs better; keep them apprised of things they might not know about, things in the depths they may need to know about,” said Troutman. “The reality of the industry is that you can’t plan for everything, so we try to take a little bit of the burden and point out things that are problematic…It’s the driving force.”
Building their blogging platform was no small feat. Pratap’s job is to manage the global technology portfolio of Norton Rose Fulbright, which in addition to the website and social media now includes 12 blogs— all of them responsive-designed, nine of which have launched since the beginning of 2014. To add to the rapid growth, their audience is scattered across the globe, and could be reading from their desktop at work or their tablet on the couch.
There’s a set of best practice guidelines given to each blogging team that outline how to make their content approachable to such a vast audience.
“It’s interesting that in the world we live in now blogs are showing us that, even in business to business organizations, at the end of the day individuals consume content as and when they choose,” said Pratap.
As such, Pratap and his team have taken steps to make sure that the look and feel of the blogs are all consistent, well-positioned, and properly streamlined for whatever device is displaying them. Though each blog brings their own content and vibe, Norton Rose Fulbright’s brand shines through across all blogs.
“There’s nothing worse to us than arriving to all this wonderful and useful content and not being able to understand it. We want to make sure readers know this is coming from a source that can be trusted, [and that starts with] an overall design to work across desktop and mobile that stays consistent.”
After all that initial work, Pratap says it’s pretty easy to get out of the way of the success of Norton Rose Fulbright’s legion of bloggers.
Which has undoubtedly been the case for bloggers like Troutman and his co-editor Stephanie Stroup. After only a short time running their Consumer Products Law Blog, Stroup and Troutman have already found themselves with a wealth of experience and feedback.
“A friend sent me a link to a Forbes article quoting my blog post and mentioning me…We’ve also had a client – who was previously unaware of our capabilities – send us one of our blog posts and contact us to work on a matter for them,” said Stroup, whose blog is not alone in its ability to bring in work, as other Norton Rose Fulbright publications have done the same.
But their use in client development extends beyond starting business relationships, but also growing them, as Stroup explains how useful the blog is when dealing with clients.
“In terms of the blog internally, we’ve been able to help with a lot of pitches; we can jump in and say ‘here’s what we know about, we’ve written on this exact topic that pertains to you.’ Within a few minutes we can access a repository of knowledge, all without billing a cent.”
Stroup and Troutman agree that when it comes to guiding their content, the only considerations are how helpful it would be to their audience, as Norton Rose Fulbright has always given them a lot of leeway that never leaves them feeling constrained to one point of view—which Troutman believe reflects the shift in corporate communication.
“Law firms need to focus on clients’ needs; we’re seeing a shift in how clients expect to have their legal services delivered,” said Troutman. “And blogging really provides a platform for us to communicate with a lot of our clients in a very direct and meaningful way.”
When it’s all said and done, that’s what the Norton Rose Fulbright blog network team return to: how to be an essential resource for their audience.
“Web traffic is just that; it’s web traffic. It’s good only to a certain level,” said Pratap. “What is more helpful is seeing that your clients have provided you feedback on your articles.”