Longtime blogger Kevin LaCroix has cemented a name for himself as a D&O authority figure. His blog, the D&O Diary, reaches an international audience and is referenced by numerous journalists and major media publications. He sat down with LexBlog’s Bob Ambrogi on This Week in Legal Blogging to talk about how he generates ideas and the best ways to formulate posts.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
At what point did you start to become aware of the power of blogging?
Well right away I was kind of amazed how quickly my obscure little blob being published in Beachwood, Ohio came to people’s attention. Within a few weeks of my launching it, I became aware that others in my industry were actually following it. I was very fortunate with my timing, because I launched the blog right at the time that the options backdating scandal broke and I actually had something very concrete to write about. I found that I was becoming a resource for the issues surrounding that one issue; that was instrumental in building the readership. But as the readership developed it kind of snowballed because I started getting questions. I started getting inquiries and then started gaining an appreciation for the fact that not only was I reading reaching people that I knew, but I was reaching total strangers. Even more interesting—which I never anticipated—it was reaching internationally from the very beginning. And to this day I have a very large international readership, which was something I didn’t anticipate, but I think it is a powerful demonstration of what you can do with the blog. I can sit at my desk in Beachwood, Ohio, and put out something in the Internet and boom—people literally all over the world or reading it, which is really kind of cool.
How do you come up with the topics that you’re going to write about? Are you basically just following developments in the law?
It has to be something I’m interested in writing about. And that’s a tough combination. And it also can’t be something that’s beaten to death in other places, if it’s covered well by other blogs or other mainstream journals then I really don’t want to take the time to write about it. So the best topic is one that’s new that hasn’t been beaten to death and that I’m interested in writing about, especially if I’ve got something to say on the topic. If I can find that combination, if it’s a good day, but if I don’t have that there, what I can do is go to some reliable sites that I know generally help me identify topics of interest, and those range from mainstream publications like The Wall Street Journal or the New York Times to sort of some well-known legal blogs. It may not suggest a topic, but it may suggest an approach or an outlook or an inquiry that that can lead to a blog topic.
What’s your perspective on how lawyers should be blogging?
There are lots of blogs out there—there are good blogs—that say “this happened.” And I always say “Who cares? Why does that matter to me?” And what’s the significance to just say “On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit held X.” I’m busy, tell me why that matters, tell me what context it fits in. Tell me tell me what you think about it. Tell me what you think of the logic of the court. Tell me how you think that’s going to affect that field or the industry. I feel like “Who cares?” is a question a lot of bloggers need to ask. Why should I read your blog? Tell me more about why you’re taking the time to write about this and why I should read about it. I think you’re going to have a more loyal readership if you inject some of yourself into it.
Do you have any tips on writing a blog post?
I think the best blog post is short and punchy and says what it says, and you’re done. I can’t shed my lawyer training, so I have a tendency towards verbosity. Having admitted that weakness that I struggle against, I think my good blog post—the ones that get a lot of readership—I not only say what I’m going to write about, but I tell the reader right up front what I’m going to say about it. This Supreme Court decision came out and I’m going to tell you why I think it’s an important decision or why this changes things. That way, the reader knows right up front whether it’s worth taking the time to read the rest of the post. I do think within my industry it has given me a bully pulpit to not only kind of set the dialogue, but actually to influence the dialogue and and I don’t think I’m saying too much to make that statement. So, you know, staking a position and using the bully pulpit, using the format and medium of the blogging environment and all the power it gives you.
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