How local news media can be a lifeline for keeping local law societies active.

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Words provided by East Park Communications

Local law societies exist to serve the legal profession in regions across the country. They play a vital role in filtering through information, services and opportunities from the national Law Society.

For the local societies to be effective, their committees need to be proactive. Only by being creative and communicative will they create interest from the local members, and ensure meetings, events and seminars are well-attended.

An inactive committee will allow the attention of members’ to drift away from law society business.

Attendance at events will decline and membership numbers could drop.

Newsletters are one way of making sure your members at least have a diary date of events coming up over a certain period.

But will they read their copy from cover to cover? How relevant will the content be to each reader?

Too often journals are filled with ‘filler’ content in response to an editor clamouring for articles to fill an allotted space by the deadline.

Which can lead the reader to wonder how useful the issue is - or the journal as a whole if this is common practice is.

The key to success in creating content for your journal is to forward-plan, and think about your readership.

Your society covers the legal profession as a whole within a region, so there are a number of issues to consider when looking to breathe life into your publication - and, hopefully, as a consequence, your society.

1. Start by reviewing the current magazine and how it is received.

Think about asking readers’ opinions of the newsletter. This can open up a number of issues that can give the whole committee a better sense of direction for the future of the society.

You won’t want to completely overhaul your current newsletters, but look for ways to improve your media engagement of members and potential members. If the current newsletters have been running for a period of years, they must have had a degree of interest.

Look back at copies over the period starting with the launch issue and measure how it has progressed. Were there more articles in previous issues? Has the format changed? If so has it become a little static?

The obvious issue now is the growth of technology and which media to use to keep the society energy going.

Whatever methods used need to be presented in an attractive way to make people want to grab a headline.

Consider everything from the presentation of the journal front cover, to highlighting quality hard law articles and a good mix of reviews of both social and educational events to make it well balanced and readable.

2. Consider the readership and how to maximise engagement.

This is where you need to consider print and online. There are still many people who prefer to have the feel of a magazine rather than reading an article online but there are an increasing number who have changed to reading articles on their phones and tablets.

It’s therefore ideal to use both if you wish to blanket the legal profession in your area.

The internet offers the opportunity to engage your target audience with immediate effect, so creating an online magazine would accommodate this.

Set a process up to have articles coming in on a rolling basis, which could be placed in the printed journal at the end of a given quarter and updated if needed.

News updates emailed out to members are a way of keeping members’ attention. Take a particular article and highlight it. Also promote and remind them of events happening in the near future. 

3 Asses the quality of the content.

There needs to be a balance between good, hard Law and local content. Usually newsletter articles are written by a few professionals and are of good quality, but fresh new writers, especially if they represent a certain section can increase the appeal.

Junior lawyers in particular are a good source of people who can often provide articles on their specialisms with great enthusiasm. Promote the idea to them and look at where the gaps are in content that could increase interest.

With the seminars held over a period, why not give the opportunity for a member to write an article on the particular specialism relating to the upcoming event. This could increase attendance and would be perhaps more effective than a promotional article from the CPD provider.

Other more simple ideas such as a trainee writing about his or her life during their training contract can also grab attention. The idea is to think about how every article submitted for a journal is going to be viewed.

Before doing this, put yourself in the position of a non committee member and think how it would appeal.

Membership is the lifeline of any organisation, and without this, many can and do cease to exist. The best way of preventing this is to keep in touch with members on a regular basis.

With the online magazine, emailed newsletter updates and a printed journal, you have the tools to do this, but they do not work effectively unless forward thinking about the perception of members is applied.

Top tips:

 Use updates frequently, but not too frequently as they need to be effective.

 Push articles out on social media and follow the accounts you want to engage with.

 Use keywords to raise your Google profile

 Look out for good twitter handles.

 Keep asking for feedback so you can assess what is working and not working.

This will hopefully lead to the stability and growth of your local law society.

Simon Castell is sales manager at East Park Communications, a company specialising in providing free on- and off-line magazines to the legal profession. 



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