New Rule: No Links to Blatant Marketing Blogs

Websites are for marketing. Blawgs are for communicating.

A blog post that includes a call to action (“If you’ve been charged with domestic assault, ask any prospective attorney what kind of experience they have dealing with domestic assault cases. The failure to do so could be very costly.” or “If you’ve been charged with driving while intoxicated, contact my office.”, for example) is a blatant marketing post.

I won’t help you promote a blatant marketing post by citing, quoting, or linking to it.

If several of your recent posts are blatant marketing posts, your blawg is a blatant marketing blog. I won’t help you promote it. If you’re on my blogroll already, you’re on your way off.

If you’re a criminal-defense lawyer, you’re a communicator. That’s your business. If you trust your communications skills to be your best advertising, let go of the self-conscious blatant marketing, and let your wit, wisdom, and writing attract links to your blog. If you don’t trust your communications skills to serve you better than any conscious effort, you should be neither blogging nor practicing law.

If you are not blatantly marketing and you write something interesting, I may cite, quote, or link to it, and I will probably refer to you using keyword-rich terms — for example, “Miami criminal-defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum’s blog” or “New York criminal-defense lawyer Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice“. Consider that your reward for refraining from blatant marketing in the blawgosphere — that, and the fact that readers are more likely to subscribe to a blog that is not blatantly selling something.

I think this is a good step toward sweeping some of the garbage out of the practical blawgosphere and distinguishing those who write for love of writing or because they have words struggling to get out from those who are cynically trying to get more customers; I hope more criminal defense bloggers will join me in identifying and rejecting those blogs that threaten to turn the blogosphere into yet another iteration of the yellow pages.

0 responses to “New Rule: No Links to Blatant Marketing Blogs”

  1. Shawn,

    Not this particular rule. I just picked the worst import from advertising to the blawgosphere — calls to action — to pick on here. The brain trust will have to decide what else renders a blog blatant marketing.

  2. The blatant marketing blogs are here to stay I’m afraid. I’m with you, though, and cleaned out my blogroll soon after Scott G. pointed it out earlier this year. But I think they serve their purpose – they get hits, potential clients see them, maybe they get calls, I don’t know. It’s essentially a website that’s updated periodically, rather than a meaningful discussion.

    I have local attorneys tell me they read and appreciate my blog, and that is part of what I had hoped to accomplish. Marketing sites have different primary goals, C’est la vie.

  3. Bobby, I think Scott might say that the blatant marketers cause us all to be painted with the same brush, and that we don’t want our blogs to get tarred as commercial speech with theirs.

    I had a prosecutor in a neighboring county tell me yesterday that he read my blog. That’s always kind of cool. I seriously doubt that I would have 100 regular readers if every post were aimed at the potential clients.

    Actually, I’d probably have given up a year ago if every post were aimed at the potential clients.

  4. Mark – Good rule. Under our rules in Florida, a lawyer advertisement that uses visual or verbal descriptions that create suspense, call for legal services, contain exaggerations or appeals to emotion, or create scenes showing consumer problems ending with the lawyer solving the problem are prohibited. A direct mail piece that describes specific problem (and appeals to emotion) like a DUI arrest, and then describes how a lawyer can solve the problem (and has a call to action) is at least arguably a violation of Rule 4-7.2(c)(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Having said that, there is not a single ethics opinion even close to on point, and there are several (more than a dozen) blogs that I have seen in the state where every post describes a problem in a manner designed to appeal to emotions, create a description of how the lawyer can solve the problem and include a blatant call to action.

    Like our friends in D.C., we wouldn’t need more rules or laws if only they would enforce the ones already on the books.

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    [Posted only because I admire the sheer unmitigated chutzpah of a spam comment to an anti-marketing post. M.]

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