So, this afternoon, I was browsing through Google search results, hunting for fodder for my Nolo Legal Marketing Blawg when a new article at JD Supra, with an intriguing title – Law Firm Marketing: Beyond the Blog popped up in my feed. Anticipating a provocative and fairly substantial article or even White Paper, I clicked on over only to discover this: three flimsy paragraphs a little more than a half page, written by some marketing firm called The Net Impact (though it’s somehow related to this company, Auctorilaw which is mentioned in the JDSupra profile) and reminding lawyers that marketing cannot depend upon social media alone and that they cannot overlook more traditional networking. As an example, the article mentions the St. Louis firm, Sandburg, Phoenix & Von Gottard,which held a wine tasting for the local Chamber of Commerce. That’s it.
If this poor excuse for content had been packaged in the form of a blog post, I’d have scanned through it in two seconds in my RSS reader and promptly forgotten it, just as I do with 90 percent of the other drivel that I plow through on a daily basis. But this garbage was billed as an article on JD Supra — a site which I’ve always associated with real content, either in the form of legal pleadings, white papers or even biglaw newsletters (at least, that’s how I’ve always used the site) and so I felt as if I’d been taken duped. Plus, whereas a lousy blog post would take just a second or two to delete, here, I had to exit my reader and actually click through to JD Supra to bring the article up on my screen.
Clearly, this marketing group posted this article on JD Supra to take advantage of the site’s Press Release services and to gain extra SEO. Nice for the marketers, but frankly, it annoyed the heck out of me. No way I’d ever use a marketing company that thinks it’s OK to impose on reader’s time to grab some SEO.
Moreover, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen JD Supra abused in this manner. Lots of lawyers simply convert simple blog posts to PDF and throw them up on JD Supra for added exposure. I’m all for re-purposing and re-distributing content, but I don’t want to see the exact same content in twelve different places. If I’m going to a site like JD Supra, I both want — and expect — some kind of value add – maybe a bunch of blog posts aggregated into an ebook, or a lengthier article that expands on a shorter blog post. People have started pulling the same stunt with Slideshare as I posted a few months back, using it to upload press releases and all kinds of junk other than slides.
Though I’d love for sites like JD Supra or Slideshare to monitor user uploads, I realize that this solution is not feasible, at least so long as these sites remain largely free of charge. So it’s up to users to police themselves, and for others to call out the conduct when they don’t.