Local law firms lagging in Web technology

A little while ago I came across a newsletter published by a large local law firm.  Being the geek I can be (relatively speaking) I emailed this firm and suggested to them that they publish their newsletter on a blog which can very easily be integrated into their website and thereby allow clients and other interested people to receive the newsletter feed through their feed readers.  The response I received was really interesting:

Thank you for you suggestion.

We have looked into it and have concluded that it is not  practical for what we are doing.  This is because our volumes do not justify the hassle of setting up an RSS server and then requiring  each user RSS client application be configured to read from the our server.  If we were doing 10 or more news items a day, it would justify the cost. 

Kind regards

Obviously I am not going to name the firm.  I wouldn’t want to embarrass them.  I did a quick web site review of a half dozen major firms in Johannesburg and not one of them syndicate their newsletters.  Most of them do provide excellent content which is available for download in the form of an Adobe PDF file (which makes sense from a security perspective) but I have to wonder whether they couldn’t improve the distribution of their newsletters and the effectiveness of their marketing efforts overall by making use of this simple technology that really doesn’t require “setting up an RSS server and then requiring each user RSS client application to be configured to read” from those servers.  Perhaps these firms just don’t understand the technology or don’t really want to have a meaningful conversation with you?

According to marketingstudies.net

RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.

What’s happening with retail, finance and tech?

These are especially industries where RSS is needed by consumers to keep up with their latest relevant content …

(via LexBlog)

So what is the big deal and why should companies use RSS?  According to the New Venture Marketing:

RSS enables companies to communicate more effectively

RSS enables companies to communicate more effectively with each of its specific audiences from customers, employees, and partners to editors, analysts and investors.  It also has the hidden value of improving a company’s online presence and the companies ability to be found on the Internet.  Today many large companies, such as Cisco, IBM or Boeing use RSS in their communications arsenal, but small companies can use it too, and perhaps, to even greater advantage.

Almost any bit of information can be sent out via an RSS feed and in almost any media format.  A company’s press release, new software rev or a security alert can be sent out in text form by RSS as can audio content via an .MP3 reader (such as the Apple iPod) or video via, say, your cell phone. RSS feeds and readers allows you to deliver media rich messages that make content more attractive and powerful, says RSS expert Rok Hrastnik, and he is right.

Inside the firewall

Internally there are a wealth of uses for RSS from sending out company specific news to some subset of employees to tracking competitive intelligence. A project team, for example, might use an internal web blog to keep everyone on the team up to date and to alert members when new information has been added.  The channel manager can use RSS feeds to update distributors and a smaller division within a large company can use the new technology to pull in news of relevance to its group. Company bloggers use RSS to alert readers, inside (and out) the corporate firewall, that there is a new post, and communications departments can alert employees to important internal news. 

External Uses of RSS

Externally, RSS feeds allow readers to pull in information from their favorite news sources or competitive sites, track news as it is breaking or deliver your news to a great many sites .

News readers, or RSS aware programs known as news aggregators allow readers to track competitive intelligence, alert companies when there is mention of their products, allow readers to keep abreast of important breaking information.

A Hidden, But Very Important Benefit

But perhaps its most important value is the one overlooked by a world that has yet recognized the importance of online visibility.  Externally RSS feeds not only improve a company’s content delivery, but they boost corporate search engine rankings, its online presence and traffic to the web site.

In short this simple tool with the funny sounding name allows you to share files in specific way and perform a great many tasks, and many companies all over the world, are beginning to recognize its power.  Shouldn’t you?

(via JKL Blog)

Bottom line?  Setting up your site to accommodate RSS feeds is really not difficult.  You can customise your feed and include various multimedia elements into the feed and, in the process, share documents, sound clips or whatever you want to share with your clients.  Feeds also tie into blogging like ice cream and apple pie and we all know the value of a good blog, don’t we?

When you are thinking about using this simple technology, bear in mind that it is possible to subscribe to feeds by email so those of your clients who don’t use feed readers can receive your updates by email anyway.  This site uses FeedBlitz as an rss-to-email subscription service.  Another service that has just launched a similar service is FeedBurner.

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