Why Are You Writing That Client Alert? The News Is Old.

The Obama administration recently announced a one-year delay of the “shared responsibility payment” penalties and other reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which generated a lot of news coverage. I read numerous alerts from law firms about the news when it came out on July 3rd, and as well as the following day outlining this major change. Yet, today I got another client alert with the same facts that I have been reading this past week. I am sure the firm’s clients are asking the same question I asked myself; Why bother writing a client alert? The news is old. Chances are, even if a client left for the long holiday break, they may have seen the news since it was widely reported by all major media outlets. By sending out the news seven days later, it shows the client that the firm is not up on current events. Or, the attorneys underestimated that its clients were too busy to see the news. And, there is a great chance that the clients have already seen several other client alerts on the same topic.

When you approach a topic for a client alert, consider the following things before writing:

  1. If the information has already been reported consider another angle; one that may have not been covered by another law firm or even the media.
  2. Don’t just relay the facts, offer some unique insight or a unique perspective on the issue.
  3. Tell the readers how this information will impact their business. And, put it in the headline and the lead paragraph. Don’t burry the lead.

If you want to be known as an authority on a subject or industry, the alert needs to be distributed the same day, or even the day after the news breaks. Set up a system to make that happen, even if you need to skip lunch or a networking event. Or find another colleague to help write and edit it.

If you can’t get the alert out fast, don’t bother writing it. You will be old news.