Interview with Marco D’Angelo, Business Development and Marketing Director, BonelliErede.

Above: an example of BonelliErede infographics shared by employees across their content platforms / Image: BonelliErede

Today’s audiences trust people more than organisations, which makes having a strategic approach to personal branding in business increasingly important – whether that’s the brand of your CEO, yourself, or your employees.

In Wednesday’s EACD regional event in Milan, Marco D’Angelo, marketing director at law firm BonelliErede, will share his insights into how his company developed a cohesive content marketing approach to promoting the personal brands of its employees – no mean feat in a firm that is the result of a 2015 merger of three major Italian firms.

Ahead of tomorrow’s EACD regional event, we asked Marco about managing a brand voice across employees’ own social media.

Why did you take the decision to promote your law firm via content marketing?

Borrowing Bill Gates’ words, in the digital era “content is king”: organisations compete for attention and thus embracing content marketing is the best option. In a legal market characterised by stagnation and growing competition, a number of law firms now plan their marketing strategies around content marketing and have reported considerable improvement in their market impact. Creating and sharing timely, relevant and user-friendly content plays a key role in attracting and engaging our targeted audience, building their trust and ultimately generate a chance to convert the audience into clients.

How do you make sure that the BonelliErede brand ‘voice’ is loud and clear across all different communications by your lawyers?

Lawyers have a natural inclination to communicate and make their voices heard, whatever the channel used. In fact, our challenge has always resided in bringing their individual voices together and creating a strong and consistent BonelliErede voice, like an orchestra where all the elements are working and thus the music seamlessly swells. This was one of the main challenges we faced in 2015 when we embarked in the rebranding of our firm. Following this key milestone, we have strived to ensure that our revamped company brand is always conveyed seamlessly and consistently by all our lawyers – acting as ambassadors – in all their communications, from email signatures to LinkedIn profiles. To do so, we adopted a set of measures, such as the creation of a detailed brand book on how to “use” our brand in daily activities. Moreover, we adopted a set of social media guidelines aimed at ensuring that all the communications on LinkedIn by our lawyers are consistent and we are currently in the process of defining a Master CV for all our partners, to ensure the consistency of their LinkedIn personal profiles with the brand image. Finally, we organised a number of internal get-together to share all the previous content.

In the highly-sensitive law market, what advice do you give your lawyers about what they should and should not communicate about?

By their natural inclination – and following their Code of Professional Ethics – our lawyers know quite well what they should and should not communicate about, especially when clients are involved. However, social media is an entirely different story, a “brave new world” at least for some of them. This is why we devised a set of key guidelines – our LinkedIn Golden Rules – and encouraged our lawyers to follow them in order to make the most of their LinkedIn profiles. Our Golden Rules include tailored advice on a number of issues, including on how to create and update personal profiles, how to manage one’s own connections (privacy settings, LinkedIn etiquette rules regarding accepting/refusing invitations to connect, etc.) and of course on how to interact with the firm’s LinkedIn page. It goes without saying that we never talk about specific clients and sensitive matters.

How do you develop a strategy for developing and promoting your employees’ across social media – how do you choose which employees to promote, how often should they be published, in what way should their content reflect the company?

Content is king. In order to ensure that content is delivered seamlessly, we devised an internal process aimed at ensuring the regular production of high-quality content. The process involves a close collaboration between our content marketing manager, a number of lawyers from different law practices and focus teams (our multidisciplinary working groups) and subject matter experts. We select and produce timely, relevant and user-friendly content entirely on the basis of the interests of our clients and the selection of the speaking voice is consequential. From the kick-off of our LinkedIn activities till now, we have published over 740 posts and gained over 14k followers. Our posts get in average over 10k impressions each. This is testament that sharing timely, relevant and accessible content is a winning strategy. Of course there is still a long way to go, but we strongly believe we are on the right track.

Marco D’Angelo is the business development and marketing director at BonelliErede. He is in charge of all the development, marketing and communication activities of the firm, both at national and international level, building and heading up a team of about 20 people. Prior to joining the firm in 2012, he was the European business development manager at Canon Europe in London. He started his career in consultancy, working for the European consulting company Valdani Vicari & Associati in Milan.