Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Blogging Case Study

Here is something I though I would share (with the authors permission of course). I received it from Jane Genova and it depicts her journey in live blogging the lead paint trials. It is an interesting read for all bloggers, just substitute your blog subject for "lead paint" and you can get something out of this.

Jane blogs at Law and More


Insights into Applications of Digital Technology

Developed and Submitted by Jane Genova, Genova Writing & More, New Haven, CT,, 860-280-5613 (cell)

From late October 2005 until the present, Jane Genova has been blogging about aspects of lead-paint litigation, including live-blogging the landmark Rhode Island lead paint trial.

She undertook this project in order to learn more about how to use digital technology as a real-time tool in event-coverage, advocating a point of view, developing new business for her communications boutique, enhancing her brandname, expanding her network, and integrating social media with mainstream media (MSM).

The four-month RI lead paint trial was conducted in downtown Providence, which was within commuting distance from her Connecticut residence. The four defendants – Sherwin-Williams (SHW), NL Industries (NL), Millennium Holdings (MNHG0 and Atlantic-Richfield – were corporations she believed were unjustly accused of creating a public nuisance. Her original stance was to be an objective Greek Chorus. But within about a week, she began to argue in favor of the defense’s position.

Her many dimensional approach to covering the trial – e.g. mixing legal analysis with gossip – came from her study of the techniques of Dominick Dunne. He had chronicled a number of high-profile trials such as the O.J. Simpson one.


During the 15 months Jane Genova has blogged about lead-paint issues, particularly litigation and threats of litigation, there have been over 1000 posts so far. About 490 of them were done during the four-month trial and so far about 510 more post-verdict.

This relative large number of posts – during the trial, about three to six daily – not only kept readers totally informed. It also functioned as a search engine optimization (SEO) tactic to attract high rankings on Google and other search engines. Search engines tend to be attracted to frequent postings each day.

In response to the posts, there have been about 3500 emails to her from security analysts, hedge-fund operators, employees at the defendants’ companies, shareholders, attorneys not involved in the case, attorneys who handle other legal issues for the defendants, a plaintiff attorney assisting with a similar public-nuisance trial in St. Louis, and those who wanted to comment off-the-record.

There have been about 175 phone calls. The lion’s share have been from security analysts and hedge-fund operators. Those calls were long and involved and, on the average, lasted about 35 minutes. A handful were from former Sherwin-Williams employees who wondered if the defense should have presented a case. Now and then the public relations representative from Prism Public Affairs Gregg Perry would call to alert the blogger of breaking developments. One was from media, CRAIN’S CLEVELAND, for an interview right after the verdict.

There were about 12 invitations to lunch.

Because of the legal sensitivities of the issue, there have been relatively few comments. The exception was immediately following the verdict. When the blogger registered her disagreement with that verdict, child advocates sent comments chastising her for not caring about the children. She personally responded to those making these comments through emails. That quieted things down.


On the first day of trial, that is during opening arguments, there were 1000 visitors to the blog. By the end of the week, that number of daily visitors when court was in session grew to about 3000. For the remainder of the trial, the average number of daily visitors when court was in session was about 4500. Most of these used RSS feeds, which picked up each new blog post on the trial automatically.

During the eight days of jury deliberation, daily visitors numbered about 7000. On the day of the verdict, there were 12,000 visitors. There were also a high number of visitors on each day of a posting of an interview with a juror. The total visitor count for the juror interviews was about 24,000. Several readers, including Gregg Perry, said that the jury interviews were the most helpful posts. THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL reporter Peter Lord sent the blogger an email that he was upset that she had scooped him on the jury interviews.

Because of the large number of posts and heavy traffic into the blog, the posts made the first page of Google categories concerning the trial on a regular basis. They ranked number-one on Google about 600 times, in various categories such as “RI lead paint,” “Sherwin-Williams,” “NL Industries,” “lead poisoning.”

Wall Street bulletin boards, particularly those covering the defendants such as Sherwin-Williams and NL Industries, regularly picked up blog posts and linked to them. Insurance companies also had links on their bulletin boards, stating that the coverage was engaging on a subject that was “as boring as watching lead paint dry.”

High-profile blogs such as,, and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Law Blog cited coverage from her blog posts and often provided links to them. Those links further increased Google pick-up and high rankings. The Manhattan Institute’s Walter Olson provided an exclusive interview to the blog.

The mainstream media (MSM) frequently quoted from the blogs posts. It was widely noted that CRAIN’S CLEVELAND, which is based where Sherwin-Williams is headquartered, chose to interview only the blogger after the verdict. The clip from the interview had wide circulation.

Because of the blog, Jane Genova has been invited to give the keynote address at the Paint and Coatings Annual Meeting in 2007.

In addition, postings about the opposition frequently were picked up by Google and other search engines and placed in the sections of search engines covering the opposition. This gave the four defendants an opportunity to express its point of view on the opponent’s territory.

Digital Strategies:

The digital strategies which generated these results include

Frequent (three to six daily) posting of provocative material or breaking news on the blog. Use of keywords that would attract Google and other search engines. This served to scoop mainstream media and provide candid analysis of events. Readers seemed to like highly opinioned content.

Putting a human face on the trial. The blogger, before the trial started, explained her background in Jersey City, New Jersey, a political-machine town that mirrored corruption in Providence. She disclosed that as she grew up in a tenement, she chewed paint chips. Her mother and grandmother demanded the landlord supply paint to cover over the layers that were flaking. Gradually she let out details of her current life such as her intense relationship with her dog Molly Mittens. When Molly Mittens died on June 30th, there was an outpouring of condolence email from all sorts of readers, including lawyers, employees of the defendants and security analysts.

Providing drama in coverage. This was a technique the blogger from analyzing Dominick Dunne’s print coverage of court trials. Readers want the story. Therefore, she was heavy on narrative and on including tidbits of gossip such as hairstyles and sensible shoes.

Enhancing reach by copying, pasting, and emailing with a customized transmittal notes key blog posts to media, mainstream and digital, influentials in law, security analysts on Wall Street, and government representatives as well as interested parties who contacted the author about being on a “mailing list.” This was first done in late October, during jury selection, to announce the blogging effort. Then it was repeated on a regular basis.

Following up quickly to phone calls, emails and requests for lunch.

Developing and maintaining insider sources of information. This often entailed doing favors for them such as posting on her blog plugs for their special events, programs, and conferences.

Listening to readers who requested that trial coverage be split from the original communications blog and continued on a separate legally-oriented blog. Jane Genova then created the law and more blog.

Blog posts on the RI lead paint trial and post-verdict developments can be found at:

Http://, under “legal”


blogger templates | Make Money Online