April 11, 2022
How Data-Driven Storytelling Helped Create a Communications Strategy Around ‘Forever Chemicals’
For decades, PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been used in everything from non-stick pans to firefighting foam. The so-called “forever chemicals” make things durable because they are resistant to efforts to break down their atomic structure – but that fact also makes disposing of the chemicals extremely challenging. In recent years, PFAS’ durability ran headlong into a growing awareness of their potential dangers as early (and still developing) research suggests that PFAS may link to certain cancers, liver and kidney issues, and other health problems.
Lathrop GPM, an Am Law 200 law firm, has an industry-leading environmental and tort practice with a focus on PFAS. The firm first dipped its toes into PFAS work around 2009 and spent the following years studying this emerging contaminant and figuring out what to do with it. By 2019, with a decade of experience under their belt and insight that this was going to be a growing area of demand, they dug into a marketing and business development plan. As predicted, public and regulatory pressure around PFAS began to increase in 2020 and companies whose products included PFAS faced liability issues going back years, if not decades, and needed guidance on how to navigate the evolving landscape. Lathrop GPM’s team of lawyers had the knowledge and experience to provide that guidance – and reached out to Greentarget for a strategy to stand out as a voice of authority amid a crowded landscape and while much of the world’s attention was fixed on COVID-19.
Greentarget first identified individual PFAS topics that were in line with Lathrop GPM’s knowledge base that might fuel a thought leadership campaign. Then, to be sure that the firm’s point-of-view aligned with its audience’s most critical concerns and expectations, Greentarget turned to tools that measure search engine activity to identify terms that PFAS-related users were searching for.
Greentarget sought out terms with high relevance, robust monthly search volume, and little if any relevant legal content in top search results. Greentarget was able to pinpoint white space that Lathrop GPM could own by publishing novel, relevant, and useful perspectives. Together, Lathrop GPM and Greentarget decided on the topics of “PFAS in groundwater,” “PFAS in food,” “PFAS Action Plan” and later added “PFAS in cosmetics,” among others, as the focuses offering the best opportunities to assert Lathrop GPM’s authority.
Several calls with Lathrop GPM’s thought leaders and Greentarget were held to discuss the SEO-informed topics with the goal of creating articles stemming from the above terms and showcased Lathrop GPM’s knowledge and practical guidance.
The campaign earned more than 42 media results, for 9 million impressions. That included bylines in Food Safety Magazine, Bloomberg Law, Mergers and Acquisitions, Industry Today, HAPPI, Food Industry Executive, Law360, FDCC Insights and DRI’s For the Defense, and Lathrop GPM lawyers being quoted in 16 articles in such publications as Law360, Bloomberg Law, Water World, Agripulse, Food Safety & Quality, Environmental Health News and Cosmetic Design.
Additionally, Bloomberg Law now regularly turns to Lathrop GPM as legal authorities on PFAS. The campaign also led to several new business inquiries as well as outreach from current clients and a prominent environmental lobbyist — who said Lathrop GPM was analyzing the issue in mostly uncovered ways.