Working with the media can be frustrating at times and exhilarating at others. There is nothing better for your business than seeing your name and law firm in print, but there is nothing worse than seeing you or one of your attorneys misquoted. So how do you manage the message?
One of the keys to working with the media is to always be ready for that 10 second sound bite. It can be a quote, a statement of fact or an opinion, but it must be well thought out and to the point. This day and age, nothing is off the record (as you have seen when politicians are caught making comments in front of a live microphone). If you talk to a reporter or answer an email, assume every word that you have said or written will appear in tomorrow’s paper or on the radio. Always look your best, as a photo or video can be posted on Facebook or on YouTube instantly.
Here are some other tips for working with the media:
- Follow reporters on social media, especially on Twitter, as most reporters and publications have a presence here
- Subscribe to local newspapers printed and/or online
- When you post on social media, make your post one that will draw the attention of a reporter. For example, if you are an expert in a specific area of law and there is breaking news that relates to that topic, post something using the hashtag of the case name in question. This is one way a reporter might find you.
- Work to become a subject expert or go-to person for information in your practice area
- Introduce yourself to a reporter or editor at a social occasion and exchange business cards
- Participate in seminars and workshops on media
How do you get yourself known in the legal community and generate a buzz around your practice?
- Send out press releases (electronic, not paper) when your firm has news of importance
- Write op-eds for newspapers or letters to the editor to get your opinion known (note that most papers limit the number of submissions in a year). The Recorder, for example, has a section in their newspaper called “In Practice” where attorneys are invited to submit areas in a substantive law, practice areas or law firm management. The contact for submissions is Vitaly Gashpar and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Write articles for alumni magazines and blogs and bar journals
- Start a blog and consistently publish at least weekly
- Produce videos about yourself and your firm; videos are a great way to market yourself
- Keep your website current and high on the search engine lists; consider hiring an SEO expert to help you with key word advertising
If you have a busy practice and cannot handle the added work of public relations and social media, outsource that work. Here are some ways:
- Hire a public relations or communications firm which specializes in the legal industry
- Hire a contractor who can help you on an hourly basis or on a monthly retainer; this is a great way to get into the social media arena
- Subscribe to a service which filters social media information and delivers to you a digest of important news and cutting edge topics
And when a crisis happens to you or your firm, hire an expert! You may need to save your reputation, your practice, your clients and your future.
Here are some vendors to consider:
A full-service communications and marketing firm dedicated to the legal industry. They handle public relations, marketing and crisis communications and build PR and marketing plans which will give you a clear roadmap to follow. www.blattel.com
Carl Whittaker has over 25 years of experience assisting law firms and non-profits with public relations and marketing matters. He provides focused, practical advice on public relations, positioning, marketing and communications planning, and website development. www.whitakercom.com
Infinite Public Relations
Offers professional services and litigation/crisis communication to companies in law, financial services, accounting, and consulting. They use creative storytelling, time-tested public relations methods, and knowledge of their clients’ businesses to effectively place them in top-tier, targeted publications and media outlets.www.infinitepr.com