- Client and case confidentiality issues
- Not confident in dealing with the press
- Lack of control over the final message published or aired
- Concerned the reporter will get it wrong
- Negative prior experience has scared them away
“Free media” is the cornerstone to image-building and marketing.
- You can buy ads, pay for underwriting spots, and sponsorships, but you cannot buy news coverage
- Free media comes with the legitimacy of the news organization backing the information and the people it chooses to print or air
How will a public relations program benefit a law firm?
- Increase awareness of the firm, individual attorneys and service areas, which will:
- Bolster the firm’s reputation and brand
- Attract new clients
- Build client loyalty
- Expand new business from past or existing clients
- It will also create possible:
- Client partnership opportunities – allowing the firm to showcase clients, client products and services
- Increase in referrals and new contact associations
- Clients with similar cases will be inclined to contact your firm
- Which in turn will:
- Reinforce the firm’s key marketing messages and market position to existing and new clients as well as referral sources
Drawing on cases, deals, clients, awards, community involvement, and more, enhances the firm’s image.
- Proactive outreach to relevant journalists and introductions of firm attorneys as available resources
- There are times when the initial introduction leads to immediate coverage; taking advantage of these opportunities will help raise your firm’s profile, and that of individual attorneys and services.
- While a primary goal is to develop relationships with reporters, become a reliable source and open doors for future communication when timely issues arise, reporters are always looking for proven expertise. The way to garner “source” status is through legitimate news stories.
- When possible and appropriate, arrange for introductions to key reporters. These work particularly well with smaller publications. With mainstream news organizations, however, we are need to find the hook to spike their interest.
- Basic media training is a must before speaking with the media. Lawyers will often think they can just wing it – or prepare a few minutes before the reporter and camera crew arrives. NEVER EVER take this approach. Taking the time to prepare and present yourself as a rock star on stage, is always the better choice.
- This training could be a few sessions, an hour, or just a brief phone conversation a few days or hours before the media event.
- If you are invited to participate in an interview, you should always have a pre-press discussion with other attorneys involved in the case (within your firm or co-counsel outside your firm); if you have a marketing professional in the firm or outside the firm, this person should be closely involved.NOTE: If clients are included in media coverage, they should also receive a briefing regarding what to expect, what to wear, hazards to note, etc.
There are many ways to “field” a possible story and the main issue of the story will usually dictate the appropriate venue, including:
- Press conference – typically occur at filing, settlement, notice of claim, response to lawsuit or breaking news announcement
- Media Availability – usually appropriate when there are victims or clients who are not comfortable in a press conference setting; more time intensive, but the personal interviews will often generate more stories
- Exclusives – not necessarily offered to just one news organization, but perhaps one TV, one print and one radio outlet
- Very important to pitch and place your story in the correct venue
- Determination of news value and the timing – You need to understand what makes a story? When the best time is to break the story (day of the week, time of day, etc)? Which reporter is the right person to pitch for the story
Using public relations in cases and with clients involving a potentially NEGATIVE story:
- PR management can be an essential case component when dealing with potential crisis communications and case management issues.