The purpose of this brief article is to convey PSM LLC’s approach to public and media relations for lawyers and law firms.
Getting Started with Public Relations for Attorneys
Before a public and media relations strategy can be implemented there are a number precursors to the success of a PR campaign. First, start with the firm’s Strategic Business Plan then, create a Strategic Marketing Plan designed to bring the firm’s business plan to life. These two documents are critical to have in place before a PR campaign is launched because they convey how the firm wants to grow, which practice areas and lawyers to invest in, and desired revenue goals.
Remember one of the biggest benefits of PR is the third-party credibility an article featuring the firm or written by one its lawyers will create. The firm receives an “endorsement” from the media outlet because we had to pass their test of newsworthiness.
Is it Newsworthy?
For any media outlet to cover the firm, the topic must be newsworthy. Newsworthy is defined as news that affects a large group of people very significantly.
PR 101: Be Prepared
Doing PR for at your firm will involve a series of steps; each step building on the prior steps including:
- Identify The firm’s key media messages – For practice groups and individual lawyers; pulled from the firm’s business and marketing plans
- Target media outlets – Determine what your current and prospective clients read, listen to, and watch on television
- Research reporters – Once we know what we want the media to cover, we need to research the reporters, editors, and producers who cover these topics in print, radio and on TV
- Develop a media list – For each practice area and lawyer; identify media outlets that attract your current and prospective clients; include trade and professional associations
- Understand our client’s media preferences – What publications do they read? What radio programming attracts them? What news do they watch on television?
Ways to “Do” PR for Your Law Firm
There are many ways to do PR for the law firm – assuming everything above on the PR 101 list has been implemented first:
- Send a News Release – If the firm has BIG news to announce, develop a press release and distribute it through PR Newswire to state, regional, or national media. Sending a news release results in an immediate SEO bump because many publications will feature the news release on their websites; The release can also result in a lawyer being contacted because reporters have questions
- Pitch a Bylined Article – An attorney has an idea for an article. Before putting fingers to keyboard, first do the research outlined above. Then, develop an article outline to “pitch” to a targeted reporter or editor. We secure a “yes,” before the lawyer begins writing the article
- Expert Guide for Media – It’s important the media knows who you are. At PSM we have developed media guides featuring attorney biographies and topics on which they would be happy to serve as a source on.
- Pitch a Story – When a lawyer has a great idea for a news story but knows the lawyer’s role is one part of the bigger story, the pitch can be presented to a reporter as well as the names of other resources the reporter could contact (like your clients and other business associates).
- Turning National News into Local News – We must keep our pulse on big national stories in the media with a goal toward developing a local angle – How does this big national business story affect business owners in your state or local communities? We then research what “beat reporter” has been covering business stories and create a pitch to that person.
You’re Featured – Now What?
Once the firm has been featured in the press, there are many ways to leverage and promote the coverage including:
- Post it on the website with a link to the article
- Post it on the lawyer’s bio
- Add the article link to the lawyer’s LinkedIn page
- Create and post the article link on all the firm’s social media sites
- Feature the story in the next communication sent to clients, friends, and referral sources
- Create a media page on the website to feature news stories and articles that have been published
- Create a media kit on the website to feature each lawyer’s media biography with downloadable lawyer headshots and firm logos
It is always a best practice to work with a professional who knows and understands the world of PR. That said, any lawyer can pitch a story to a reporter they know who would be interested in a newsworthy topic. The ROI of PR is much higher than that of advertising because being published or interviewed offers a third-party credibility from the publication, radio station or TV show that features you. Not to mention that you don’t have to pay anything to get your newsworthy stories published – if your topic is truly newsworthy.