The media is always looking for interview sources. Part of your public relations strategy should be to let the media know that you are an authority and available to lend insight in your area of expertise. You can raise awareness about yourself as an interview source by issuing news releases and getting profiled in a reputable publication.
Use news releases to distribute information about your law firm whenever possible. If you win or settle a case and can talk about it, put it in a news release. Share your viewpoint on a new law or comment on economic or financial news. If you have a newsworthy item—information that you think others might want to know about—put it in a news release. It doesn’t have to be long, a page at the most. Send it to a list of media that you’ve identified would want to know about it, whether print or electronic, including news websites and bloggers.
Tip: Keep your media list up-to-date. People come and go in the news media so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep current.
Once you write a news release and distribute it, add it to your website. Then link back to the news release on your site from a blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. There are also free news release distribution sites online. Many of them you have to pay for, but some, including PRLog.org, offer services at no charge. There you post your news release with a picture, such as your firm logo, and the site will distribute it for you. You can even see how many people have viewed the release and what keywords they used to find it. Your information may be picked up by another website or a blogger, or people can read it right on PRLog.org.
Tip: Be sure that your news release is actually newsworthy and not just a puff piece about your firm. If your news doesn’t make the cut as a news release but you want people to know about it—for example, if you performed volunteer work or spoke at a conference—you can still put it up on your website. But to issue a full-fledged news release, the information has to be something that offers value.
In addition to issuing news releases, you also want others to write about you and your firm. For example, in California, the Daily Journal writes a small-firm profile about law firms and law practices. It is a great place to highlight the type of practice you have in a very complimentary piece. And once the article appears, for a price the publication will put it on a plaque for you or send you a pdf of the article that you can post to your website. These kinds of articles have tremendous value because you’re getting a third-party endorsement from a well-respected legal publication.
But first you have to get on journalists’ radar, so start developing relationships with writers and editors. Take them to lunch and get to know them and what they do, because the better they know you, the more likely they’ll come to you for quotes and interviews and the more likely they’ll give you more press. If you know who the reporters are who cover the targets you want to reach, you can position yourself as being available for interviews, and you will be astounded at how hungry the media is for quality guests.
Tip: Return phone calls from journalists quickly. Most reporters are on very, very tight deadlines, so you should get back to them as soon as possible.
A lot of the time, the same pundits are on the same television shows over and over again, or they’re quoted in print media over and over again. The reason for this is they’re available, and the media knows it can count on those legal experts to be available and to respond with something valuable. If you can fall into that category, you will ingratiate yourself to the media to hopefully good results.
Tip: Give a good sound bite. Sometimes lawyers like to talk in long sentences, and even if you’re talking to a print reporter, he or she may cut that sentence down in a way you don’t like. So think and speak in short sound bites, whether it’s for broadcast, print, or electronic media.
One of the touchstones of practicing law is attorney-client privilege. However, don’t let that responsibility prevent you from talking to the media. So many lawyers assume they are not eligible to give interviews because they don’t want to harm their relationships with their clients or jeopardize their cases. Those are very important issues, and we would never suggest that anybody do anything to violate them.
But you do need to clarify what you’re allowed to say and when you’re allowed to say it. Don’t let your fear about not being able to discuss certain things limit you from talking about what you can talk about. You might be able to lend expertise in an area that has nothing to do with any of your current clients or cases. So don’t think of granting an interview as having the potential to violate privilege. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to generate a snapshot of yourself as an expert.
For more tips, check out our marketing seminar “Benefitting from Public Relations.”