In this podcast Hank Grezlak of ALM discusses how legal marketers can create and maintain relationships with journalists and how law firms can get media exposure.
Podcast Show Notes
Hank Grezlak is the Editor-in-Chief for ALM’s Legal Themes, Regional Brands, and Law.com. He runs ALM’s legal newsroom that produces all of their U.S. legal publications, including all the reporters and editors who produce content for The American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, the New York Law Journal, and the Legal Intelligencer. Hank has been with ALM for 26 years, spending much of that time writing about law firms and the courts. He has won numerous awards for his journalism, including the 2016 G.D. Crain, Jr. Award for Distinguished Editorial Career.
What do firms do wrong when trying to work with journalists and the media?
The most common mistake that law firms make is trying to control the interaction too much. Some firms insist on being heavily involved in the journalistic writing process which is difficult for journalists. If you want to work with a journalist long term it’s important for law firms to maintain a good relationship which allows the media to write about their firm freely. Legal marketers need to accept that not all firm coverage will be positive. It’s a journalists role to report on all newsworthy stories – good or bad.
In order for legal marketers to cultivate positive relationships with the media, they should introduce themselves to journalists well before they have a story they want to push. Some journalists are skeptical about forming relationships with marketers or PR professionals, but most are happy to find sources for their stories which is why it’s essential that law firm marketers make themselves known and available to the media.
Opportunities for law firms to gain media exposure
ALM actively solicits and gets pitched content. They love that law firms are producing content and they often use this content to seek out experts for their own stories. However, a lot of the times when journalists are looking for an expert or source, they ask colleagues, current columnists, or seek out sources on LinkedIn and Twitter.
There are a lot of opportunities right now for firms to get media exposure. ALM is always looking for lawyers’ perspectives on big issues. An easy way for law firms to get in front of the media is contributing content or to bring hot topics to the attention of journalists. When lawyers can present a clear perspective on a pressing issue, the media is more likely to follow up or ask for an interview.
What are the big trends you’re seeing?
One of the biggest trends is the rise of Alternative Legal Service Providers, the Big Four, and Litigation Funding – what they might do and how they will interact with the legal space. What is the influence of outside sources on the business of law?
For ALM topics of interest include strategies, structures, new programs, techniques, and how firms handle new technology. Other more recent relevant topics include diversity in law as well as mental health issues. There is a tremendous amount of interest from ALM readers when it comes to these social issues and how they impact the legal industry.
How has the legal landscape changed during your time at ALM?
The profession has really morphed from the classic old school corporation to full on businesses, run much like all the other businesses in the world. Large law firms have become even larger, now reaching nearly 1,000 lawyers. The nature of law firms has changed drastically in terms of growth and business sophistication. Due to competition, law firms are now expanding internationally and focusing more heavily on business development than ever before.
In order to foster a positive, two-way relationship with the media, reach out to journalists well before you need their help. Legal marketers with great media connections provide journalists with relevant information even if it doesn’t directly benefit their law firm. This type of open communication encourages journalists to be more open and willing to reach out going forward. Don’t become frustrated by one negative story, focus on establishing a long-term and overall positive relationship with the media.