“How do I get you to publish a story on the partners at my firm?”
“Why don’t you publish lawyer profiles?”
These were some of the questions that law firm PR professionals were asking reporters at an event for law firm media professionals. The event was organized to allow law firm professionals and PR agencies to hear first hand from reporters who cover the legal beat how they select and develop stories for publication.
After introductions, the reporters described their beats and the kind of stories they typically cover, I realized this was a perfect opportunity for me to ask a few questions that have been on my mind for a while:
“Do you look at social media for story ideas? And if so, which law firms are doing a good job at using social media to reach the press?”
“Good questions!” was their reply. “Absolutely, we do look at social media, especially Twitter and law firm blogs.” They went on to explain their daily routine – how every day starts with a scan of law firm blogs and twitter feeds to look for items of interest. They also mentioned that client alerts very often prove to be useful resources, sparking ideas for new articles and stories.
As for the second part of my compound question, the reporters artfully dodged that one in the public session. So when the Q&A was over, I followed up with a couple of the reporters “off the record” to see if they would share any more insight as to whether any law firms are using social media effectively. Their answer was a resounding no.
“Most law firms use social media to talk about themselves,” one reporter told me. “They think social media is just another advertising channel and only publish promotional content. But we’re looking for news, not testimonials. I really can’t think of any firms that really recognize this – they should focus on content that adds value, contains new and fresh information or presents an interesting angle to a developing story.” See: How Social Media has Changed PR and Corporate Communications at Law Firms.
None of this is not at all surprising to me. In all my years in digital marketing, I have repeatedly tried to coach my clients about the importance of writing content that is useful and insightful or speaks to an issue in an immediately relevant way. Reporters are particularly sophisticated consumers of information, on the prowl for very specific stuff. As one of the reporters said during the presentation:
“We are interested in insiders not experts. We’re looking for someone who has real life experience and first hand knowledge in a particular situation.”
So there you have it. If you are looking to gain attention for your law firm today, make sure you use social media. But just tweeting about the 26 new partners is not enough. Take the time to write something that is unique and useful. Think before you tweet. Once you develop this habit, you will begin to build trust as someone who publishes useful information on a particular subject. An audience will begin to form and before you know it your message will begin to spread out, whether through traditional news channels or more generally across the social media landscape.
Updated and republished August 4, 2017.