Is social media the new public relations? I posed this question to our guest Ryan King the Director of Communications at the law firm of Ogletree Deakins. Ryan goes on to discuss the relationship between law firm public relations, social media, and content.
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Ryan King is the Director of Communications at the law firm of Ogletree Deakins. Ryan helps to generate publicity and market share through a mix of content marketing, earned media, and social media. Twitter: @RyanATL
Is “social media” the new “public relations” for law firms?
No, not at all. Public relations is so much broader than social media. Sure social media is massive, but PR in its broadest sense can include any communication or dissemination of information that is targeted to a defined public. This is traditionally thought of as traditional media relations, but it is also corporate communications, internal communications, and more.
Social media quickly emerged as a powerful tool in a PR pros arsenal. Social media can be highly effective when used as an independent strategy or series of tactics. Its ability to hyper target is nearly unmatched. Measuring social media and monetizing it directly versus indirectly is a huge validating factor.
So, social media isn’t the new PR for law firms, but it is very powerful, especially when intertwined with traditional media relations.
What role does content play?
Sharing original and curated content is a good strategy for generating brand awareness and strengthening retention.
For example, look at what you all are doing at Good2BSocial. Your business guides for lawyers, law firms, and companies in the legal industry to become found, known, and respected. You leverage social very effectively to do so. You are on several of the social sites, and use multiple content distribution channels. For example, I follow you guys on Twitter.
On Twitter specifically, I see your original content that demonstrates how your knowledge can help me. You also offer clients and prospects value without selling by delivering curated content. So, while I know you for a certain thing or things, you demonstrate your larger knowledge and scope of services in an indirect way through the curated piece. The owned media that you are delivering on social, combined with the curated, lets me know about the company, your team, and what you can offer—the awareness component. Because you are posting useful content, even when it may be a competitor, I view you as a trusted advisor, so I’m very, very likely to return and view you much more favorably to others in the space—the retention piece.
What advice would you give to individuals looking to get into PR and communications roles at law firms?
I love answering this question because my answer is independent of any industry. My advice is stay hungry and curious. It’s really that simple, and it’s amazing at how difficult it can be. It’s a hyper competitive landscape, whether that’s for employment or otherwise.
Hunger shows employers, teammates, investors, and others that you really want something and are going to scrap, collaborate, learn, and work hard and smart in order to achieve it. People are drawn to this attitude and mentality. So, stay hungry. There really is no alternative.
Second, remain curious. Remaining curious means that you are constantly evaluating, tinkering, experimenting, and innovating in your world. You have a growth mindset instead of a fixed one. Hopefully you apply this to both your personal and professional life. Curiosity keeps the mind sharp, can boost achievement, strengthen relationships, has the ability to make a person happier and more empathetic, and can fuel passions.
Regarding individuals looking to get into PR and communications roles at law firms, hunger and curiosity are still the foundation. You have to be hungry for success from the go, and curious to understand how your firm works… how it serves clients, where it fits in a given marketplace, and, obviously, how it works financially as a professional services organization.
And, have a tough skin. If you want to work in PR, especially in legal, you have to have tough skin. We’re all selling something: a story, a source, an idea, and you’ll be rejected again, and again, and again. You have to be able to know that it isn’t about you personally.
Find your niche and dominate
The work as a PR and communications professional within the legal industry is intellectually stimulating, it’s very, very competitive, and our industry is often dancing one minute and wrestling the next with pressures coming from all directions
Find your niche and work to dominate that space. PR and social media are exceptional ways to achieve these goals and are a force when combined effectively. People are willing to help, so read, study, and ask where you don’t know or want to know more.
If you pursue a social and/or PR as a marketing strategy, do one thing well and build from there. Even if you are really mature in this area, it’s still like drinking from a fire hose because there is simply so much out there in terms of helpful content, channels, publications, influencers, and the like. Remember, you are hungry and curious, so you’ll do great. That thick skin comes with time and experience.