In this podcast, Janet Falk discusses how solo practitioners or small law firms can use media relations to promote their product.
Janet Falk is a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional who advises attorneys with a solo practice or a small law firm. She has placed clients in top-tier media and industry trade publications read by their clients and referral sources. Someone will be quoted in that news story; make the source be you.
Why should attorneys undertake media relations?
An attorney can do social media for themselves or work with a specialist, but in the end, social media is what we say about ourselves. It’s pretty widely acknowledged that it’s self promotion. If you’re using media relations, you’re adding a reporter to your team in almost an unpaid way, and you’re getting third party validation. The “reporter” is quoting you so it sounds more objective and factual. I see media relations as a way an attorney can remain top of mind with referral sources because they will see this person in the news talking about issues that have an impact, regardless of who it’s for.
How do attorneys connect with reporters?
Connecting with reporters is easy only if you have the right tools. It’s like a game. You have to introduce yourself professionally to a reporter, so they will know you are an authoritative person who has insight into a timely issue that their readers need to know more about. The tool that I use is called a media profile. A media profile is a much shorter document, and it says, “Here’s an attorney that’s a source and can comment on issues people need to know more about.” You can share this media profile that cover the topics that are most relevant to your clients. A lot of reporters put their email address in their Twitter profile because they want people to send them story ideas!
How does one go about publishing their idea in a trade publication?
It’s always good to write something that’s kind of a case study and partner with a client. Having the client as the co-author will give you greater credibility to the editor of that industry newsletter. It will speak to the issues and use the language of that industry. When you do most of the writing as the attorney, you become closer to the client and in the end, you’re going to make that client look brilliant! Let’s say you don’t have a case study. My suggestion is to come up with a three sentence paragraph that describes what you’re going to talk about, followed by approximately 5 bullet points detailing what you’re going to discuss. Then, send this to the reporter or editor of the publication. Notice: you’re only submitting the outline! This way, you can ask for the word count and other specifications so that you can write the article exactly the way the publication wants it.
My client is in trouble, and I told her to say “no comment.” Is that correct?
I always advise against saying “no comment” because it looks very bad for the client. It makes it seem as though the client didn’t manage the situation. My suggestion is to think about the three R’s: Regret, recompense, and reform. Start out with an apology. Then state what you know thus far, lacing in facts to solidify your credibility. Explain how you’re monitoring the situation closely, and are in touch with associated local authorities. Last, state that you’ll calculate the damage and do what you can to make those who have suffered whole again. Repeat this same statement in the same way until questions stop and you have more information regarding the situation.
It’s often been said that a media interview is a very bad time for an original thought. What that means is that you should have in mind what you wish to speak about. I recommend writing out three bullet points worth of ideas in 16 pt font, and put it right on your desk. Preparing ahead of time for an interview will ensure you keep them top of mind and cover all areas which you previously desired to cover.