Developing relationships with reporters and editors is an excellent objective for lawyer-marketers. Your purpose is obvious. By getting to know media contacts (general, business and legal), they may call you when they need a lawyer’s perspective. They will appreciate it also, because they are always looking for good sources of information, particularly when they are covering a case or on deadline with the latest, hottest breaking news. They won’t think of calling you unless they know who you are.
Some suggestions and cautions:
- Return reporter’s call immediately, if not sooner;
- Don’t assume anything you say is on background or “off the record”, unless you and reporter agree in advance;
- If you don’t have an immediate answer, tell them you will get back to them and do so asap (remember about deadlines);
- Ask when is their deadline (weeklies are more flexible than dailies);
- Don’t reveal client confidences; and
- Don’t talk about a client’s matter without their permission, even if it is a matter of public record (clients can get ornery about such things).
So, take the time to get to know your local media – broadcast (radio, TV) and print (daily, weekly or monthly newspapers and magazines). By developing a friendship with reporters and editors, they are more likely to call you when they need a legal angle on a story. Especially when you get a reputation for getting back to them promptly, and respect the pressures they are under. Some reporters prefer breakfast to lunch, but you won’t know that until you call them.