There was a time, in the early days of legal marketing (mid-80’s) that hiring PR firms was what BigLaw management thought solved this “marketing thing.”

At that time law firm’s PR efforts were NOT very successful. Reason: Whether they were just bashful or afraid of repercussions from the state bar, some lawyers wouldn’t even cooperate with their own PR folks. Talking with reporters was out of the question.

Things have changed of course, but not for some lawyers. They still have failed to utilize the power of being quoted in the press.

No. 8 among my Top 10 Marketing Tips first published in 2005 still works; to wit: “Take a Reporter to Lunch.” The purpose is simple. When you get to know reporters and editors who cover the businesses and clients you would like, it can pay dividends. You could become a valuable source in your field or on general legal topics. If reporters/editors get to know and like you, your name could turn up in the trade and local press. That’s a good thing.

Just remember:

  • Return their calls ASAP;
  • Ask for their deadline;
  • Don’t be afraid to tell them you will need to get back to them, if you have no immediate response;
  • Or, refer them to another attorney; and
  • Don’t reveal ANYTHING about a client or matter without permission.

I have quoted the August 21 meditation before from 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing & Communications Professionals by Larry Smith and Richard Levick of Levick Strategic Communications:

“Don’t snub reporters because you’ve never heard of their publications.  They have a funny way of eventually landing at The Wall Street Journal.”

Keep in mind that reporters can help your business development efforts by raising your profile and providing free publicity. So, don’t avoid them.

Start with lunch.

It is not a bad idea to remind ourselves once and awhile about the differences between advertising and publicity. I’ve written on the topic several times and reference a couple of them with links below.  It’s important to keep in mind that (good) publicity is more effective than advertising, because someone else is quoting you and/or writing about you.

Advertising, on the other hand, is controlled by you, and thus less credible because you are “writing” or otherwise providing information about yourself and your firm.  Not objective nor without self-aggrandizement, I think most would agree.

Accordingly, almost everyone would agree that publicity is the better of the two.  Advertising is not a bad thing.  It’s just that, as I have preached previously, it is not the most effective way to develop business for your firm.  It has a role but not in my mind until other more effective marketing and business development tactics have been put into action.

What brought this to mind is today’s meditation in 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing and Communications Professionals, by Larry Smith and Richard Levick with Levick Strategic Communications. It states:

“Publicity is far less controllable and takes more time to work than advertising, but has far greater credibility. If I read it, it must be true.”

Well, we all know it doesn’t mean it’s true, but media coverage that has a quote or other positive things to say about you/your firm certainly is more believable.

Bottom line: make friends with the media so they will get to know you, and hopefully, talk about you and your practice.  It will be far more effective than any self-serving ad in producing more legal work for your firm.

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Don’t Let Your Advertising Raise False Expectations

Marketing vs. PR vs. Advertising

Don’t Waste Your Money On The Yellow Pages

 

 

Don’t be a snob, and all PR needs to be personal.

That’s it.

Okay, maybe a bit more detail is warranted. The first tip: don’t treat a reporter from an unfamiliar publication as someone to shun, since you may regret it one day when he or she is with a major newspaper.  That comes from yesterday’s marketing meditation from my friends Larry Smith and Richard Levick at Levick Strategic Communications; and states:

“Don’t snub reporters because you’ve never heard of their publications.  They have a funny way of eventually landing at The Wall Street Journal.”

The second tip comes from today’s meditation:

“All news is personal.  The media was never all that interested in unmanned space flights.”

I never thought about that, but it is true. So, remember that real news is about people not your firm or your new location, or cases handled.  It’s about those lawyers who handled those cases.  It’s “personal,” so make sure your public relations thrust is about people.

Both tips are from Levick’s book 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing & Communications Professionals.

 

Reminder:  If you haven’t yet voted for your favorite legal blog on ABA Journal Blawg 100 Amici, you have until September 7 to do so.  To nominate LegalMarketingBlog.com, go to this page. Again, nominations are due no later than September 7, 2012.

Thank you for your consideration, Tom.