It’s called publicity. When you or your firm gets mentioned in the media, and better if you are quoted, it’s instant credibility. And it’s FREE (unless you hire a PR agency to help)

Regular advertising is less effective IMHO because you are writing the copy and, of course, it is self-serving. Further it costs you money. When someone else says things about you and hopefully quotes you, it is more likely to be believed.

We all believe what we read in the newspaper or magazine, right?  “If I read it, it must be true” is what Larry Smith and Richard Levick opined (somewhat facetiously I’m sure) in a meditation contained in 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing and Communications Professionals. For more on that meditation look at my post “Publicity vs. Advertising” for the full quote, and for more about the difference between the two.

Actually, we all know better, but there certainly is more credibility given to what someone else says about you than what you say about yourself. You may ask, how do I get this here free “advertising”? Well, you need to befriend a reporter or editor, as I suggest in my “Top 10 Marketing Tips: No. 8 – Take a Reporter to Lunch.” It’s a start and my post gives some suggestions and cautions on how to go about building a relationship with a reporter.

So, it is better if you spend your time talking to reporters and editors rather than those in the business who sell advertising. Accordingly it’s a good idea to get to know and develop relationships with reporters and editors. Your time and (lunch) money will be better spent.

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