Go rob a bank. No, wait, that’s too easy. Plus, you may run into ethical issues with the local bar association.
Seriously, folks, getting what we call “earned (free) media” is a little tougher to get. It also takes patience. But with the right kind of article, you can get your practice into the public eye.
The key to getting good media coverage is to have a “real story” to tell and share with the press. Let me repeat: You have to have a real story. The greater the news value of your story, the better the chances of picking up significant media coverage. The coverage will most likely be newspaper publicity, but it’s also possible you can increase coverage of your firm on television, websites, blogs, magazines and social media. Here are five ways.
1. What’s new at your firm. You might be hiring a new associate. Or maybe you are moving to a new location or adding a new practice area. Writing about something new happening at your firm will get you some results, but not much. It’s not the kind of story that attracts mass media attention. Still, you’ll want to get the word out to the law trade magazines and business-related publications. If you’ve hired new attorneys, be sure to send the news to the alumni association newsletters at the law schools they attended.
2. Community involvement. So many firms fail to remember the importance of being involved in the community and reporting on it. It’s all about grassroots marketing (or “guerilla marketing”). It is the same reason why politicians still visit corner cafés to shake hands and kiss babies: They are earning votes one person at a time. Plus, it gets word of mouth going. Have a community tab on your website, and then get out there. Volunteer at a food shelter. Ring bells for the Salvation Army. Host a signature event each year to raise funds for a charity. Get your team together and build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Let the media know when and where these events will happen. And then, remember to write about the events after they occur and send those articles to the various media outlets.
3. Speaking and writing. Volunteer to speak at groups and organizations in the law community, and inform the media. If you are entertaining and speak dynamically and give a presentation full of useful information, people will notice you. Write for related publications to promote yourself and your firm. Write for online blogs. If your article is well written and received, people will forward your blogs and articles. You could also consider teaching a course or two. Your status as an expert in the subject you teach may attract the media attention as well.
4. What’s unique about your firm. Human interest stories always appeal to the public and by default to the media. For example, one firm received just such media coverage because three generations of the same family practiced together. Another story was about a firm that had two NFL cheerleaders working together: one was a brand new lawyer who was also starting her first year as an NFL cheerleader, and she was mentored in law by one of the veteran partners who was coincidentally a former NFL cheerleader. Concurrently, she learned what it was like to be a rookie both in the legal field and on the football field. “A Mentor in Two Fields,” was the article’s headline. Then there was the lawyer who also graduated from medical school and used that knowledge to give his personal injury firm an edge against the competition. Another story featured a lawyer who also volunteered as a firefighter.
5. Significant cases. If your firm wins a significant case that has mass appeal, report that case to the media immediately in order to take credit for your success. (Of course, coordinate with your client and their representatives as necessary.) Say you win a multimillion-dollar settlement against a company that was selling a faulty product. That’s a story. What if your client is a doctor accused of multiple cases of malpractice? Given the right fact pattern, this could produce major media attention regionally and beyond. If the media likes your presentation and knowledge, they might call on you regularly for commentary on other stories. You could become the go-to expert in your legal field.
By the way, especially for television, you have to look good, be extremely credible and speak concisely. I know. I know. A concise attorney? Possibly an oxymoron?