Friday, May 16, 2014

Leveraging The Media Coverage You’ve Already Received: How To Keep It Going

Last week we discussed how to recognize whether the new case that has come across your desk is “PR-worthy” -- whether it offers a story that might interest editors and producers, thus generating publicity for you and your firm?

But what happens after that case has made the news? What happens after you’ve been interviewed, filmed or videoed, and asked every silly question under the sun?  How do you leverage that experience to enhance your visibility?

The answer lies in understanding the very nature of public relations. When it comes to publicity, the more you have, the more you’ll get. And when you think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Just as your legal credentials allow potential clients to feel comfortable in your ability to represent them, so do your media credentials allow producers, editors and reporters to feel comfortable using you as a source for a story or as a respected “expert.” If you have been a central figure in a major event, have been articulate in presenting facts or opinions and have proven to be credible, the perceived risk of using you for future stories is dramatically reduced.  That is why we always suggest that our law firm clients be willing to speak to anyone, anywhere – even if that media outpost is a small hometown paper or radio station. They provide the foundation for bigger and better media “hits” in the future. The strategy is to build up enough of such hits so that, just like a resume, the reader is persuaded about your knowledge in a particular subject area. Keep in mind also, that the media watches the media. There is nothing that prevents them from reaching out to an individual that they have seen interviewed or written about elsewhere.

The notion of “particular subject area” is also important. Yes, you are an attorney, but that does not make you the ideal person to speak with on every aspect of the law.  You know your niche. Focus on it.  If, for example, you previously handled a big pharmaceutical liability case that generated a large amount of media attention, then anything that involves similar matters (be they new cases, new statutes, new research, etc.) becomes an opportunity to further highlight your expertise. Send pitch letters to the media that describe your story idea or opinion. And be sure to highlight your involvement in that previous “big case” along with the associated media coverage you received.

Once you have established substantive media credentials, (i.e., you’ve garnered quite a few articles, interviews, stories, etc.) it is not a bad idea to trumpet such in ongoing media pitch letters, on the firm’s web site and/or in online or offline media kits disseminated to a carefully developed list of media contacts.

In summary then, the notoriety you’ve gained on the “big case,” should be augmented with whatever additional exposure you can create – big or small.  Eventually, you will have enough mass to become the media’s “go to” guy on a particular subject.  And at that point, you won’t have to worry too much about reaching out to the media. They’ll be chasing after you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recognizing PR Opportunities

It happened! It finally happened!

It’s the “big” case… the one you always dreamed about when you imagined yourself as part of L.A. Law or if you’re a bit older, when you pictured yourself out-litigating Perry Mason.

The “big” case can be great for the ego and it can potentially be even better for the pocketbook. But as important, the “big” case represents a unique opportunity to shout to the world all that’s great about yourself and/or your firm.  Unfortunately, the “big” case doesn’t come around all that often, so when it does, it is critical that the growth-conscious law practice be prepared for how best to leverage this moment in the spotlight.

The first step in this process is to recognize if and when you are or are about to be working on the “big” case. Sometimes, this is done for you. When hordes of media folk are knocking down your door, you can be sure you’ve landed the big one. For anything less than the “sexiest” of stories, it will probably be you reaching out to the media, not the other way around.

There are times however, when the opportunity in front of you may not be as obvious. This requires a careful assessment of every case that comes across your desk. Try to think like a producer or editor. Will this case excite their viewers or readers? Some things to consider:

  • Is the case breaking new legal ground? 
  • If it’s not setting new legal precedent, is it the kind of case that’s setting “cultural” precedent? For example, we recently got one of our attorney clients on the Today show for a case she was handling that involved cyber-bullying via social media. 
  • If it’s not setting “cultural” precedent, can it perhaps play off another case that’s already in the news?  If, for example, a new pharmaceutical made the news because it was recently found to be responsible for consumer deaths, then case involving other dangerous drugs may also make for a good augment to this story.

Other ideas?  Obviously, sex always sells. As do cases involving celebrities.  During the manslaughter trial of basketball star Jayson Williams, one of our attorney clients was interviewed on a regional radio station for his take on the proceedings. This would not be so unusual were it not for the fact that this attorney was a family law practitioner who did not practice criminal law.  Yet he was the “go to” guy because he had been in the news many times before and had established a reputation for himself as an articulate subject for interview and a credible “expert.”

That example then begs some further questions… Once you have obtained that big case, how do you leverage it? How do you use that experience to boost up your media credentials?  And how does this exposure help your practice’s bottom line?

And those are exactly the questions we’ll address in our next issue.