"Everything you've been told about building
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7 Steps to Becoming a Media Darling

When you brag about your huge verdicts and settlements, you are boring. No one cares about you (except your parents, kids and spouse and they might not even care). But when a newspaper, magazine, blog or TV station recognizes your authority, you have instant credibility. Even a small quote in a newspaper or magazine or 3-second blurb on a local TV news is priceless!

The third-party validation leads credibility to you. If you’re quoted in the New York Law Journal or TRIAL Magazine, that’s a sign that you’re an authority.

It’s vaguely pretentious to call yourself an expert, it’s powerful when others do it for you.”

Dorie Clark, “Stand Out

Here’s the problem: Reporters get pitched, on average, 2,000 times every day and will turn away blind pitches within 4 seconds of receiving your email. Fat chance that a random reporter will care about your big settlement or verdict. But there are tried and proven methods for getting press from the media that won’t cost you a penny—they’re not easy, but with time and patience, you might just find your name on the front page of the USA Today.

Step #1: Create a Media List

Who are the key reporters in your practice area? Scour newspapers and media for reporters that cover your practice area or law reporters. Go online and identify the law reporters in the newspapers, industry journals, bloggers, TV and radio stations that have influence in your practice area (or just legal reporters) and create an Excel spreadsheet with their name, email address and Twitter handle.

Everything should be a potential media opportunity. Look at everything as a chance to get more media and more exposure.”
--Peter Shankman

The key to finding the reporters is research. READ EVERYTHING. Search on Google for reporters in your practice area. If the reporter doesn’t cover your practice area, she won’t give you the time of day. Set up a free Google News Alert for the reporter’s name and when the reporter’s name gets picked up by Google Alert, you will be notified immediately.

Step #2: Build a Relationship with Reporters

Focus on building the relationship via social media. They’ll love you forever if you retweet their posts and draw attention to their work. If you follow their treats, you’ll find out what events they’ll be attending and you can introduce yourself in person. Focus on building the relationship electronically at first, and later advance to face-to-face.

Once you’ve created a media list of reporters in your practice area, and follow reporters on Twitter and comment and retweet their posts.

1) Find a journalist that reports in your area of law/business, connect with them on Twitter and engage with them on Twitter. Regularly share their content and comment. Good way to become top of mind and build a relationship.
2) promote and participate at major charitable events.”
Nick Rishwain, Esq., Experts.com

Let the reporter know that you enjoyed her last story and if they’re doing another at some point, they’re welcome to give you a call. Let the reporter know that they have a source if they need it.

Hey, Chris, I saw your article about the dumping of sewage in the Hudson River.
I really respect your strong position against dumping sewage in the majestic Hudson River. Well done!”

You might share a link to a similar story that you wrote:

Josepha, I enjoyed your article about the passage of a “date of discovery” law (“Laverne’s Law”) by the New York State Assembly and Senate. I thought you might be interested in this post I wrote that explains why the date of discovery law is so important to New York malpractice victims. I thought you might find it helpful.

And then proactively email links to your posts.

Step #3: Offer to Help Reporters

Offer to provide help and resources to reporters that will make their life easier.

You should always try to give value before you receive it.”

Dorie Clarks, “Stand Out

Send a friendly introductory email to a reporter in your practice area.

Dear [reporter]:

This is not a pitch. Quite the opposite—this is an offer of help.

The reason I’m emailing is just to offer myself as a source. I know tons of lawyers in medical malpractice, plus I have many examples of malpractice cases from my career as a medical malpractice lawyer.

So if you ever find yourself on deadline, feel free to call—I can probably help, or find someone who can.

Best always,
John Fisher

You might pitch a follow up article, i.e., “How to Prevent the Dumping of Sewage in the Hudson River”. Offer the reporter free access to you and provide your cell #. The key is to make the reporter’s life easier by providing resources and follow up.

When connecting with reporters make sure they know you will make yourself available anytime and include your cell phone. I think it’s helpful to also have a short video reel if you have been on the news before.”
--Thomas Wallin, Esq.

You should send the reporter a few links to existing posts you’ve done and you should create a min-website that contains your past newspaper and magazine clips, audio files from radio interviews and video clips from TV interviews. Once the relationship is established, give the reporter your cell phone and tell them to call you any time if they need a quote.

Step #4: BE DIFFERENT!!!

Sounds good, but how do you go about getting recognition from major media outlets? BE DIFFERENT. Get to the point, be direct and get your information out there. Don’t be traditional—find an interesting way to make your point.

Email to reporter with the subject line, “Jumping Out of a Plane for the Disabled

Dear [reporter]:

Brace yourself for a crazy idea. On Friday, July 28th, I’m planning to jump out of a plane to benefit an incredible local organization, Living Resources, based in Albany, NY. 13,500 feet. Crazy, wild stuff (and I’ve never jumped out of a plane before).

Coolest part? This jump will raise money for an incredible organization, Living Resources, that provides career, educational and vocational opportunities for persons with mental and physical disabilities. We hope to raise awareness and $ for this amazing organization.

Fun time, great organization and just a little scary (at least for me). The sky jump will be videotaped on Facebook Live. You watch this live on my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/johnhfisherpc).

Up through the date of the sky jump (July 28th), I will match every dollar that is donated to Living Resources. And to get things started, I’m donating $2,500 to this amazing organization (see photo of friends at Living Resources).

Want photos, video or have questions? Please feel free to reach out to me on my cell, xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thanks for reading!

Best always,
John Fisher

Step #5: Think Small at First

Offer to write a column/article for your small, local newspaper. Nothing is too small or insignificant.

PR is a process that takes time, and when done right, can yield spectacular results.”
--Peter Shankman

Never turn down a request for an article—no matter how small the newspaper. It might be a small paper, but people read small papers and the reporter at the small, local paper might be a New York Times reporter tomorrow.

Step #6: News-Jacking Your Way into the Media

News-jacking” (a phrase coined by David Meerman Scott) involves injecting your ideas or angles into breaking news in real-time in order to generate media coverage for yourself.

Tell a reporter about breaking news, i.e., huge verdict, and connect the reporter with the victorious lawyer. Offer a few catchy suggestions about what you’d like to write for them, i.e., the potential liability of physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers for injury and death caused by addiction to opioids. If there is a high-profile murder trial in your town, you might create a video or blog posts that offers your viewpoint on a critical evidentiary issue. Above anything else, try to make the reporter’s life easier and you will be rewarded.

Taking the time to share yourself in a substantive fashion is an
investment in your long-term reputation.”

Dorie Clark, “Stand Out

Do you disagree with the way an issue is being presented? Here’s your chance to right that wrong. Don’t be bashful about expressing your views—for example, I strongly disagree with the legalization of marijuana (with the exception of medical marijuana) as this introduces another carcinogenic substance that will kill millions. Who cares if most disagree—BE BOLD!

Step #7: Don’t Forget to Ask

Call the editor of a legal magazine or journal and ask her what type of articles she needs. Editors of legal journals, magazines and blogs are looking for fresh content and if you inquire about their need for specific articles, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you.

In January, I contacted the editor of American Association for Justice’s, “TRIAL” magazine, to inquire about her need for specific topics for an article. The editor told me that the March edition would feature law firm management and she’d welcome an article about professional liability insurance. Great! I knew next to nothing about professional liability insurance, but I studied the subject, spoke with leading insurance experts and two weeks later, presented an article that was accepted for publication. It’s that easy.

Once your article is published, you can (with the publication’s consent):

  • Share the article on social media,

  • Add the article to your “Shock & Awe” package for prospective clients and referral partners, and

  • Post the article on the “Press” page of your website.

Now, you’re the published author of an article that appeared on the leading publication for 19k trial lawyers. Very cool--but don’t stop there. Follow the same strategy of contacting the editors of local and statewide magazines, journals and bloggers of their need for specific articles. Once they see that you’re a published author of a national magazine, they will welcome your submission of an article or blog post.

The Ultimate Payoff for Your Hard Work

Mitch Jackson, Esq., a social media guru/injury lawyer in Southern California, was recently contacted by a reporter from the USA Today about a criminal case involving “revenge porn”. Mitch had no prior relationship with the reporter, but the reporter found him on-line and Mitch was happy to share his thoughts.

As a result of this brief phone call, Mitch’s quotes were featured in a prominent article in the USA Today that was published by a newspaper with a daily circulation rate of 4.1 million (double the daily circulation rate of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal). Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Did this happen by just by luck? Mitch has been a leading proponent of news-jacking from the inception of the concept and cranks out his thoughts concerning breaking legal news via Facebook Live and Periscope virtually every day. Mitch lives by the rules of sharing and providing value to reporters (and teaches them in a one-of-a-kind mastermind, LegalMinds). And if you take just a little effort every day to build relationships with reporters, you just might become a media darling too.

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.