The most under-utilized way to grow your law practice: FREE publicity. Of course, you love to see your name in the newspaper or quoted in the radio or even better, a TV interview. But there is a more practical benefit of free publicity: credibility and awareness.
When you are cited in a newspaper on a legal topic, you are recognized by the public as an authority figure (this gives you instant credibility) and your name and stature are spread to thousands within the media’s circulation or audience (hence, the awareness of your name and brand with a broad reach of the public).
There is no downside. Heck, you get instant recognition at no cost. You can recycle your newspaper articles by sending newspaper copies to clients and make DVD copies of TV interviews and audio CD’s of radio interviews. You can spread word of your publicity on your website and social media. When new clients call you, you can send them copies of the newspaper article, DVD or CD, so there’s no question you are the right lawyer for their case.
How can you become a media darling?
But how do you go about getting the free press? It begins with a “media list” of the local reporters in your local market, i.e., reporters and producers of newspapers, radio and TV (the big three media). You don’t have to buy a media list from a public relations firm-you can get the names of the reporters and producers from the websites of newspapers, radio stations and TV stations. You can also call the “assignment desk” of the newspaper, radio or TV to ask for the name of the reporter or producer who handles legal topics.
Once you have a decent media list, it’s up to you to make contact with the reporter or producer at the newspaper, radio or TV station. The lazy way to make the initial contact is mailing a “press kit”, which is a document that contains your professional photograph, a list of your credentials and experience. Your press kit is the initial introduction to the reporter or producer, but it’s just your first step in establishing a relationship.
Since the media is constantly bombarded by press kits and media requests, your press kit may be ignored by the reporter or producer, But that’s just where you’re getting started, The key to an effective PR campaign is monthly follow up with the reporter or producer in the form of letters and e-mail that provide valuable information about upcoming legal issues.
If, for example, the murder trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor is approaching, you may write an article for the newspaper giving your insights into the prosecution or defense. You will be surprised: reporters are desperate for news and they may cite your article in the newspaper. But even if they don’t, you want to stay in contact with the reporter or producer with new articles once a month. Eventually, you will get results!
Once you establish a relationship with a reporter or producer, you will be their go-to lawyer for all law related topics. That’s when your PR campaign goes on auto-drive and you can sit back and enjoy the results.
What can happen when you take action with a PR campaign?
On February 8, 2012, I was cited in five paragraphs of the front page of the New York Law Journal in an article about a landmark Erb’s Palsy case called Muhammed v. Fitzpatrick (see “What’s John Up To” for details). Do you think I was the attorney of record for the plaintiff in this famous case? Not quite. Hell, I didn’t know anything about this case when I was contacted by the senior reporter from the New York Law Journal.
Here’s the substance of our phone chat: Reporter: “John, what is your take on the Muhammed case?” John: “What is the Muhammed case?” (ignorant, yet honest) Reporter: “This is a new case in the Fourth Department where the court precluded a defense expert from offering the opinion that the forces of labor caused Erb’s Palsy in a newborn based on Frye.” Then, I was off and running with frank quotes that I knew the reporter would love (no lawyer talk is allowed).
What did I do with this press coverage by the New York Law Journal? I blasted it on the internet on my website, blogs and my e-mail marketing campaigns, Better yet, I got copies of the newspaper article and I mailed them to reporters and producers on my media list, so (hopefully) they will recognize that I am an authority they may want to contact in the future for legal topics.