and Good Marketing:
a Matter of Knowing How to Get Quoted
with permission of Law
It's good to get
quoted in the media. It's free advertising. It also shows
off the firm or the attorney as the expert in that field of
law, says Mark A. Miner of Mark Miner Communications,
a public relations and marketing communications firm in Beaver,
attorneys don't know how to get through the media door.
WHAT CAN WE OFFER?
Start by identifying
the area of law the firm wants to showcase.
Then find the newspapers
and industry magazines that cover issues in that area.
If the firm represents
a large number of automobile dealers, for example, go to automobile
trade publications. But then stretch the imagination a bit
and go to general newspapers that carry dealership advertising.
If there's doubt
about a publication, look at its website, Miner says. "Most
have a searchable data base of archived stories."
At each publication,
call the editorial department and ask who writes the articles
on that topic.
SOMETHING FOR YOU
Then start calling
Don't put a reporter
on the spot with "would you like to write a story about
us?" Instead, gear the conversation to what the firm
can provide, for example:
noticed that you write a lot of articles on employment law.
(Cite some articles that reporter has written.) We
represent a number of employers, and we have expertise in
A, B, and C. Would you be interested in using us as a source
when you need information?"
If the answer is
yes, ask these questions:
- What specific
topics are you interested in?
- Are you planning
any articles for the future? Maybe we can provide some information
to help you there.
- Would you
be interested in meeting the attorney who runs our employment
law practice area?
- Can we send
you some information about our practice?
All that allows
the reporter to say yes without committing to anything.
What's more, citing
the reporter's articles not only shows the firm has done its
homework but also appeals to the ego, Miner says. "Reporters
like to know their stories are being read."
And the overall
message that gets sent it that "this is a win-win situation,
not just a win for us."
A PAGE OF
Follow up by sending
a fact sheet about the firm.
Make it no more
than a page, Miner says. "Reporters have mountains of
stuff on their desks, so cut through the clutter by being
At the top, identify
what the firm does that will interest the reporters, perhaps:
an employment law firm, and we understand the financial and
business issues employers face. We act as business advisors
as much as attorneys, and we think we can be an excellent
source for you."
List some of the
major clients, either by name or by reference such as "we
represent five of the top employers in the state."
Then put in bulleted
points on the legal and business services the firm provides,
such as "we hold seminars on how to deal with sexual
harassment claims" or "we advise small businesses
on writing employment policies" or "we helped develop
a policy manual for a large employer that cut labor claims
Most reporters aren't
interested in legal strategies, Miner notes. What they want
to write about is the practical and business aspects of the
At the end of the
fact sheet give the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses
of the attorneys the reporter can call.
Along with the fact
sheet, offer to write an article on a topic of the reporter's
choice, and recommend some topics that might be of interest.
OF GRACIOUS PERSISTENCE
After that, stay
A few days after
the information goes out, call the reporter and ask if it
got there. And if the reporter doesn't remember or threw it
away, offer to send it again. Says Miner, "gracious persistence
will carry the day."
Then from time to
time, send the reporter a note about a current story. Offer
ideas, such as "I enjoyed your story on X, and I have
a few ideas on that topic tha tmay be of interest to you."
Then list the ideas.
If the firm has
a client newsletter, put the reporter on the mailing list.
Now comes that hoped-for
call. Miner gives these rules for talking to the reporter.
Be sensitive to the deadline. Best is to talk with
the reporter immediately. But if the attorney can't take the
call or needs time to prepare, ask "what's your deadline?"
Then "exceed the expectation" and call back earlier
to ask for time to prepare -- but only a little time, perhaps
10 or 15 minutes. Every reporter works on a deadline, and
if one source doesn't respond on time, the only option is
to go to somebody else.
Go into the interview with the understanding that everything
said can be quoted. Don't try to off-the-record anything.
That information is useless to the reporter, so it's a waste
of time to talk about it. Moreover, it could wind up in the
article by mistake.
Don't ask to review the story before it's published.
"That's just bad form," he says, and lawyers are
guilty of it. Count on it that the reporter won't call you
If the issue is
extremely complex, ask to review the quotes for accuracy,
but don't ask to review the story itself.
of the trade-off with the media," he says. "It's
not the attorney's story to write, so the only way to control
it is to be careful about what's said."
And here are some
Don't assume the reporter is a friend. Never say
anything that can't appear later in print.
New partners, office openings, and firm expansions are not
hard news. Don't expect to get much coverage on them.
• Don't lose sight
of the fact that the media can be "the enemy."
If the firm is rude or belittles the reporter or criticizes
the article, expect to be on the acid end of that reporter's
pen. On the other hand, if the firm is accommodating and speaks
"intelligently and thoughtfully," the media will
return the favor.