Mark Miner Communications Logo - Click to return to main
Home Professional Services Firm Clients Services Biography Firm News Contact

Free and Good Marketing:

It's a Matter of Knowing How to Get Quoted

Reprinted with permission of Law Office Administrator

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, PA.

Unfortunately, most attorneys don't know how to get through the media door.

Here's how.


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.


Then start calling the reporters.

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:

"We've 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."


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 short."

At the top, identify what the firm does that will interest the reporters, perhaps:

"We are 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 by X%."

Most reporters aren't interested in legal strategies, Miner notes. What they want to write about is the practical and business aspects of the law.

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.


After that, stay in touch.

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 than promised.

It's acceptable 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 again.

If the issue is extremely complex, ask to review the quotes for accuracy, but don't ask to review the story itself.

"That's part 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 other rules:

•  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.

Click to view in Adobe Acrobat


P.O. Box 451, Beaver, PA 15009-0451Voice: 412-370-5302Fax:
Copyright © 2003-2009 Mark Miner Communications, LLC