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How To Get A Reporter's Attention Without Losing Your Shirt!

by Paramjit L. Mahli

Too many attorneys fail to understand how public relations work. They think an advertisement promoting their firm counts or that ONLY high-profile litigation cases receive media attention. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every day hundreds of small and medium-sized law firm are quoted in widely-read publications, raising awareness of their firm and gaining credibility as experts in the marketplace. Firms that don't realize this suffer from missed clients.

The truth of the matter is that public relations is at the heart of every good marketing plan.

Typically, a solid public relations plan will:

  • Build awareness

  • Position the firm's experts in their legal area of expertise

  • Position the firm as a value added contributor for the legal industry nationally and locally

  • Build goodwill among your key constituents

  • Educate and persuade your target audience

  • Have benchmarks in place
What is essential to the success of any plan is to understand that public relations like most marketing activities requires hard work. Distributing the odd press release by the paralegal or office manager who is wearing multiple hats will not generate calls from the press. Rather a disservice is being committed, you are taking them away from billable work.

Common reasons cited by attorneys for not incorporating public relations are: not having enough time, a lack of understanding of its role, or the dearth of resources to make public relations part of their business development plans.

Couple with long held stereotypes of the press, such as reporters' interest lying with big law firm news or reporter's only wanting the drama and not the facts, and the cynicism reporters have towards attorneys, it is no surprise that media relations is frequently relegated to the bottom of business development activities, particularly if the firm has already achieved some "visibility" that did not result in new clients.

The irony of course, is that both groups need each other for their work. Reporters are continually seeking sources for their stories, and attorneys need to get more than their qualifications, out in the market place in other words, they need to get known in their target market.

Recently I was quoted in an article titled "Blow That Curve" which had a nice shelf life, as it was reprinted in several ALM publications including a Texas publication. This led to a call from a financial planner with Merrill Lynch, in Texas who is interested in having me speak to his clients, mainly associates. Now, this doesn't happen all the time, but getting the word out in a consistent manner increases your odds.

So, the question arises how do you build those relationships with the fickle press?
To learn how to build these relationships sign up for white paper: How To Get A Reporte's Attention Without Losing Your Shirt!.

About The Author

Paramjit L. Mahli of the Sun Communications Group is a former journalist who has worked with international news organizations including CNN Business News, and now helps small to mid-sized law firms increase their visibility, build their reputation and helps them grow their business by using public relations. She also developed popular tele-seminar class, "How To Grow Your Law Practice On A Shoestring Budget".

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.