Marketing teams in legal firms across the UK are tasked with raising the profile of the firm and some of the key partners within it – but that’s easier said than done. It’s no secret that lawyers are time-poor, with all of their attention dedicated to supporting their clients and racking up billable hours, that doesn’t leave much time to dedicate to PR or marketing.
Getting your firm and its partners featured in top-tier national media outlets is an effective way to enhance credibility and reputation as well as reach a broad spectrum of potential clients and talent. However, how do you go about doing this in a time-efficient way? The answer…national reactive commentary.
Get ahead of the curve
Invest a little time getting to know your PR team and helping them get to know you. Book in a 30 minute meeting to discuss topics that you’re passionate about, previous high-profile cases that you’ve worked on, or are particularly interested in, and any landmark cases coming down the line, as well as explaining what your specialisms are.
Armed with this knowledge, as soon as a story breaks your PR team can utilise existing media relationships and respond quickly and accurately, recommending the right spokesperson and demonstrating the value that your firm can add to this news story.
Agree the process
This session is also a good opportunity to define the process for reactive news opportunities. The key to reactive comments is speed, so make sure you have an agreed process in place before the first opportunity arises. Whether you want a call to discuss, are happy to put some bullets together over email, or want to be notified about the opportunity by text, agree all of this beforehand so there’s no uncertainty on the day.
Once you know about an opportunity to comment it is critical to respond as soon as possible. If you can turn a comment around and meet a journalist’s swift deadline that’s perfect. However, if you need a little more time, have a client meeting or won’t be able to make it work on this occasion let the team know. There’s nothing worse than leaving a journalist in the lurch, so whether it’s doable or not let your legal PR team know so they can manage expectations.
Utilise a range of spokespeople
If you’re tied up in client work and won’t be able to turn a comment around why not pass the opportunity on to another member of your team to get involved? This is a great way to raise the profile of more junior team members and help them understand the value of PR and marketing – it also means your firm is still included, a key piece of coverage can be secured and the journalist knows you’re a firm that can deliver.
Get up to speed
As a lawyer detail is everything and when you have an opportunity for reactive comment, there can be a temptation to go too far into the detail. Although it’s essential that what you’re saying is factually correct you don’t need to comment on the minutae of each particular case or story.
Spend 10 to 15 minutes reading up on the story from several different sources so you have a broad understanding of the breaking news, before catching up with your PR team to develop a reactive comment that will add value to the journalists covering this story.
Avoid legalese and keep it short
Journalists know that added legal insight can elevate a story, especially if it’s a tricky topic to get to grips with – think furlough during the pandemic – but it’s only useful if it’s simple. Work with your PR team to keep comments short, sweet and in plain English.
Putting a 500-word in-depth analysis together is a waste of your time, when in reality the journalist wants a couple of lines simple enough for commuters to get to grips with on their way home.
Trust your PR team – they know what the journalist wants and know how to distill your comments to get the perfect sound bite.
Reflect and perfect
Once your comments have gone live, you’ve shared the news across your social channels and have received multiple adoring messages telling you how insightful and impressive your comments were, take a moment to reflect.
How smooth was the process? Were there any unforeseen challenges in getting the comments over the line? How could it be even more seamless next time? Talk to your marketing and PR team about learnings and how to make it even more efficient next time – the more seamless the process is, the more coverage can be secured.
If you’d be interested in learning more about The PHA Group’s experience in legal PR here click here to view some of our case studies from the sector.