Success in raising the profile of a law firm depends on many factors – how reactive they can be to the news agenda, how much valuable good news a firm has to share, but perhaps most important is how engaged fee earners are in the PR process. Journalists are always on the look out for expert legal commentary to strengthen their stories, but no matter how good an agency or in-house legal PR team is, they will always require insight from fee earners on the in-depth legal workings of an ongoing case or news story.
With fee earners focussed on client work, and many lacking an understanding of PR, this can be a unique challenge to overcome, but here’s a few suggestions of where to start:
Back to basics
Although fee earners are experts in their field and able to speak knowledgeably about their chosen discipline, try not to assume any knowledge when it comes to PR. Take the time to show them the basics, outline what PR is, how it works and the benefits. Not only is this any easy first step to engage them, but presenting the basics of PR upfront is a great way to manage expectations down the line.
Show them who else is doing it well
Some friendly competition never hurt anyone, and it can be a useful tool to engage those partners or associates you want to be more involved with PR. Show them examples of others within the firm, or their counterparts at other firms, who are getting great coverage in key titles. You’d be surprised how much more engaged they can become after seeing that…
Explain the long-term benefits
Sometimes PR can be mistaken as a quick fix; people can think that one piece of coverage in isolation will be the key to unlocking dozens of new business opportunities. If fee earners already have a full client roster and are working day and night to get everything boxed off, they can be daunted by the perceived additional workload that PR will bring. Work with them to show that engaging with PR now isn’t about bringing clients in immediately, it’s about helping them build a healthy new business pipeline for the future.
Minimise their workloads
Time, or lack of it, is likely the biggest reason that fee earners push back on PR. As such, a top priority has be minimising their workload. Choose an agency with legal PR experience, that has a streamlined process for engaging spokespeople and a team of strong copywriters that can turn a 10-minute phone call into a 1,000 word in-depth thought leadership piece to ensure fee earner time is kept focussed where it should be – on earning fees.
Get one piece over the line
This is much easier said than done, but if you can get one piece over the line things tend to get easier. Once a fee earner sees how straightforward it can be to secure a piece of coverage and sees their name in print in a key title, whether that’s trade, regional business or national, they’re much more likely to do it again – all it takes is one great piece for a fee earner to get the PR bug!
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.