PR for Lawyers: The Basics
Lawyers depend on marketing, public relations, and business development to attract new clients and retain existing clients. This session will explain how lawyers can use public relations (PR) – the art and science of proactive advocacy by a company, individual, or brand – to achieve positive publicity and a notable reputation through focused, sustained effort. We will provide the basics on the differences between PR and advertising, as well as what it takes to strategically manage your key messaging to reach your target audience. Lawyers will learn how PR can help them communicate messages about themselves, their law firms, their understanding of the law, and the cases they handle on an everyday basis. The key takeaway will be that public relations must be a strategic part of a carefully considered marketing plan that complements the firm’s brand, supports the firm’s business development and client service efforts, and reinforces other forms of communication.
Eight Steps for Developing a Strategic Public Relations Plan: An Overview
A lawyer’s first step in harnessing the power of public relations is creating a solid foundation on which to build. This session is structured around the analogy that creating an effective PR plan is like building a new house. It is an exciting time that requires financing, strategic thinking, careful planning, and follow-through. It requires time, attention, and measurable objectives. If correctly employed and executed, public relations will raise awareness about a lawyer’s legal services and can position them as a go-to resource in an ever-growing, competitive marketplace. Lawyers will learn that their strategic game plan will be used to reach their target audience and convey their messages, as well as to form the foundation of their public relations plan. We will also explore the common PR tactics they can use – such as publicity, community relations, special events, speaking engagements, sponsorships, and other forms of proactive communications – to shape public opinion.
Perception Is Everything: Defining How You Want to Be Viewed in the Market
Once lawyers understand what they want to achieve with respect to business goals in the context of PR and why they want to achieve them, lawyers must decide how they want to be perceived and by whom. Through this session, we will teach lawyers why defining the way they want and need their most important audience to perceive them is central to designing their position statement and PR initiatives. Specifically, lawyers will understand the difference between features and benefits so that they can communicate two specific messages within their position statement: the features of their law firm or practice and how those features uniquely benefit their target audience. In a nutshell: features are the characteristics that physically describe one’s legal services, background, or experiences, while benefits are why one’s services matter to the recipient. While features establish lawyer credibility and distinguish one’s background from that of their competitors, benefits tell the audience what they will gain by working with that specific lawyer or law firm. In other words, why their services matter.
Defining Your Business Objectives in the PR Context
Before engaging in public relations tactics, lawyers should be confident that these public relations efforts will, in fact, help them and their firms achieve the goals defined in their business plans. Lawyers should ask themselves how a public relations program can move them toward achieving their quantifiable business goals and what PR tactics can do more effectively than paid opportunities, such as advertising. Once they have answered these questions, we will move on to demonstrating how lawyers can define their public relations objectives. During this session, we will teach lawyers how to define their law firm business goals within the context of quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs). Lawyers will learn about our SMART framework for goal-setting to set themselves up for strategic PR success, which ensures that each objective is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. By setting appropriate goals, especially in the context of the digital age of communication, lawyers and law firms can use PR to create a two-way dialogue with their target audience.
5 Ways That Lawyers Can Maximize Their Relationships with the Media
One of the fundamental pieces of public relations for lawyers is developing strong relationships with the media to improve the likelihood of garnering media coverage. “Good press” is a vital component of legal communications, and to obtain it, lawyers must understand how to best relate to reporters. During this session, we will teach lawyers:
How to determine who to pitch and how to engage with key journalists
How to provide value and be memorable
Why responsiveness, accessibility, and respecting deadlines matter
Ways to craft subject lines that get attention
Media terminology and strategies like embargos, exclusives, and going on-background
Using the C.O.P.E.S. Approach to Maximize Your Content Reach
Many digital platforms are available to help you repurpose your recently published content, such as articles, blog posts, CLE material, topics within briefs, memos of law, client alerts, and other forms of useful content. Create Once, Publish Enthusiastically and Strategically, also known as the C.O.P.E.S. approach, allows you to maximize the potential reach of your content and increase the chances of your content being viewed by different target audiences. During this session, we will teach lawyers how to repurpose content in ways that maximize key messaging for various platforms and audiences.
Effective Law Firm Media Policies
All law firms, no matter how big or small, should have a written media policy. During this session, lawyers will learn what a comprehensive media policy should include, the ethics rules implicated by speaking to the media, and how to craft detailed protocols for handling media queries for an interview or comment. The faculty offers guidance on how lawyers can handle queries about firm clients and cases and for third-party commentary on cases or legal issues that the firm is not handling but has practice area or subject-matter expertise. As a bonus, the faculty also addresses what firms need to know about social media policies.
Talk the Talk: The Language of Journalists
During this program, lawyers will learn the ins and outs of media terminology so they can speak journalists’ language. Participants will become familiar with media terms and learn how to start a conversation with a reporter to determine a mutual definition of the terminology. For example, people often use the phrase, “off the record,” but what does this mean to the reporter? That matters most. It is critical for lawyers to be familiar with media terms – such as “on the record,” “off the record,” “for attribution,” and “embargo – before speaking with journalists. We will also demonstrate how lawyers can communicate with media professionals to define the terms of any interaction, as well as provide performance tips to help lawyers control their message.