Special Events that Get Attention for Your Law Firm
Public relations is the art and science of proactive advocacy on the part of a company, individual or brand. It requires strategic management of your position statement and key messages to reach your target audiences, and through various tactics such as media relations, establishes goodwill and a mutual understanding.
In addition to tactics such as media relations, you can reach your target audience and build relationships in your community through different law firm community relations programs and events. Examples of ways to do this include:
- Celebrate a holiday at a local homeless or women’s shelter
- Educate a business or consumer audience
- Host a fundraiser for an important local cause
- Sponsor an art exhibit
- Sponsor a sports team in a local professional league
- Issue an impactful research-based report
- Participate in local bar association events such as golf outings and 5K races
- Partner with a nonprofit
- Perform pro bono work
Strategy Behind Social Responsibility and Law Firm Community Relations
Not only does society expect law firms and corporations to be socially responsible, but employees are demanding it and consumers expect it. Clients like to see law firms supporting causes that are important to them. Becoming active in the community is to everyone’s advantage and helps law firms to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace through strategic legal marketing and public relations.
Law firm community relations is the task of establishing a connection with the community, raising and maintaining the firm’s general public profile as involved community stewards.
These types of programs are mutually beneficial to both the community and the law firm. From the firm’s perspective, a good corporate neighbor initiative improves internal morale and assists with the recruitment and retention of staff and attorneys. From the community’s perspective, the organization’s actions demonstrate the law firm’s commitment to its target audiences and the public. When corporate social responsibility activities are publicized and shared via social media, even more goodwill will be generated, which increases brand awareness and equity.
As a legal marketing and law firm public relations agency, we believe in leading by example at Furia Rubel. In that regard, for our company’s 10th Anniversary, we celebrated with a “10 for 10″ Community Service Campaign through which we participated in 10 activities throughout the year to embrace our corporate citizenship. Since it is our mission to give back when we can, we celebrated our milestone through pro bono business relationships and service projects.
In addition to providing pro bono public relations and marketing services to three nonprofit organizations, we founded the Doylestown Township Adopt-A-Road Program and got 10 other corporations to participate. This is a program we continue to support in year after year. Some of our corporate partners included Bucks County Mediation and Arbitration Center (BCMAC), Bucks County Children’s Museum, Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, Central Bucks Rotary, Harmony Clean, Hepatitis B Foundation, Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, and Univest Bank.
We also hosted a self-defense training program for women in the community, participated in the United Way of Bucks County’s Women’s Initiative, provided discounted services to The James A. Michener Art Museum for the promotion of the Uffizi Gallery exhibition, prepared and served a meal at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, and supported a 5k at a local church to raise money for a mission project.
Our community service campaign culminated with our anniversary party which was hosted by the Bucks County Housing Group. The invitation to our guests was a brown paper bag on which we had a checklist of items needed by the homeless shelter’s pantry. We asked every guest to fill the bag to attend the event. By the time all of our guests arrived, we had collected over a ton of desperately needed food items. Moreover, while serving the community, we had a lot of fun and received excellent media coverage.
Law Firm Special Events: Planning for Success
The benefits of special events for your law firm can be abundant. They introduce you as an important player in the community and serve as a vehicle to connect with the public. Planning and consideration of events are the keys to making your community presence a long-term success.
Like any communication to your target audiences, every event presents an opportunity for public relations. Know why you are hosting or supporting the event. Ask yourself, “What do I want each attendee to walk away remembering about the law firm?” The preparation and thought you invest will undoubtedly determine whether your event is a success.
Document your plan and checklist so that you create a system for duplication each year.
Make sure the time of your event is convenient for clients, employees, the media, and potential clients (depending on whom you plan to invite to participate). If you are having a special guest or dignitaries, determine their availability before you set the date.
A digital invitation is a popular and easy way to keep you and your invitees organized. If your law firm does not have CRM software in place, there are numerous digital invitation software programs, such as Evite, that help track your invitee list. They can also be used to send reminders, update and to generate excitement. Send your invitations at least six weeks before your event. Invite your sphere of influence: current clients, business contacts, referral sources, colleagues, and media contacts (when relevant). Friends and family also add value to the participant list. Your guest list should include a significant number of invitees to ensure a good turnout. Make sure to plan for less than 20 percent, which is the average response rate for most functions.
The media can be an essential addition to your invitee list. Only invite a few key members of the media with whom you have existing relationships. Don’t patronize them nor expect news coverage. This is a relationship-building time for you and your media contacts. Make that clear.
What is Your Event Takeaway
Finally, think about the takeaway. Why are you inviting people to participate in your corporate social responsibility event? This is a goodwill event, so let the invitation and the event be the takeaway instead of a brochure or trinket. Make it memorable; people will participate year after year.
On the other hand, if you decide to spend money on promotional items, make sure they leave a lasting impact. Think about the item that will remain long after the event is over. What fits within the theme of your community event and still makes sense for you to give to your attendees? There is no one single answer—it all depends on your firm’s culture, budget, and what will hit a home run with your guests.
For example, our friends at Jaffe Public Relations demonstrated how to market with compassion at the 2018 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference. They turned their marketing booth into an assembly line devoted to building water filters for the nonprofit group Wine To Water. Every water filter put together by an attendee was delivered to Wine To Water instead of the company giving away self-promotional items.
Provided that you approach your corporate social responsibility program with creativity and integrity, and it is part of a robust community service plan, you can promote your law firm by building and reinforcing relationships with your target audiences.
And in the process, you will have a good time and make a difference in the world.
Copyright © 2018 by Gina Furia Rubel. All rights reserved.
First published in 2007 | Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007941911
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