Media relations is a sub-set of public relations. It is the speciality that focuses on getting law firms and their lawyers in the media. That means getting them quoted in newspaper and magazine articles as well as interviewed on the radio and TV.
A reputation is what others say about you—not what you say about yourself.
A reputation has to be earned, not paid for. Marketing campaigns are paid for.
You build a reputation through editorial means, using media relations. You comment on cases where you have special or unique insight. You provide a contrasting point of view. You share experience that you gained working a similar case. And you do this by publishing articles under your own byline or by getting quoted in publications or on TV or the radio.
For lawyers, media relations is valuable in a number of ways:
- It uses implied “third party endorsement” of the media. If the media are interviewing your lawyers, your firm must be good. Your firm becomes known as experts in their field. That’s good for building business.
- When existing clients see that you are being interviewed by the media, it confirms to them that they have selected the right law firm and the right lawyer. You get a big green check mark that helps with client retention.
- If your business relies on referrals from other lawyers, they too note that you are not only increasing your own profile, but also standing up for the legal profession. In-house counsel are favorably impressed.
- No one reads the newspaper (or watches TV) for the advertising. Editorial opportunities are engineered by public relations, not advertising or marketing. (As an aside, reporters and editors hate talking to marketing people. They far prefer talking to public relations or media relations professionals.
In contrast, taking out a print advertisement (advertising is part of marketing) saying: “I’m smart, personable and knowledgeable. Hire me,” is not likely to get you clients. Or doing a TV commercial saying: “I’m the best lawyer in this field. I have more experience than anyone. Hire me,” may result in skepticism with your target market. In addition, many people are skeptical of advertising. Plus, compared to public relations or media relations, advertising is expensive.
And, there are those lawyers who are distinctly uncomfortable with advertising themselves and their services.
But when you’re interviewed by a reporter or editor, the entire dynamic changes—to your advantage.
Would you and your firm benefit from increased reputation from a public relations or a media relations program?