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7 Things Public Relations Will Do for Personal Injury Firms

7 Things Public Relations Will Do for Personal Injury Firms

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Let’s face it: the biggest problem personal injury lawyers and law firms face is how to remain relevant and top-of-mind with the general public as well as important referral sources 24/7, 365 days a year. That’s it, in a nutshell, because you never know when an accident will happen or how bad it will be.

If you have suffered a personal injury then it might be a good idea for you to check out a law firm who might be able to help you out. You can Learn More about the next steps that you need to take here, in order for you to get compensation for your personal injury.

Many personal injury law firms allocate tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertising: cable and network television, bus boards, bus shelters, and SEM. In Toronto, for example, the personal injury firm of Diamond & Diamond is one of the best-known PI firms. They started doing advertising more than 15 years ago; their SEM campaigns follow you around the internet for more than 90 days. They are all over social media. In short, they are a marketing machine.

They do some public relations, but not enough to count. What would happen if a personal injury law firm added public relations to its marketing mix?

Here are 7 benefits of public relations for personal injury firms:

1. Hit the “reset button” on the image of the Personal Injury Bar.

Personal injury law firms, as a category, suffer from an image problem. Some people scoff and look down on personal injury lawyers until they themselves have been injured. Some may have questions but may be unsure about where to find the information they need to get help with things like elevator injuries.

Here’s the Aha! moment: you fix image and reputation problems through public relations, not advertising. Public relations has four goals: 1) to establish, 2) to promote, 3) to protect and 4) sometimes to salvage or rehabilitate a reputation.

Here’s a case study of how we rehabilitated the image of a business law firm. It was planned, systemic and carried out over a 6-year span.

2. You cannot buy a reputation through advertising; you must earn it through public relations.

Public relations uses traditional tools such as placing articles written by personal injury lawyers in publications, getting personal injury lawyers quoted in newspapers and magazines, and getting personal injury lawyers on television, radio and satellite radio. Public relations leverages editorial means to generate news, or uses news as a springboard to tell your story.

Advertising says: “I’m here, hire me.”

Public relations says: “This is who I am and what I stand for. When you need our services, we’re here.”

Editorial is all the stuff that is not advertising in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.

If you ask prospects if they believed a news story about a personal injury attorney lakeland fl, or a firm’s own advertisement about their own capabilities and services, the vast majority believe the news story. With a positive reputation come trust, respect and over time, loyalty.

3. Starting and “owning” a public relations campaign makes your firm hard to forget.

He who comes first to the public relations trough, wins.

People remember “firsts.” People tend to forget seconds. (Who was the second man to walk on the moon? Who was the second explorer to discover America?) This “rule of firsts” also transfers to additional web traffic for your firm’s website. Come up with a brilliant public relations campaign and you’ll create both buzz and stickiness.

Here is a campaign we created for a family law firm, based on the confluence of three factors: 1) a lot of talk and countless, illegible reports over 20 years by law society governing bodies and various committees on the need for access to justice, 2) the perceived escalating costs of getting divorced, and 3) the increasing numbers of self-represented litigants in family court.

Instead, our family law client Andrew Feldstein advocates at www.ItsTimeForJustice.ca for simple, doable fixes: less bureaucracy in courtrooms, adoption of e-documents, and adoption of e-calendaring. He’s not asking for millions for more to build new courthouses or more judges being appointed.

What kind of public relations campaign (also called an advocacy campaign, social responsibility campaign, or community relations campaign) should your firm consider? You have a lot of choice here, but basically all the things that are wrong or need fixing in society. That’s a pretty big field.

Creating a public relations campaign is not about giving money to the local little league or a local charity and then issuing a news release. It’s about doing good and doing right. It’s about getting involved and making the world a better place.

Why is this so? Because media are a cynical bunch and they can smell a public relations campaign designed to get quick media hits—and nothing else. If you put lipstick on a pig, jaded media will say “It’s still a pig.” Personal injury firms must want to tackle real, substantive issues.

An experienced public relations practitioner will help you design a campaign that makes sense for your firm and your budget, trouble-shoot it, as well as make sure that what you will be advocating for (or against), will improve the reputation and overall awareness of your firm, so that when accidents happen, your firm is the first one on the list.

4. A good public relations campaign can be sustained for years and decades.

Public relations is the marathon; advertising is the 100-yard dash. When most people have long forgotten your advertising campaign, your public relations campaign is still going strong. Like most things in life, a solid public relations campaign takes a while to build, ramp up, and start creating buzz. It takes a while to build sticky public relations campaigns. Personal injury firms should be looking at a calendar, not a wristwatch, when commissioning a public relations campaign.

5. Public relations is much more cost-effective than advertising.

Once your public relations campaign starts to get “media hits,” that is, interviews in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, this is the payload.What would be the equivalent, in advertising dollars, to buy all that media exposure? If you could buy it, it would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the point is: you can’t buy media exposure, because it is not for sale. You have to earn it. Refer to point #2, earlier.

6. Extend the reach of your public relations campaign in social media.

Yes, there is a lot of disruption in the traditional media landscape. Yes, there are influential bloggers. But at the end of the day, the major newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations still have hundreds of thousands of readers and viewers, rather than a few hundred, or a few thousand. It is these thousands of readers and viewers you are trying to attract with your public relations advocacy campaign.

The smart thing to do is to put up those media links on your website and then re-post them in LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and so on, to extend their reach. It’s like doubling up.

7. Google really likes links to and from real media outlets.

In other words, media links are given premium status on your website. The thinking is this: if you can get real media to pay attention to you, this should be rewarded. So, media links will help boost your SERP page rankings, too.

Jana Schilder on Email
Jana Schilder
Jana Schilder
Jana Schilder is co-founder of The Legal A Team™ a business development, marketing, branding, and public relations agency for lawyers and law firms. She has been working with lawyers since 1993 when she was marketing director at McCarthy Tetrault, then Canada’s largest national law firm. She can be reached at jana@janaschilder.com or 416-831-9154.

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