One of the biggest challenges for attorneys and law firms across all practice areas is getting new clients. To make matters worse, law firms have declined in demand over the last decade. In fact, according to Georgetown Law, the demand for law firms has been stagnant since 2012.
Part of the struggle also lies in gaining exposure and getting your name out there.
A solid law firm public relations plan (one that helps you build brand awareness, gets the word out about your firm, and acquires new clients) can help with that.
If you’re new to the concept of legal PR and don’t know where to start, keep reading.
In this guide, we’ll break everything down, discussing:
- Why You Should Do Your Law Firm’s PR Yourself
- Channels, Services, and Platforms You Should Know for PR
- Popular Law Firm PR Tactics
- The Benefits of Law Firm Public Relations
Why You Should Do Your Law Firm’s PR Yourself
Before diving into the specifics of PR, there is one thing that every attorney should know: you don’t necessarily have to hire a public relations firm to get started.
The reason for that is simple: the modern PR model is broken!
The general consensus is that the public relations landscape needs massive reforms, so there’s a good chance that outsourcing to a PR agency won’t yield the results you expect.
In the book, Free PR, public relations experts Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic share the same sentiment:
“In the interest of our business, we pay an average of $5,000 or more per month to these PR magicians, who may or may not deliver on what they’re selling.”
They further elaborate by saying that:
“You’re spending the equivalent of a full-time salary on a consultant who is likely only focused on you for one day a week. The hard work— the critical work— of developing story angles that will capture the attention of a reporter is assigned to this public relations rep, who you have to hope will craft quality story ideas. If they fail, which there’s a strong possibility they will, then you’ve lost out on a significant amount of money with nothing to show for it.”
That’s mainly because an outside consultant, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to completely understand your firm’s culture, what you stand for, or even your target audience.
You have to realize that they’re only doing that out of financial interest. While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, the problem lies in the lack of passion.
All things considered, you should definitely try executing legal public relations yourself.
The Media Has Changed
The traditional media is different than it was even a decade ago.
In years past, journalists/reporters used to actively search for and hunt down their own stories. That’s because the industry was thriving, and therefore, competitive.
Fast-forward just a few years, and print media took a serious hit — mainly because of the rise of digital channels, including social media. As a result, traditional news agencies and publications began laying off staff members to offset the drop in advertising revenue.
Today, they no longer employ armies of reporters, but only a handful of journalists.
As a result, reporters don’t actively go out of their way to hunt for stories. They now instead prefer receiving their stories without having to work for them.
Essentially, a PR expert’s job is to fill that hole for you — by reaching out to reporters with interesting stories about your law firm for media coverage.
No matter how much the PR professionals try to convince you otherwise, it is possible to do all of that by yourself. You don’t need an intermediary to reach out to journalists. All you need is time, effort, good stories, and consistency.
According to Herold and Salamunovic:
“If you approach reporters in the right way, they will tell your story and call it news.”
If you go all-in on cultivating media relations and utilizing the right channels (more on this shortly), you’ll eventually start building exposure.
Channels, Platforms, and Services You Should Know for PR
Before creating a PR strategy for your law firm, it’s important to know the different channels, services, and platforms you can leverage to execute everything.
In the legal industry, the tried-and-tested channels include:
Paid Syndication Services
Syndication (or content syndication) refers to publishing a content asset that has already been published on your website to a third-party platform.
The goal is to reach a potentially larger audience, distribute your thought leadership content, and get more followers.
Syndicating your content on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, and Quora is free. However, depending on your followers, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any substantial exposure that way.
Because of that, you can turn towards paid syndication services/platforms that can help distribute your content to millions of readers and even reach out to media outlets.
Two popular examples of paid syndication services include:
- JD Supra: The content marketing service offered by JD Supra is a great way to distribute your content to their readers, which includes in-house counsels, reporters, editors, and more. The content is published through the platform’s email digests and social media feed.
- Taboola: A content discovery platform, Taboola can help your law firm reach potential clients through credible channels/websites that they follow.
That being said, there are a few tips you need to keep in mind when syndicating your content:
- Make sure that the platform offers a link back to the original content asset that’s published on your website. This will ensure that you get immediate, measurable results in the form of web traffic.
- Avoid syndicating entire content pieces. Instead, syndicate only an excerpt/section of it. This may compel the audience to learn more, at which point, they’ll follow the link to the original article on your website.
- Finally, make sure that the publisher uses canonical tags — a code that helps search engines like Google identify the original post.
If done right, syndication can help you establish yourself as a thought leader, attract more legal leads, and place your practice at the forefront.
Newswire is a public relations and media distribution platform.
Their press release distribution service can help you write, publish, and share important news about your law firm with relevant audiences.
According to their website, they’ll help distribute your content to the “right people at the right time.”
They do this by sharing your press releases with several major media outlets that are followed by millions of people around the globe.
The result is increased brand awareness and positive publicity.
At a glance, here’s what press releases (related to the legal world) look like on their website:
Their distribution service is broken down into the following:
- Digital: Provides exposure across major media outlets like Fox, NBC, and Digital Journal, to name a few. With this service, you can potentially improve brand awareness and distribute your news like wildfire.
- Digital Plus: This service is geared towards those who want to build their online presence. The end goals are to help you improve your rankings on search engine results, get more web traffic, and increase visibility.
- State: Provides exposure across local, regional, and state media outlets. This is useful if you want to take a highly targeted approach and go all-in on getting publicity in a specific region.
- National: Alternatively, you can distribute your content across the country with the national press release distribution service of Newswire. Content is shared through national TV, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines.
- International: Finally, you can distribute your law firm’s press releases globally by opting for the Newswire International service.
In addition, Newswire also offers “Newswire Financial,” which is geared more towards news related to finance.
PRWeb is another press release distribution service.
It’s owned by Cision, a software company that specializes in providing cloud-based public relations solutions.
With PRWeb, you can potentially experience greater online reach, improve your visibility in search rankings, and get coverage from journalists and bloggers.
You can get started in two simple steps:
- Create: First and foremost, you need to create a compelling story about your law firm on the PRWeb platform. You can do that by simply uploading a ready-to-go content asset, augmenting it with visuals, and adding final touches to create your story.
- Share: After you’re done creating and submitting your story to the platform, it’s shared in PRWeb’s distribution network. Specifically, it’s shared on social networks, websites, and search engines, along with journalists and bloggers specializing in the legal industry.
In addition, PRWeb also provides you with a report on the performance of your campaign, allowing you to optimize your future stories.
Popular Law Firm PR Tactics
Now that you know about the different services and channels you can use for PR, it’s time to go over the specific PR tactics you can use to your advantage.
Below, we’ve discussed the three best (or most useful) tactics for law firm public relations.
Celebrating Wins and Using Them as Social Proof
One of the best ways to stay relevant and competitive is to publicly celebrate the wins of your law firm — no matter how big or small.
A few examples of these “wins” include:
- Winning a major case
- Expanding geographically/opening up a new office
- Becoming an award-winning firm
- Onboarding new talent to your law firm (talented associates or a new managing partner)
Here’s an example of a press release by Novack and Macey LLP announcing the addition of bright young talent to their firm:
Similarly, here’s an example of two personal injury attorneys sharing how they made it to the 2021 Florida Super Lawyers list:
You should follow suit and take advantage of any opportunity to promote your firm’s achievements.
The best way to go about it is to write a press release and get it distributed through a platform like Newswire or PRWeb.
You can also publish a press release or a post on your law firm’s website and use a paid syndication service to reach a larger audience.
Leverage that social proof to build a strong reputation for your law firm, gain a competitive edge, and amp up your lead generation efforts.
If, for any reason, your law firm starts receiving bad press, don’t think of it as the end of the world. Remember: every business goes through its highs and lows.
In addition to celebrating wins and building social proof, public relations for law firms is also used for damage control.
With smart PR, you can mend a besmirched reputation.
Here are some quick tips on how you can manage the reputation of your law firm:
- Start monitoring what the public has to say about your firm with reputation management software. These tools work by monitoring and managing the online reviews you receive.
- Consider investing in a social listening tool to measure the sentiment of the public about your law firm.
- Create a crisis communication plan that defines how you’re going to strategically handle the situation. It should also specify the tone, the stance you should take, and the channels you should use while addressing the issue.
- Reply to all online reviews, especially the negative ones. This will show that you’re open to constructive feedback and willing to improve.
- Take an altruistic approach by doing pro bono work, offering scholarships to law students, and participating in charitable events that your community cares about. It would be best to get all the positive press you can get, irrespective of whether or not you’re going through a crisis.
Of course, effective reputation management also involves taking corrective measures internally.
If you don’t resolve the issues that got you in a sticky situation in the first place, the “fix” will be temporary.
The Benefits of Law Firm Public Relations
If you’re skeptical about the wonders of PR for law firms, here are a few reasons that may change your mind.
Builds Brand Awareness
One major goal of legal marketing is to increase brand awareness.
If only a small percentage of people in your target audience know about the existence of your law practice, you can’t expect to get new leads or clients.
A sure-fire way to build brand awareness is to invest your time and effort in law firm public relations.
Great for Search Engine Optimization
Every day, millions of people rely on search engines to get information, compare products, and find services.
That also includes legal services. In fact, 66% of law firm call conversions are generated by organic search.
Making efforts to ensure your law firm’s website ranks higher in the search engine results for relevant queries is known as search engine optimization (SEO).
While it entails many things, one of the main SEO factors that determine ranking are links you get from other websites. Active PR efforts (such as syndication, media coverage, and press releases) can build links and increase your chances of showing up higher in the search results.
Helps Build Up Social Proof
When third-party platforms share your law firm’s wins as part of your PR strategy, it builds social proof.
If users search for your name and come across a news article applauding a recent case you won, they’re more likely to trust your skills and abilities as an attorney.
Can Help Get Organic Referrals
At the end of the day, the reason for doing law firm PR is business development.
That being said, all of the above will help you acquire far more organic referrals.
Start Getting More Exposure Today
By consistently executing public relations efforts for your law firm, you’ll start building exposure and getting more clients.
You may consider getting help from an outside consultant, but keep in mind that they may not be able to replicate the stories and unique angles you can produce on your own, so spend some time making a solid PR plan for your practice and start executing.
As a final word of advice: before you begin actively promoting your law firm, make sure that it’s ready for all that exposure. Scaling is a double-edged sword, as it essentially means you need to be prepared to handle a larger influx of prospective clients.