When is it the right time to notify the media about good news for your practice?

When is it the right time to notify the media about good news for your practice?

Some of the most delicate media relations situations for legal marketers involve explaining that a transaction just completed, a ruling or verdict just won, an award just received, a donation just made is not newsworthy, and that it will be counterproductive to contact major media.

The second most difficult thing to explain to attorneys is why the press quoted someone that they believe is less expert than them. This situation is exacerbated when your attorney has been contacted in the past and quoted in coverage on the same issue and by the same reporter.

One of the best-recognized media relations trainers for PR people recently addressed several of these issues in Tactics, the monthly news magazine of the Public Relations Society of America.

“See your press releases and story angles from the journalists’ point of view: Does this story benefit anyone but your company?” said Margo Mateas, president of the Public Relations Training Company. “Structure your pitch so it paints you in a positive light, but also carries a message for other people.

To be blunt, “Stop being self-centered,” she said.

The exception to this rule are certain niche publications, trade journals, alumni magazines, and bar newsletters, all of which are devoted to covering people in an industry. Such publications are not generally circulated, as are daily papers and weekly business journals.  TV news programming also is mass circulated.

What the deal indicates, in terms of a business trend, or what influenced certain terms or its timing, is newsworthy.  How a ruling or verdict may affect public policy, or forces businesses or executives to modify operations is news. That’s what you must discern and convey to major media.

It is also important to understand that a steady stream of copy to producers and editors will not increase the likelihood of coverage.

“The more you paper a newsroom, the more resistance and resentment you will encounter,” Mateas said.  “Reduce your media contact only to what is necessary” for the editors and producers to do their job.  Pick your spots. And, why did that reporter quote someone else, someone you think has only a fraction of your knowledge on the subject?  Editors want their reporters to obtain more than one view of a situation.   Further, over time many attorneys become overly cautious in the quotes they give—and reporters want punchy, provocative, pithy comments. [1]

Notes

1. Bob Weiss is president of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc., a Denver-based marketing consulting group which has worked with both corporate, transactional and defense firms and contingent fee practices nationwide for more than 20 years.