During my experience in legal public relations, and talking to attorneys, its clear that many don’t understand what public relations is, or its role in business development. Where they really fail to connect the dots, is not only confusing public relations with advertising, but thinking they can gain press immediately. See earlier blog posting on the Art of Changing Public Relations, addresses these misconceptions.
Now, granted, getting immediate attention in the press is very possible but is dependant on a number of factors, such as timing, area of expertise, what the current news cycle is covering and availability of attorneys.
All of which involves having a public relations plan. Here are some things to consider when considering public relations:
1) What are the firm’s objectives?
2) Which practice groups to hilight?
3) Who is your target audience?
4) How to you want to perceived in your target market?
5) Identify specific public relations tactics such as giving CLE’s both online and inperson, getting published, seminars etc
6) How will return on investment be measured?
7) What are some of the benchmarks and milestones?
8) How long will the firm be committed to the public relations initiatives?
9) Determine which attorneys will regularly talk to the pr professionals to brainstorm ideas etc.
10) How frequently will this be conducted?
11) How comfortable are the attorneys talking with the press?
12) Do the attorneys have a basic 101 understanding of how the press works?
Once the plan is written, revisit it after a couple of days to determine whether all key strategies and objectives are addressed.
Typically, a solid public relations plan will:
- Build awareness
- Position the firm’s experts in their legal area of expertise
- Position the firm as a value added contributor for the legal industry nationally and locally
- Build goodwill among your key constituents
- Educate and persuade your target audience
- Have benchmarks in place
What is essential to the success of any plan is to understand that public relations like most marketing activities requires hard work. Distributing the odd press release by the paralegal or office manager whose wearing multiple hats will not generate calls from the press. Infact a disservice is being done you are taking the away from billable hours!
Some of the reasons why public relations initiatives fail are:
1) Lack of commitment on the part of the management of the firm.
2) Lack of understanding of what public relations is, even though EVERYBODY understands perceptions.
3) Grandiose expectations.
4) Once the pr firm has been hired assuming that law firm’s work is done.
5) Lack of chemistry.
Finally, law firms have to participate wholeheartedly in the public relations campaign for it to work, otherwise, the firm is better off spending those dollars on other marketing tactics.
If your firm is considering public relations, call me at (212) 661-9137 to find out how we can get started. Or if you want to find out more visit The Sun Commnication Group.