Tips for Law Firms Working with Foreign Press

In an increasingly fast-paced 24/7 world, receiving requests from foreign media should no longer be a surprise, even though outreach to foreign press may not be part of law firm public relations plans.

Journalists from foreign media require certain cultural sensitivities since interactions with them are different than those with domestic journalists. Michael Morley, who has penned a “Foreign Media Relations Guide” for Business for Diplomatic Action suggests the following:

1. Remember the time difference.

Yes, those pesky time zones can be a headache when the European publications are closing 5-6 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

Golden rule: Take a proactive step and be familiar with the time zones. It’s pretty standard that everyone knows the time difference between Britain and US. Make sure you aware of times zones in India and China.

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2. Be alert to language and cultural  nuances.

Avoid slang and local  jargon like “full-court press” or “runaway best-seller,” or “blow them out of the water.”  It’s best to keep the language simple, clear and concise.

3.  Pictures speak louder than words.

Photos tell a story and, oftentimes, they are more compelling than words, especially when communicating with a journalist for whom English is a second language. The cardinal rule here it to make everything as easy as possible for the reporter.

4. Get to know key media.

Just as PR professionals use media contacts as “currency” in the field, so, too, should they familiarize themselves with foreign reporters, bureau editors and correspondents. With foreign journalists, just like domestic ones, it’s all about the relationship.  And the more journalists – foreign and domestic – whom the law firm gets to know, the more value that will bring to the table.

Finally on a personal note, I’ve always found that just knowing how to say hello in the reporter’s language makes a big difference in breaking the ice.


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6 Responses to "Tips for Law Firms Working with Foreign Press"

  1. I like your advice of knowing at least hello in the reporter’s language. A little bit of research can go a long way. Simply taking the time to understand a few of their customs and being prepared with the materials that will work best for their publication will ingratiate you with them and encourage them to approach you again for future stories.

  2. Great tips, Paramjit. As you note, knowing how to say “hello” in the reporter’s native language really helps. Along those lines, knowing how to communicate in general with someone from that culture can be invaluable. Americans tend to be very direct communicators, very individualistic, and comfortable with self promotion. As a result, many American lawyers are quoted with a string of sentences beginning with, “I think…”, “I know…” and “In my opinion…”. Although you should make your opinion known, when communicating with a reporter from a less individualistic and more indirect culture, avoid starting every sentence with “I”.

  3. Excellent post, great to see Michael’s sage advice featured and living on. The complete Foreign Media Relations Guide has all of Michael’s golden rules within and they are an incredible asset for building relationships with media around the world. For more information on the full guide please feel free to email me directly at Cari.Guittard@sf.ddb.com. Per the one responder above who asked about ways of saying hello in local languages as well as additional resources we developed a World Citizens Guide with corresponding website where you can find that and much more for free at http://www.worldcitizensguide.org and on our home site http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction.org.

  4. Thank you. Its amazing just by knowing a simple hello in the reporter’s language melts the ice and really helps one connect on a human level. Thanks for following the blog posts.

  5. LLB says:

    Awesome tips! I wish I had known this before I went over to Korea.

  6. Thank you for the great feedback. We are in the middle of finishing a white paper discussing what cultural faux pas legal public relations professionals make when working with foreign press. Please do feel free to check more resources at http://www.scglegalprnetwork.com/resources

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