In our experience working with legal practices across the north-west, firms hire a PR agency for a number of reasons. Often, a partner in the firm, with particular expertise, wants to shout about it in the media and win more business as a result. In other cases, it could be that a new marketing manager has extolled the benefits of PR internally, and the board has agreed to give it a try. PR could just be something you’ve always done as a firm – perhaps you’ve lost perspective on why you’re actually doing it. Whatever your reason for hiring a legal services PR agency, follow our three golden rules.
Share your business goals
Sharing your business objectives will help your new (or existing) agency enormously. Do you want more divorce cases because the family team has been quiet recently? Is one of the partners an expert in advising retail outlets and they want more work in this area? Do you want the profile of the firm as a whole to be raised locally because you’re struggling to recruit good people? Have you got hugely ambitious growth plans? Be as specific as you can, and you’ll reap the rewards further down the line.
Choose internal PR champions
In our experience working with legal services practices of all sizes, you’ll rarely convince all partners and people in the firm to buy into PR, no matter how good the results. Choose internal champions who are happy to feature in press releases, articles and media interviews and preferably, these people should be media trained. Don’t automatically assume the most experienced in the team are best for this job; those further down the wrung are generally more receptive and able to dedicate time to approving copy and speaking to journalists. It goes without saying that you should make sure you have professional photography of anyone who will feature in the press. Sending a decent headshot along with a press release can make all the difference when a busy journalist is deciding whether to give you space. Once you’ve chosen the champions, give your agency direct access to them – this speeds things up when a comment or interview opportunity has to be turned around quickly.
Stand out from the crowd
As a PR professional working with legal services firms, there’s nothing more disheartening than when you’ve had a chat with a legal client, got some fantastic, insightful comments on a particular topic, only for you to send the piece over for approval to get it back, completely watered down. When a legal expert sees their comments in black and white, they sometimes get cold feet about raising their head above the parapet and turn the piece of copy into something bland, which doesn’t say anything in particular. Journalists are overwhelmed with legal firms keen to feature in their articles; if you want them to choose your comments, for goodness sake, say something interesting! Linked to this, and another thing legal practices firms can be guilty of is adding unnecessary jargon and technical speak into press articles. We get it. It’s your job to cross the t’s and dot the I’s and seek out the finer detail. Generally, when you’re dealing with a journalist (unless it’s a technical journal), they won’t be an expert in the field they’re writing about so try and talk about it as if you’re explaining the subject to a friend.
If you’re looking for a PR agency to support your legal services firm, give us a call on 0161 927 3131, or fill in our contact form.