One of the oldest conventions in public relations and marketing is the news release. Although much has changed in the world of law firm PR and marketing in the last few decades, the news release remains one of the most potent vehicles for getting a firm’s story in front of important audiences.
If anything, it’s more important in the 21st century than the 20th. That’s because “the media” now consists of countless niche publications, websites, bloggers, podcasts and cable channels, and – even by that broad definition – media members no longer are the only source of information available to prospective consumers of legal services (or any service, for that matter).
A firm’s website effectively acts as its in-house publisher. Any story the firm wants to tell can be told there effectively and disseminated to target audiences through a number of channels, including social media and e-announcement campaigns.
Whether you’re trying to sell your story to the media or you’re working to get the news directly to your clients and potential clients, a news release remains an effective tool.
1. Disciplined storytelling:
Writing a news release allows you – and in some instances forces you – to clearly and concisely state the facts and messages about your firm, your capabilities or the outcome of a particular matter. What are the most important facts? Who is your spokesperson? What are the most important questions people will ask and how will you answer them? The process of telling your story in 400 words (give or take) helps you see your story the way others will see it and tell it more effectively.
2. Be the first messenger:
Whether your firm has won a significant lawsuit, closed a major deal or is embroiled in a controversy, by being the first player to tell the story, you set the tone. Particularly if the facts are subject to dispute, your news release can provide an accurate timeline and recitation of the facts, as well as a central media contact for those looking to know more. At the very least, a news release establishes the identity of the spokesperson for your firm or your client and reduces the chance that media calls will be misplaced or go to the wrong person.
3. Create a record:
There are lots of stories the media won’t cover that your firm wants to tell anyway. For example, you’re not likely to see a news story about who made Best Law Firms or which lawyer was recognized as the best litigator/real estate lawyer/family lawyer in Texas. But you want to make sure that news is published and broadcast to as many clients and prospective clients as possible. A news release can distribute this information across the Internet via both free and paid services, and that online content can drive traffic to your firm’s website and your lawyer’s bio pages. Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, primarily) can further slingshot that message across multiple platforms and reach even broader audiences when your contacts share your posts. A firm’s or individual lawyer’s online profile is a valuable resource for prospective clients when they’re deciding who to hire, and such profiles often are consulted by researchers for various “best of” attorney lists and rankings. It’s hard to be dismissive of someone who has a hefty track record of successes.
4. Boost your content marketing:
Search engines reward websites that provide new, relevant content with better rankings. Posting news releases regularly and driving traffic to them via social media, online distribution and e-announcements can ultimately help your website achieve a higher ranking on search results.