What is public relations worth to a law firm?

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and mid-sized law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs.  Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Lawyers want to know that when they make an investment, they receive an equal or better return. Being the public relations representative for many lawyers and law firms over the years, I have made a point to show them exactly what public relations efforts are worth and how we can measure their ROI. The following are ways to ensure that the money you put into public relations is money well-spent.

  • One easy calculation is to compare the cost of advertising to the exposure you received. For example, if you were featured in a one-page article in a high-profile trade magazine, that would be the equivalent of purchasing, on average, an ad worth $6,000.  The same calculations can be made for radio and TV interviews as well as online publicity. However, public relations is twice as effective as advertising because the exposure generates awareness through a third-party which is worth more and looks better.  Then after you’ve made a public relations hit in a media outlet you can advertise to keep the momentum going.
  • Another way to measure is to set a goal for number of placements at the beginning of a public relations campaign and the type of media outlets that should be targeted where your business prospects are the audience. If the public relations agency secures the number or goes beyond, and achieves placements in the right outlets, you will feel confident that your money returned good results. Going one step further would be to monitor the new clients that come in during or after a public relations campaign. Even asking those clients how they heard of your firm will allow you to know for certain whether your media exposure resulted in new business.
  • Gauging online media has also become simpler due to programs that allow us to see the effect that public relations efforts have on voices in the e-world. You can see real-time statistics and figures that monitor your online exposure in blogs, microblogs, chat rooms, news sites, other social media platforms, and even the Google Analytics of your Web site. The goal is to start a positive “groundswell,” meaning a rumble of online chatter that will have potential clients knocking on your door and or visiting your Web site, measured against a previous baseline.

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