Catching the media’s eye

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations ( 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

Trying to catch the media’s eye is similar to the way that we try to catch anyone’s eye. We want media contacts to see us and our firms as interesting, engaging and worthwhile enough to talk to and report on. It’s really like we are trying to start a relationship. And the more quality information we consistently give the media, the longer our relationship lasts.

So what do you give the reporter you’re trying to “woo?”

Something Simple, Something New

I’m not talking something simple as in telling a reporter what you had for breakfast. I’m talking about simple packaging for the information. Media love “Top 5 Tips for…” or “7 Reasons to…” and also enjoy how-to’s and thought leadership on various topics. The key is it’s got to be new and unique. Think about why your how-to or story is different. What are you saying that other firms aren’t? Turn that something new into something eye-appealing (bulleted lists, numbered points, bolded titles with short paragraphs—like this newsletter) and you’ll have and hold the reporter’s attention.

Something Relevant, Something True

Sometimes there are stories in the news that are important to your practice area and expertise, but go unnoticed because bigger national stories take front and center. These overlooked yet important stories can often be your ticket to publicity. Just recently, our firm, on behalf of our client, a personal-injury lawyer, capitalized on several stories on sports-related injuries as they pertain to high schools’ legal liability. As schools gear up for summer sports camps, this topic is increasingly relevant and important to readers and viewers. Our client had some advice for parents who wondered, “What can we do to protect out kids? What do we need to ask when selecting a summer sports camp?” Turns out the media wanted to know as well. Keep your eye out for articles in today’s news relevant to your practice area, and consider how you can add your expertise for a more robust – and noticed – story.

Something Personal, Something Real

I’ve talked to many reporters in my day, and have learned that the majority does not like e-mail blasts that also go to 500 other reporters. A best practice we follow is first taking the time to think about which reporters you know and know you, and then sending them a quick, personal e-mail to ask if they’re interested in the story, tips or expertise you have to offer. If you know a reporter’s sweet spot and the types of stories he or she usually writes, think the e-box and try to set up a face-to-face meeting with your experts to give the reporter a great source for future stories. Use your current story idea or tips to give the reporter an idea of what your firm does and why you are an expert. Rise to the top of their source list by delivering customized information you know the reporter needs, offering the occasional exclusive and being sensitive to his or her deadline.

Catching the media’s eye is quite simple if you remember that each reporter is just a human being looking for a good story that readers and viewers will love. And as with any relationship, it takes time and effort to build and nurture a rapport with a reporter – so be attentive, helpful and friendly.  Some say that reporters also enjoy boxes of chocolates and other edible treats, but that’s actually only true of public relations agencies.


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