Leveraging Your Reputation: What’s your story?

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.

I’m often asked by lawyers when the right time is to contact the media with news and what news the media should be contacted about. The time is always right for the right story but as far what that story is, consider the following angles to pitch your firm’s current cases to the media:

Ethical/religious controversy- There are some subjects that people just don’t usually like to discuss at the dinner table, but these controversial topics are often what secure a spot on the front page. Perhaps a condominium association does not allow Christmas trees to be set up in the lobby and a firm is representing a tenant, or shareholders are seeking representation against a company board that has not acted in their best interest. Interesting stories on current, hot topics can quickly become hot news stories, so if you’ve got the spark, consider pitching it for front page coverage.

Emotional cases- Human interest stories have a way of interesting lots of humans. Funny how that works. The media always report on stories that touch the heart, whether in profound or soft ways. Be a storyteller. Talk about what your client has endured or suffered through (making sure to clear it with them first).  Striking a chord with the media can often times be easiest when it’s the emotional one. Don’t talk about malpractice; talk about how your client’s future has been changed forever.

Unique advice- Think about what you specialize in, perhaps your practice area(s) or your type of law. Writing contributed articles in legal trade publications or sitting down with a local reporter to explain a complicated legal issue will help you establish authority and create your personal brand of legal expertise. All you need to do is realize what kind of expert you are and promote that expertise.

Big-player cases- A public figure of a well-known company is to media attention what a gun with fingerprints is to a prosecuting attorney. The media want the inside scoop on names that will resonate quickly with readers. If you’re taking on Blue Cross Blue Shield or battling against a popular politician, use that opportunity to piggy-back on the big names to amplify your firm’s name to the same status.

Big settlements- Victories should be celebrated. Winning thousands or millions of dollars for your client is worth talking about and should be announced. Media love big numbers, so multimillion dollar settlements should be shared with the relevant audiences. It helps the image of your firm and establishes you as a winner, not to mention that in the end, when the client wins, you win.

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