J. Nick Augustine J.D., “The Law Publicist,” is the principal of Law Publicist Communications, an ALR/PRA, Incorporated agency. Law Publicist Communications is a public relations agency also offering coaching and consulting. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations, marketing and practice management. Nick shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.
Public relations and marketing activities are important tools used to attract and engage clients and the referral sources who can send you business. If you are in flux in your career or are just getting started, there are several public relations and marketing activities you can undertake to promote yourself.
1) Write a new bio, highlighting your background, and how it complements your current objectives. Our current legal market is full of niche practitioners who draw on past work or education experience to set them apart from the pack. Make a set of bullet points listing compliments and recommendations you have received. Think about how others describe you professionally and write a bio that doesn’t sound like a resume. Your bio should be placed everywhere you are listed online and in your marketing collateral.
2) Rewrite your website to highlight how you add value to clients. Websites should be redrafted periodically for a variety of reasons, one of which is communicating to the expectations of website readers. There are many ways people can find or simply run into your website. If the first thing they see is a large amount of rambling text about how great you are, the reader will likely tire of your site and leave quickly. If however, your site is clean, easy to read, and offers information valuable to the visitor, they are more likely to spend more time checking you out and if you have a strong call to action you might just get a client.
3) Make a list of where you are listed and focus on continuity. Once you have redrafted your bio, marketing copy and best keywords, you should make a list of every search engine and website where your contact information is listed. You should update these listings somewhat frequently to signal the search engines. You will likely find an added feature of one directory listing, such as the inclusion of a logo, which then prompts you to see if the other sites let you submit a logo. Just as you would update your phone book advertisement, your online listings should never be allowed to go stale.
4) Draft and send an announcement. What are you going to announce? You would be surprised how welcoming most people are to announcements. You can announce just about anything and this is a great branding tool. You could for example, announce a new practice area you are adding. Talk about your qualifications and take the opportunity to discuss how this might complement your other practice areas or give an example of how your work in the new practice area benefits the community. If you send an announcement on good stationery people are more likely to retain and file your information.
5) Learn how to write and use an op-ed piece. Just as politicians have talking points on issues before us, smart lawyers often have well-thought opinions on issues in their practice areas. If you keep your eye on the news you will likely run into an opportunity to share your op-ed article for publication. Editors of news and trade publications as well as top bloggers have editorial calendars and are always on the lookout for well written commentary from topical authorities. You will get more mileage from focusing on a few media influencers than spamming the world with your content.
6) Make a list of topics upon which you are knowledgeable and can write. Attorneys advise and counsel clients. The savvy client can look up and read a statute or black letter law. The client needs you to advise and counsel on what the law means and how you can anticipate the implication of laws and policy. Keep this in mind when listing your best writing topics and make some bullet points of what you know best. You will be able to use these bullets to outline articles responsive to things going on in the world and in your community. The content you produce can be published on your blog and expanded into feature articles. Look at your blog and compare it to others and spot the opportunities to get more mileage out of your content.
7) Research and build a list of influencers with whom you can share content. Think about influencers who have a hand in what gets printed in the publications most likely to reach your target audience. This list looks quite different if you are a commercial lawyer versus a consumer-focused retail practitioner. Brainstorm and make a list of a dozen things your audience reads. You should include news, trade publications, church bulletins and social media groups. If you think out of the box you will create a more diverse list of publications. Keep your list short at first because I encourage you to reach out and introduce yourself to the influencers and contact parties for each source. When you say hello, share simply who you are, what you are writing and why you are sharing with them. You will likely receive direction on what type of content the publication wants to receive.
If you create a schedule and carve out some time to work on each of these 7 activities you will start developing a good public relations and marketing plan. Certainly there are many more public relations and marketing options you can learn by researching on your own or contacting a professional who can advise and counsel. Spend enough time on public relations and marketing so that you build the habit.