Leveraging Your Reputation: 3 ways to not annoy the media

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 midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Now that a new year has begun, you’ve probably made some resolutions about how to boost your reputation. If your plans this year include organizing an event, speaking at a seminar, or sharing your expertise, then you’ll probably be contacting the media. It’s a great idea to connect with them, but it’s important to not annoy them. Here are three tips for not being a pest:

Be available. A lot of attorneys are busy with cases, research, and professional obligations. While you have to honor your commitments, you still have to be available for the media to contact you. If you are working on a case or are an expert in an area that is unique or important enough to get media attention, then they will contact you, and they’ll want an answer right away.

For instance, some attorneys are simply quoted in a newspaper article, and then are barraged with calls from radio and TV shows because they see you as an expert. Be sure to answer your phone or return a call promptly if you are not available at that moment. If you put out a press release, then expect the media to contact you if they see your event or information as helpful. Respond to their emails quickly, and make sure your contact information is correct. Otherwise, the media will get frustrated, especially if they have a tight deadline, and you might not get another opportunity with them again.

Speak well. Attorneys usually don’t have a problem with speaking, but if you’re a better writer than speaker and want to appear in the media, then make sure your speaking skills are superb. You might write a great article in a legal publication or provide an interesting quote, but if you’re not able to sound as dynamic as you appear in words, then radio and TV shows will not invite you back. If you want to get an idea of how a good speaker sounds, then listen or watch various news shows. You’ll notice that the legal experts they use are excellent talkers.

Make content fit. You’re not in sales, but your e-mails can sound like sales pitches if you’re too pushy, especially if what you want to promote does not fit with what they usually do. Before you contact them, make sure your content matches theirs by reading their articles, or listening or watching their shows. Then, based on what you’ve learned, create a customized email that shows you understand what they are doing. For instance, you could mention a previous story they did that would link in with what you’re currently promoting. Even if you’re not successful on that first attempt, that media outlet will be open to you contacting them in the future because you seem knowledgeable and respectful of them.

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