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 Associations CLE programs. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve noticed that when attorneys are caught up in doing their work, they neglect to do some basic things that will help publicize them and their firm. Here are four things to remember so that you’re not making mistakes that will have a negative effect on your reputation:
1) Have a plan. Some attorneys assume that a plan is required for work, yet they do not have a promotional plan because it’s considered an auxiliary project. A publicity plan is necessary because it gives you a way to measure your progress and to focus on goals so that you can more easily eliminate what is not beneficial for your firm. If implementing your plan is too overwhelming, hire outside help or work with your marketing department.
2) Share your vision. Once you have your publicity plan in place and have developed your message, make sure that others in your firm know it too, so that your message is consistent. Also remember to set up distribution channels for your message, whether it’s through broadcast media, online outlets, publications or social networks. Have periodic meetings to revise or remind people of what you want to communicate in various situations so that a reporter doesn’t call up and encounter confusion.
3) Pay attention to the news. Even if you haven’t written a book or had many speaking opportunities, you can become an instant expert if something in the news is related to your area of expertise. Think about your experience and the cases you’ve worked on. If you notice that a journalist is covering a story that relates to something you’ve done, contact the person with specific examples that demonstrate your understanding of the topic.
4) Be ready for a crisis. I’ve written about this before, where I gave a few tips for dealing with a crisis. Even if you are the most careful, conscientious, honest attorney, you might be confronted with a public relations crisis that either involves your firm or your client. It’s important to be prepared, whether your practice is large or small.