Leveraging Your Reputation: Finding news

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 The Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Sometimes you want to promote yourself, but when you look at what you or your firm is doing, you think that there is no news value, or you have information that seems unimportant. Here are a few tips to offer news when there doesn’t seem to be any:

Transcend. Ask yourself if there are any messages about your firm or you that transcend the news. Step back from the details of your current cases or new hires to find the larger newsy themes, then look at current news topics and offer your insight as an expert in a certain area. For instance, if there was a fatal auto accident and you’ve worked on such cases, you can make comments about the legalities of the situation, and how each party can proceed.

Be Alert. Find news story trends through a search online or Google alerts. At the very least, set up Google alerts for your clients’ names and your name to see who is covering your case so that you can follow up. Stories often are developing; the news organization will do a report when something initially happens, but they will do follow-ups if it is a larger story. Sometimes when there are new developments in a case, producers and editors will scramble to get an expert to provide analysis. If there is a story about your own case, keep the media updated about developments, and they will not only cover your story, but might use you on other ones in the future.

Contact. Stay in touch with the media, even if they don’t use you right away. It’s important to establish trust so that when a relevant story comes your way, you’ll be ready and they will already know who you are, and what you’re capable of speaking about. An example of an email that you can write is:

Dear [reporter’s name],

I saw your article about [topic] today in the [publication]. Here’s information from another point of view that can help you as the story progresses …”

If you contact them in this way, you’re helping them while also letting them know that you’re available when they need an expert. Just remember to give relevant information and to not be pushy.

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