“You Mean They Don’t Want A Front-Page Story on My Latest Award?” Tips for Writing Law Firm Press Releases That Might See Print

Contrary to what you may read online, your traditional media outlets—the daily newspapnewsboyer and the local TV news station—remain valuable, trusted resources for providing news. A legal marketer should think about ways to get her or his client in the local paper or on the six o’clock news.

But before shouting “Stop the presses!” and releasing your latest firm news to the Fourth Estate, there are a few things you should know about writing your law firm press releases:

1. Manage Expectations – Both Yours and the Attorney’s.

Attorneys may not want to hear this, but the truth is that there is limited interest in news related to attorney awards and promotions.

There absolutely is value in writing such releases (posting on a firm Web site, sending to open-contributor news sites such as CityBizList.com, distributing via social media, linking to attorney bios etc.), and there may even be a place for them in your local newspaper—such as a weekly “People in the News” or “Business Briefs” section. But don’t expect a reporter to write up a story just because Chambers thinks your IP Litigation department is swell.

When attorneys ask for such releases, let them know how you can and will use this release, but make them aware that it is unlikely they will receive significant media coverage.

2. For general news outlets, give your news broad appeal.

Daily newspapers and TV news serve the general public, unlike publications that target a specific audience. So releases pitched to these sorts of outlets should have broad public appeal. For example, press releases that address larger legal trends typically gain more traction than those tied to a specific case, matter or event (unless, of course, that case, matter or event has broad public interest or implications).

3. Know your media targets.

Unless you have no alternative, don’t send a press release to a “blind” e-mail address (ex: “releases@news.com”). It is always preferable to send the release directly to a reporter or editor at the media outlet. Do a little research before you distribute to find the best person at a particular outlet to receive your news.

If you haven’t heard back in a day or two, it is perfectly acceptable to follow up with a phone call.

4. Give media outlets ample time to work on your story.

Like most of us, news reporters are plenty busy these days. So when you ask them to write a story, give them sufficient time to do their work.

Ideally, a news outlet would have several days to write a story and conduct interviews. But if a news release is time-sensitive, send it out as early in the day as possible, and make sure your attorneys are standing by for potential follow-up interviews. Reporters are human, too, and a little professional courtesy can go a long way toward getting your firm the best coverage possible.

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Bruce Buchanan

About Bruce Buchanan

After a 10-year career as a newspaper reporter, I've been the Marketing Copywriter for Womble Carlyle since 2006. My job has involved pretty much any type of communication that a 550-attorney, 14-office law firm might need. I'm based in the firm's Greensboro, N.C. office.

Website: http://www.wcsr.com
Email: brucebuc@bellsouth.net
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