With the number of law firms seemingly on the rise, now more than ever is an important time to ensure your law firm stands out from the crowd. But how can this be done? Well, PR offers a number of ways to get featured in the press and get the name of your firm out there.
What is involved with legal PR?
There are different aspects to legal PR. Working for a law firm, in house or as an agency, means you can cover all of the specialities in that law firm, from clinical negligence to human rights, with some legal PR professionals, much like solicitors, working in just one department or niche area.
What does PR bring to the legal table?
It is vital for PR professionals to know what each department in the law firm covers, solicitors’ specialities and what cases are coming up. This is so that the PR professional can write cohesively, can plan ahead for upcoming coverage opportunities, and is confident speaking to journalists.
This is so that, when a journalist picks up the phone wanting to speak to a solicitor about a certain topic, let’s take ‘is it too hot to be at work?’ for instance, the PR professional knows the relevant department to comment on this and exactly which solicitor would be best placed to answer the journalist’s questions. It is important for PR professionals to provide an accurate and informative response in a timely manner that will leave the journalist coming back for more, building the foundations of a trusted, professional relationship.
It also works the other way too, if you have a good relationship with a journalist, it means you can trust them with more sensitive cases or inquests that the law firm has, as you know that they will be respectful to the client and do a stellar job writing the story.
How else can PR help?
Another PR tool to get coverage is newsjacking, which involves commenting on a topic in the news. It is therefore important that legal PRs follow the news closely and can pick out key stories which you know a solicitor from your law firm would be able to comment on. This comment could then be sent to journalists or put into a press release.
Blogs are also a great tool for law firms to gain credibility in a chosen speciality or field as well as to increase the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of a search term. For example, if a solicitor specialises in cycling injury claims, blogs can be written targeting this area of expertise – this could be a change in the law or a currently newsworthy angle. Optimised blogs can ensure you rank higher within Google giving you greater exposure and searchability.
Why is PR vital to solicitors?
Of course, good coverage is essential for any business in any sector as it gets the company name out there in the ultimate hope of attracting more clients. But in legal PR, it goes beyond this as coverage provides an opportunity to shout about a great case win in the Employment Tribunal, High Court or even Supreme Court.
It also provides a platform for clients to tell their story and hopefully help to implement a form of legislative change and get some sense of justice. For instance, an unforeseen death and inquest can receive coverage and highlight a common issue which can lead to change.
Half PR professional half legal expert
Another important role of a legal PR professional is knowing media laws; the dos and don’ts of reporting and writing press releases on cases. This includes knowing defamation laws, copyright laws for pictures and privacy laws, for instance, which is not always an area that solicitors would know. It is therefore vital that a legal PR professional is able to advise and guide.
So, what does the future have in store?
As law becomes an increasingly saturated market, more and more law firms will seek means of getting press coverage in order to attract new business and shout about the wins that they have been able to achieve for their existing clients.
PR is an increasingly vital tool to be able to achieve this, as well as bridging an important communication gap between journalists and solicitors and their clients, which could otherwise be left unfilled.