Why Your PR Plans May Not Be Working

You would never enter the courtroom without a trial strategy. Promoting your firm and its attorneys requires the same level of planning and preparation, but firm leaders often fail to empower PR professionals with the resources and decision-making power necessary to raise the firm’s visibility and push out strategically valuable messaging. Here are five mistakes that can tie PR professionals’ hands and scuttle their efforts:

Not identifying your target audience. Lawyers don’t like to limit the perception of what they are capable of doing. So they include every last practice area they’ve ever thought about on their bio. And they try to create one-size-fits-all content when they post about their work. But the more narrowly you tailor your content to the needs of a specific audience, the more likely you will be to connect with referral sources and buyers of legal services who are already interested in what you have to say and prepared to act on your messages.

Being impatient. When PR efforts don’t immediately lead to new business, some firms conclude that the efforts are wasted. It’s understandable. After all, you can track how many eyeballs saw a paid ad online. But how do you track the performance of a news story featuring one of your attorneys? Once it starts getting passed around online or one-on-one, it takes on a life of its own. Over time, the attorney receives greater name recognition. Several months later this may lead to a referral. So it’s important to be patient. And remember that no PR effort is wasted. It’s the cumulative effect of many efforts over time that will move the needle.

Trying to promote everything at once. As a firm leader, you must think carefully about the lawyers you want to develop. Also, consider the practice areas you want to invest in. What are the areas of expertise your superstars (and future stars) possess? How could they publish articles and get quoted on these topics? Do they have a novel take, or specific skills, that sets their experience apart? As for practice areas, where are your opportunities for growth? Where can you lead in your market? Instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, select and refine two or three key messages and deliver them consistently across all available channels.

Focusing narrowly on “prestige” publications. Every lawyer wants to be quoted in The Wall Street Journal — it remains the gold standard for prestige in the business world. Here’s the problem: Do your clients and potential clients read it? In most cases, your clients’ media diets will include niche and industry journals. Developing relationships with reporters who work for these publications, and looking for opportunities to publish there, will get you far more traction with your target audience. Getting your name in a niche publication may not raise eyebrows at a cocktail party, but those outlets carry tremendous credibility and influence with the people who matter most to bringing in new business.

Bringing PR help in at the eleventh hour. Unfortunately, some firm leaders continue to think about PR as a stand-alone function they can call on when they’re ready to execute their plan — or when a crisis strikes. But effective PR is integrated with business development, marketing and communications, strategy, selling new services, building relationships and all the other elements of your plan for the firm’s future. That means your PR team (whether internal or external or both) needs a seat at the table when you are making these plans. As you make big decisions, they’ll help you take advantage of many opportunities. Plus, they can create a host of new ones you may not have known were possible.

If you’re not working with a PR firm that specializes in the legal field and has a deep understanding of strategic communications, your firm’s marketing endeavors may not realize their full potential.

So give us a call and we can change that. We know how to position your attorneys as thought leaders, trumpet your successes on important cases and build your reputation as the top choice in the service areas you hope to develop.