Preparing and Pitching Expert Sources on the Vaccine

January 19, 2021

As the mass COVID-19 vaccination effort continues to roll out across the country, reporters in legal and mainstream media are looking for expert sources who can shed light on the many legal issues raised by this unprecedented initiative. This creates a great opportunity for attorneys to provide analysis and be featured in the news coverage. But in order to make the best use of these placements, law firm marketers will need to do some legwork to prepare and pitch their attorneys’ expertise. 

Here’s what to do before a reporter comes calling:

  1. Identify the practice groups and specific attorneys who have key expertise. The vaccine rollout is an intricate undertaking, unlike anything we’ve seen since the polio vaccination campaign in 1955. Journalists are working hard to help the public understand what’s involved. Attorneys at your firm might have valuable perspectives to offer on the many complex legal aspects of this public health initiative. For example, health care lawyers can speak to the privacy and liability issues connected to offering vaccinations in long-term care (LTC) facilities. IP lawyers can explain how IP protections will be enforced for the vaccine and the new mRNA technology that made its development possible. Labor and employment attorneys can address questions for employers grappling with whether and how to require vaccines for their workforces. And, beyond these more obvious examples, attorneys in niche practices such as those serving the transportation and logistics industries, can speak to some of the unique challenges created by the need for “cold chain” transport of vaccine doses.
  2. Prepare the attorneys to speak with reporters. Just because an attorney has the right subject matter expertise, doesn’t mean he or she will make a great expert source. Find attorneys who understand the value in getting their name out there, will work with the reporter to provide necessary information on deadline and understand the audience the article is targeting. Depending on the sensitivity of the subject matter, you might practice some questions the attorney is likely to face and brainstorm possible answers.
  3. Get their names in front of reporters. Pay attention to which reporters are covering these topics and might welcome information from your attorneys. Then reach out. They will be most receptive to your pitch if the attorney’s expertise actually is a good match for the topic and can fill in gaps in their coverage. Offer to connect them by phone or email, and provide links to background material and relevant cases or coverage that best position the attorney as a source. Finally, play the long game: It’s never a bad idea to reach out simply to compliment a reporter on their work. Strong, accurate coverage of these topics benefits everyone working in these industries, and the reporter will remember your kindness next time they are looking to speak with an attorney for an article.

Media relations work is time-consuming but, done well, it can deliver big payoffs in brand building and business development. And, not to brag, but we happen to be pretty good at this work. Feeling stuck? Give us a call.