Will the Media Care? The Case for Releasing Even “Small” Firm Announcements
Nearly every law firm has been there. You sent a press release to the media announcing a new partner or you spent time distributing a pitch about your firm’s new website—but the reporters don’t respond. It’s radio silence, even with the local daily newspaper. Is it because your announcements are not newsworthy? Here are some answers as to why you are not getting any response.
- Reporters are inundated. Reporters get hundreds of emails with announcements just like yours on a daily basis. And frankly, there is not space to include everyone.
- Not newsworthy. Yes, we said it: your news may not be newsworthy enough for media. We heard one reporter say their entire journalistic career could be spent on new websites or partner moves. Not everything you send is interesting enough for them to report on.
- It doesn’t point to a larger story or trend. Reporters need to appeal to a broader audience and are looking for stories that point to a trend or would interest their readers. For example, maybe the lateral move is tied to a particularly notable local case, to significant expansion in practice areas, and/or a physical expansion by way of opening an office in a new region. Or, perhaps the new website includes a client portal, a video library or free eBooks, or is part of a larger story of firm success. (Pro tip: the key to generating coverage is to show how the firm news impacts or affects the audience.)
If you’ve sent out multiple announcements only to find they haven’t been picked up by the media, you may be wondering whether you should bother continuing to create and distribute them. The answer is a resounding yes, though it is important to have reasonable expectations for coverage.
Reasonable expectations include identifying your most likely options for media coverage when announcing firm news that isn’t “breaking news.” With regards to announcements about new hires or lateral moves, your best bets for securing media coverage are the legal trade publications, local business journals, community newspapers and sometimes a larger daily newspaper. Likewise, alumni publications are often receptive to your announcements about their former students. However, you shouldn’t expect a lateral move or new hire to be covered in The New York Times (unless it involves a high-profile individual).
Why Releasing “Small” Announcements Is a Smart Move for Law Firms
Reason #1: Although not every reporter will be able to share all of your firm announcements, it does keep your firm name at the forefront of the reporter’s mind. When they receive regular updates, it shows that your firm is thriving and demonstrates that your firm is committed to being a resource. When they see your firm name on a regular basis, there is an increased likelihood that they will call on your firm when they need expert input on a topical matter for an article, rather than trying to get a quote from a lawyer at a firm they’ve never heard of. In other words, even these seemingly “small” news announcements help build your credibility with reporters and journalists. However, if a reporter says “thanks, but no thanks” to your initial pitch, you should ask if they would like to continue receiving this type of news rather than assuming they want to be kept in the loop. This establishes respect for their time and starts the working relationship off on the right foot.
Reason #2: Law firms should continue creating announcements for this type of news because it can be repurposed in a number of ways so that you still get plenty of leverage out of it.
Fortunately, thanks to technology, law firms are no longer dependent upon the media for making sure their current/former clients, colleagues, referral partners and prospects are updated with firm news. With email marketing, newsletter distributions, social media platforms and blogs at your disposal, you have the potential to reach tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals. (Pro tip: All of these opportunities for sharing your news also give you the added bonus of including photographs of your attorneys along with the announcement, which some media outlets don’t offer.)
If you’ve released news announcing lateral moves or similar firm announcements and they haven’t been covered by the media, don’t get discouraged. There are still plenty of ways you can publicize the news on your own, all while continuing to reinforce to journalists that your firm is flourishing, committed to keeping them informed and available as a trusted resource.