Does PR have a place in law firms? Of course. PR is an essential marketing function in all businesses and the practice of law is no different. PR is all about positioning, messaging and promoting your law firm brand.
What do you want potential clients, employees and other legal professionals to think about when they hear your firm’s name? Whatever your answer to that question, the great part is-- you control the message. PR is about branding. In order to have success with your public relations efforts, you must first have a clear idea of your brand.
Here are some things to consider when developing a PR strategy for your firm:
POSITIONING: Positioning is all about how you differentiate your firm from the myriad of other law firms in the state. What is unique about your law practice? Positioning will require you to point out who your clients are, how you plan on reaching them and who your competitors are as well.
Many people tend to think that all law firms are created equal and essentially all serve the same purpose--to make legal problems disappear. You will be the difference. While clients are looking for legal services, they also buy into you and your brand. A large part of positioning is finding a market niche to fill.
If you’re an estate planning attorney one thing you might do to position your firm is offer a seminar on the “Top 5 concerns in estate planning” or “Things to consider in estate planning.” You could visit assisted living and retirement homes and offer to provide the information to residents and their families or as part of their open house for those considering the option. This will position you as an expert as well as build relationships with other businesses and those who may potentially need your services.
Positioning, as its name suggests, involves being in the right place at the right time. Seek opportunities to serve on committees and boards that coincide with your PR efforts and practice area. It’s always great to seek out speaking and writing opportunities as well. Engaging in these types of activities will begin to position you as an expert and build your brand recognition.
MESSAGING: I love the definition of messaging found on nonprofitanswerguide.org which states: “Messaging is a term to describe how you talk about who you are and why you exist as an organization. It communicates key points you consistently make when you reach out to your audience. And it always ties back to your brand.” Although this definition is intended for nonprofit organizations; the concept still applies to law firms.
Your brand message is the cornerstone for all your marketing efforts. If you describe your firm as “the people’s firm”; a firm that’s dedicated to solving legal issues, serving clients and making a difference, then everything you do must line up with that message.
Everything about your marketing collateral, website and the way you conduct business must say that you’re “the people’s firm.” In framing your firm as one that is dedicated to solving legal issues, serving clients and making a difference—you will need to get involved with organizations and engage in activities that prove this claim.
For example, your firm can participate in food drives, pro bono projects, and sponsor community events that line up with your brand’s focus.
PROMOTING: Promoting your law firm brand is closely related to the positioning of your firm. Promotion as defined by dictionary.com is “something devised to publicize or advertise a product, cause, institution, etc., as a brochure, free sample, poster, television or radio commercial or personal appearance.”
Messaging is all about saying who you are. Positioning is all about proving that you are who you say you are. Promoting is all about getting people to take notice of how awesome you are. Here are a few ways you can promote your firm:
- Social Media- Social media gives you the opportunity to connect directly with your clients and potential clients. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give you a place to showcase your firm’s message and all the great things you’re doing to reaffirm the message.
- Newsletters- Newsletters, whether print or emailed are a great way to promote your firm. A newsletter is a way to build a rapport with clients and potential clients.
- Community Relations-Marketing is all about building relationships. It’s not only important that you care about what you’re doing, but to get others on board as well. Building relationships gives you an opportunity to share information about your firm. Promotion through engagement with members of the community will help keep your firm at the forefront of their minds when they need legal services.
- Advertisements- Law firm ads have come a long way since the yellow pages. Advertising is still a great way to attract new clients. However, before you invest your advertising dollars be sure to do your research. You have to know where the clients are looking in order to grab their attention.
- Update your website: How will people know what’s going on with your firm if your website hasn’t been updated in months? Your website is likely to be the first point of contact potential clients make with your firm. Your website should provide an accurate snapshot of who you are, what you do and why the client should choose your firm to handle their legal matter.
It’s never too late to put the PR back in your law practice. Take a look at your firm’s PR strategy and think about small changes you can make that will have a big impact on your firm!
Monisha Yowell is the Marketing Coordinator for Lawyers Mutual. Monisha connects Lawyers Mutual with our insureds and the legal community through the use of social media. You can reach Monisha at 800.662.8843 or email@example.com.