You can be the greatest lawyer in the world – but if nobody knows about you, it will add up to nothing.
That’s where public relations comes in. If you’re like most solos and small firms, you don’t have an outside PR firm or an in-house specialist. That means you have to do it yourself.
The good news is that there are quick and easy ways to get great PR for your firm on a shoestring. Such as: requesting testimonials, creating a media kit, and crafting a compelling story about your practice.
And social media is the great equalizer that lets you get out in front of potential clients and referral sources across the globe.
“You may not think you’re in the business of (or in need of) public relations, but you are,” writes Allie Wolff for Hatchbuck. “PR is crucial to the success of every business, big or small. The difference is that a small, budget-conscious business doesn’t have the luxury of hiring a high-priced PR firm, so you have to take a more DIY approach.”
10 PR Power plays
PR is not the same as marketing or advertising, although the three things can overlap. To improve your PR efforts, here are some pointers:
- Become a thought leader in your practice area. Write a white paper or opinion piece on a trending topic and submit it to various publications. Offer yourself as an expert commentator for local media outlets. Show how what you do fits into a bigger story. “Do you run an immigration legal practice? Then prepare a statement about national immigration reform and send it to reporters covering recent news,” suggests Chad Reid in Business 2 Community.
- Ask for testimonials. An endorsement from a client or colleague is worth its weight in gold.
- Publicize wins and accomplishments. But don’t just pound your chest and proclaim your awesomeness. Tell a story instead. Follow this advice from Annie Ridout in Forbes: “Perhaps you’ve won awards. Maybe you’ve been featured in some well-respected publications. This is impressive. But it’s not your PR story, because a list of accolades does not constitute a story. Instead, you need to craft a really compelling email about you and your business. Structure it with a beginning, a middle and an end. Sure, mention those accolades within it—but don’t make them the whole story.”
- Use HARO (Help a Reporter Out). “This is a free service that reporters use to find expert sources while writing on a short deadline,” writes Reid. “Sign up and you’ll get a series of emails every day with requests to speak to authorities on various topics, and some of them might just be you. You’ll have to comb through to see if there are good fits — oftentimes there aren’t — but sometimes you find a perfect match. So unless you regularly have reporters asking for your opinion, it’s worth a try.”
- Sponsor or participate in a charitable event. “Not only is it good business karma, you can spread the word about the event in a way that benefits the charity or community as well as your business and its reputation,” says Wolff.
- Publish a press release. Got some news to announce? Write a catchy, compelling press release. Use a service like PRWeb or PR Newswire to reach thousands of news outlets and publications online.
- Submit a guest blogpost. Choose a blog that’s popular with your target market. Or start your own blog.
- Offer to be a guest on a podcast. Or don’t wait for an invitation – start your own podcast!
- Create a media kit and store it in the cloud. A media kit is a press packet of information about you and your firm. “It provides reporters and editors with all the data and images they need to write about your business,” says Wolff. “Almost all bigger businesses have them, and you will seem polished and professional if you do too. Every time you pitch a story about [your firm]—or yourself as an expert—include a link to the media kit.”
- Build relationships. The personal touch can make all the difference. Seek out opportunities to interact with influencers, referral sources, press contacts and prospective clients.
A final note: whatever you do to publicize your practice, make sure you comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct, especially Rules 7.1 through 7.5 on lawyer advertising and communications.