Many lawyers know the feeling. You’re reading a news story or journal article and come across a quote from a fellow attorney, wondering why the reporter didn’t contact you instead. Chances are it’s because that reporter doesn’t know you. While researching media outlets, deciding on a story to pitch and how to pitch it will get you on the right track, it’s the relationship with a journalist that will lead to an interview and likely the inclusion of a linkback to your firm’s website. Here are some tips to help you develop your relationship with media members.
Do Your Research
Like a marriage, friendship or business partnership, a relationship with a journalist is a two-way street and requires effort from both parties. Before you ever reach out or deliver a pitch, explore the previous works of a reporter to get a feel of their coverage area. You can even reference a previous story of theirs to showcase your understanding of them and their beat. A good first impression can go a long way toward securing a fruitful partnership with a reporter.
Even when you don’t have a story to pitch, it’s important to keep in touch with journalists to maintain that relationship. Follow them on social media and show your support by sharing a story on your personal social media channels. Developing your relationship with reporters will also help determine their various preferences. It’s safe to assume an email is a good form of communication, but as you get to know them better, you may come to find they prefer a phone call or text message.
Be Easy to Find
While it’s still important to do your part in fostering and maintaining a relationship with a media member, there will also likely be times that a journalist or reporter wants to reach out to you first. And nothing will jeopardize your earned media opportunity like not having contact and background information readily available and easy to access. Keeping your bio, a photo and any other assets in a centralized location on your firm’s website will make it easier for a journalist to contact you when the time comes.
Sticking to a consistent schedule with your content marketing efforts can also help in this practice. The more often you publish relevant content, particularly with the right keywords, the more likely you are to be found through a Google search. Plus, the more content you produce on your own will give a reporter a better understanding of your work to determine whether or not you would be a reliable resource for future stories.
One of the most effective ways to cultivate and protect your relationship with a reporter is to always make time for them. Journalists often don’t set their own deadlines and there are times that they’ll be racing against the clock to finish a story on time. This is where you can improve your standing with a media member by always being available to provide a quote or relevant information for the story.
That’s not to say that if a reporter calls or emails that you should drop everything you’re doing and devote all your time to their needs. Keep in mind that you’re the expert and thought leader in the legal industry and providing some assistance to a journalist in need likely won’t take too much of your time. However, there are few things as beneficial for your relationship with a media member. Help them out and you’ll become a trusted source that they rely on again in the future. Ignore it and the opportunity may never present itself again.
Be a Resource
It’s no secret that having a good relationship with a journalist can be greatly beneficial for you as a lawyer and for your firm as a whole. The credibility and expanded reach can open the doors to an entirely new audience and recognition as a thought leader in your field. To ensure that you remain top-of-mind to a reporter, it’s important to provide benefits of your own by being a trusted resource that they can reach out to whether the story involves your firm or not.
Create a profile of your background and professional experience to send to reporters that can be kept in their database. This gives them a clear understanding of who you are and what you do, putting you at the top of their list when they have a question related to your field. You should also consider sharing information that isn’t always self-serving. Even if it doesn’t immediately lead to recognition in a story, being a resource for a journalist ensures that you will always be considered when the time comes that they do need a direct quote or mention of your firm.
The most important thing to remember is that a relationship with a journalist is like one with any other acquaintance. You didn’t become best friends with somebody on the first day you met them. It took time for the relationship to grow and the partnership with a reporter is no different. Stay committed to becoming a resource and a media member will have no choice but to work with you.
If you find yourself struggling to develop a working relationship with journalists and missing out on earned media opportunities, give us a call. Our agency has particular expertise in helping law firms and legal marketers create thought leadership platforms fueled by an integrated strategy of earned media and content marketing that increases leads and cases, improves brand recognition and reputation, while also equipping attorneys to sell.
If improving lead generation is a priority to your law firm, we would love to be your partner. Schedule a free 1-hour consultation.Schedule Now