At Communicate Media we specialise in media training for law firms and in the courses that we run for them we work with their PR and inhouse comms teams to help them to get coverage in the media. This is usually through interviews with press and broadcast journalists but we also give advice on how to provide quotes via Twitter, email and company websites.
We’ve helped law firms to get better media coverage when commenting on issues ranging from new rulings by regulators, decisions on transgender issues, the legal debate over insurance payments claimed because of Covid-19 disruption and Johnny Depp’s libel case against The Sun.
How can law firms piggyback off legal decisions and announcements to raise their profile, we’re often asked in our media coaches courses.
Here are five ways to do it
- It’s all about the audience, as we remind people on our media training courses and presentation workshops for lawyers. Just as the journalist will know exactly who they’re writing for and what this audience will want to know so should you. If you’re a finance specialist, for instance, then the messages that might be relevant for the FT won’t necessarily work in thisismoney.co.uk. Similarly, the legal media will be interested in the legal aspect whereas the FT or Money Marketing will want to know how a decision, an announcement or an event impacts the markets and savings products. The audience will often be clients and, more importantly, potential clients. Think about what they’d like to know, what they worry about and what would help them.
- If you’re asked for a quote by a journalist then come back to them quickly. However insightful and interesting your quote is, if it arrives later then the chances are that the journalist won’t be willing to use it. With online print media we’re constantly editing and reposting material. However, we’re still keen to finish one story and move onto the next so, unless what you say is ground shaking, journalists won’t bother including it. The other advantage to in house Comms teams of law firms who send over a quote quickly is that it gives them more opportunity to shape the story. If your comment is interesting, relevant and timely then a journalist is more likely to be influenced by it and to make it more of a focus in the report.
- Think about the upshot of the ruling or announcement and its effect on the audience. Remember that the vast majority of the people you speak to through media interviews don’t care about the legal details – they just want to know how it affects them. Should they do something? Stop doing something? Should they change the way they do something?You should give them a few thoughts and suggestions but there isn’t time in media interview to go into too much detail. As journalists we don’t want it and you don’t want to give too much away of course. Your aim is to come across as knowledgeable, well informed, helpful and friendly – in the hope that people will then pick up the phone and retain you.
- Use simple punchy language. Of course, the law has its own jargon, acronyms and technical terms – every industry does. Language is driven by the audience. If you’re talking to the legal media then legal terminology is fine but if it’s the Daily Mail, the Manchester Evening News, The Caterer or Drapers then you’ll need to find a simpler, more accessible way of explaining a legal concept. If you don’t translate it into natural language, then the journalist will do so, and you’ll lose control of your contribution. The other, more likely option is that your quote won’t be used and another lawyer, whose language was more appropriate will be quoted in the piece, instead.Even if you’re using technical language for a legal title, contrast it with the language of the coffee shop or the pub rather than the boardroom or the conference centre. This mix makes for lively copy and will appeal to the journalist and help your comments to stand out from the kind of bland, corporate spiel that most organisations are guilty of. Look at the most prominent, newsworthy business leaders and CEOs of large organisations – they use everyday language and punchy phrases.
- Tell a story. As journalists we love stories – because our audiences do. During our media training courses for lawyers and others we emphasis again and again the importance of stories and we work closely with our participants to identify, craft and tell stories, case studies and simple anecdotes that they can use during media interviews.Why are stories important? They prove a point. You want to demonstrate that you take a practical hands-on approach to helping clients in their day-to-day work. You can tell me that and I might believe you but show me with a story and I’ll be much more likely to be convinced. Second, stories illustrate and explain. You can explain the legal concept but provide a little hypothetical case study or an example and we’ll understand what you’re talking about.Many lawyers forget to do this and so if you’re the one who does – and you take advantage of these other tips you’ll be in a better position to get your quotes used in the media. Our media training courses for lawyers offer further advice and practice experience.
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