As the leading provider of Media Training for law firms, we work closely with their PR advisors and in-house communications teams to help them make the most of opportunities to speak to the media. One of the things that we stress in our Media Training courses for lawyers is that their media and communications teams are a huge asset. They can help lawyers to raise their profile and that of the firm in the media. They can also help partners and others to become thought leaders and go-to interviewees for their particular area of expertise.
But just as law firm Communications teams are there to help lawyers, lawyers can play their part in providing assistance to their media relations departments to create a win-win with journalists. Here are five ways lawyers can work more effectively with their PR agencies, media teams and in-house communications departments.
1. Reply quickly.
We are very much aware that lawyers are busy people and that they are devoted to their clients. We also know that clients are ever more demanding. However, as we stress in our Media Training workshops for lawyers, one of the ways in which lawyers can work more closely and effectively with their media teams is to ensure that they come back quickly and reply to any requests for comment or interviews. The media works at a cracking pace – and that speed is constantly increasing. All of our media trainers are working journalists, and they will tell you that when they’re looking for comment for a report, they will put in a request to a variety of different potential contributors and spokespeople, knowing that they won’t hear anything back from most of them. Very often, the person whose quotes are used and gets the lion’s share of the report is the one who comes back quickly.
If you really don’t have the time to speak to the journalist because of your busy workload, then it’s still helpful to tell your media team that you’re not available. This means that they, in turn, can inform the journalist that the firm is not going to be able to make a comment on this occasion. Journalists might be disappointed, but they’d rather know sooner than later that they’re going to have to rely on someone else.
2. Remember that your audience probably won’t be lawyers.
When we do role-play media interviews in our Media interview coaching for lawyers, those lawyers sometimes say to us during the feedback afterwards, “It’s as if I was talking to a client.” We point out that when they do an interview with a journalist, they are speaking to clients or potential clients. This means that we journalists and our audiences don’t want to hear detailed legal arguments and every aspect of the law – they just want to know what the upshot is and what it means for them.
As we train lawyers how to speak effectively to journalists and give interviews that work both for the journalist and the lawyer, it’s interesting to see how they become more concise and focused on what the audience, whoever they might be, wants to know.
3. Think of case studies and examples.
One of the things that a journalist will always ask a lawyer for is an example, a case study, or even a little story to illustrate the point that they’re making. In fact, journalists will ask anybody they are interviewing on almost any subject for this kind of storytelling. It illustrates to the audience what they mean, as well as proving the point – if you’re claiming something is happening in the market, for instance, then you need a couple of examples to demonstrate that this is the case.
Identifying possible case studies and working closely with your communications teams to make sure that you’re ready to use them during media interviews can give you a head start. It also means that the communications teams have some examples to go on when pitching ideas for stories to journalists or providing them with any background briefing. Obviously, we are very much aware of the importance of client confidentiality, and that’s why in our media training courses for lawyers, we provide advice and guidance on how to tell stories and give examples without embarrassing clients.
4. Identify trends.
As any of our working journalists/media trainers will tell you, journalists love trends. We frequently find ourselves writing and telling our audiences that “A growing number of companies are doing this…” or more and more legal departments are asking…” or perhaps “We’re finding that regulators are increasingly likely to…”
I’m sure you get the picture – you’ve probably read and heard it hundreds of times. Very roughly, in journalistic arithmetic, one example is great for us because it ticks the unusual box. With two examples, we’re not quite sure what to do, but by the time we’ve identified three or perhaps four examples or case studies, we can safely say that we have spotted a trend. If you’re noticing that regulators are more and more likely to make certain decisions or that clients are increasingly asking for something or aiming to achieve a particular goal, then it’s worth noting these trends and discussing them with your PR company or in-house media team. They can use these to pitch to journalists and secure media interview opportunities for you.
5. Ensure your language is simple and conversational when providing written comments.
Often, print journalists will be happy with comments by email. This has the advantage that we don’t have to try and arrange for an interview or a conversation by phone, Teams or Zoom. It also makes our life easier because we can copy and paste the wording into our copy – and with dwindling resources and more significant pressure on every journalist to produce more with less, this is increasingly useful.
The problem is that sometimes the comment we get via email from a lawyer can be longwinded, detailed and, dare we say it, slightly turgid. Our advice in our media interview workshops for law firms is to keep these written comments brief and conversational. Remember that the written word is different from the spoken word, and quotes are supposed to be spoken words in amongst text. Simple, punchy language works well. As mentioned above, so do examples, case studies and stories. This is even an opportunity for you to talk about why you enjoy doing the job you do and something about your personal experience.
Media Training for Lawyers
We know that lawyers are busy and principally focused on servicing their clients. However, as we discuss with them in our media training courses, allocating some time to work with the company’s PR companies, media teams, and in-house Communications departments can bring a considerable reward on investment.
To speak to the team at Communicate Media about booking your media training course today, please call 07958 239892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please fill in our contact form.