Legal PR – Nebulous or Commonplace?
I’ll begin by briefly outlining PR. In essence, PR connects you and your stakeholders to raise awareness of your brand. (Read my colleague Ann Marie Callanan’s blog “So what is PR anyway” here.)
Due to my background, I combine my law and PR qualifications and have particular expertise in legal PR. I have developed an interest in this area of PR over the past ten years and have represented several law firms throughout Ireland. A particularly useful service that we provide is ghostwriting – I write it, you own it. Solicitors have endless insights to offer, but, more often than not, don’t have time to put pen to paper and, for example, write an opinion piece. I draft the relevant communications material on their behalf. This process might initially begin with consultations – in person or on the phone – and, gradually as the brand is clearly-defined, I write in a tone consistent with theirs, often without the need for consultations. The communications material could form the basis of a press release, article, blog, web content or social media content. In turn, this raises the profiles of the solicitors and brand awareness of their firms. Over time, and with a strategic communications strategy, they are positioned as the go-to experts in their relevant practice area(s).
During the past decade, I have noticed a shift in the perception of legal PR. Traditionally, it was viewed, by some, as unnecessary, nebulous and unsuited for the legal profession. It was unusual for law firms to integrate PR into their businesses. Nowadays, it is commonplace. My legal PR work involves digital legal PR, such as management of website content, social media networks and videos. Traditional legal PR includes pitching to and liaising with media about interesting cases, events and seminars, or appointment notices for new or promoted team members. Solicitors and law firms are cited in the media every day – the coverage is often facilitated by PR professionals who have relationships with the right media.
Before I finish, I’ll ask you five questions so that you can determine if legal PR is for you and your firm:
- You’ve recently represented a client(s) in a significant case. Was it or do you want it to be in the media?
- Does your target audience know about all or only some of your practice areas?
- Are you positioned and recognised as a leader in your profession?
- Do your stakeholders know about your firm’s achievements; have you recently expanded the team or won an award?
- Do you want to be front of mind with journalists who are writing about your main practice area?
Orla Clancy holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and Event Management from the Fitzwilliam Institute and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Accounting from the University of Limerick. She is a Senior Account Manager at AM O’Sullivan PR and designs bespoke packages to suit the different requirements and budgets of clients. Contact Orla at email@example.com / 087 9388882.