Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Public Relations is Definitely About Relationships

Imagine being an editor at any publication that prints press release generated content as a section in their magazine or journal. Each day dozens, maybe even hundreds of releases arrive by post, fax, email, or news feed. And truthfully the majority of what is received is not even close to interesting. I've talked to enough editors and publishers to know firsthand how terrible most of the press release traffic can be.

If we marketers do our homework and actually send out releases worth something it is still increasingly difficult to get space -- considering how much chaff surrounds what we submit. Here are a couple of points that I consider essential for getting your law firm releases onto the press.
  • Having a solid relationship with an editor or publisher can make a difference. If an editor has to choose one of many releases touting similar accomplishments which might they choose? You do the math.
  • Hiring a PR specialist with great editorial relationships will help you in most contests mentioned above.
  • "Gossip" is the single most releasable news. If your releases will create or fuel backroom conversation, you've got a winner. Examples -- issuing a release because your firm won yet another of a thousand proxy fights is boring. Winning a proxy fight against a nationally known wunderkind might make the paper.
  • Follow-up every release with phone calls to editors and publishers to discuss the content.
  • Find the appropriate balance of quantity. Send too many and it becomes annoying. Send too few and you're invisible. I've found that one per week has worked nicely with the appropriate follow-up.
  • Not every release should be sent to every publication on your list. Send the right things to the right people.
  • Send article ideas with each release. At the end of your message to the editor include an article idea based on the content of your release. Example: You're sending a release on the selection of summer interns.... Suggest an article on the difference of work environments between summer interns and first-year associates (remember my point on gossip?).
  • Send interesting pictures with your releases. Don't send head-shots -- send editorial shots. Recently several of my attorneys were selected for an award. I put them on a helicopter pad atop a tall building walking in V-formation.... It might be actually pull a cover story!
  • Use your press releases to tell journalists about what you can comment on. Send your releases to strategically selected journalists with a note that the person mentioned in the release would be a good "quote" candidate on articles involving....
PR is a wonderful marketing tool as long as you approach it realistically. Use it right and you're golden.