The idea of sending a press release might feel a bit outdated. For some, it calls to mind the click and purr of a fax machine grinding out blurry text that’s bound for File 13. But the digital age, with changes in journalism and online content production, has given the humble law firm press release a new opportunity to make the right kind of noise.
Here and in a blog to follow, we’ll discuss why and how law firms and attorneys can and should use press releases to share information with the media, clients, potential clients, and their communities. And since we’re talking news and journalism, we’ll cover the five Ws and the H—the who, what, when, where, why, and how—of writing and distributing press releases.
Writing, Pitching, and Distributing a Law Firm Press Release
In the era of print journalism, a law firm press release—no matter how well constructed—was unlikely to be deemed newsworthy by a newspaper or other media covering a broad spectrum of issues though an item of note might occasionally make its way into the local business news section.
Today, digital media has given rise to the expansion of publications and media, many of which specialize in specific areas or fields. And for the general media (like your local newspaper), the digital landscape provides additional space to include items that might not be headline news but are still noteworthy, like a press release announcing a new law firm in the community or a new attorney announcement from an established local firm.
When writing a law firm news release—and when pitching and distributing the release—it is useful to think and write like a journalist. Read on to learn why and when to send a law firm press release plus where and to whom to target the release and your pitch for publication. The second blog in this press release series will cover what to include (the elements of a press release), and how to get the release out into the world.
Why and When to Send a Law Firm Press Release
Writing a law firm news release is a relatively quick and generally free way to get news or information about your law firm to your clients, potential clients, and local and/or industry communities. Releasing news about your firm can provide exposure and branding benefits, build authority and thought-leadership, and be an integral part of your digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
So when should you consider writing a law firm news release?
- When you start a new law firm or rebrand;
- When you begin offering services in new practice areas;
- When you revamp your website;
- When you hire a new attorney or staff;
- When attorneys with the firm receive awards or recognitions;
- When attorneys with the firm publish materials;
- When the firm or its attorneys participate in events or speaking engagements;
- When the firm is involved in important court rulings or cases (to the extent ethics rules allow); or
- When your firm or attorneys have insight or information that is valuable to the public regarding legal trends, current events, or legislation.
This is not a comprehensive list because, in short, writing a law firm news release should be considered any time your law firm or an attorney has news to share that would be of interest to others or can provide information that enriches public knowledge.
There are, however, cases in which a press release will not be the best tool for the job. For example, in the case of an upcoming event, a media advisory can be a more concise method for conveying critical information about who, what, when, why, where, and how (plus photo opportunities) to journalists who might be interested in attending or otherwise covering the story.
And when you have specialized knowledge or insight into a matter that is trending in the news or currently relevant, writing a blog, pitching a more in-depth story to a media outlet, or contributing to a journalist’s piece might be more appropriate or beneficial options.
Who and Where: Identifying Your Target Audience and Media
Thinking about who will be interested or would benefit from the information you share in a press release can help you determine if a release is warranted and should also guide your approach, content, and distribution.
There are two groups to consider regarding the who and where of press releases: the target audience you wish to reach and the media outlets that are most likely to reach those people or businesses.
First, spend some time thinking about your target audience. Why should or would they care or need to know the information you are providing? To what geographic areas or communities is your news relevant? Is this news that is of interest to the general community or a specific business sector or industry? (It can be both.) If multiple locations or sectors are involved, would it be beneficial to customize the release for each target market?
The answers to these questions should guide your decisions regarding which publications or media outlets to contact when distributing your press release. You should choose organizations or groups that have an audience to whom your news is of interest. For example, a press release announcing new law firm practice areas for a group in a small town might be deemed newsworthy by the local newspaper, while a new attorney announcement for a firm in a large metropolitan area should probably be targeted more specifically to publications that serve readers in the legal or other related industries.
The Next Steps for Your Law Firm Press Release
Once you have identified your target audience and the appropriate media outlets to reach them, the next steps are writing a law firm news release that is well crafted, adheres to the basic tenets of journalistic writing, and will catch the attention of both groups and then distributing the release in an effective manner.
Part two of this blog series will address the elements of a press release and how to best place it in front of your target audience. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss best practices or how TOPDOG Legal Marketing, LLC can help you master the law firm press release or provide broader print or digital marketing services, contact us by calling (480) 744-7331 or completing our online contact form. We’d be happy to help!