Law firm press releases can be an important part of your overall marketing strategy. However, a poorly written release that doesn’t get published is a waste of time and resources for all involved.
Effectively Writing and Publishing Law Firm Press Releases
This is the second and final blog in a short series about writing and publishing press releases. The first blog addressed why law firm press releases are still relevant and useful, when it is appropriate and effective to share news through this medium, and how to identify your target audience and media outlets. Here we’ll discuss the elements of a press release, proper press release structure, and best practices for distribution and publishing law firm press releases.
Write like a Journalist: What Are the Elements of a Press Release?
Journalistic writing is objective and generally written in the third person. A press release is a formulaic device for conveying news to the media and should be drafted in the conventional press release structure: an inverted pyramid.
This format places the most important information—generally including the five Ws and H—at the beginning and a simple, straightforward explanation of the details and other relevant information to follow. It is also recommended to include a quote from an individual with input on or insight into the topic.
The basic elements of a press release include the following:
- The words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” at top left, or “HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL [date]” if you wish for the news to be published at a later date;
- A strong headline that contains keywords for search engine optimization if possible;
- A lede that includes the most important information or points;
- A paragraph or two with supporting details or background information;
- A relevant quote from a person integral to the story;
- A boilerplate that provides a general description of the firm and its relevant practice areas;
- Contact information, for follow up questions; and
- The pound/hashtag character, three times (###), centered at bottom, indicating the end of the release.
It is preferable to keep a press release around three to four paragraphs in most cases—fewer than 400 words is a standard recommendation. It is ideal if the release is limited to one page. However, you should also strike a balance between providing all relevant information and keeping the information concise.
Once your press release is drafted, at least one other knowledgeable person should review and edit the content as needed. Even the most skilled writers benefit from and need an editor. Typos, poor writing, or grammatical mistakes are likely to get your news dismissed by journalists.
Publishing Law Firm Press Releases
So, you have constructed a solid press release rooted in journalistic best practices and you are ready to send it out into the world. How do you give it wings?
Publishing Law Firm Press Releases on Your Website
Step one in publishing law firm press releases in the digital age is to post the release on the blog or news section of your law firm website. Optimizing a website to grab the attention of search engines and qualified client leads requires regularly updating and adding new content that includes keywords relevant to your practice. A law firm press release is a simple way to create content that works toward satisfying that need.
Next, you should decide if you want to publicize the release further by using your social media channels, sending it to external media sources, or a combination of both. You can also include press releases in newsletter content if you like.
Pitching a Law Firm Press Release to Media Outlets
Hopefully, you identified your target audience and media outlets before the release was drafted and considered the interests of those people when creating the release. Now you will need to identify the appropriate contacts to whom you will send the release.
Some media outlets include lists of reporters and their fields of specialty on their websites, but many also use platforms that distribute releases received by the editor or news desk to all reporters. If a review of the media outlet’s website doesn’t reveal the appropriate method and contact for your release, a phone call to ask where it should be sent may be helpful.
When you have identified the appropriate parties to whom you wish to send your release, email those individuals separately if possible. Include a brief pitch in the body of the email that explains why the information is relevant and important to the audience they serve. Copy the press release directly into the email below your signature line, preserving formatting and any supporting links you have included. You may also attach the original file and your firm’s logo or a relevant photo and refer to those in the body of your message, but be aware that attachments might also cause some email systems to filter your message as potentially dangerous.
Monitor the media outlets to whom you sent the release for posting. If the matter is not extremely time-sensitive, it is okay to follow up by email or a phone call around one week after the initial contact. If a news outlet or organization picks up your release for publication, be sure to thank them behind the scenes (generally by email) and publicly by sharing the post on your social media channels with a thank you message.
Using a Press Release Distribution Service
In a content-heavy world with countless media sources, press release distribution services offer a third-party service that presents your news to targeted publishers. These paid services may or may not be beneficial and a thorough evaluation of the company and its practices is recommended.
If you decide working with a press release distribution service might be worthwhile for getting your law firm’s press release in front of the right audiences, the next challenge is choosing the best service to fit your law firm’s needs.
When choosing a press release distribution service, consider the following:
- Does the distribution service target a specific industry or geographic audience?
- What news organizations and outlets will receive your release?
- Is there a word limit for releases distributed through the service?
- What is the cost for the distribution?
- Are there fees for additional words or images?
- Does the service impose any other specific guidelines or limitations?
A legitimate, respected press release distribution service can be useful in getting your news in front of the audience you seek. But it is important first to determine if using a press release distribution service is worth the cost, then to vet the company and understand the services you will be getting.
Want Help Writing and Publicizing a Law Firm Press Release? Contact TOPDOG Legal Marketing
TOPDOG Legal Marketing offers a full suite of services that include planning, drafting, and publishing law firm press releases. If you’d prefer to leave the details to us, reach out to see how we can help. Call us at (480) 744-7331 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.