Have you ever wondered about the secret to getting great PR for yourself and your firm? How do some lawyers get quoted over and over again in media publications on topics you know you’re the expert in? Meet Michelle Calcote King, and this week we’re diving into why PR is necessary to incorporate into your firm.
Michelle is the Principal & President of Reputation Ink, a professional services public relations and content marketing agency serving law firms. She has decades of experience securing media coverage for law firms and sits on the Legal Marketing Association’s Southeast Board of Directors.
We talk about:
- Why the success of PR is hard to measure
- What share of voice is and how to grow your firm’s share of voice
- Why credibility in media outlets and ultimately across Google are important for your firm’s growth and success
- Tips to producing valuable content
Mentioned in This Episode
[00:00:34] Michelle: Hey I’m Michelle Calco king. I am the principal and president of reputation, Inc. We are a public relations and content marketing agency for professional services firms. Primarily corporate law firms also architecture firms, engineering firms, and construction. So those are two markets, but we are probably about 70% focused on the.
[00:00:56] And we help law firms and lawyers build their brand visibility through thought leadership. Getting them quoted in the media securing them bylined articles, promoting their litigation, wins their matters. And then we also do a lot of content development. So writing case studies and any kind of email copy, newsletters, that kind of thing.
[00:01:15] And it all centered around.
[00:01:17] Karin: So much for being here today. I really appreciate this. I feel like this is such an important topic and I have had so many clients who are looking for this kind of work and either have a hard time articulating it to begin with, and then also a hard time figuring out whether it’s worthwhile. So our big question that we’re going to cover today, that I know you have so much information on. How do you measure PR and basically the results of all this work that you’re doing for these firms. And then we’re going to talk even more specifically. The kind of measurement that can be really analytical and, and you’ve written some cool articles about this. So I’m excited to get into this and get into the kind of analytical side of measuring PR and the reach and how, firms can really understand if they’re tackling their PR in an effective way.
[00:02:09] Michelle: that’s a good question. So PR is one of those things that can be frustrating for some, and that it’s not as directly measurable as let’s say a digital marketing is digital marketing. Um, The beauty of digital marketing is you can really track a user’s path through various content on your website.
[00:02:28] You can measure it by number of page views, downloads, that kind of thing. And then really kind of seeing. An interested person becomes a client and look at those analytics, whereas PR you, when you’re dealing with a third party media outlet, so you don’t have those kinds of analytics but it’s also measurement is it can be nebulous.
[00:02:46] It’s often PR people measure their work in number of media hits impressions, how many people looked at an article there’s advertising equivalency and that kind of thing. so having been in PR for two decades I know it works. I know it works for my clients brands, but I’m always looking for good research.
[00:03:05] That is very solid research that speaks directly to how does this help grow a.
[00:03:11] Karin: Yeah.
[00:03:12] Michelle: an impact the bottom line. And I did, I wrote an article about maybe about a year ago. Cause I’d seen some research came, come out by, it was the LinkedIn, the B2B, I think it’s the LinkedIn B2B Institute. And they do a lot of good research and they’d put out a report on concept called the excess share of voice and excess share of void.
[00:03:31] Karin: fascinating to me, this excess share of voice and sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to highlight it. First of all, The idea of share a voice and then excess share voice.
[00:03:42] Michelle: Yeah, so sure voices is essentially kind of the number of conversations about. Whatever it is, you’re measuring a lawyer, a law firm brand. So divided by whatever market let’s say, let’s say your, a bankruptcy attorney in St. Louis. You’d be looking to see, you know, how many times are you mentioned, discussed, featured within the topic of bankruptcy in St.
[00:04:04] Louis, so that equates to your share of voice. Um, That’s when things like, publishing articles, getting quoted participating on social media heavily is what builds your share of voice. And basically excess share of voice is just when you’re punching above your weight. In a particular market, so let’s say you only have a 20% market share in terms of your actual revenue and close.
[00:04:27] But you capture a 30% share of voice you’re punching above your weight and you have an excess share of voice. So it’s a little nerdy of a concept, but what they found in the research was nearly every recorded case, a brand. And that’s marketing speak for, Your law firm’s brand with an excess share of voice, we’ll gradually grow the market share to, to match that share of voice.
[00:04:51] So achieving greater brand visibility online through things like PR and social media this research found that there’s a direct correlation to growth. And for a PR person that’s really exciting. Because it is one of those things that isn’t as, directly measurable as digital marketing and advertising, those kinds of things can be as marketers, we all know it works, convincing clients is a different thing.
[00:05:17] And th the other thing that was cool about the research was they broke it down by market sector. And they looked at, how this concept works in different sectors and what they found was in professional services having an excess share of voice, actually converts to growth market, share growth at a faster rate than other sectors.
[00:05:35] So I think it was, and I’d have to look at, but it was like a 1.8%. That equation would be. A 10% extra share voice leads to a rise in market share by 1.8% per year. All else, all other things being held equally. And I don’t, most people don’t get into that sort of nitty gritty of a analysis, but basically it’s just saying for professional services firms, and it makes sense if you think of.
[00:05:59] buying professional services is all about credibility. And these kinds of thought leadership activities really help build that credibility which will help the overall brand and will help it grow.
[00:06:09] Karin: A couple of questions as you were talking. So first of all, how does a firm figure out that first metric of how much of the marketplace that they, so if they’re figuring out their share of voice and they know that they have, you were saying, they know that they have a 20% kind of piece of the market, how do determine that piece of, to know whether they have the excess on top of
[00:06:34] Michelle: Right. I’ll be honest. I, I wouldn’t have a client that this is a kind of an in-depth research report, but they really looked at the data, but to find out what your share of voice you’d have to, you’d have to figure out what you’re measuring. So again, it would be a particular market.
[00:06:48] So let’s say I’m on measuring my own share of voice. I would. PR firms who serve law firms. I would look at probably I’d get a universe of other competitors. And then I would see how many times they’re mentioned versus I mentioned, you know, I, I kind of get that grouping together.
[00:07:04] Karin: it’s a complicated measurement because you’re looking at all these different avenues and it could be variable depending on how you really prioritize that information I mean, there be priority of, I’m really active in like this certain organization and huge piece of, you know, my speaking. So I’m going to prioritize that as being high percentage of where my voice is being shared. And so I could see that being a number where, people see some variation in that. But that makes sense. And then, so are you seeing that when people are. Figuring out how to share their voice.
[00:07:39] Are there, certain areas where they’re finding more success where it’s all those different avenues that you were discussing, it could be social media, it could be PR news articles. It could be, all the different things that or affirm
[00:07:53] do PR.
[00:07:55] Are there certain areas or is it really specific
[00:07:59] Michelle: When I’m counseling law firms it’s often what works for a particular law lawyer skillsets their interests, their affinity. And then it depends on the type of practice often. So there’s a mix of things, you know, you can do to grow your share of voice.
[00:08:16] The top one would be being published in the media. And for lawyers who serve a variety of industries, those industries especially industry publications are looking for insights into various issues. They’re looking for a legal expert who can break down topics who can provide that kind of thought leadership content or insights.
[00:08:35] They want that somebody who’s in the trench. But can give that legal insight. So that’s an ideal way. So publishing bylined articles, but then also just being quoted on topics that you can provide some sort of analysis and insight. There are legal issues happening every day, and you’ll see when something happens that suddenly there’s a flood of experts commenting on it the next day.
[00:08:56] Um, So that’s a lot of what we do for clients is we are, we know. This immigration attorney wants to be quoted in this particular market. So we are often monitoring to see what issues and where they’re coming to us and saying, This law is going to be passed or this case happened that is going to impact other cases.
[00:09:15] So then we’re giving the media these attorneys and saying, Hey, if you need someone to help provide some analysis or break this down for you, here’s this person. And here’s why they’re the right person to talk to. So that’s the media relations side. So being published and being quoted you can also do the more traditional PR, which is putting out press releases on PR on actual news.
[00:09:34] Case wins matters, that kind of thing. And then there’s other uh, there’s some, some attorneys that love to blog so blogging and then taking that content putting it on uh, various content aggregator sites using that content to go out and email newsletters. So that’s kind of, you know, when you look at the mix of things you can do, there’s owned or.
[00:09:55] And that’s in the owned category, so it’s not, you’re not convincing a media outlet to, to publish it.
[00:10:01] Karin: lot of sense to me as you’re describing that where kind of natural strategy, as I’m thinking about talking to my clients about it is to first of all, determine which strategy. You prefer number one and which strategy you’ve either had success with or you expect to have success with and then try to have that share of voice for that strategy.
[00:10:23] Cause it almost seems like trying to calculate that number across all possible, places that your voice could be is.
[00:10:30] a kind of an overwhelming idea. I mean, could, but it’s, it’s a lot so saying, okay. I really like this idea of being present in the meeting. And if you’re calculating and kind of following, like you described that immigration attorney in a certain area, that seems like an area where you could really track you know, you started here, you had, this many shares and you ha you could really track that voice and how the growth has appeared over the time that you’re working with them, where you’re focusing in on one area. Or even if it’s a few areas, but you kind of go area by area, like, here’s your share of voice on your on your blog and your owned media and here’s your share of voice on, on the earned things and tracking it that way. It seems like that to me makes more sense where I could see it in a chart and see how you could see that growth over time.
[00:11:17] That makes more clear. I think.
[00:11:19] Michelle: And really that research for me, the, what I’ve used it to show clients is that it’s just empirical evidence that these sorts of activities work. And that they do lead to growth on in terms of your bottom line. It’s not just nice to have it is going to lead to revenue growth, which is, what we’re all trying to do here.
[00:11:36] Karin: And that’s the point of hesitation that I get when I’m talking to people about whether they feel like they should do these things, they feel like it’s probably a good idea. They see their competition doing it, but at the end of the day, when it comes to actually pulling the trigger and making the decision to do it it’s well, how is this going to.
[00:11:53] What am I going to see? What can I expect? And those are the questions that make them hesitate about actually going forward and making those decisions.
[00:12:02] Michelle: Yeah. And it’s a tough one because these kinds of things, one, they are, they can be time consuming depending on how you end up deciding on your mix and who’s going to help you. But two, it takes a while. So. it can take a year to really start seeing the impacts pay off.
[00:12:16] But the high level point is, or a phenomenon that’s happening is that our lives are now, our business lives are very much so online now. So in the way the online world works. So the way Google works is through content and credibility. So you have to play in that game. in order to have some sort of visibility, it’s a different, world than it was, you know, even just 10 years ago in the same way that you made an effort 10 years ago to go to bar meetings or chamber meetings, this has to happen nowadays because our lives have really in the pandemic accelerated that our business lies how we make decisions, how we network our online and so this is the way Google has decided that the people who will rise to the top are those that provide value. And provide value through what Google has to offer, which is. And media outlets are some of the most high authority websites on the internet.
[00:13:13] you know, Google really rewards uh, you being on a media outlet and also, so we have two audiences here. We’re talking to Google and we’re talking to our actual clients. Clients do the same. They use the media to help them. Validate whether someone is credible. That’s why all of these things are really important nowadays, even though the PR is less trackable and measurable it’s sort of the reality that we are dealing with today and that, to build your firm, you have to engage.
[00:13:39] Karin: Yeah. And I think going back to the beginning of what you were saying about it takes time. which requires patience, which is not exactly one of my strong suits, but I talk a lot about the patients of it. Because on the flip side, if you have been doing this for years and years, and you have a really established reputation and you’ve got that domain authority and you’ve been doing all of these things.
[00:14:02] And I’m often talking about this in terms of SEO, which it’s a similar conversation
[00:14:08] Michelle: Yeah.
[00:14:08] Karin: established your content. And you’ve been working on this for years and years. Then if some new brand new attorney comes along and in a week, flips it upside down, that doesn’t seem Right. it seems like in the old days of networking, like you described, you would go to these bar associations, you would have these relationships that you’ve had for years and years. And then some new attorney shows up. They’re not going to have the same relationship with that person known them for years and years.
[00:14:35] And you shouldn’t expect that to happen. So as a new attorney, you have to expect that you have to put in the time and you have build your reputation. You have to build it up and it will take time. And not everybody wants to hear that, but that’s just the way life is.
[00:14:50] And it was that way before it was Just in a
[00:14:53] Michelle: Just in a different way. Yeah. That’s a great analogy. It really is. And it, that was the thing that I often tell lawyers is this is you’re building an asset. Your online reputation is an asset that it’s up to you to create an own. But that will pay off ongoing for many years. So you’ve got to build that reputation and you have to do it through.
[00:15:14] posting frequently on LinkedIn getting quoted and published in the media, uh, writing what, however way you want to do it hosting a podcast putting videos out there, in the end it’s providing value analyzing issues, your clients care about breaking them down, explaining them, informing them, that kind of thing.
[00:15:31] But that it snowballs and your reputation really starts to pay you. And dividends from one clients finding you who are our ideal clients for you. It simplifies a lot of that new business process because it’s very clear, the more content you put out that is focused on your niche and focused on your ideal client the more your ideal client is going to come to you.
[00:15:53] You’re not going to be weeding out clients that aren’t good for. But to it, it follows you in your career. And um, I’m not, I don’t want to say this to law firm leaders, but especially if you’re in a, younger attorney who wants to build a brand, this is going to follow you throughout your career.
[00:16:04] So it’s it’s especially effective for lawyers.
[00:16:07] Karin: Yeah.
[00:16:08] and it just builds over time. And like said, it snowballs. And so the more you’re out there, the more it sees it. And it’s exponential. It’s not kind of like one little step at a time. It just continues to grow. And then that’s really how, you know, to bring it all back around. That’s how you build that share of voice.
[00:16:25] And then, you know, it seems like you really can’t get to that excess point until you’ve really put the work in. And first of all, established your, just your share and then to figure out where your excess share is going.
[00:16:37] Michelle: Yeah, exactly.
[00:16:38] Karin: Yeah.
[00:16:38] that’s great. I feel like that is so valuable because I do talk to people on a weekly basis about trying to figure out whether it’s worthwhile and if this is still the thing that’s happening and I, I am starting to hear more and more, you know, does content even really matter anymore.
[00:16:53] And, you know, it’s, which seems crazy to me.
[00:16:55] But everybody wants to know, okay. If I’m going to invest this much, what can I expect? in my first answer is always first you have to start with patients because that is, just a standard requirement. If you were in the past going to go, like we said to these bar association events, you wouldn’t show up thinking, Okay. I’m going to this event.
[00:17:11] What can I expect as I walk out? You know, It’s who knows? It could be a lot of different things, you know, over time,
[00:17:18] Michelle: Yeah, it’s interesting. So the idea of does content even matter anymore. What I tell clients is absolutely does, but it’s just changed like anything. So imagine you, you were there when the first ever chamber meeting ever happened, your impact as being a member of the chamber of commerce would have been much greater because you were there in the beginning.
[00:17:38] There were only a few. Um, You really stood out, fast forward a hundred years and chamber meetings or something, all your competitors are going to everyone’s doing, it’s no longer a big deal that you showed up. And it’s the same with content. 10 years ago, if you put up a blog or wrote a couple of articles in the media, you had a huge impact, very easily.
[00:17:58] And now there’s just a lot of competition. So it’s forcing one, it’s forcing a couple of things, which is it’s forcing people to really kind of think more narrowly and niche. So what does that one particular ideal client that you’d like to work with or what’s that one expertise area that you want to be known for?
[00:18:17] And to really focus on that because otherwise it’s hard to. Get traction by being kind of a generalist that’s, uh, Google doesn’t reward that nor do how we consume content or read the media reward that we have so much information. We can’t process too much. So that’s why niche experts really kind of rise to the top, but to quality it’s kind of a forced the hand in terms of quality, you have to deliver quality, valuable information.
[00:18:46] To rise to the top now. So it’s not that it’s, is it relevant or not anymore? It’s just what’s the game that we’re playing in now. And how does it
[00:18:53] Karin: Yeah, everyone’s much more picky, but then also think about, if you had been there 10 years ago, that would have been fantastic. You would have you know, an early adopter captured all that traffic and had that bigger piece of the pie or your bigger share of voice, but also. You need to start now, because you don’t start now, then in a year, you’re going to regret what you didn’t do for the past year.
[00:19:14] Yes. Look at what you could have done 10 years ago, but then also think about, how happy you’ll be in a year. If you start now and start building that up or at least start now to refine it, maybe you’re already doing something to think these things do it better. Get out kind of capture your peace before somebody else.
[00:19:31] Michelle: exactly
[00:19:33] Karin: Awesome. Well, that was super valuable. So last thing we always like to talk about what everybody is reading and get a valuable book recommendation. So tell us what book you are going to.
[00:19:44] Michelle: I am a big fan. So we are at repping we’re big believers in the power of. And it’s funny you’ll hear a lot, people say, oh, people don’t read anymore, and it’s actually complete opposite. Like I was saying the internet has changed how we consume information and writing is absolutely is actually more important than ever before because of how scattered and because of how differently we consume content online.
[00:20:08] So I always love the book. I love to recommend the book. Everybody writes by Ann Handley. And if you don’t follow Ann Handley, she is a phenomenal um, she puts out a weekly newsletter. That’s just fantastic. Just kind of a guru in the content world. But I, I’ve always been a big believer in the power of great writing.
[00:20:25] And it can be overlooked sometimes, but then when people see it and they know that it works, it really helps you stand out in the online world. um, So yeah, especially lawyers you know, lawyers are trained to write in a very different way than what works for online consumption. Um
[00:20:41] Karin: most of the world, the legal is it’s a totally separate language. And, And I have the same conversation where your website is not meant to be written in legal language. That is for once you have the client and all of your marketing pieces are not, an example of how you write for a law book or for, you know, a judge that is not what we’re doing here.
[00:21:04] Michelle: Yeah. It’s a tough conversation because lawyers believe that they are, and they are they’re their persuading. That’s their trade, but the way most lawyers have been trained right is not a good way for like I said, online readers. and this goes for the most sophisticated client.
[00:21:22] There’s a lot of, I’ve done a presentation. Many times where I really delved into legalese and a lot of research around a, there was a movement called the plain language movement. That kind of started more in the financial industry because of how convoluted financial documents were, but then it kind of took hold and other industries. But there’s a ton of research around judges, even judges. Assessment of legal documents that are written in very plain language style versus a much more convoluted style, which is what they teach in law school. And overall overwhelmingly the judges find the plain language versions to be much more persuasive and effective.
[00:21:59] So that’s why often I talk to lawyers uh, that look, this is what works for everyone. Any audience now? Because we’re all busy and we’re all trying to quickly scan through information, figure out what’s relevant. What’s important. Get to that point to see what we can do with it. And if it’s hard to read that negates the point and really kind of, uh, so so
[00:22:24] Karin: puts
[00:22:24] up barrier between the reader and that decision. of a sudden the words are just getting in the way versus doing that persuasive thing that the lawyer thinks that they’re doing. When, you know, it’s like, we don’t need the six syllable word. We’re good. Just tell me what you are really trying to, you know, how you’re trying to affect my emotion at this
[00:22:44] Michelle: exactly,
[00:22:45] Karin: So that sounds fantastic. So it was called
[00:22:47] Everybody writes I knew there was something about writing and handling. Everybody will put a link on a uh, page for the, for this show to the book and have the library on the website too. But everybody writes. That sounds fantastic.
[00:22:59] And sounds like something truly, I think it’s such a critical part of any kind of marketing campaign. If you don’t have the right words, it’s just not going to work. You can have the most beautiful graphics and everything else going on, but if you’re saying the wrong thing, forget it. It’s just not to work.
[00:23:14] Michelle: yeah. Great. Writing’s more important than ever before no.
[00:23:17] Karin: I agree. Thank you so much for being here, Michelle. I really
[00:23:21] Michelle: Thanks for having me. I really.