Reporters are always looking for sources, and you’ve got the expertise. So, why aren’t they calling you? Gyi and Kelly talk with Janet Falk, a media consultant, about how she helps attorneys develop media relationships and become a source for comments. Janet offers strategies for making initial contact with reporters and explains how to establish yourself as a unique voice in legal with impactful insights.
Check out Janet’s Media Profile worksheet for attorneys, which includes a free 30-minute consultation.
Janet Falk is a media, PR, and marketing consultant at Falk Communications and Research.
Special thanks to our sponsor Nexa.
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
Why Her and Not Me? – How You Can Be the Attorney Reporters Call
Kelly Street: Hello Gyi. Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Kelly, what’s going down?
Kelly Street: Have you been here before?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’ve been here. I’ve got a question, have you ever been in the news?
Kelly Street: Technically I guess, technically I think.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Okay how’d that go? Good, was it good news or was a bad news?
Kelly Street: Yeah, it was good news. I was the queen of my town and I was also in Miss Teen Minnesota.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Your town was a monarchy?
Kelly Street: My town was a monarchy, one of those — you are 16 years old and you put on a terrible prom dress and wave your hand. Have you ever been in the news?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m searching right now for Queen Kelly Street, but yeah, I’ve been in the news a couple of times, I mean I guess, I was actually recently if I’m going to toot my own horn I was quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
Kelly Street: That’s pretty big. For what?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I am deciding, for issues pertaining to fake Google my business listings, huge problem, but that’s a subject for another day.
Kelly Street: Yes. Wow, well that’s pretty big. See mine was before we had like internet –
Gyi Tsakalakis: Digital?
Kelly Street: Yeah, digital so. Anyway, but speaking of how you can translate news and PR and be on print media all the way to digital media, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Let’s do it.
Kelly Street: Let’s get into it with Janet Falk.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, with your hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street, teaching you how to promote, market, and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.
Kelly Street: And welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Before we get started, we want to thank our sponsor Nexa, formerly known as Answer1, is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
All right and we are here with the fabulous Janet Falk, a public relations and marketing communications professional, who advises attorneys with a solo practice or a small law firm and Janet, I am so glad you are here with us, despite the fact that you have a bit of a cold and as a result, a little bit of a scratchy voice, but I know our listeners will forgive that when they hear all of your amazing advice.
So thank you so much for joining us.
Janet Falk: My pleasure. I am very excited to talk with you and Gyi.
Kelly Street: Fabulous. And will you give our listeners more of a robust bio than what I was able to give in just that sentence, because I know you have a really interesting background.
Janet Falk: I like to think that I am not a round peg, I am not a square peg, I am an octagonal peg, because I have worked in several different venues. I have been a college professor of Spanish language and literature, I worked on Wall Street as a Securities Analyst, and I have worked in investor relations, public relations, marketing communications for Wall Street firms and for nonprofits and for law firms.
And what this means is that I approach a situation with a different perspective than someone who has been straight forward in their career path, focusing on one particular market. I think that makes me able to envision who is on the other side of the table of my client and what is their point of pain and how can my client solve that particular situation.
So that’s what I feel is unique about my experience and the value that I bring to my client relationships in positioning them with the media and with their target market.
Kelly Street: Yeah that’s great. The practice of law is changing and evolving and so it’s really good to have kind of an agile mindset that you bring into things to help lawyers kind of also take that approach of being a little bit more agile and maybe getting some news coverage in an area of the law that they’re new to the practice of or trying to transition into away from something that’s been more their bread and butter for a while.
Janet Falk: I think another way of looking at it is that everyone in every business tends to live within the four walls of their own house and they speak their own language to themselves. And what I can do is open up the doors and windows and bring in a fresh perspective of what is going on in the outside world and what they need to do to more effectively communicate with the other people in the outside world.
Kelly Street: Yeah I like that idea, that, that mindset we all live in our own four walls. So today what we are going to talk about is speaking of things that I like that you have said and presented me with is Why Her and Not Me – How You Can Be the Attorney Reporters Call.
And I think that is just such a good title because it’s definitely something that I’ve heard lawyers ask of how is this person, the lawyer that gets to be on CNBC or quoted in The Wall Street Journal article and there’s some strategy and time and effort that go into all of those things.
So I’m definitely excited to get your perspective on how lawyers can be the one that are getting those calls from reporters.
Janet Falk: I think Kelly you have to start first from the position that reporters call the people they know. They don’t call an attorney if they’ve never heard of that person, because how would they know what that person has to say and why it is important to their readers or to their audience.
So what’s most important is to professionally introduce yourself to reporters in a way that they will understand three questions; one, why you, why should a reporter be talking to you and not to your colleague down the hall or your competitor across town. So you have to identify what it is about yourself that makes you an accessible and authoritative resource to comment on a particular issue.
The second question after why you is, why now. What is going on in the industry or in the marketplace or for individuals that they need to know that insight that the attorney wants to convey now at this moment. Is there a change in the law? Is there a change in regulation or is pricing in a particular M&A segment going to be different. So why you, why now.
And now the most important question is why should anyone care? How is this information going to help an individual or a company or a corporation so that they can save time, save money or make more money? As I said before, I used to work on Wall Street so I’m very bottom line driven.
And anyone who wants to be seen in the news should have these questions in their mind, why you, why now, and why should anyone care, because you are a reliable authoritative source with your finger on the pulse of the market and people need to know about this insight so that they will save time, save money, and make more money.
So I have a format that I use which I hope you will make accessible to people in the show notes. It’s called a Media Profile and if it’s okay, I can walk you through the format so that your listeners can understand how this Media Profile works.
Kelly Street: Yeah, absolutely, but before we get into that I actually have a comment and question about why should people care just because I find that that’s typically one of the hardest pieces of that puzzle or that idea is figuring out why other people should care from their perspective about the thing that you’re talking about that are or that you’re caring about.
It’s really easy to talk about things from our own perspective of oh, well, someone should care about this law change because it affects da, da, da, but how you turn that around and think about that from someone else’s perspective it can always be such a challenge.
Janet Falk: Would you like me to give you an example of something that I did along those lines?
Kelly Street: Yeah absolutely, yes. Thank you.
Janet Falk: Okay, great. So I was working with a client who understands the difference between contract workers and employees and this is an issue for some of the ride sharing services, but it’s also an issue for other people who use workers from time to time or not on a full hourly basis of an eight-hour workday.
So this particular focus was on you won’t believe this, the pizza restaurant segment and it turns out that pizza restaurants employ drivers for only a few hours, right, they only work from basically 5:00 to 11:00. And so they usually work on a contract basis, but some drivers might mistakenly think that they are actually employees.
So it’s important for the restaurant owner who employs such a contract worker as a driver to be clear that the driver owns the car, the driver maintains the car, the driver picks the route that they are going to drive in delivering the pizza and some other criteria.
So this is an issue where if restaurant owners understand where the lines are in terms of employee versus contract worker then they can make sure that they are staying within the boundaries of those lines. And that if the driver becomes at some point disgruntled and thinks that they are an employee — wants to get back at the restaurant owner for whatever reason or thinks that there has been a dispute of some manner, then the restaurant owner will be saving time and saving money and avoiding litigation because they have adhered to what the requirements are for contract workers.
Kelly Street: Great, thank you. I think that definitely is a very good example of how either an attorney can say hey as an employment lawyer these are things you need to watch out for and relaying that to what a business owner could care about or just a great one, thank you. Now we can dive into the media profile.
Janet Falk: Okay. So the media profile that I have developed is something that is very simple to understand and to complete, in fact if anyone looks at it they will see the sample media profile and also a worksheet. And anyone who completes the worksheet can get in touch with me for a free 30-minute consult so that they can then use this on their own.
So the beginning of the media profile is simply the contact information, the first name of the person, their title, the name of their law firm, their phone number, their email address and their actual physical address.
Now this is important because according to the ABA Model Rules 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 regarding advertising, the media profile might be considered in some situations to be an advertisement, because it’s being conveyed to reporters.
And what’s important is that in Rule 7.2 it says any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or a law firm responsible for its content.
So that’s why it’s important to not only have the name, the phone number and the email address, but also the address, because just in case an attorney wants to make sure they’re not getting in trouble for advertising without putting a physical address.
Now the next part of the media profile is a brief description, I would say 50 words that you are a partner in the say New York office of whatever is the name of your firm and you have experience in litigation of a specific industry and you represent companies in Federal and State courts throughout New York and Connecticut or New Jersey.
And in addition to provide a little more color in detail you have represented clients in complex matters including contract law, general commercial litigation, product liability and then perhaps some industries like pharmaceutical or financial services or environmental issues.
So having established that 50 word description in a general tone, now we become a little more specific. Focus on litigation in specific industry markets and then you would list in a bullet point format what are those areas that you litigate. It could be personal injury or product liability or trust of the state’s, consumer fraud and class action and so on.
Now reporters always know what has happened before but they want to know what is going to happen before it happens.
So if you can show a reporter that you have your finger on the pulse of the market and you know what is flying under the radar then they will want to talk to you and not anyone else.
So the next part of the media profile is trends on the horizon or upcoming hot topics. And these again are going to be bullet points, an issue that should be getting more news coverage and requires a knowledgeable attorney who can simplify technical aspects.
So the example that I just gave about the difference between contract workers and employees, that’s the kind of trend that I’m talking about. It could be that there’s a new regulation so companies will have to change some aspect of their operations in order to be compliant or it could be something of a law that’s going to affect businesses in a certain way.
So having these trends or topics that no one else is paying attention to, the reporter will think that they are getting a head start and a jump on what is going to happen in the marketplace something that their readers need to know to save time, save money and make more money as we have said before.
So we have the contact information, we have the general description, a little more granular about the kind of practice that the attorney has and then these trends. Now a reporter is a person and the attorney is a person, so let’s give a quote, a sample of what it is that you might say when you got into a conversation with this reporter, and you might say something like the top companies in this industry are gearing up for the implementation of regulation one, two, three, because they want to be ready for the operations department to implement these changes and then the marketing team can prepare for customer feedback and the launch.
So now you have explained something snappy, it would be a little snappier than that obviously, but you wouldn’t explain why it is that this is important and you have given us the reporter a sense of what it would be like to talk to you if they were in a conversation with you attorney.
Finally at the bottom, you have your contact information of your assistant. If it’s not yourself or if it’s not your public relations consultant so that the reporter would know who to get in touch with because you might be too busy as an attorney to take your own phone calls from a reporter.
Now I want to point out that this is something that reporters love to get. Reporters were always looking for new sources and they have an active database where they keep track of the people that they’ve spoken with before. And in fact, I was at an event where a reporter for one of the Law360 Publications said, I want a 50 word explanation of what an attorney knows about a subject to determine whether it is worth calling the attorney.
So it’s not just me, Janet Falk, Public Relations Professional saying that an attorney should have a media profile to share with reporters about why you, why now and why people should care, but here is a reporter who actually says, I want 50 words about what an attorney knows on a subject so I can determine whether it is worth calling the attorney.
Now obviously this media profile is longer than 50 words, but it makes the point that reporters are always looking for sources and if you can show them that you are aware of what’s happening in the marketplace and that other people need to capitalize on your insight, then you will be the attorney that the reporter calls.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome, so my biggest — my role on this podcast as traditionally as is just me, traditionally though I always jump in here and I’m like, all right, this sounds great, but I’m a huge cynic and skeptic, I don’t have any time and yadi, yada, yada.
So here’s my — so I’m going to play the role of the cynical listener and I’m going to ask some constructive questions, some other thing here’s I’d love to get some tactical stuff not that we haven’t — I think there’s been a lot of good tactical stuff already in here, but here’s my questions.
So one, how do we even start to find these reporters, like we just go to the New York Times and they have their email on there and we send them this email and then if that’s the way we do it, aren’t they getting like 10,000 of those a day and like aren’t they just putting them in their spam box?
And then two, there is another, there is a better way to do it, because I’m being presumptuous here and kind of snarky, there’s a better way to do it, how is a better way to go about that and then the second kind of piece to that is okay, so I guess more like holistically, how do we prospect the reporters in general, like is it, do we have more success if we’re trying?
I think you mentioned even just going deeper into it, finding report that covers a more specific niche or do we go to a more specific publication, like do we try to swing for the fences of the New York Times or does that even make sense for us?
So respond to my cynicism if you would, please.
Janet Falk: Your cynicism Gyi is very well-placed and I rub up against this all the time. So my question is who do you want to be calling you? Who do you want to be thinking that you are the person who is going to provide them with the insight that they need?
Now once you have determined who that marketing might be, my question is where are they looking for information, and it’s great if you can be on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, the front page the New York Times or CNBC. Yes, I have been all these places with my clients, but more people are looking for information in their industry publications.
So it’s very simple to find who the reporters are at these industry publications because if you’re talking about Supermarket News or Chain Store Age or something like that, they usually have a masthead and it lists the names of all the reporters and often their email addresses or even from the website of that publication, you can usually email the reporter directly. Many law firms have a Contact Us page, publications have that same page.
So if you’re thinking, how do we get in touch with these reporters, in most cases, the publication is making it easy for you, because they are listing their reporters’ names and often their email addresses in the publication itself and on the website.
So think about where your potential audience is looking for information and then those are the places where you want to be, which maybe the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and CNBC and so forth, but it may be in some niche publication like I said, Chain Store Age or Supermarket News and what have you.
There also are databases that public relations professionals subscribe to. I don’t recommend that an attorney subscribe to it because it’s expensive and they don’t need to use it all the time, but that’s where I get that information.
I go into the database and I find the name and the phone number or the email address and another information about the reporters, so that’s how I identify them.
I want to think about your comment that reporters are being inundated with these comments, with these introductions and with these requests and pitches for story ideas. And yes they are. We all get more than a hundred emails a day and so we have to think about something that’s going to be catching the reporter’s eye, and ear, and interest. And I think it’s very simple to write something that says Source in uppercase letters and then you say something that’s going to provide insight into what it is that they want to talk about.
So if there’s a regulation that’s about to change then you can say, source attorney comment on regulation regarding X. So it’s very clear that you’re offering someone a reporter, a resource that they’re going to need more information in order to write authoritatively about whatever is this change in the regulation and they’re going to be looking for attorneys, so why not do that.
I want to give a slightly different example about breaking news and how an attorney can introduce themselves to a reporter to talk about a breaking news story. And I think you’ll understand how this plays out in any situation.
So perhaps you will remember in 2015, there was the Boston Bombing case, with the Tsarnaev brother and we were all following this news, I’m sure you two were also, to find out what was happening in that case because it was such a horrendous incident where so many people died and were injured and so forth.
And there were attorneys from the Boston area who were commenting daily on the progress of the case and these attorneys were generally former district attorneys who had prosecuted terrorism cases and so on and so forth.
Now when the verdict actually came out, I noticed that there was a news story that was quoting an attorney from Miami and you’re thinking well, why are they talking to him and not me, he’s in Miami. I’m sure that what this attorney did was he sent an email to reporters saying source former District Attorney terrorism cases, available to speak on Boston Bombing case and he probably sent a version of this media profile to reporters saying, I’m a former District Attorney, I tried terrorism cases. If the verdict is innocent, it means not guilty it means this, the verdict is guilty, it means that. I’m available for comment, here’s my cell phone, be in touch with me.
And that’s how an attorney from Miami can comment on Boston Bombing case, which took place in another venue. So that’s why it’s important to have a good subject line so that your comment or your pitch identifying yourself as a source for comment will be noticed by the reporter who is in that moment, the case of the Boston Bombing case or just in general in the case of regulatory change looking for sources who can comment authoritatively on what is on everybody’s mind.
Kelly Street: Well, there you go, how to break through the news. All right, we’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors and then we’ll be back and I’ll let Gyi ask another question.
Kelly Street: If you are missing calls, appointments and potential clients, it’s time to work with Nexa Professional, more than just an answering service. Nexa’s virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to schedule appointments, qualify leads, respond to emails, integrate with your firm’s software, and much more. Nexa ensures your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 800-267-9371 or visit them at nexa.com/podcast for a special offer.
Kelly Street: And we are back. All right, Gyi, I said I would let you ask another question, but really there’s no permission needed here.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right. Well, so this has been, I think this is great and I’m now I’m thinking okay, I need to stand out, some of that’s going to be the kind of in the messaging and for its email, it’s going to be email subject line. I’m thinking those questions, why me, why now, thinking about my audience prospecting the right reporters.
What do we think about the impact of social media on all this? I mean there’s a kind of — I don’t know Maxim that reporters are on Twitter. Twitter is fast, is Twitter effective for this or is that more of like a social media people are just pushing that.
Janet Falk: Well, I think Twitter can be effective but let me ask you something. When you post something on Twitter is it going only to one person, no, it’s going to many other people.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s true.
Janet Falk: All right. So, I think it’s better to follow people on Twitter so that you can see what reporters are writing about and you can comment and re-tweet and be in a conversation with them on Twitter, but at the same time, you want to be talking to many reporters who are covering the same topic area, so that’s why you have to combine email and Twitter.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Nice.
Janet Falk: Because email is private.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Well I guess there’s direct messages. Some of the reporters I guess leave their direct messages open.
Janet Falk: Yes, yes, some do, some do, and some don’t, but remember if I’m a reporter and I might be re-tweeting what another reporter at my publication is covering, then think of all the other people who are seeing that. If I am in conversation with the reporter at one publication, then reporter in another publication might be picking up on that at the same time. They might not reveal it but they would certainly be following it.
And do they want to know that you’re broadcasting to all of the reporters? No, they want to think that they have an exclusive source. Of course, they don’t, but they want to think that they do.
So that’s why I think –
Gyi Tsakalakis: Have they given the scoop?
Janet Falk: Right. So I think email is better for an introduction, but another thing that you can do to become more known to these reporters as I said, is to follow them and re-tweet and comment on their stories.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Here’s another one, I am just kind of throwing things out that come to mind, you mentioned some of these databases. I’d love to get your thoughts and experience on some of these databases. You suggested lawyers, probably it doesn’t make sense for them to subscribe. What about places like HARO or what’s the other big one, is it Muck Rack or –
Janet Falk: Yes, people ask me about HARO all the time, and I’m always interested to ask do you know that HARO has a paid subscription and a free subscription?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I knew that.
Kelly Street: Yes.
Janet Falk: Okay, but a lot of other people don’t.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Most people don’t, but what is HARO? What is HARO? I don’t even know what that is?
Janet Falk: Right. So it stands for Help A Reporter Out and it was founded initially by Peter Shankman. I’ve met him a couple of times and the idea is that reporters will post a query that they’re looking for someone who can talk about a particular topic and there could be 75 of these queries coming out three times a day.
So that’s 225 queries coming out in the course of the day. Now, not all of them require an attorney as a respondent. Many of the questions are about lawn mowers or beauty tips or other personal life style issues, there are some about law and business and finance.
So I’m not sure that it’s the best use of an attorney’s time to scan three times a day through 75 queries that are not going to be relevant to them, plus those who have a paid subscription are professionals like myself and they’re getting those queries one hour in advance.
So if I’m a professional and I’m getting the query at 11:30 and you’re getting it at 12:30, I’ve already submitted my suggestion for someone who could respond to the query before you even receive the information.
So sure, you can subscribe to HARO and I’ve gotten things through that means, but I’m not sure it’s the best use of an attorney’s time and resources to be doing things an hour behind the professionals.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right that makes a lot of sense and so admitting all of our biases here since we are professionals in this space, but my another kind of cynical skeptical thing, so I’m a lawyer, I’m sitting here, I’m like all right, I’m listening this podcast episode, I’m like all right, I got to get in the news, I’m going to go start, there’s been some good tips in here.
I got some action items. I’m not going to go pay for HARO. I’m going to be behind the ball. I’m thinking about hiring a professional, two things, one is, is like what are some things we should be looking for in having conversations with professionals and another is my instinct here is, is that a lot of these reporters and PR professionals like they have existing relationships right.
So isn’t that — that’s a huge leg up in and of itself.
Janet Falk: I got that question all the time Gyi, and I would say, if I know a reporter and I don’t have a good story, it’s not going to happen. And if I don’t know a reporter and I do have a good story, I can make it happen, because when it comes to my clients I am fearless and I’m sure many of my colleagues feel the same way.
So yes, it’s always good to have a relationship with a reporter but you don’t need to have an existing relationship with a reporter if you have a good story and an idea.
So I can give you an example that I had one client who had a litigation that was in the fashion industry and I had never done anything in the fashion industry and this was a breach of contract issue.
The client had a relationship with a well-known manufacturer and retailer who I will mention at the end and they were supposed to have a one-year cancellation clause, and what happened was the manufacturer retailer decided that they didn’t want to work with this company any longer and they were ending the contract without consideration of the one-year cancellation clause.
So this company was in trouble because they had a lot of overhead. They had a factory, they had union workers and now they had lost this major, major customer. So this was the litigation and as I said, it was in the fashion industry and without having any contact in the fashion industry, I was able to get this story in Women’s Wear Daily, so that is the Bible of the fashion industry from the business perspective, right.
Kelly Street: Yeah.
Janet Falk: So now I’ll tell you that the name of the company who was the defendant was Brooks Brothers. So that’s a name that everybody knows and what I did beforehand was I contacted Women’s Wear Daily and some other fashion reporters and I said, I have this news story, it’s a litigation. I can’t tell you the name of the defendant but it’s a household name and one that you will recognize, so be on the alert, I’m going to issue a press release when we filed a litigation.
So I gave them in advance a heads-up and then when we issued, when the litigation was filed, I issued the press release. I followed up with the reporters and having a great story with a household name and having no contact whatsoever at Women’s Wear Daily, I was able to get a major story.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Nice.
Kelly Street: That is awesome. So one of my questions is Gyi kind of talked about being inundated and reporters are getting, potentially getting so many of these source referrals and source requests, but once you have that relationship started and you’ve been quoted in a magazine or in a newspaper or in an article, how do you then suggest to your clients to not exploit those relationships?
So it could be so exciting that you get quoted one time or two times and they come back to you for a thing but then what are some sort of rules of conduct or parameters that you tell people to have to say hey, don’t go to this reporter with every single thing that you think could make a good story?
Janet Falk: I would think of it in terms of nurturing the reporter, just like we nurture relationships with other clients, and you can keep in touch with the reporter by from time to time, sending them an update or client alert if that’s something that your firm produces or you can write a note saying, I really enjoyed your story about X and here’s another thought.
If you ever do a follow-up story, take into account Y & Z. So I think that you can retain a top-of-mind relationship by just casual references to things that the reporter is covering now or things that they might be looking for in the future or things that you are working on now, as I said an update or a client alert that they might want to keep in reserve for some future reference.
But I want to point out that just as it’s important to keep in touch with the reporter, you do want to merchandise, if I can use that term, the fact that you were quoted in this news article, because ultimately, the more you promote an online link to the reporter’s story then the more clicks, right and the better that is for the reporter if this story is going to be seen more widely.
So I would encourage attorneys who do have the fortune to see themselves quoted in a news story, to merchandise that news story, because it will benefit the reporter and the relationship they have with them to see the story more frequently clicked.
And there are ways that you can do that, you can write a client alert, you can put a link to the article in your email signature, you can write a description around it and then post it on LinkedIn or on Twitter or on Facebook or wherever you conduct your social media activity.
So without directly being in touch with the reporter you are as I said, merchandising and promoting the news story and that redounds to the reporter’s credit because more people will be clicking on that link and more people will see the article.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, that’s really good tips and the other one that we always throw out is setting up some kind of like social listening tool, whether it’s like a Google Alert or a mention, because oftentimes you get quoted, you know the publication you’re quoted in because you have worked with the reporter to get the quote.
But then it gets picked up and then if you want to continue that promotion, sometimes it’s hard to follow that but if you set up an alert where you’re listening for your name or something that’s unique to the article, a quotation or something, you can kind of track how that’s moving around the web and then further promote those articles as well. So good tips in there.
Janet Falk: Yeah I agree with you. I think simply having an alert for your own name and for your law firm name would probably cover that. I did have that experience. I worked with a law firm, it was a two partner firm and we placed an article in The New York Law Journal and it was on a specific aspect that had to do with you won’t believe this debt collection agencies.
And there are, believe it or not, at least four publications specific to the debt collection agency market and the editor of one such publication picked this up from The New York Law Journal and included it in his newsletter that went to his subscribers. And so, this New York Law Journal article was then being magnified and broadcast by this debt collection agency publication.
Kelly Street: Nice, and so they got some extra publicity out of it. That’s great.
Janet Falk: Yeah.
Kelly Street: So I have one additional question that is because I know one of the things that you talk about that can be so great to kind of repurpose your PR is to get some speaking engagements and have conference organizers figure out and know who you are through some other PR and publication platforms that you’re getting.
And so one of the things that I’m wondering just because I’ve seen it so much in conferences that I’ve been at lately is I’m wondering how do you as a PR professional kind of help someone craft whether they’re going to be a legal speaker who talks about legal specific topics or whether someone says, oh you know what, I’ve been successful at growing my law firm, so now I kind of want to promote that and be successful on that.
I know that’s kind of a specific question but it’s just something that’s been on my mind from some conferences that I’ve been at lately, is I’m like how do these lawyers decide that they’re going to be the one who’s going to talk about building a better law firm or they’re going to be the one who’s going to talk about the success they’ve had in a particular area of law?
Janet Falk: I think that’s really up to the individual Kelly. I can’t speak for what a person is going to want to be able to talk about but if you think more in terms of what is going to build your own practice and your own success, then that’s going to be the determination.
So the workshop that I teach Why Her and Not Me-How You Can Be the Attorney Reporters Call, is something that I co-lead with another person. She’s an attorney. She’s actually a patent attorney her name is Pat Werschulz and she and I got in a conversation at a networking event and she said, if you ever want to do a workshop I’d like to learn some new material and I’d be happy to work with you.
And so even though her area of law is patents, she agreed to partner with me and we have now given this workshop a number of times for Lawline, for New York County Lawyers Association and others. And she decided that she wanted to have the experience of immersing herself in a new area namely Media Relations for Attorneys. So it’s not something that she does ordinarily as I said, she has a patent law practice. So it’s really up to the individual as to where they see the opportunity to grow their practice and to establish their reputation.
Kelly Street: Got it. Thank you. Gyi, what else do you have on your mind?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh just more – no, I think this has been some really good stuff. I’m kind of thinking about I guess in the same vein is that, I think one of the — this is kind of like going more philosophically about just kind of positioning and stuff but so many lawyers we talk to say something like what do you do, I’m a personal injury lawyer. Okay can we go any deeper than that?
Kelly Street: Yes that drives me crazy when lawyers do that. Thank you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: In this context, it’s particularly important whether it’s a scoop or even picking the publication you’re going after to go deep.
And so the kind of stating the obvious here, at least you’ve got to go a little bit better with well I’m in Chicago but I think there’s a ton of opportunity especially in this PR realm and I know this is kind of part of the discussion that you both just had but becoming a voice for things that you’re passionate about that have nothing to do with your practice because people figure it out.
So I always make something happening in Chicago, if I’m really passionate about — this isn’t going to work for a lot of people but I’m just going to throw it others I can’t come up with a better example but if I’m passionate about Chicago sports teams and I know some lawyers around town that really do, that are vocal about this kind of thing, you get in, you start having conversations about that on whether it’s podcasts or you’re getting quoted or I mean I didn’t think if there’s a lawyer this is not Chicago specific.
There was a lawyer in Florida that did a whole campaign around bringing Tim Tebow to the Jacksonville Jaguars and it got press. I mean he was on ESPN and Deadspin and all these sites. And so I don’t know, I just I kind of maybe I’m just throwing things against the wall here but I think that that’s a way for lawyers to think about this and there’s a balance there and obviously getting quoted because you’re passionate about the Bears is not going to have the same kind of impact perhaps on your reputation for getting clients or especially in more sophisticated clients who are looking for experts.
But just in terms of like general PR, I think that lawyers will be well served and people in general are well served to like, let’s take a stand or be a voice and the things that you actually care about because the other thing that comes out of it is hope ideally, you’re super passionate about being a personal injury lawyer, right but if you’re not able to articulate that passion in the same way as some other cause, your scoops, your stories, your standing out, it just is going to work a lot better than if you’re like personal injury lawyer has opinion on car accident statistics in Illinois, is that resonating with you all or not really?
Kelly Street: Yes. Yeah. At least for me sorry Janet, you’re the professional here.
Janet Falk: Well I would point out that people want to be seen in the news for a variety of reasons Gyi. And some of them may be for business reasons to attract clients and to receive referrals or in the case that I gave about the person who had a litigation with Brooks Brothers, they wanted to put pressure on opposing counsel and make them want to settle the case. So those are some business-related reasons why people want to be in the news.
But if you want to advocate for a cause or for a belief or for a passion then yeah, those are perfectly legitimate reasons to be seen talking about the news and yes, it does add another dimension to who you are as a person and there are some people for whom that will be a point of connection and it will resonate with them.
Now many attorneys serve on the boards of nonprofit organizations and a non-profit maybe for a disease or it may be a cultural group or it may be affiliated with a religious institution or an institution of higher education and so on, maybe for something related to the law like civil rights or funding for public schools what-have-you.
So yes, there are reasons why people want to be in the news and seen as an advocate for a point of view or for a nonprofit organization of which they are a part whether they’re on the serving on the board, or whether they’re member of the organization.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah and then the other thing, I’m glad we had this part of the conversation because just reminded me of another one that I’ve seen, I don’t know I’ve got personal injury lawyers on the brain today but if you are a — maybe you’re an advocate or you’re a leading voice on like ending distracted driving. I know there’s some other lawyers that are doing that but that’s kind of the intersection right.
So if you focus on motor vehicle accidents and you’re working to end distracted driving though there might be some — there might be a way to align what you’re doing with some kind of cause or if you’re a medical malpractice attorney maybe you’re an advocate for patient rights.
And so, there’s that intersectionality between a cause you are being passionate about so that it’s not just the — I’m pitching ideas on things like the law or the change of law but you’re actually talking about the stories behind your experiences in your niche.
I think that those tend to resonate a little bit more and make better things for reporters then just the Illinois Traffic Law update or something, yeah, I am just making stuff up.
Janet Falk: Right, right. So here’s my suggestion, this is what I like to do. And I like to think about Christmas, right, because Christmas you get a gift in a box and it’s beautifully wrapped and it’s all tied up in a bow, right.
So if I come to a reporter and I say here’s a hot topic, here’s an authoritative source happens to be an attorney, who can talk about this topic, and here’s a person who can give testimonial or some other narrative that will give more color in detail, then I have just given the reporter a Christmas gift, right, because I have the topic, I have the source and I have the color in detail with the witness.
And so now the reporter gets this in a box, all tied up with a bow and hardly has to do any work, they just have to put the pieces together. They go into their editor and they say, I have this great idea for a story, I have a source, I have some corroboration here from the other party, I’m going to go with this and the editor will say aye or nay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. It’s good point. Make it easy for those reporters, it’s hard enough.
Janet Falk: Yeah, because they are under pressure to turn around stories very quickly and they have to turn out sometimes more than one story in a day. So that’s why, if you are already known to the reporter as a reliable source and you periodically keep in touch with them and you send them the occasional idea which is not about you exclusively, but it is about you and someone else. It could be an individual, it could be a company, it could be a nonprofit organization, it could be a community advocacy group, but the reporter who gets the story, the source and some other corroboration for color and detail is getting it all tied up in a box with a bow.
Kelly Street: Ah, speaking of tying things up in a box with a bow, I think that perfectly wraps up this episode. I’m so glad that we got to get a little philosophical at the end. And Janet, thank you so much. I am sure our listeners appreciate all the information and as always to everyone, if you want to be a guest on Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, please let us know and join us.
If you enjoyed this episode, please give us a rating or review on Apple podcast. And Janet, last but not least, if people want to get a hold of you to absorb some of your PR knowledge or retain you as a client or have you retain them as client, there we go, how can people get a hold of you?
Janet Falk: Certainly Kelly. My name is Janet Falk, and my website is janetlfalk.com, and I have lot of materials on my website that people can review in the library section including the sample media profile and I have a monthly newsletter, where I share tips and best practices so that you can learn how you can do some of these activities to promote yourself on your own; and of course, I’m always interested in meeting attorneys that have a solo or a small firm practice wherever they are in the country.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Janet, thank you so much especially since you’re not feeling so hot, have another cup of hot chocolate please.
Janet Falk: I will.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And again, thank you so much for your time and sharing your knowledge here to, I think great value and listeners will appreciate it, and have a wonderful day.
Janet Falk: Thank you and you too. The pleasure is mine.
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