There are many approaches to making a law firm win stand out among the crowd, whether it’s successfully representing a client at trial, completing a significant deal, landing a high-profile lateral hire, or any of the other notable accomplishments that happen inside or outside a courtroom.
While these victories are what you and your clients will remember most about working together, the hosannas quickly begin to fade without an effective strategy and well-executed plan aimed at prolonging your win and making sure the right people know about it.
First Things First: Client Approval
If you’re asking yourself, “How do I promote my verdict, deal or other firm victories?” the first thing that needs to be considered is whether your client is on board. It may be hard to believe, but I have personally experienced situations where law firms spent hours and hours preparing to launch promotional efforts only to discover that their clients wanted the exact opposite.
Gearing up to promote a law firm win only to be shot down by a client can be costly in terms of wasted time and effort. It also can put an unwanted and unnecessary strain on the attorney/client relationship. That’s the reason your first question should be, “Is my client on board?”
After securing your client’s sign off, the next step is making sure that whatever you’re planning will comply with any rules governing lawyer advertising, such as those in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Knowing what is and is not allowed on the front end will save a lot of time and will help prevent any unwitting violations of the rules.
Ideally, you would secure your client’s approval before the verdict is delivered or the deal is closed because timeliness is of the essence if you’re hoping the media will cover your win. Your public relations team needs time to prepare a news release and compile a targeted media list. If your win is already a few days old before you let reporters know about it, then your chances of getting media coverage have dimmed greatly. There are, of course, multiple channels to promote your good news outside of the news media, and we’ll discuss those in greater detail as well.
The final task before creating your messaging is to decide what tools should be used to highlight your firm’s good news, because, frankly, some wins deserve more promotion than others.
Based on the amount of time it takes to win a major case, complete a high-dollar deal, etc., many firms have only a handful of opportunities to make sure their role doesn’t go unnoticed. That is why significant accomplishments should be considered for a multi-faceted promotional effort potentially involving a press release, advertising, and other available tools.
Of course, prevailing in a low-damages trial or adding a first-year associate also represent legitimate wins, but those types of successes typically don’t merit the same treatment as more prominent firm victories.
Basics of Promoting Law Firm Wins
There are unlimited tools that will help spotlight your legal wins, several of which are essential. The firm website is one of the first places for promoting your successes so existing clients and other visitors can learn more about your role.
It is important that this information is featured in such a way that it won’t be hard to find. Depending on the level of the victory, it may be worth considering adding a front-page link to a press release or additional details. The last thing you want is for someone to access your site in hopes of learning more about your win but not being able to find it.
Posting your good news online in the form of a press release through a distribution service such as PR Newswire or Business Wire also represents an important, first-level tactic that should be a no-brainer.
For less than $500 for a statewide distribution, these services will post your release on hundreds of internet search engines and make it accessible to a much broader audience compared to those who visit your site organically.
The press release content can be assembled in-house, but make sure that whoever is writing the text is familiar with any ad rules and can produce a document people are likely to read. Following a big win, lawyers sometimes want to include every possible detail about the matter at hand when a stripped-down version is what readers really want. (At Muse Communications, we regularly prepare professionally written and edited press releases to help firms highlight their successes.)
In addition to including information on your firm website and posting a press release through a professional distribution service, social media also can help spread the word. In addition to posting items on such outlets as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, we advise clients to ask their employees to share the good news on their social media accounts. Even one or two shares/retweets can significantly increase the number of readers a news release gets.
You never know who may be connected to someone who may need your services in the future. Seeing a shared post from their online friend about your victory may be what causes a potential client to call your office for help.
Making Law Firm Wins Stand Out
After you’ve addressed the basics, it is time to consider additional ways to help prolong awareness. That is why we often advise clients to stagger their promotional efforts so the news appears in multiple outlets over a period of weeks rather than days.
For example, many firms jump at the opportunity to publish a professional announcement or other advertisement soon after a significant victory when they would be better served by waiting until the initial “buzz” has subsided. If you’re being quoted by a publication about your win, don’t feel like you need to buy an ad in the same issue. Instead, wait a week and you’ll double the chances that you’ll get noticed by readers.
In addition to advertising, either electronically or in print, another way to draw attention to your victories is by highlighting any related news coverage on your website and social media channels. Even if you or your firm are not mentioned in the story, you can post a link with the key details. For example: “This news story discusses our firm’s win for XYZ Corp. in a closely watched trademark case. Congrats to our partners John Doe and Jane Doe for their incredible work.”
Another, often overlooked, opportunity for promoting significant legal victories can be found in the various “Lawyer of the Week” or “Deal of the Week” honors that are published by legal and business publications.
These types of features typically are put together on the fly by an overworked editor or reporter who may or may not know about your recent accomplishment. That is why we always advise clients to throw their hat in the ring. If you’re selected, then it creates a new opportunity to promote your original win.
If your legal victory received a ton of news coverage or helped establish new law, there may be additional opportunities to highlight your involvement through speaking engagements before business groups or lawyer associations. Particularly if the litigation involved an arcane or contentious area of law, such a presentation can position you as an authority and go-to lawyer for litigation involving that subject.
There is no substitute for standing before a group of businesspeople or referral sources (i.e. other lawyers) and explain how you came out on top.
Such groups are often looking for speakers who can address the news of the day, and they almost always welcome those who played a significant role in the case or deal of the moment to explain more about how they made it happen. (Also, don’t forget to repurpose your presentation into one or more blog posts or a white paper, and to promote those through your social media, firm newsletters, etc.)
These are just a few of the many options that should be considered when you and your firm are thinking about how to best promote your legal victories. Getting the win is the most important part, of course, but making sure your role is known and remembered is what will bring new clients to your door.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has helped lawyers and law firms promote their legal victories for more than 20 years. He is the former managing editor of Texas Lawyer newspaper and the only reporter to provide daily coverage of the federal trial that produced Texas’ rules governing lawyer advertising. Bruce’s two Jack Russell terriers are named King and Chloe. He can be reached at Bruce.Vincent@MuseCommunicationsLLC.com.