Using Your Blog to Improve Your Relationship with Reporters
If you’re looking to get quoted in the media as an expert in your practice area, one of the best ways to establish your expertise with reporters is through a consistent, robust blogging practice.
Reporters get oodles of pitches every day, and the vast majority are ignored. That’s partly because there is a fraction of the reporters there used to be (thanks to a changing media environment), and partly because most of the pitches reporters receive are either self-serving, not newsworthy, or both.
But reporters still need good legal sources, people who can tell them if a legal development is groundbreaking or routine, and what those legal developments might mean for the people who are affected. And what better way to establish that you’re a worthwhile legal source than to point a reporter to an archive of blog posts showing that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to employment law, white-collar criminal defense law, or whatever your areas of expertise?
Need help promoting yourself? That’s why we’re here! Muse Communications was named Dallas’ best legal public relations firm by the readers of Texas Lawyer (although we represent clients all over Texas). Drop us a line.
The Perfect Calling Card
Blogging is great regardless of whether you want to become a “usual suspect” in the media.
Maintaining a consistent legal blog, even if that means writing only once a month, is a great way to anticipate and answer your prospective clients’ legal questions. It also helps you stay on the radar of your referral network of past and current clients, other lawyers, and other professionals in a position to send you work.
And, if you want to become better known in the media, a blog is a perfect calling card.
Imagine you’re a reporter covering a high-profile lawsuit with potentially broad ramifications, but you need someone who can put the case in context. So, you ask around, get a couple of names of potential sources, and look them up online. One of the possible sources has a blog with a few years’ worth of meaty posts discussing that area of law, and the other one doesn’t. Which one are you most likely to call?
Tips For Maintaining a Reporter-Friendly Blog
Use plain English. Even if your target audience is other lawyers, it never hurts to write in plain English. Keep legal jargon to a minimum and, if you have to use jargon or terms of art, explain them in terms non-J.D.s can understand. Most newspapers are written at an 8th-grade level, so reporters are looking for sources who can explain complex legal topics in understandable terms. If your blog reads like a textbook, the reporter is likely to look elsewhere.
Be inspired by current events. Most news events have a legal angle, e.g., What legal liability do condo boards have when their buildings collapse? What does the reversal of Bill Cosby’s conviction mean for people with sexual harassment claims? Those are just two examples in the news right now, and reporters are looking for sources who can apply the law to the messy, real world around us. If a news event intersects with your practice area, use that as a writing prompt, and explain what this could mean for your clients and prospective clients.
Reach out and introduce yourself. If a reporter is covering a topic you know about, drop them an email introduction and offer yourself as a resource. Reference some of their recent coverage and direct them to any blog posts you’ve written that discuss the legal issues they’re covering. If you have a newsletter, send them a subscription link. (Here’s ours!)
Don’t expect immediate payoff. Don’t be offended if the reporter doesn’t respond to your email, but also don’t assume they’re not interested. They’re just overworked. If a reporter covers topics of interest to your clients, keep reading their work and sending them an occasional email. Share a blog post you’ve written that might be of interest, send additional information that might be helpful as they’re covering a particular story, etc. No guarantees, but your persistence and patience may pay off if the reporter needs a source down the road.
Want to know more about building relationships with the media? These articles might be helpful.
Amy Boardman Hunt is all about helping lawyers find their voice and showcase their expertise. When she’s not doing that, she’s trying to find great hiking spots in Dallas. If you know of any — or you need a legal marketing muse — drop her a line at email@example.com.