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We invite you to read our weekly Public Reputation tips which integrate various marketing disciplines including media relations, marketing strategy, creative focus and web/technology/2.0.  Please send us your comments or questions and join our conversation.

Public Reputation Tip of the Week

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October 22, 2014
Carlos Arcos


A non-profit organization that I do volunteer work for asked me to review its “elevator pitch” – a short summary used to quickly and simply define what a person, product, service or organization does and briefly outline its vision or mission. It’s so named because the pitch should last no longer than the average elevator ride.

The organization wanted to share this statement with its volunteers so the volunteers could quickly and effectively communicate what the organization does and why its work is important to the community. In the case of this organization, my contact provided me with a full page of bullet points, all of which were important but any one of which was too lengthy to serve as an effective elevator pitch. 

This is not unusual. Crafting a clear, concise and effective elevator pitch is a challenge for many businesses and organizations. The following are some tips to help you craft an elevator pitch for your law firm, a practice group or an individual attorney.

Keep it short: It’s no surprise that, in today’s business environment, everyone is busy, so an elevator pitch should be no more than three or four short sentences or take under 60 seconds to say. Don’t edit yourself at first. It’s usually much easier to include everything you want to say in the first draft and then go back and pare it down.

Explain what you offer: Explain the benefits you, your firm or practice group can offer and what sets you apart from the competition. Remember to include why your experience and knowledge makes you the most qualified to address the need and deliver the solution. This might include your law firm’s record for successfully defending clients or a technical background that better enables you to understand a client’s business.

Avoid legal jargon: Speak simply and avoid using industry terminology or acronyms. Not everyone may be familiar with your area of practice or industry.

Be natural: Get comfortable with your pitch so it doesn’t sound stiff or rehearsed. Show enthusiasm and excitement. If you’re not excited, no one else will be.

Leave them wanting more: The purpose of the elevator pitch is to get you a meeting or, perhaps, a referral. Don’t put everything in the pitch; just pique interest enough to get a prompt response.

Update accordingly: Finally, remember to keep your elevator pitch fresh. Every business – and law firms are no exception – grows and changes, and your pitch has to grow and change with it.

Do you have tips on how to write the perfect elevator pitch? Leave a comment or contact me, Carlos Arcos, at

October 8, 2014
Kathy O'Brien


According to PEW research, several trends are shaping how we consume news and information. The research puts the rapidly shifting landscape into perspective and notes that “More Americans get news online than ever before … 50 percent of the public now cites the Internet as a main source for national and international news, still below television, but far above newspapers and radio.”

This new paradigm has brought about a major change in how news and information is shared, consumed and distributed. It’s clear that, as winds change, there are real benefits to publishing original content and sharing it with your key audiences on a regular basis.

That change is a relatively new phenomenon called “content marketing,” and it really is not new at all. It harnesses the power of tried and true marketing practices and puts them to work in the digital environment in which we now all operate. Just as with old-school marketing, certain principles will help to ensure your success.

At a recent LMA Houston marketing event, I moderated a panel that discussed a few sure-fire techniques for law firms to develop and effectively launch a content marketing campaign. The following are some tips from this panel.

Best Laid Plans

Like any law firm marketing effort, the first step to success with content marketing is outlining the strategy. Put pen to paper, and map out specific goals and expected challenges. Take stock of the resources you have, and determine who will be responsible for each component of the effort. Do you need to hire an outside consultant to write content or enhance your law firm website with new social media functions? You will also need to take a current online content inventory of materials you already have available (articles, PowerPoint presentations, videos, podcasts, infographics, blogs, white papers, planned webinars, e-books, etc.). 

You want to be sure you have a strategic mix of content. Creating that content shouldn’t be an overwhelming exercise. Existing materials take on a new life when they are repurposed into other forms. For instance, after a speaking engagement, create a slide deck on or turn the same presentation into a blog post on the firm website. You can even go one step further and convert that blog post into a video, or turn a series of blog postings into an e-book.

Once you have a good handle on what you’ve got, you can set up an editorial calendar of evergreen stories to fill in the gaps. When you have a solid plan in place, your audience will have at their fingertips relevant, substantive, entertaining, and useful content, each of which should have a call to action that encourages two-way conversation with your target audience.

If I Build It, Will They Come?

A major goal of any law firm content marketing strategy is to boost visibility and strengthen your brand. To do that, you need to provide your target audience with enough quality content on a regular basis. The big question becomes: Now that I’m creating or repurposing all of this great content, how do I make sure people will see it?

A few simple techniques make it easy for your audience to receive your content. First, be sure that all the firm’s blogs are equipped with RSS feeds and opt-in buttons so visitors can sign up to receive email updates. When new content is posted, be sure to share it across all the firm’s social media channels to amp up exposure.

Build a strong opt-in email following, and distribute that content on a regular basis. For example, Jaffe distributes its Newsstand newsletter every other Wednesday, and it’s also available online. We tweet and post the articles to LinkedIn and Twitter so they can be “liked,” shared and commented upon by a wider audience. Jaffe also sends the newsletter to every employee so that, if a particular article is relevant to a client, the lead client manager can share it as an FYI. This is a great way to leverage a potential cross-selling opportunity.

Measure Success

There are many indicators you can use to gauge the success of your content marketing efforts at your law firm. You can note whether firm news is gaining traction in the marketplace by tracking mentions and reposts by industry bloggers and you can track the rates of engagement across social media, inquiries from reporters and your firm’s search engine rankings for select keywords. There also are other more specific barometers you can use to measure success. These include monitoring “click-throughs,” which can give you a conversion rate on each piece/type of content and helps you evaluate ROI. From there, you can tweak your strategy so you’re only spending time/energy/budget where you know it’s working and have a solid understanding of what the effort will produce.

Some good measurement tools include Google Analytics, which is a free website tracking platform. And every social media platform has site analytics. In fact, Twitter just launched one:

Once you have the measurement tools in place, you can track demographics, geography, engagement, reach and interests related to your content.

Like any legal marketing effort, creating a content strategy could be an intimidating task to tackle. If you have questions or need help, contact Kathy O'Brien at

September 24, 2014
Sue Remley


Most lawyers understand that building and maintaining a professional network, both in-person and via social media, is imperative to garnering referrals and cultivating their law firm business development efforts. Unfortunately, after expending a lot of effort, some personal and social networking relationships languish even while others “stick” and grow. Therefore, we are constantly repeating and reenergizing the business development process.

In the interest of time and sanity, I have started encouraging attorneys to “mine the weaker links.” This means reviewing your current network contacts and circling back to those whom you haven’t engaged with in the past few years. This works equally well in-person and via social media.

Here are some tips for mining your weaker links that will make the networking process easier.

In-person networking:

  • Reengage with your alumni networks – Attend a local alumni activity or annual event. Be sure to reach out to your contacts before the event and encourage them to attend. Even if they do not attend, you have reconnected via a call, email or social media engagement.
  • Attend a local bar association meeting – As your law practice and career develop, it’s often difficult to stay engaged locally. Take an opportunity to renew relationships with local professional contacts throughout the year.
  • Visit a trade or community organization event – Most good networkers have been actively engaged in various organizations throughout their careers. Make time to revisit organizations that you formerly served or belong to.
  • Mentor and introduce – The best way to engage and grow a professional network is to assist others. Take the time to help people newer to the business development process by introducing them to your contacts. You will reconnect with old acquaintances and meet new people in the process.

Social networking:

  • Review your LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends – Select three or four people each month whom you haven’t engaged with for a while. Send a personal reengagement message. Ask for an update, and emphasize your interest in helping them as opposed to asking them for assistance.
  • Use social media technology to engage and reengage – Consider using web services, such as and, that cull your contacts and introduce and/or reintroduce you to professionals in your area with similar characteristics.
  • Post information of broader interest – Instead of posting only the type of information that caters to your closest social media contacts, try adding posts with your larger network in mind.
  • Try a new social media platform – Invite a few of your existing social media connections to join you on a new platform. New platforms are emerging on an ongoing basis, so try them out and determine whether they work for you and your network.

You can quickly invigorate your personal network without building new relationships from the ground up by setting aside a few hours to reconnect. Take advantage of the time and effort you expended years or months ago, and remember to freely offer introductions. Take advantage of new applications and aggregators to stay or get back in touch more quickly and efficiently.

You do not have to try everything or try it all at once. Just take some time each month or quarter to investigate what is available.

If you have any questions or insights regarding these tips, please post a comment or contact Sue Remley at or 804.304.2894. 

September 10, 2014
Lisa Altman


Summer ended last week, and my kids went back to school. A new school year means a fresh start. Along with it comes the excitement of a new routine, new teachers, new friends, new extracurricular activities and even new shoes. How does this correlate to the legal market, and how can law firms take advantage of the back-to-school spirit?

The following are a few back-to-school-inspired tips for lawyers and legal marketers.

Get Organized

As my daughter and I labeled her school supplies and loaded up her new backpack, I was reminded to revisit my own to-do list, clear out my inbox, and follow up with colleagues and clients I’ve been unable to connect with this summer. For law firms, now is a great time to review marketing and business development plans that were put in place at the beginning of the year to ensure strategies and goals are on track for the fourth quarter

Check In with Old Friends

With camp and summer vacations, sometimes it is hard to stay in touch with friends and clients throughout the summer months. As school started, I encouraged my daughter to connect and re-establish friendships by scheduling playdates. As clients return from summer vacations, invite them for coffee or lunch to reconnect and check on current and future matters. Have any priorities shifted? What are they working on that you can assist with? Can you offer guidance on any issues?

Join a Club

Back to school means a myriad of extracurricular activities to choose from. As the kids join the soccer team and sign up for art classes, consider joining a legal organization like LMA or the ABA, or a trade association like PRSA or IABC. Back to school is also a great time to further explore hobbies and personal goals. Depending on your interests, consider signing up for a local photography class or joining a Road Runners Club in your neighborhood. By joining a group outside your law firm that reflects your personal interests, you will learn while expanding your network and making new contacts.

Get to Know Your Teacher

We all know the teacher can make or break the school year. I take every opportunity to get to know my kids’ teachers by volunteering, attending back-to-school night and checking in from time to time to see how I can lend a hand. Now is a great time to schedule a meeting with firm management to discuss the firm’s overall marketing strategy and its end-of-year goals. 

Do Extra Credit

I always encourage my kids to go the extra mile with their studies, and you can do the same with your client relationships. For example, take time to follow your colleagues and clients on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. This will ensure you stay informed of their professional and personal interests, allowing you to relate to them better.

Feel free to contact Lisa Altman at or call me at 301.943.9948 to further discuss your back-to-school strategies.

August 20, 2014
Stephanie Holtzman


It’s August and, while many are squeezing out the last moments of summertime fun, the calendar is filling up with law firm rankings and awards deadlines for the coming months. With so many opportunities, how do you select the right candidates to nominate? Here are five tips to ensure you are putting your best attorneys forward to benefit your law firm’s public reputation.

  1. Study the questions and know the publication: Before you get started, carefully review the ranking submission process and make sure that you understand what is required and when. Scheduling a timeline is helpful to keep you on track. If possible, review the list of winners from previous years. See if you can identify any trends in whom they selected. It may vary from year to year, but this will give you a sense and help you identify the best candidates in your law firm. It will also help you figure out how steep the competition is.
  2. Select an attorney who fits the requirements: Make sure you select an attorney who has a story to tell that fits what the publication wants to know. If the attorney’s experience is not relevant to the specific award, find someone else. You also want to ensure that you are representing attorneys and/or practice groups that fit the strategic goals of the firm. Attorney rankings are time-consuming, and not making the proper decisions early on can lead to a lot of wasted time, frustration and disappointment.
  3. Select an attorney who has cases that can be discussed on the record: Many rankings submissions require that candidates list representative experience, often within a certain timeframe. Make sure that the candidate has casework that can be listed on the record. A couple of confidential matters are OK, but the majority should be publishable. Otherwise, it is hard for the publication to get a true sense of the candidate—and nearly impossible to profile a candidate who wins. Also, many attorney rankings require that candidates list references. While this can be tricky, it is important to select clients who are comfortable being on the record on the firm’s behalf. If you aren’t sure, call and find out ahead of time or find someone else. Never list someone if you aren’t confident that they will come through.
  4. Look to previous submissions for material: As my colleague Susan Holmes outlined in a recent blog post, there is a silver lining to consistently submitting nominations on the firm’s behalf. An archive of previous submissions gives you a deeper understanding of the attorneys and practice groups in your firm, a sense of the matters they are working on, and whether they can be listed on the record. It is often helpful to have approved language that can be repurposed in other submissions.
  5. Pro bono never hurts. Nominations frequently ask for the attorney’s pro bono or charity work. While it is not always relevant to the actual topic of the nomination, a candidate who has a strong record of pro bono work, or is dedicated to volunteering, can often stand apart from the crowd. Even if the question isn’t asked directly, weaving this information into the summary portion of the nomination is usually a good idea.

Thinking through these steps before you select an attorney to nominate will help ensure your best chance for selection. But even if your attorney is not chosen, the exercise will still give you deeper insight into the firm and perhaps uncover more opportunities to market it.

To discuss attorney rankings submissions and other issues related to law firm media relations, email Stephanie Holtzman at

August 6, 2014
Michelle Samuels


Summer is a fickle friend. You wait for its arrival all year (at least I do), but once it’s here, it’s fleeting. A brief vacation, some time at the pool and then, before you know it, it is September, and summer is over.

In between vacation, pool time and your workload, what can you do to maximize your summer so your practice will benefit come September? The answer: Use some quick and easy summer law firm marketing tactics! After all, August tends to be the slowest summer month for attorneys and their clients, so use this time wisely to make marketing inroads that will benefit your practice once the weather turns cooler and things get busier.

Read the news with an agenda While you scan the news to see how a new regulation will affect your practice area or where things stand with that litigation you are tracking, think about which clients also would care about the news you come across. Take the time to share a relevant article with key clients, along with a personalized note about why you are flagging the article, what they may be concerned about and an offer to discuss those issues at their convenience. This technique is like a shortcut to drafting your own client alert, but can still yield good results. And, most importantly, it shows clients they are always on your mind.

Teach yourself some social media skills – You may have joined LinkedIn or Twitter, but let’s face it, you haven’t been taking full advantage of all that social networks have to offer. Dedicate some time to getting a better handle on how to maximize your social media presence by joining relevant industry groups on LinkedIn, publishing a LinkedIn article or following relevant Twitter handles. It can only help your legal marketing efforts (as long as you follow your law firm’s social media policy rules) and make it easier to maintain your social media efforts year-round.

Plan ahead for your fall marketing efforts – Remember the famous fable of the ant and the grasshopper? Be the ant, not the grasshopper! If your marketing plans for September onward are sketchy – or, worse, non-existent – then it’s time to gear up. Things will get busy in the fall, and it is best to prepare now. Schedule time to write an article or client alert based on an upcoming regulation/litigation/transactional matter coming down in the fall (and give yourself due dates). Make sure you have plans to attend or speak at a relevant industry event. Speaking engagements book up around six-plus months in advance, so submit a proposal to speak for yourself or at least one of your attorney clients in the spring now if you are just getting started. If you prefer to just attend an event, challenge yourself to meet and exchange contact information with other attendees to obtain the best return on your investment of time and money.

Like the ant in our story, if you spend some time in August thinking about legal marketing in between pool time and vacation, you will be prepared come September.

Any suggestions of marketing tactics you like to employ over the summer? Share them below, or email Michelle Samuels at

July 23, 2014
Keith Ecker


We here at Jaffe talk a lot about the evolution of the legal industry, but change is not unique to our marketplace. In fact, the entire English language is a constantly shifting construct. A sentence construction or word choice that our grade school teachers might once have considered grammatical sacrilege might now be the acceptable status quo.

As a legal marketer, it’s important that you are up to date on the latest in sentence structure, word choice and punctuation rules. Not only will your knowledge ensure accuracy in your business communications, but it also will facilitate the principal purpose of writing – to be clearly understood by your audience. That’s why I am providing you with examples of English grammar rules that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

  • Two spaces good, one space bad: The issue of how many spaces to use after a period is so contentious that I have seen editor friends of mine become enemies in the blink of an eye. The truth is, however, that one space after a period is the proper format. While it was true that two spaces were the norm, that was literally more than 40 years ago. If you are still double-tapping the spacebar after you complete a sentence, you need to try to break that habit.
  • “Because” should never start a sentence: I abhor this rule that my teachers instilled in me in grade school. You certainly can start a sentence with “because.” Granted, it should be used in a dependent clause that is joined to an independent clause via a comma. For example, “Because I sprained my ankle, I could not run in the race.” See? Perfectly acceptable in a grammatical sense, and it creates an interesting structure.
  • Always use “more than” instead of “over”: This is a new one, though for many of you, the original rule was probably unknown anyway. But the truth is, according to the AP Style Guide, you formerly should never have said “over 1 million served” or “over a billion metric tons.” Instead, a writer was supposed to use “more than.” However, as of this year, the AP changed its attitude and decided to become agnostic when it comes to the use of these two phrases. So feel free to use either “over” or “more than” interchangeably.
  • Impact is exclusively a noun: While it will annoy grammarians if you use impact as a verb – as in “How will our marketing strategy impact sales?” – the truth is that it has become commonly accepted for people, particularly those in a white-collar business setting, to use impact either as a noun or a verb. That said, if seeing “impact” used as action language unnerves you, you can always exchange it for “affect” instead.
  • Passive voice is always wrong: There is no arguing that passive voice is not the ideal sentence construction at least 90 percent of the time. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and you find them frequently in the legal context. Specifically, if the thing that is being affected by the action is more important than the ones doing the action, then passive voice can be acceptable. This is often seen in write-ups regarding new legislation or legal decisions, as in “The bill was passed by Congress” or “The decision was made by the Supreme Court.” While you could flip both of these sentences around to give them an active structure, it could be argued that leading with the bill or the decision is the better option because of the emphasis the writer wishes to express.  

Do you have any grammar rules that you think are ready to be put out to pasture? Are business communications ready for “LOLs” and emoticons? Leave a comment or send me, Keith Ecker, a message at

July 9, 2014
Joi Scardo


Every lawyer, practice group and law firm has a brand. The savvy among us understand the importance of controlling our brand’s image and devote appropriate levels of budget, staffing and investment time to brand planning, strategy and implementation. To be truly effective, however, an additional step is required: ongoing brand monitoring.

Years ago, when people talked about our brands, it was behind our backs, and we almost never found out about it. Today, the speed and reach of technology means most of these conversations are happening right before our own eyes, as well as those of our clients and prospective clients. The number of locations where our brands might be mentioned is mind-boggling, and the conversations are occurring – regardless of whether we consent to them or even know about them.

We can hope that the conversations about us are positive, but unhappy clients and even our competitors can be less than kind in an instant, with nothing more than a single blog post or tweet. We’ve all read the horror stories of brands for which such comments spiraled into a disaster. While the brands of law firms and lawyers might not have the same public profiles as, say, Taco Bell, one could argue that the repercussions of unchecked negative comments could be more devastating.  

On the other side of this coin, brand monitoring can give you an opportunity to personally thank those who have made positive comments and provides intelligence about where your targeted audience is engaging.

7 Tools that Monitor Law Firm Brands

For years, lawyers have monitored their clients, the clients’ industries and their competitors using online tools. Do not overlook using those same free and easy-to-use tools to monitor and protect your reputation.

Google Alerts: These alerts will search the entire web for mentions of your brand, including some social networks. Set up an alert for your name and your law firm’s name. Include typical variations of each, including at least one for the key areas in which you practice.

Twitter: To keep up with tweets about your brand, run a search using Twitter’s advanced search tool, and save the search for ongoing monitoring. As an alternative to remembering to run your saved search, Tweetalarm keeps track of Twitter conversations for you. With this tool, you also can track who is tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL like

Facebook: If you maintain a Facebook page for professional, rather than personal, networking, use the search feature to view mentions in different areas of this network. Make use of search filters to see results in specific areas such as public posts, posts in groups, pages, etc. If you have one or more groups dedicated to your professional brand, remember to set up notifications for postings.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is recognized as the leading social network for professionals and should be one of the tools you regularly use to network and to monitor your brand. Simply run a search for your name and your firm’s name through the search box at the top of the page. You can narrow search results to include only mentions by people in their profiles, group mentions and mentions in LinkedIn Answers.

Google+: While not yet as widely used as some other social networks, Google+ continues to gain in usage and has a search box where you can find anything about your brand happening on its network. Narrow your search from “Everything” to just Google+ posts to see updates that mention your law firm and lawyers’ names.

YouTube: Thanks to the ability to record videos from webcams and post them immediately, YouTube should not be overlooked in brand monitoring. Use the site’s main search box to find videos about your brand. Any videos resulting from your search can be sorted by number of views.

HootSuite: If you participate in more than one social networking site, you might want to use a tool such as HootSuite to monitor social media. HootSuite allows you to track and manage multiple accounts, including those on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. It is free for up to five accounts and has a mobile app.

Don’t Fear the Commitment

So, you run a search on your brand using one or more of these tools and find that the insightful article you published last month has been retweeted numerous times and the free counsel you provided to your favorite charity has been mentioned on its blog. Nice. Your brand is in fine shape.


Just because the results are good today doesn’t mean they will be the same tomorrow or next month. Creating and keeping a positive online brand for your law firm and attorneys is an ongoing process, and one you should not neglect.

What are you doing to monitor your law firm’s brand? Do you need assistance in putting a monitoring program in place? Leave a comment below or contact Joi Scardo at

May 21, 2014
Vivian Hood


It’s done: the tentative discussions, the intense negotiations, the signed agreements, the handshakes. Your law firm is proud to have a new lateral hire – a partner with fresh promise and possibility.

The success and satisfaction of a lateral hire has a strong correlation to a firm’s commitment to an integration process, as a March 2014 lateral partner satisfaction survey confirms. Aric Press, editor-in-chief at American Lawyer Media, wrote in his news story about the findings that, “They wanted specifics on matters ranging from cross-selling their practices to announcing their arrivals …”

How does your firm prepare for an announcement of a new attorney? Here are a few questions to consider.

  • Does the firm have a standard plan of action or checklist to be used every time a lateral joins, or has this been an ad hoc process?
  • Is there a media relations plan in place targeting relevant national, local and industry trade publications for the new lateral?
  • Is the news about the new lawyer, or group of lawyers, worth considering for an advance news story? Depending on the experience, public personage or value of the lateral growth, it might be appropriate to secure media interest in advance with the promise of an embargo. This can go well with reporters with whom the firm has a good and trusting relationship.

Beware, however: The idea of announcing a lateral before the deal is done is risky. I will never forget a firm that, years ago, forged enthusiastically ahead with a news blast on a Friday to make the Monday print news cycle. Unfortunately, over the weekend, discussions fell apart and the high-profile lawyer walked away from the firm. It was embarrassing for all the parties when the news broke on Monday morning about his move to the firm and quickly turned into news about him not joining the firm. All things considered, it’s best to wait to announce until after all parties sign the arrangement.

  • Will the new lawyer be available for media interviews after the announcement, or is she going on a “no email” two-week vacation? If she will be absent, wait for her return. The news doesn’t have to be released on the exact date of the signed agreement.
  • How can your firm’s social media platforms be effectively used for the announcement?
  • What is the plan to continue leveraging the lateral’s news announcement? What profile opportunities exist for local, regional or industry trade press?
  • How will you approach the announcement internally? Ideally, the first internal communication to the firm – in advance of sharing it with media – should mention how the new lawyer can benefit the firm’s existing clients and other firm practices for immediate cross-selling opportunities and introductions.

While these communications-related tips for announcing a new lawyer are only one part of a larger integration plan, law firm marketing professionals should be prepared with a consistent approach. A law firm’s growth strategy depends on the success of these lateral movements, and each firm needs a strategy that fits the firm’s overall business goals.

For tips on strategic and effective announcements about lateral hires, please contact Vivian Hood at

May 7, 2014
Michelle Samuels


What attorneys can learn in their media relationships from how we treat our mothers

Perhaps you buy your mom flowers and send her a card. Or you take her out to brunch. Maybe you and your kids (her grandkids) make something homemade for her. Or maybe you don’t believe in “Hallmark holidays” and feel Mother’s Day should be all the time, not just on a Sunday in May.

No matter what Mother’s Day philosophy you subscribe to, the bottom line is you are supposed to make mom feel loved and appreciated, right?

Keep that philosophy in mind when dealing with reporters. Reporters may not expect brunch and flowers this Sunday, but they do appreciate when you, as a source and resource for their publication’s coverage, treat them with respect and appreciation. Here are five basic tips to keep in mind for maintaining a strong attorney-reporter relationship. (Your mom wouldn’t mind if you followed these guidelines in your relationship with her, too.)

Return phone calls: Seems like a no-brainer, but if reporters call with questions (whether an interview has been scheduled or not), call them back. If you are asked questions you can’t or shouldn’t answer, just tell the reporter you can’t talk about that and, if possible, find the right person at the firm who can. 

Keep your appointments: We are all busy and may need to reschedule things once in a while. However, if you have plans with a reporter for lunch or for a phone interview, try to keep them. If you need to reschedule, do so with enough time so it doesn’t inconvenience the reporter too much, and confirm an alternate time as soon as possible. If you must reschedule at the last minute, you’d better have a good excuse.

Show you are invested in the relationship for the long term: Providing a heads-up to a reporter on an interesting case currently being decided or regulation going into effect shows you are trying to help him/her, even when the benefit to you is not entirely obvious. Same goes for offering to discuss an issue on background to educate the reporter or connecting a reporter with a client on a specific topic if requested.

Be interesting: Getting quoted is about sounding concise, relevant and interesting. Talking to a reporter as though he/she is your law firm associate or taking too long to get to your main point usually kills your chances of being quoted. As in any conversation with a time limit, impart the information in an easy-to-understand way, and make sure you explain why the topic is interesting or why people should care.

Respect boundaries: Some reporters are fine with running quotes by attorneys for an accuracy check. However, accuracy doesn’t mean turning a one-line quote into a full-blown paragraph of legalese. If a reporter is courteous enough to let you review a quote for accuracy, only review it for factual accuracy, and turn it around quickly. The reporter is often on deadline at that point and needs to submit the story to his/her editor for review. Turning quotes around quickly shows you are a reliable source and respect the reporter’s needs.

What are your tried-and-true guidelines for maintaining a good relationship with a reporter (or your mother)? Do many of the same rules apply? Leave a comment below or email me at