Hear that buzzing sound? No, it’s not an Amazon drone dropping that new electric shaver for Dad on your front doorstep (at least not for a few more years). It’s the sound of the well-oiled PR machine of the world’s largest Internet retailer and its media-savvy CEO, Jeff Bezos.
The Amazon head honcho (and more recently, owner of the Washington Post) is known for successfully courting publicity. Sure, he’s got the added advantage of heading up the company that is synonymous with online shopping – so reporters are taking his calls – but he also knows how to play the game. On Dec. 1, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired the story about Amazon’s plan to offer 30-minute deliveries via drones, or “octocopters.” The story was picked up by just about every major news outlet on Cyber Monday – the biggest online shopping day of the year. Despite questions that remain about the viability of drone deliveries (FAA roadblocks, privacy concerns, etc.), there are lessons to be learned – even for legal marketing – from how Bezos unveiled the news.
Pivot off a major event. Bezos chose to target Cyber Monday, when his current and prospective Amazon customers were already thinking about shopping and were likely to be hovering in cyberspace at some point during the day. For law firms, aligning with a top news story of the day can make a pitch more relevant. For lawyer PR, a tried-and-true strategy for getting quoted by reporters is to offer commentary on significant events, cases and trends that directly affect your practice area.
Offer an exclusive. Before sending a pitch or press release to every media outlet, offer the news to one newspaper, magazine or broadcast outlet as an exclusive. This is only a good idea if it’s a prominent, respected vehicle that will reach your audience. Major media like exclusives and other media tend to follow their reporting. The fact that “60 Minutes” first reported the Amazon story made the announcement more grand and credible. (For this lesson, forget the fact that some have criticized the fluff reporting by “60 Minutes” on this story.)
Explain why the news is relevant to readers. In Amazon’s case, drones could revolutionize online shopping deliveries to consumers. With a law news pitch, don’t just offer the facts of a case or firm development – lead with what it means to clients, other attorneys or the industry it affects.
Be the first out of the gate. News coverage is competitive. We may never know if anyone else was exploring drone package deliveries because Amazon has now laid claim to being the first. All other things being equal, being first to pitch the media often wins the prize. This surely is true in the legal arena, where competition from qualified attorneys as media sources can be fierce. The key is to have foresight, be prepared and jump right in when a story breaks (and sometimes before), so you can be assured of having a voice in the discussion.
Focus on what’s unique. Amazon not only was the first to announce drone deliveries (albeit, in theory), but let’s assume for this lesson that it also is the first to consider it. That’s news! If, as an attorney, you successfully employ a strategy never tried before, or help secure a first-of-its-kind victory in a specific industry, don’t hesitate to make that your lead. Setting precedents is something to crow about and most media want to be a part of telling that story.
Pitch a story – not the firm or an attorney. This one’s a little tricky since, in reality, Amazon kind of is the story here, and Bezos is no shrinking violet when it comes to publicity. But the focus of this Amazon story was same-day delivery of packages via drones. In law firm media relations, the pitch always will resonate more if you focus on the law, the client and the impact, instead of making it about you or your firm’s success.
Looking for more strategies on how to get your news covered by the media? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.