As public relations professionals for lawyers and law firms, we have all heard about the great case – that precedent-setting win that the entire firm is jazzed about, but that nobody can discuss outside the confines of the office. This is one of the most frustrating parts of our work. However, every once in awhile, a case comes along that we can discuss and promote. It isn’t quite the Holy Grail, but it comes close. Because it is such a great and unique opportunity, we want to make sure that we do everything possible to promote it.
If you have such an opportunity, here are a few tips to help you promote the litigation success.
1. Do Your Homework
An ongoing, open dialogue with firm attorneys is ideal to help you know when the “big one” may be coming. Once you have identified the case, be sure to follow it as it works its way through the courts. Follow the reporters who are covering it and the industry groups that the decision affects. Gather lists and contact information ahead of time so you are prepared to do your outreach when the time is right. Develop your key messages ahead of time as well, even before you know whether the decision is in your favor. They can always be revised, but it is helpful to have as much done beforehand as possible.
2. Develop a Strategy
Work with the attorneys involved to determine your goals, and then develop a PR strategy to meet them. You will need to confirm that you have client approval to do media outreach and whether the attorney has permission to serve as a spokesperson. You also will need to determine whether the firm will issue its own press release or statement, or whether it will use the client’s release. Will the attorney be available for media interviews? Will interviews be done with the client? What about internal communication? Will you be issuing a client alert?
3. Be Creative
Sometimes a story is best told in a dynamic way. Video is a great way to share a message and make people feel personally connected to a case. Consider producing a two- or three-minute video of the attorneys discussing the case and why the win is significant. This can be sent to reporters, used as part of a client alert, shared on the firm’s website and distributed on social media. When you draft a press release, you can include a link to the video – just be sure the release and video reflect the key messages already determined and approved.
4. Keep It Top of Mind in the Future
As we frequently discuss at Jaffe, there are lots of rankings opportunities throughout the year that serve as excellent platforms for promoting significant verdicts. Do a little research to determine what is available for the practice area or region and then be sure to submit a nomination by the deadline. American Lawyer publishes a “Litigator of The Week” feature, and Law360 runs a number of ranking opportunities to consider. Many regional business publications also highlight noteworthy attorneys, so it is worth taking the time to find out what is available in your area.
Speaking opportunities are also a great way to share the ongoing impact of the decision. Think about promoting in relevant trade organizations, regional networking groups and associations that meet on a regular basis.
This process can be daunting and intense. If you need a bit of guidance for your firm’s media relations program, please feel free to email me, Stephanie Holtzman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.