As a publicist for Jaffe, I often assist clients with drafting and submitting awards submissions. As most of us in professional services marketing know, the number of annual award and ranking opportunities is staggering. It can be extremely time-consuming to prepare these submissions. Sometimes the task is so daunting that you find yourself asking if it is worth the effort.
As frustrating as composing and submitting law firm ranking entries may be, the truth is that clients, prospective clients, potential hires, and current partners/staff do give rankings weight. In this article, I’ll explain why rankings matter and provide some tips on developing a ranking submission strategy.
Allocating Resources for Legal Rankings Submissions
It seems many firms commit significant resources to submissions. According to a 2016 survey conducted jointly by the LMA/LFMP and BTI, 80 percent of law firms planned at that time to maintain or increase their use of submissions. Although many large law firms have a person, or even a team, dedicated to submissions, many smaller and midsize firms must rely on the marketing or communications manager/director or the office administrator to handle this task. The survey found only 18 percent of law firms have a dedicated staff to manage submissions. (It should be noted that this percentage was likely near zero a mere decade ago.)
Cost of Submissions
The survey found that the average cost to develop a submission is $2,550. This survey is four years old so the number is now likely higher. Regardless, the fact is that many firms are committing significant resources to submissions, especially on an annual basis.
Understanding Your Goals
The survey also asked participants about their primary goal for submissions. Attorneys said the primary goal is to enhance firm recruitment and make existing clients feel better. Legal marketers indicated the primary goal was to improve morale internally and make existing clients feel better. These goals do help build and enhance the firm’s brand, which is important. But what about generating new business? Surprisingly, this didn’t rank very high in the survey.
This may not be a bad thing since the ROI on submissions can be difficult to calculate. Therefore, law firms should develop a strategy when choosing which rankings and awards to submit to. Instead of complaining about the process of preparing submissions, as many of us do, it’s beneficial to take a step back and audit your process for submissions.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your attorneys when selecting which opportunities to respond to:
- What are you or the attorney looking to achieve?
- Is there a better tool to achieve the objective?
- How does this recognition help the attorney or the firm?
- Has a client discussed this recognition with you?
It’s also important to establish a budget and make sure you have the support of at least one attorney for any submission. When it comes to submissions, it’s about the journey, not the destination.