How YOU Can Get on a Reporter’s Go-To List

*This article was provided by Janet Falk, an expert in media relations for law firms. Learn more here.

When companies, businesses and individuals seek legal advice, they contact an attorney they know or have read about. 

Reporters do the same.

When you read a news story, perhaps with a quote from another Real Estate attorney, don’t get mad that a reporter who probably never heard of you did not call. 

Get even, by introducing yourself to the reporter and highlighting the business insights you bring to her readers.

Create an Executive Media Profile, a tool I’ve used to suggest attorneys as sources to reporters at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Chain Store Age, to name a few media outlets.

Unlike a speaker bio, or a press release, an Executive Media Profile establishes your credentials and answers two key questions of the reporter: Why YOU and Why NOW?

First, summarize your areas of practice: intellectual property for technology venture capitalists or commercial real estate for foreign investors. Focus on a few themes without listing your degrees, clerkship and former corporate titles. This text should occupy three sentences in no more than six lines. Include your Name, Partner at law firm name, your email address, phone number and street address above this paragraph, making your contact information readily accessible. Note that in some states, the profile may be considered advertising, so label it accordingly.

Next, create a bulleted list of three to five hot issues for that publication’s readers. These topics may affect sales, operations, finances and so on. Demonstrate you understand the issues that keep business executives awake at night. Be specific and keep each idea to one line. No need for details here; you’ll give the reporter more depth and nuance in a subsequent conversation or interview.

Build a list of the trade and business publications that your current and prospective clients read. Review the three most recent issues to identify the journalists who regularly cover topics that align with your areas of practice. Contact them by email and highlight WHY YOU are a potential source for them and WHY NOW is the time for the journalist to speak with you. Refer to an article to grab their attention: 

Your recent coverage of issues in the ____ industry caught my eye. I write to briefly suggest some ideas of potential interest to your readers. 

Follow-up with a phone call in a week or so. Don’t pursue the reporter; leave one reminder voice message. They will call when they are interested.

On a quarterly basis, share a client alert or article to keep your name in front of the reporter. You may also update your list of topics.

Watch the news for a newly emerging topic. For example, perhaps a politician makes a campaign speech at a manufacturing plant in the market sector of your clients, reach out to those industry trade publications. Share your thoughts on how the candidate’s idea might affect companies.

Finally, when the reporter does call, take a few moments to prepare for the interview. Get her name, phone number and email address, plus the exact subject of discussion. Promise to call back in a half hour. That will give you time to confirm with the client that you have permission to talk with the press (if appropriate). Also, you will be able to consider what you might say, instead of speaking off the cuff. When the client has agreed and you are ready, call the reporter back and offer your pithy insights, emphasizing business consequences.

An Executive Media Profile focuses on potential hot topics; it offers reporters access to an authoritative observer on subjects that readers care most about: how to save money and save time, often by avoiding litigation

The attorneys who offer thoughtful comments and make themselves easily accessible by phone put themselves at the top of a reporter’s go-to list for timely insights. Quotes in news articles that explain how the law affects business not only answer readers’ concerns, they drive prospects to call that attorney.

Janet Falk is Chief Strategist at Falk Communications and Research in New York. She develops and implements proactive media relations strategy for law firms to attract clients and to put pressure on opposing counsel in litigation. Contact her at Janet@JanetLFalk.com or 212-677-5770.

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