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S2 E33: Into Public Relations


ICP Logo

S2 E33: Into Public Relations





It’s easy to fall for the idea that Public Relations is a luxurious marketing strategy that is meant only for TV attorneys and law firms at a national level. But the reality is that Public Relations is not only limited to throwing expensive parties to impress people. 

Public relations is essential for every law firm; chances are that you already practice some PR for your law firm, whether you call it Public Relations or not. From the charity work you do for your community to the posts you share on social media celebrating your law firms’ latest accomplishments.

Join Grace and Liel for a conversation about what it means to do Public Relations for your law firm in these times, what opportunities you could be exploring and leveraging, and how to measure the results of your efforts.

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Liel: [00:00:00] Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire public relations officers, those are the words of Daniel J. Bernstein. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and this is In Camera podcast, where we like to get creative about public relations.

Liel: [00:00:47] Welcome to In Camera Podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations. Grace, welcome back. How are you today?

Grace: [00:00:54] Good, how are you, Liel?

Liel: [00:00:55] I’m doing great, Grace. Thank you so much for asking. It’s October, right? We’re entering the last quarter of twenty twenty, and it’s a happening month, right? It’s kind of like the final stretch, Grace. And there is just as we were talking right a minute ago offline about some deadlines coming up, as you were saying, Boy Scouts of America. All of those campaigns are about to wrap up somewhere in November. Right. So I know particularly for you, that must mean a lot of pressure in a way or another. And, yeah, kind of like pushing towards that last effort of trying to drive more leads, more cases. How’s that going?

Grace: [00:01:40] That’s exactly right. You know, with all the deadlines coming up and, you know, as other people probably know as well with regards to Talc, you know, talk is since they pulled it from the shelves and or they’re no longer to sell it in the U.S. or Canadian markets, it’s become pretty hot and heavy in terms of trying to get them all in and just continue with that. But BSA Boy Scout abuse, very sensitive, as we were talking about before, the deadline for the bankruptcy courts is November 16th. I believe I can confirm that a little later, but I believe it’s November 16, as you said, in mid-November, which does create a very interesting time crunch for law firms and vendors, for everybody really involved in it.

Liel: [00:02:22] So Grace talking about time crunches, right? The last quarter of the year is also a time when some law firms consider investing in marketing initiatives that they may have, kind of like putting on hold until they were reaching kind of like the end of the year to see whether there is going to be enough phones and cash to really be able to push them through. Because obviously, as you’ve often said here in the podcast, do you want to carry forwards cash and pay tax on it or you rather reinvest in the business in another way or another? Right. So that’s another thing that we often see happening in the fourth quarter. Sorry.

Liel: [00:03:04] Now, without being said today, we’re going to talk about a kind of marketing that oftentimes is not that talked about because it tends to have somewhat of a complex side to it. Right. And that’s kind of like how do you measure it? So, Grace, why don’t you introduce our topic of the day?

Grace: [00:03:25] So, guys, today we’re going to be talking about public relations PR. And I know when I first brought this up to you, Liel, you were like, this isn’t something that we normally deal with or discuss or any of that. And I happen to have quite a bit of experience with PR, mostly because of the import-export law firm I used to work for many, many moons ago for a decade or so. And so that’s kind of where it comes from. Well, just so you know. 

Liel: [00:03:53] Yeah, I think last time Grace, when we talked about PR was really the early stages of this podcast, maybe episode one or two or maybe three, where we actually acknowledged the importance that there is, in establishing authority with your local community and getting called on to talk as expert as a thought leader when some expertise that relates to your practice area comes up. And is it fair to say that that falls under the result of PR?

Grace: [00:04:32] That’s exactly right. I mean, that’s how I’ve always looked at it. And honestly, the way I’ve seen it defined most of the time is that raise your image to the public as a company or as an individual. And so I yeah, that’s kind of how I’ve always seen it is that’s the way a PR seen. It’s a specific piece of marketing. And also the way I’ve seen it defined is it’s a piece of unpaid marketing. So you can put PR out there and obviously, you can pay for a press release, but the idea that it’s going to get picked up isn’t always 100 percent unless you’re doing it the right way. So it’s a piece of unpaid marketing about your company or you as a brand.

Liel: [00:05:15] Right. And the more we were diving into these grays, the more direct connections exist between some of the marketing activities that we’ve talked about here in the podcast and that we’ve encouraged and the practice of public relations, as you’ve just mentioned, now press releases, which their fundamental element for SEO strategies. Right. It’s a very powerful way of getting valuable links to your website. So that’s one. Now, we’ve already mentioned as well that of establishing yourself as an authority so that you get invited to newscasts and radio shows to talk. Right. Which obviously gives you a lot of exposure and that can generate a lot of business for your law firm. So in a way or another PR does come up here in several shapes. But I’m very interested in hearing grades. What your experience working in a different type of law firm to the one that you’re working now was when it came down to public relations.

Grace: [00:06:19] So I felt like public relations, particularly for the Import-Export law firm, was a big deal because it had to do with how they were perceived in the community. Right. It’s your relations with the public and being in an import-export law firm. The firm that I worked for at the time, they needed to have, which they did, but they needed to have a good image in the community based on all of their past work and the things that they’ve done to help the community going forward in trade. So, again, this was specific to import-export, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s whatever it is that you’re doing, you need to be seen and show that you’re involved in the community that you’re in and that you care about the community that you’re in. And that, to me, is kind of public relations in a nutshell. And with that firm, it was had to do with the international community. So the public relations that we did was primarily having to do with thought leadership, as you mentioned, making sure that we were involved in whatever community events in the international trade community or even specific countries at the time that they were dealing with public relations, with different trade agreements that were going on and things of that nature. So PR to me encompasses all of the things that you and I do on a regular basis, except that it takes it a step further and says, hey, what do you look like to the community? What do you look like to the public? And that is public relations. And that’s how I’ve kind of experienced it.

Liel: [00:07:50] Right. And again, I mean, just as you were saying here and talking about how the community sees you. Right. Revisiting another episode of ours where we talked about community outreach and promotional materials, that’s another massive component for public relations. And one of the things that really stood out from that episode was that use your promotional materials as a way to reinforce your community outreach message. Right. It is a way to support an actual noble cause that you were standing by as a business. And that, of course, completely, you know, stands out from the other traditional way in which brands and law firms have created promotional materials without necessarily having any purpose other than just, you know, creating materials so that their brand can be visible to hopefully one-day potential clients. Right. So that’s been another opportunity that we’ve had to talk about public relations, but more as community outreach, Grace. That’s wonderful. That’s interesting. So what can a small law firm do in terms of public relations? What can a big size law firm like the one you walking should be doing in terms of public relations? Tell us a little bit. Give us a few of the ideas.

Grace: [00:09:11] So I think it would be important to start with, is it worth it? Right. Because that has to be a part of your strategy and your overall marketing strategy, just like we were saying at the very beginning and what you were saying. Right. So I think that you need to take a look and see if doing PR or handling PR or whatever you’re going to do with PR as a component of your overall business strategy, where is it going to fit and how are you going to address it?

Liel: [00:09:40] Right. To me, that’s like number one.

Grace: [00:09:43] So after that, once you figure out whether you should do PR as a whole, meaning should I outsource this? Should I have this inside of my firm? Should I have this as just a little component of my marketing? And what am I going to do to increase my relations with the public, once you have that, figure it out, then you can start talking about how you’re going to do it and what should be done.

Liel: [00:10:08] Let’s stop there for a second, Grace, and see what would be the difference between doing it in-house or if you may, right, what’s the benefit of doing it in-house or when would it be worth your while considering bringing somebody from outside or partnering up with a public relations agency expert to take care of these for you, Grace?

Grace: [00:10:29] So I say you should never have unless you are a celebrity of some sort where you absolutely need to have a PR 100 percent PR company that will take care of all of you PR. There should be a hybrid model involved where you do your own PR because you are the voice of your company or your marketing team is and can properly show who you are out into the public. But there are situations sometimes and issues that could potentially come up that you cannot necessarily handle or you’re unable to because you don’t know the best way to handle it. And what I mean is something as simple or maybe not as simple as what happened right now with COVID. What if you had a COVID outbreak? Somehow it was related back to your firm or your company as something that you may or may not have done properly, then you might need a PR person or PR company to help you handle the spin.

Liel: [00:11:29] Right. Crisis management. 

Grace: [00:11:31] Correct. Exactly. Thank you for the term. Yes. Crisis management. Exactly.

Liel: [00:11:35] And that makes total sense. Now, I do think, for instance, sometimes. Right. And I am going to revisit here another episode that we’ve had where we discussed about offsite CEO and we’ve talked about you don’t necessarily need to have an expert to do this. It could be somebody from your team. But having those outreach efforts in an organized and scheduled way for instance, Grace and you tell me here if you think I’m right, for potentially publish articles on another website that could be of relevance to you. This could be maybe for your local government, for a local newspaper. Right. Having outreach efforts that are actually offering your expertise and insights to these institutions can actually turn into great opportunities of exposure.

Liel: [00:12:31] And you still need to have someone do it on your behalf. Right. And saying, hey, we’re a local law firm. Our attorney expertise is this, that in that, there are great templates, actually, by the way, that you can download and find online very easily that tell you how can you create great powerful outreach emails for either guest writer at a local publication, a thought lead our newscast or blog as well. Guest blogging. Right. Which, you know, I think the whole guest blogging thing; it’s kind of like starting to be behind us. It’s not that of sort of after opportunity anymore as it was Grace, but still, you know, depending on the site and depending how relevant it is actually going to be to you, it could actually really be a great opportunity. So those are opportunities where outreach is also very valuable.

Liel: [00:13:24] Now, Greece, we’re in the 21st century. There are more opportunities that I don’t see a lot of attorneys actually embracing. And that’s portcullis. Right? How many podcasts are there in which podcasts are actually heard by your community, and have you actually tried to make yourself a way into these platforms? To actually, you know, be part of a conversation and bring your expertise and bring your insights to these very powerful platforms that I actually, in many cases have thousands or hundreds of thousands of listeners. And, you know, Grace, I don’t see that happening a lot. I see it and it’s common to see a lot of attorneys being attorney podcasts. And that obviously makes sense. But how many attorneys are actually in non-attorney podcasts actually talking about their insights and advising their community on how not to ever have to use their services by being preventive, being cautious, being diligent, all of those things? Right. So I think that’s a great piece of opportunity. I don’t see that enough. What do you think?

Grace: [00:14:38] That is one of the best opportunities. As a matter of fact, it’s funny that you mention that because I mean, as soon as you’re speaking about this, I was thinking about the ABATE program for motorcycle injury. The Abate program is a government-run program that has to do with stopping people from, you know, hurting themselves on motorcycles. And so I know like the law firm Gacovino and Lake will, a lot of times, they will go to one of these motorcycle endorsement classes where you go get your actual motorcycle license to drive a motorcycle and they have a required insurance component. You can go to your local dealership, a motorcycle dealership. You can go to your local ABATE program. And they will be, believe me, they will not only be more than happy to have you actually speak on the insurance aspects of a motorcycle injury accident, but they will be ecstatic to have you because guess what? You are seeing the other side of it. How can they avoid these problems? How can they avoid and how can they make sure that they are safe as they possibly can be when it comes to personal injury. So exactly to your point, you know, you need to get involved with the community and it’s right around the corner.

Liel: [00:15:51] You know, Grace, you know, just listening to talk about that reminded me of another opportunity or, for example, that an attorney once gave at a conference that I was attending where a criminal law lawyer, went to several frat houses in their city, right. To give talks on how to respond when being detained for a possible DUI. Know which ones are your rights. Most importantly, of course, how to avoid in the first place ever having to deal with that.

Liel: [00:16:25] And if you are ever charged with it, what steps to take right, Grace and is just such a great way of doing community outreach and at the same time creating brand awareness and at the same time helping your community.

Liel: [00:16:43] I guess that goes back to community outreach, Grace. So there is a lot of ways in all that fall under the umbrella of PR. And again, I think Grace, you know, a lot of people, me included, when you brought up the idea of let’s talk about public relations people, things of like the first thing that comes to mind is fancy dress-up cocktail parties where you’re just, you know, throwing out thousands of dollars to impress people. But that’s not necessarily what PR is in today’s world. Right. Although we also see that a lot and it’s a very effective way of public relations as well. Event hosting that’s come on. Like so many lawyers, particularly those doing B2B, who actually that’s a huge component of the strategy, is throwing out events, parties, and that sort of thing to actually get to talk to people and network and potentially find business opportunities. So there is so much to explore is just that we are a little bit well, at least I am. And I’m sure other people are. We are a little bit biased when it comes down to PR. We think of all the things. Grace now. There’s another kind of PR that I think it’s a great opportunity and one that I don’t think we have really talked about a lot as an actual opportunity itself here in the podcast. Right. And that’s publishing your book, right, Grace? Like we’ve talked a lot about a lot with attorneys who have done that as a way to, you know, share their insights, knowledge, community outreach with the lessons that they’ve learned through their experience and share them with the community. Right. We’ve had some very, very powerful, and insightful conversations from attorneys that recently published books, Grace. But publishing a book on itself is a massive PR exercise. What do you think?

Grace: [00:18:32] That’s not easy. I mean, you know, as you know, we’re in the middle of publishing a book.

Liel: [00:18:37] That’s true. 

Grace: [00:18:38] For Gacovino and Lake and under the new Persist publishing venture that we’re going to be doing. And so, yeah, it is. It’s pretty exciting. It’s interesting stuff when it comes to publishing; it’s a whole other world, right? And so, yes, getting involved in publishing is very time consuming and a lot of lawyers just don’t have the time. So, you know, you in that sense, you definitely if you want to publish a book and you have this knowledge that is going to be useful to other people, publish a book, but you’re going to need help. So you do need to hire at that point a specialist, as they call it in PR. And generally speaking, there is a book publishing specialist that you can hire that will help you with all of it, including the PR that would be involved in getting your book out there, because just because you write a book doesn’t mean it’s going to be posted, published, sold or really seen anywhere, right?

Liel: [00:19:34] Yeah, huge, huge element. Right. Of embarking into a project of book writing because, of course, people automatically focus on the first challenge at hand, which is, OK, come up with the content. Right. But there is a way more complex bundle of activities that surround the whole effort of publishing a book even after the content’s been put together, Grace. And so I think, though, I still think, though, it’s a massive opportunity, right? I think it’s a massive opportunity. And it’s very interesting, though, right. Because there are two ways that you can go as a law firm about publishing your book. And what I’m finding very interesting is that many law firms go the route of actually publishing books that are aimed to help potential clients.

Liel: [00:20:32] But there are also attorneys who write books which are more aimed to help other attorneys in the same path or in a similar path that they were or are right. And so that, I think, needs to, in a way or another, align with what is the actual strategy that you have for that book?

Liel: [00:20:58] Is it, you want it to be a source of more clients for your law firm, or is this something that you’re doing as a way of opening up yourself to new opportunities? Maybe you want to become a public speaker. Maybe you are in the midst of launching a consulting firm. Right. And so obviously, these are great ways to push and boost those efforts and really generate interest. Grace.

Grace: [00:21:32] I think that kind of goes back to what you and I always say every single time consistency is key and make sure that whatever you do, you have a purpose and a goal because including PR, anything you do, you create a book. You need to have a purpose and a goal, just like you said, if you don’t know what your goal is or what you’re trying to achieve with that piece of collateral, because that’s what it is. It’s basically become now hopefully evergreen content for your firm and for you as a brand. Well, use it as such if that’s what its purpose is. Or are you going to try and get cases like you said and show, you know, showcase your expertise to your clients. So everything has to have a purpose and a goal before you create it, whatever it might be.

Liel: [00:22:16] Absolutely, Grace. Grace, before we move to takeaways, have we missed another type of PR that you think we should be covering here on this conversation?

Grace: [00:22:28] So maybe not so much miss the type of PR as there are a million ways of doing PR and…

Liel: [00:22:35] We probably are missing a lot of them, right?

Grace: [00:22:37] Yes, we definitely are. There’s so many ways of looking at it. But for financial services, for legal services, for the services industry, I think that we covered enough of what people can kind of take and go back with. Right. Just understand that this there needs to be a goal, just like everything we talk about. There needs to be a purpose. So no matter what you do, including in public relations, your community outreach, whatever it is, why are you doing it and what is the end result that you’re looking to achieve from it?

Grace: [00:23:07] Every dollar you spend should have a measurable return on investment. Whether that means that you’re achieving the brand awareness goals that you’re looking for or you’re achieving case goals that you’re looking for, there needs to be some kind of measurable return on investment. So I know writing a book is hard. Even creating a press release can be difficult for a lot of lawyers because they think more in legalese rather than something new happened in the business. And, you know, we hired somebody new, right? Because those are the ones that you usually see on the news wires, new hires, new, this new that changes that may have happened, that happened in the community. People want to know it’s cool information. Well, there’s a smaller way of doing this. I’m a part of the Forbes communication council, it is a paid advertising type of thing, but they only let you, you have to apply, and so to become part of it, they need to make sure that you are a thought leader in your space and then you’re allowed to become a part of the group. That’s one resource that can help people. If you want to get your information out there, you want to write a little bit and you can be seen on Forbes Communication Council’s website, which is obviously a huge and well-known Forbes 500 magazine website. So that’s one way of doing it. And it doesn’t have to be a huge book.

Liel: [00:24:23] Wow, you’re packed so much in there, right, that I think just in those last minutes of conversation with you, Grace, there is basically all of our takeaways. So why don’t we break those down and come up with a few actionable takeaways for our audience to entertain the idea of how they should go about initiating some PR activities, potentially now on the fourth quarter of the year that they may have not necessarily thought about before. So the first thing Grace and I really love that you say that is how are you going to measure your return on investment on this? Right. I know us in the digital marketing world, we are very, very, very into the habit of by default attributing a return on investment to a dollar amount. But as you very rightly said, not every PR activity that you were going to do is going to have a direct line that connects it to an increase in revenue. Right. Obviously, the long-term goal should be that. But what you may achieve initially may not necessarily be an increase or a direct increase in revenue immediately, Grace. So I think it’s very important to establish what is the goal that you want to achieve and potentially Grace you tell me if I’m right or wrong, but maybe break it down into different stages.

Liel: [00:25:48] Right. My goal by the end of the year is that this activity generates this much awareness or these many connections. And then as we continue by the end of the next year, I am expecting, however, to have acquired this or that. And there are so many things right. I mean, we haven’t even talked about PR that you would do to attract talent to your business. Right. Which is another massive element.

Grace: [00:26:16] Talent acquisition PR.

Liel: [00:26:18] Correct. What’s going to make you a great firm at the end of the day is who is working with you and what’s going to make people want to work with you is, well, how attractive your brand and firm is for them and how are you going to achieve that? Well, a lot of it’s going to be by the actual word that you perform, but a lot of that also is going to have to do with the way that you’ve been marketing to the actual community labor community if you may, that connects with your law firm, right, Grace? So not to deviate, but it’s, measure your results, know how you’re going to be measuring them. That’s when the number one. Number two, Grace. Microphone is all yours.

Grace: [00:26:55]  Number two. Find what works for you when it comes to PR, because as you so rightly said, there are a million different ways of doing this. There are a million different ways of looking at it and being able to put your information and your thought leadership out there. So pick the way that works best for you and the way that best shows you and your brand in the light that you want. Right. How are you going to be perceived? Because it’s all about public relations. So just pick the method that works best for your firm, for your business and for your goal.

Liel: [00:27:27] You know what, Grace? I want to make it even more actionable, right? Take a unique and very current way of being able to do PR that you haven’t thought about before. Think about podcasts. Think about being a guest in a media channel or for a newspaper or something that you’ve potentially haven’t yet done. And then exactly as Grace said, choose one that you think is going to be the right medium for you and go for it, go for it. But I certainly think that you need to kind of think a little bit outside the box here. You potentially already have some PR efforts put up in place. But can you add one more. Grace, our last take away?

Grace: [00:28:09] So for me, the last take away is actually going to be extremely actionable because I have something for everybody. And this is a very minor subscription service. It’s called Help a Reporter, Help a Reporter dot Com. If you want to write, you like to write and you don’t mind writing, you sign up for the service is extremely cheap. And you look at different topics that they have out there. They ask everything, I mean everything from on, different life magazines, on different editorials.

Grace: [00:28:44] I mean, you can just literally look through and see where that website or where that editorial might be and pick and choose the topic you want to write about, they may or may not pick you, but. Generally speaking, they’re on there because they need somebody to give them information on a topic, and so that’s my last takeaway, is go to help a reporter dot com and have your marketing person or the person that writes the best and has the best tone for your company. Go on there and take a look at a couple of topics that you could write on. And it’s extremely cheap and a very good service. 

Liel: [00:29:17]  Absolutely. That’s great. And I would go one further step on that is when you actually get to contribute, whether it’s a journalist, whether it’s a TV network, any place that you’re actually putting your expertise to the benefit of that network have a strategy for asking to that platform to then give you a link back to your website.

Liel: [00:29:45] We talked about this before, and I cannot stress enough how powerful that will be when it comes down to building up authority score and, of course, improving your SEO rankings. Right. So have a strategy also for that to get back to your own platforms and assets.

Grace: [00:30:06] Right.

Liel: [00:30:06] Grace, I love this conversation. Thank you so much for suggesting it. And I’m looking forward to see what you’re going to suggest next week or it’s my turn. We’ll see.

Grace: [00:30:17] We’ll see.

Liel: [00:30:18] All right. Great. Have a great rest of your day.

Grace: [00:30:20] You too, Liel.

Liel: [00:30:23] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at ask@incamerapodcast.com. We’ll see you next week.

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