As the media continues to evolve in this electronic age, newsrooms are shrinking or disappearing, the role of journalists is changing, and opportunities for publishing news online are proliferating. The type of information getting published – especially online – also is changing. A decade ago, the chances of getting a law firm press release published verbatim were almost nil. Today, with news and aggregate websites in abundance, wire services publishing on the Web, and more non-journalism-trained editors deciding what gets published, the tables have turned for the press release as a PR tool.
A press release is no longer a vehicle just for informing journalists (who, in the past, mostly cherry-picked the facts they needed from a press release to incorporate into their own stories). In many cases today, a press release is the complete story that your audience will see. That makes the stakes higher than ever before. With that in mind, consider these tips on key ingredients and useful elements to include when writing a law firm press release.
- Include an attention-grabbing headline.
- Include the most “newsworthy” information in the first two to three paragraphs – your audience may not read beyond that.
- Emphasise what’s different about you, your firm or whatever news you’re communicating. Reporters love “firsts” and precedent-setting developments (if they are legit).
- Insert web links to your law firm’s site and blogs, attorney biographies, and related external web pages. (Even if publishers use “nofollow” links that don’t pass link juice, you will still point readers to your firm’s website where they can further engage with your content.)
- If there’s a related video, link to that also or embed it into the press release. YouTube and Vimeo players make it easy to copy embed codes.
- For releases about attorneys, add links to their social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter).
- Provide an email address and phone number for someone knowledgeable and responsive as a media contact.
- Employ useful content. Great storytelling is what sells a release, and these add-ons and themes will help get reporters and editors invested in your news:
- Provide statistics, if applicable, to add timeliness and credibility to your story.
- Add local angles. For example, if a law firm has multiple offices, consider customising releases for each office with a different market (city) dateline. In each release, quote a local attorney/office head on firmwide stories. Consider other ways to localise your release to interest journalists in each city where you want coverage.
- Try to pivot from a current event or story in the news. For example, for a press release about a new law firm office, juxtapose it against a recent story about a downturn in new business openings in the community.
- Relate your news to current or emerging trends in the legal industry. Reporters often are interested in piggybacking on top of what’s on the cutting edge.
- Analyse the impact of the news or development that your release covers. Don’t just report the news about you or your firm – explain how it may affect clients, the business community, other lawyers and law firms, and other key constituents.
- Include at least one good quote from an attorney source or the subject of the release. This adds “color,” personalises the information, and breaks up the routine facts of “who, what, when, where and how.”
Don’t be intimidated by having to produce the perfect law firm press release every time out. By including as many key elements as possible, and hitting upon a couple of attention-grabbing content themes, you’re likely to have success in getting published and positively building the public reputations of yourself and your law firm.