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In my experience, family lawyers tend to be exceptionally good at networking, but building business this way is time consuming and can be expensive. It's necessary of course, but lawyers can also take advantage of various PR activities to promote themselves and their practice. The good news is that, save for a time investment, my suggestions are typically free or low cost. So here are my top PR tips for family lawyers:
Understand your audience
The importance of this point should not be underestimated. Think about your current and past caseload and ask yourself 'who is my typical client'? They are now your 'audience'. You absolutely must work this out before doing anything else. PR should always be strategic and this means you need to understand who you want to target at the outset.
Once you have an audience profile, consider what you can do to reach it, and how you'll go about this. Is your audience on LinkedIn, do they use Twitter? And do they read a paper or subscribe to any magazines?
Make the most of LinkedIn
If your audience is likely to use LinkedIn then set up an account. Complete as much of your profile as possible, it's a bit like an online CV, so make sure it's engaging and reflects your personality. Choose a great professional image to accompany your profile, no wedding pictures, badly cropped holiday snaps or 'I had more hair back then' photographs please. If you see news stories that are likely to be of interest to your audience then post them to your profile – they don't always have to be family law related.
Again, consider whether your audience is on Twitter, and think carefully about this one as a lot of people use it – at least 500 million worldwide. It's worth doing a quick straw poll of each new client you meet over the course of the next three to six months to see what proportion of these use Twitter. Let the results dictate whether or not you create an account.
Once you get started, it's worth 'lurking' for a while. This isn't as sordid as it sounds, it's simply the Twitter equivalent of listening to other people's public conversations. This allows you to observe Twitter etiquette and see how people engage with each other. Once you feel confident – jump right in and start tweeting.
Like LinkedIn, you can use Twitter to share information that's of interest to your target audience. Again, don't feel that it must always be family law related content. If you tweet things that are of interest to you personally, you'll find that people are more likely to engage. Twitter is all about being yourself but a word from the wise – don't drink and tweet.
Get yourself a blog
The celebrity world constantly gifts us with high-profile family law stories, providing lawyers with a world of opportunity when it comes to blogging. Not all family law news relates to celebrities of course, but the point I'm making is that it's a popular topic for the media. In turn, this provides family lawyers with an almost endless stream of stories and case law from which they can create interesting and insightful blog posts.
When writing, it's again really important to consider your target audience and write for them, not you. Far too many lawyer bloggers (typically called blawgers) give no thought to this and write content that is frankly boring. That said, if you want to become known as a specialist family lawyer amongst other lawyers, then crack on with your highly technical copy. Otherwise – don't be selfish and leave the legalese at the door.
Get friendly with the media
As mentioned above, keep an eye on the news agenda. If there are high-profile family law cases are being decided or news stories breaking, journalists will be looking for expert commentary. There's no reason not to send a quick introductory email to a few relevant (to your key audience) publications and offer your take on the matter via written or verbal comments. Make sure you're prepared to act quickly though. National publications such as The Times or The Guardian usually want comments within about 15 minutes to half an hour. Weekly or monthly publications will typically give you a few days or even weeks to provide comments, and are also more likely to accept a full length feature from you.
An understanding of the publication you are approaching is fundamental. There's no better way to annoy a journalist than by sending them something totally irrelevant. So do your homework!
Once described as a ‘memorable redhead’, Victoria Moffatt is the founder of boutique legal services PR agency LexRex Communications (LexRex). LexRex provides specialist PR and communications consultancy, as well as in-depth writing training, to law firms across the UK. Victoria is best summed up as a law geek and news hound, with GSOH and kick-ass PR skills. If you want to know more, follow her on Twitter and check out the LexRex blog.
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