At the start of many a new business conversation or during a strategic legal PR mapping session with law firm clients, the question of national media coverage inevitably arises. Many lawyers want to know when they can expect to see themselves in The Times or on the BBC.
Now, for some lawyers, achieving national exposure delivers fantastic results. Slater and Gordon, for example, are doing a lot of work on this front and seem to be set to loosen Marilyn Stowe’s 10 year+ grip on ITV shows such as This Morning and Lorraine. Certainly, the media profile that Marilyn has been able to grow via national broadcast and print PR is fantastic, and (I believe) drives a lot of new enquiries, and I can understand why a national consumer brand like S&G is intent on this course of action.
‘Mr Loophole’ himself, Nick Freeman, is another lawyer who (a few years ago now) was able to generate strong national coverage and a reputation as the ‘go to’ driving offences lawyer for the rich, famous and ridiculously good at football.
But for many lawyers, especially those with a limited PR budget, going for national coverage at the expense of local or trade media may be a mistake. Why?
- National coverage can be expensive and time consuming to achieve and is extremely unpredictable. It can take many months of pitching ideas before an opportunity arises, and often you will be required to drop everything to fit the needs of the show or publication – something that many busy lawyers find impossible to do.
- Media coverage is never guaranteed. Broadcast and print pieces are frequently ‘bumped’ at the last moment and may never see the light of day – regardless of a 5 a.m. start, £150 ticket to London and 6 hours out of the office.
- Further, it’s important to remember that although national coverage will put you in front of a huge audience, it may not be an audience you actually want to engage. If you get this wrong, you could end up generating a wide range of new enquiries in an area of law that is actually unprofitable for you, fielding a high volume of calls with no prospect of a valuable instruction, at the expense of higher quality leads from existing clients.
This isn’t to say that national coverage doesn’t have its place and certainly, if you can secure an opportunity that helps to further your strategic PR goals, then its power and reach are not to be underestimated. But before you demand that your agency or in-house team get you on the 6.00 o’clock news – remember that your time and money may be better spent elsewhere.
Next time I’ll write about the benefits of local media coverage, and why it could be worthwhile focusing your efforts on often over-looked publications and opportunities.
By Victoria Moffatt
LexRex offers a wide range of PR and marketing services to law firms and businesses that support law firms, including strategic brand and legal PR mapping, media relations, social media training and consultancy, awards entries, legal directory submissions and a range of PR and writing courses.
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