EP 61 – Michelle King – How to Pitch Yourself to the Media to Effectively Position Your Law Firm

Michelle King is the President and Founder of Reputation Ink. Reputation Ink is a public relations and content marketing firm working mostly with law firms. The primary service they provide is getting attorneys and law firms in the media – getting them positioned as thought leaders/experts in whatever niche they’re in – securing the media coverage, but also securing the firm as a whole covering their case wins and matters they are involved with. On the content side, they work with firms to figure out what kind of content they should be publishing, how to do that effectively, as well as how to utilize a lot of that content for public relations purposes. If you are interested in contacting Michelle, please reach out by visiting their website at www.rep-ink.com or you can email Michelle directly at michelle@rep-ink.com.

Determining Your Subject Matter Sweet Spot

What do you want to be known for? First, you have to figure out what your subject matter sweet spot is. You can determine this by figuring out the intersection of your expertise, your clients’ interests and needs, and your unique values and expertise. You really need to figure out what the subjects are that you want to be known as an expert on, but also ask the ‘so what’ questions such as, do your clients care about that or does the media care about that? You  also need to understand the media. This goes into knowing what your clients are paying attention to. A PR person is a matchmaker between the client and the media and they are figuring out what the media needs and how their client can fit into that. Michelle coaches attorneys to figure out what is newsworthy and how to intersect themselves into newsworthy topics, which a lot of that for lawyers is providing analysis on specific topics. Lawyers who can do media relations correctly can really shine by using their legal knowledge, providing context and analysis, what happens next, and what clients need to know. Two of the main things that they are often doing are pitching an attorney to write an article or pitching an attorney to be a source in a news story.

How to Present Yourself in a Different Way to the Media

If the media has someone who responds to phone calls quickly, shows up on time, speaks well in front of the camera, and provides insightful analysis, they will go back to them every time. You have to begin by proving yourself on a smaller scale, so do some public speaking, be a guest on podcasts, write articles, etc. You will then have these resources to show others that you are a good media source, but a majority of it is just getting back to them quickly and having something to say,  not regurgitating the news, but giving an insightful analysis of what is happening. The best way is to start writing for publications to give you the sense of how the media works. Editors on a day-to-day basis have to create content for an audience that drives advertising dollars, so they are experts at figuring out and knowing what content works and what kind of information their audiences are looking for. This will also depend on where your client base is and what your clients are looking at. If you want to become a national media commentator, you have to start playing the media game – contributing, putting out media pitches, writing articles, and pitching yourselves to podcasters to serve as a guest. When you do start pitching national shows, you will have a little bit of a resume to show. In doing this, there is time involved, but it is a great way to get into the game.

The media continues to evolve and change. Podcasts are a perfect example of this. Clients often rely on podcasts and can listen to them on the go and they are a really niche media as well. There is such an overload of information out there that people want information tailored to their specific needs. Some outlets have shifted to a pay-to-play model and your best bet is to try to insert yourself into the news. Do you have an interesting take or insight on something that the news  may be covering already or an idea for an article that is really unique and valuable? Most publications have not transitioned to pay-to-play, so there are several sources that are still taking contributions from outside sources. Good PR is proactive, so you want to work with a PR person who is proactively monitoring the news, understands your goals for getting into the news, and is regularly meeting with you to find out what they could pitch but is also monitoring editorial calendars and publications and getting google alerts for topics you want to be positioned as it is an on-going type of activity.

Goals for Law Firms When Engaging with PR Firms

Some firms have a really clear idea of wanting to be in the Wall Street Journal. Some of their other clients know they have seen some lawyers in certain publications and they know they can do a better job of that. But most often, their biggest goal is looking for greater visibility. When a client starts working with Michelle’s firm and starts to get that visibility, it is fun to see the impact that it has. They will start hearing from clients, their web traffic will significantly increase, and it gives them a credibility boost which is valuable in all other efforts of their business development. PR is probably the most difficult to trace back to revenue, but once they start getting more coverage, they definitely see the value. What they are finding is that the media is slammed right now with all of the news of coronavirus and they are having to turn so much content around. If the PR firm secures an interview for the client, they will first talk to the reporter and see what kind of story they are wanting to write and what kind of information they want to get so that the client can be prepared before the call and show up with the right information. The PR firm’s  job is to understand the background behind the interview, what they are hoping to get out of it, and then a little prep around what the media outlet is like, what the reporter has written on, etc. Work is often hard to go viral and if your whole goal is to go viral, that is going to be difficult. Michelle encourages her clients to think about their own clients and narrow it down to think about just one person. Always have one person in mind and try to be as clear and understandable as possible. Most clients stick to the  tried and true of providing value and insights.