Experts are back – how Law firms can get the message

As the Fake News phenomenon begins to recede in favour of Trusted Sources, one of the most fascinating dynamics of our current situation managing the Covid-19 pandemic, is the front and centre return of Expertise.

Medically, the person we want to hear from most in Ireland is Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Houlihan, with his reassuring tone and calm insights. In America, the spotlight falls on Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But what of experts in wider society? With business in Ireland in such flux we are well served by Government Departments and Agencies, leading economists and industry bodies offering advice and supports for business survival and recovery.

Yet the limited visibility of Law Firms in the national media debate around substantive issues facing commercial life has been surprising. Many seem to have withdrawn from communicating their most valuable currency – Expertise.

I completely understand that every firm will have been impacted by Covid-19 and are adjusting to what is described as the “New Normal”. However, at almost two months into Lockdown and with a Re-Opening plan for the economy just announced, now is the time to start communicating with vigour.

Employment Law has been well represented in the national discourse and some interesting work has also appeared around Contracts, Construction Law, and Insolvency. However, in addition to those subjects, Ireland Inc is also looking for legal direction onareas with enormous commercial impact (and editorial potential) including Data, IP, Litigation, M&A, Tax, Competition, EU, Corporate Advisory & Governance to name but a few.

As a senior communications expert and having handled PR for law firms including Gleeson McGrath Baldwin and formerly for Philip Lee during the past number of years, this is what I recommend for your consideration if you wish to build your brand editorially:

  1. Decide: are you ready for PR?

Be strategic – this is a business decision that requires investment. Interrogate your thinking. What do you want to achieve from PR?  Why Now? Why is your insight likely to be more compelling than others? How do you measure success and how do you translate news coverage into new business?

  • Be Useful, Be Relevant

PR for the sake of it and “because everyone else is doing it” has no value. Ultimately, it is meaningless and a waste of time and resources. But, if you have something interesting to say or offer a point of view that is distinctive and engages media, go for it. This is one of the best ways to enhance and build a brand while developing a reputation as a “Go To” source on a particular subject.

  • Stay the course

Resist the temptation to “dabble”. Engaging with PR is about building media relationships in the medium to long term. Invest in activity for 6 months and review / repeat. Have a clear idea about what you want to achieve and how you assess results in terms of national news, broadcast, online and digital coverage plus new business opportunities.

  • PR is collaborative – listen to the expert

Telling Stories and Making News is what I do by working closely with clients to identify angles that bring expert specialisms to life. For instance, “The Car That Spies on Me” was a story that brought the topic of Data to national print and broadcast attention for Philip Lee.  As did “Kylie vs Kylie”, a trademark dispute between Kylie Minogue and Kylie Jenner that got Gleeson McGrath Baldwin on national radio. Your PR expert will also act as a buffer between client and media, assessing opportunities and deciding what to accept or decline.   

5. Be ready to give media what they need

In many cases, journalists are time poor and want “Ready to Go” copy that is immediately publishable across all platforms. Copy that reflects a fluency in Plain English, an aversion to jargon and an ability to explain and distill complex matters in a compelling way, makes the difference between success and failure.