Using the Media to Get New Business

Diane_hamlinGood publicity can indeed get your firm new clients, according to the presenters on the LJN Web Audio Webinar I just attended, entitled, "A Marketer's Guide to Media Training for Attorneys."

My favorite part was the "Five Biggest Mistakes Lawyers Make," which was covered by the skilled marketer Diane Hamlin of the Hamlin Strategy Group.  Based in San Francisco, she represents a small number of major law firms and is reachable at dianeehamlin@EARTHLINK.NET. The five mistakes include:

  • Too much information. "Reporters hate to hear a lawyer say, 'let me put that into context for you,' because they know the lawyer will go on for five minutes," Diane said.
  • Missing press cycles. Timing is everything when it comes to publicity.  It's a mistake not to call a reporter back promptly, or to leave a voicemail for the reporter at 10 PM, or to call with a big story at 5 PM, when the paper is trying to close its editions.
  • Bad assumptions regarding follow-up. Don't ask the reporter if you can review the story before it is printed -- reporters hate that.  "But you can send the reporter an email to follow up to make sure your points are understood," Diane said.
  • Failure to ask "What's the angle you're pursuing here?"  You need to know if the reporter is calling you for a simple quote, or whether you are the target of an attack that's been in the works for weeks.  Also, if the reporter asks, "Is there anything else you'd like to add?" be certain to restate the key message point that is most likely to appear in the story.
  • Believing your own press.  If the lawyer thinks he or she is as great as a positive article portrays them to be, they are asking for trouble.

Diane recounted how PR can directly turn into new business by being a quick thinker and savvy marketer.  It was 4 AM when Diane's Blackberry alerted her that a class action lawsuit for 1.6 million women had been filed Wal-Mart alleging sexual discrimination in pay and promotions. The obstacle was that she was just about to leave on a trip to England. 

Contacting Elizabeth Lampert Public Relations immediately, Diane was able to line up a partner from her firm to comment on the story in the press. Twelve hours later, when Diane landed at Heathrow Airport, she saw the front page of The Financial Times, and there was the story about the lawsuit, and it quoted her partner. 

As a result of the news story and other publicity, her firm was brought in on a case for a major auto manufacturer that was following the story.  "The client said, 'based on what we read about you in the press, it's clear that you know what you're doing,'" Diane said.  "So don't ignore the power of the press!"

The Web seminar was moderated by the multi-talented Elizabeth Lampert, Director of LJN's WebAudio Division and president of Elizabeth Lampert PR, which consults law firms on strategic plans, media placements, hiring, structuring and training of internal PR Departments.  The other panelists included:

  • Allan Whitescarver, Director of Communications at Clifford Chance US.
  • Marsha Redmon, Esq., president and founder of M Group Communications. 

    Go to for an article about mistakes lawyers make in media interviews.

  • Amy Spees of Elizabeth Lampert PR, and a former reporter with the Daily Journal is Northern California.

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