11 publicity misconceptions that cost lawyers a fortune

friday, 12 january of 2007

11 publicity misconceptions that cost lawyers a fortune

By Trey Ryder

MISCONCEPTION #1. You have to know someone at the media to get publicity. Not true. Whether you get publicity depends almost exclusively on the strength of your news release or story idea. It has almost nothing to do with who you know. As a rule, editors don't go out on limbs, even for their friends. Editors want good stories. You give them a good story idea and you've got a good shot at getting it in print. You give them a bad story idea and your chances fall like a rock.

MISCONCEPTION #2: You must pay for publicity. No. Print articles and broadcast interviews are almost always free. Some small publications, to assure their survival, give preference for articles to advertisers. Also, some publications offer special sections where, if you buy an ad, you get an article of equal size. But, for the most part, articles are written free by the major newspapers and magazines. Interviews are broadcast free by radio and TV stations. All you have to do is provide them with a good idea they want to use. If they believe your idea will interest their audience, they will likely write or broadcast your story.

MISCONCEPTION #3: You get publicity only if you’re a big advertiser. No. Advertising sales reps are quick to point out that -- other than advertising -- they have nothing to do with what goes in print or over the airwaves. It makes sense that big advertisers would have an open door to big articles. Yet when questioned, editors deny it. And, from my experience, you don't have to be an advertiser to get articles. In fact, many of my clients have not been advertisers, yet we still have done quite well getting articles and interviews.

MISCONCEPTION #4: Editors rely only on well-known authorities. No. True, a story may have more credibility if the source person is an authority. But editors do not insist on an “authority” threshold to conclude you are reliable. In most cases, the fact that you are a lawyer is enough. Many of my clients have been new in law and short on experience. Still, the fact that they were lawyers was enough for editors to see them as reliable sources.

MISCONCEPTION #5: Publicity is really hard to get. No, it isn't. You simply have to know how to communicate with editors -- and how to give them what they want. Many lawyers and law firms hire public relations firms and pay them outrageous fees each month with the hope of getting articles in print and interviews on radio and TV. From my experience, you get more publicity when you handle your own publicity effort, rather than working with a p.r. firm.

MISCONCEPTION #6: Media exposure will bring you new clients. Usually not. In most cases, the fact that you've been quoted in the media does nothing to attract clients. Exposure can establish credibility, but exposure alone won't attract new business unless (1) what you offer is unique and your prospects have no place else to turn but to you, (2) you use publicity to deliver a competent marketing message, (3) your publicity explains your competitive advantages so prospects know how you differ from other lawyers, and (4) it causes you to interact with members of your target audience.

MISCONCEPTION #7: Publicity alone can be your entire marketing program. No. This is where many lawyers waste thousands of dollars. If you use publicity by itself, you’re doomed to failure because publicity does not complete all the steps in the marketing process. But when you build your publicity program on marketing principles, and use it along with other methods, it can play an important, powerful role in your marketing effort.

MISCONCEPTION #8: The key to publicity is the number of articles you get in print. No. The key to publicity is how well the articles deliver your marketing message. That’s why you must start with a competent marketing message. If your message is incomplete or confusing, it makes no difference how many people receive it.

MISCONCEPTION #9: For best results, call the editor on the telephone. No. Most editors don’t like telephone calls because they interrupt work flow and interfere with deadlines. Many editors now screen calls through voice mail. When I carry out publicity programs, I never initiate a call to an editor. Well-written materials don't need a verbal explanation.

MISCONCEPTION #10: You increase your chances for success with an elaborate press kit. No. Many editors have told me they throw press kits into the trash, unopened, because they don't have time to wade through all the materials. Public relations firms often promote the use of press kits because they can charge clients tens of thousands of dollars to prepare them. I have conducted my most effective publicity programs with nothing more than simple query letters and news releases.

MISCONCEPTION #11: Your chances for publicity improve when your information comes from a p.r. person. No. Many editors have don't like p.r. people. They see p.r. people as highly paid telemarketers, always trying to push something on the editor. Editors and reporters like working directly with the authority quoted in the news release or article because that person has the knowledge to provide the information the editor wants.

You'll discover specific steps you can take to generate all the publicity you want in my seminar "You Made The Front Page!" For complete details about this seminar program, send me an e-mail (trey@treyryder.com) and put 'Publicity Seminar" in the subject line.