Too many times, lawyers miss opportunities to be quoted (or to be in a feature) on a publishing platform. For free (aside from some non-billable time). And not only are lawyers missing an opportunity to get name and firm recognition, but they’ve probably made a not-so-good impression on the journalist.
It’s one thing to decline the offer—journalists understand that. But they need an answer, and quickly.
Most journalists run on very tight deadlines. We’re talking hours and days, not weeks. So when a journalist asks an attorney to be a source, they need an answer as soon as possible. Otherwise, they’ll go to another source. Perhaps a competitor. And likely, the attorney that didn’t respond won’t be called again. Remember: “old” news isn’t good news. Journalists are paid for new news. (That, and if they don’t get their story out first, someone on Twitter will. Just think how fast word spreads these days…)
Conversely, if the attorney declines respectfully or agrees, there’s a good chance that attorney will be top of mind for the next story. The whole point of being in the media is to become a go-to source in the area of your practice niche. Being a source, sharing your knowledge with others builds credibility and awareness. And in the event the story is about a client or case the attorney is working on, it’s a good chance to “set the record straight” (with client permission, of course!).
How we can prevent this from happening? Well, one solution is to create awareness. Communicate to your attorneys the importance of a prompt response. A few ways to execute: having a PR policy, inviting members of the media to talk to your attorneys; share best practices from attorneys who have great relationships with reporters.
To my legal marketing friends, how do you stress the importance of having good relationships with the media?
To the PR pros, what’s good timing for a response? What else do you look for in a source?
[photo by Brooks Elliott, via flickr.]