The National Law Forum

The Blog of the The National Law Review

Positive Media Exposure: Elevate Your Practice and Your Firm

Legal Marketing Association Southeastern Chapter

Your business is on the rise yet every time you scroll through your news feeds, read the newspaper, or watch a news show, you find your competitors highlighted everywhere instead of you and your business. You want this kind of coverage, but you are short on time due to your demanding work schedule, board activities, community involvement and family engagements. Dealing with the media also feels uncomfortable and you fear that reporters will not tell the story correctly. Sound familiar? This is what we discovered when we asked our clients (i.e. very smart lawyers we love to work with!)

To be fair, media interviews can be a daunting experience for almost anyone. These feelings are compounded by the notion that subject matter experts may believe that reporters and interviewers are out to get them. The truth is, the media should be treated just like a client. A great majority of reporters are cordial people who are assigned to cover a story on a topic. It is their job to talk with various sources, research the topic, and educate the public. Yet, almost always, reporters are on deadline while juggling other priorities assigned to them on any given day. Their challenge is to collect a depth of accurate information in order to inform the public and meet a tight deadline. Does that sound like a client? Have you ever received a call or an email from a client who needs to know the latest on a particular issue and has questions they need answered right away? It’s not that either is out to get you, rather each need to be educated so that they can succinctly and accurately inform their audience, be that a reader or a senior executive.

What you must realize is that the interviewee is often more knowledgeable on a subject than the interviewer, therefore you should approach the interview with full confidence and take advantage of the opportunity to provide useful and practical information. After all, this is your opportunity to shine and help educate the public. Here are some tips to ensure a successful media interview:

  • Similar to preparing for a case, successful media messages depend on preparation. Pick a story angle ahead of time and stick to it thought the interview. This bolsters your ability to serve as a subject matter expert.

  • Consider all of the difficult questions that may be asked and prepare answers. This critical step will help you from being caught off guard.

  • If you are asked a challenging question that you did not consider or are asked to talk about something that you simply can’t discuss, you can maintain control of the interview by using bridging techniques with phrases like: “before we leave the subject, let me add that …” “And the one thing that is important to remember is …” “While this is important, it is also important to remember that…”

  • Reporters love to use research and statistics in their stories as much as lawyers do. Feel free to prepare some stats and takeaways for reporters to help emphasize the story angle you are trying to promote.

  • Reporters are trained to listen. Just because a reporter puts away a notebook, a microphone or turns off a tape recorder doesn’t mean the interview is over and you can say anything without it being used.

  • Reporters hate when someone misleads or lies to them. They don’t like it when their stories have to be corrected through no fault of their own and because of inaccurate information provided to them. Accuracy is a gold standard for reporters. Help them achieve it and you can bet they will come back to you with another interview opportunity.

  • Instead of using industry jargon, speak in simple terms to appeal to the general public and potential clients. The reporter will most likely use those comments word-for-word which earns more thought leadership clout.

  • Body language can be just as important as words. Keep your arms loose and gesture naturally. This will help you appear calm and confident. Don’t cross your arms, your legs or put your hands in your pockets. Strive for a relaxed and happy face. Again, you are the expert who has the opportunity to share your knowledge.

  • Some reporters will ask you to spell your name on camera or tape so the editors can include it in the caption. If they don’t, be sure to spell your name and your firm’s name so they can include it in their story correctly.

  • Whether your story appears online, in print, radio or on television, don’t forget to engage in the digital space. Update your social media channels, website and blogs before and after the interview to continue the growth and expansion of your online brand.

Representing your business and knowledge base to the public is extremely important for you and your practice. Keeping these general media tips in mind puts you at a greater advantage to deliver a successful message and stay in front of your clients. With this said, remember to stay positive and have fun! And of course, call the Marketing Department or your public relations representative to work on a customized approach for each story.

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