12 July 2019

Boosting your media profile: the rules of engagement

Farrer Kane Associate Director Clo Davey was recently published by Legal 500, sharing her insights on how legal professionals can boost their profile with the media.

Boosting your profile in the media is not only helpful when drumming up new business, but can also help further your profile and career prospects. However, when dealing with the media, it is worth bearing in mind some fundamental rules of engagement. Getting to grips with these principles should stand you in good stead for when you next work with a journalist:

It's not about you - sadly, a journalist won't particularly care if your firm is 'global', 'client-led' or 'forward-thinking'. Don't be tempted to stick to a marketing script or navel gaze. Instead, try to work out what a journalist really wants and how you can deliver this in the most compelling manner. Avoid sales patter at all costs - stick rigorously to insight and opinion, and get to the point concisely and quickly.

What is the point? - just as clients are your primary concern, readers are the priority for journalists. Journalists like legal commentators who can unpick the industry trends that most directly affect their audience. Some good news: the issues that keep your clients awake at night are likely to be the very same ones that will worry their readers. Presenting these issues in digestible, layman's terms is one of the best ways to prove yourself as a valuable contact.

Do your homework - try to get a feel for a journalist's readership, tone and preferred subject matter before getting in touch. That way, you can tailor your offering to suit. Explaining the intricacies of a point of law might be perfect for a legal journal; but if you're speaking to a national reporter, you'll need to ditch the jargon and hone in on what this law means for the everyday reader.

Make it snappy - journalists have deadlines to meet and ever-increasing remits to master. They are time-poor, so anything you can do to make their lives easier will be welcome. Conversely, waste their time with long-winded, irrelevant copy and you'll quickly burn bridges. Be prompt and succinct.

Why now? - even the most unique idea must be timely to gain mileage in the press. National journalists in particular will pay little attention to you unless you have an imminent hook in mind. Make sure your idea passes the 'why now?' test.

Act fast - breaking news journalists will have even more demanding deadlines than usual, and will often choose to run top-line comments that are received quickly, over more considered musings that arrive later in the day. Be prepared to be quick off the mark.

It's a two-way thing - all healthy relationships involve some give-and-take. Give freely of your time and insights, and try to accept that not every comment you make to a journalist will end up being used. Do also listen to feedback graciously. Most journalists will be honest - some brutally so - about the quality of the material you're offering. Don't take it personally. Learn from it and you'll likely hit the mark next time!

First published 11 Jul 2019 on Legal 500 Jobs