In the era of online content marketing, the press release seems as quaint and outdated as the fax machine.
But don’t be so judgey. A well-written, concise, timely press release remains one of the most potent vehicles for getting your law firm’s story in front of important audiences.
If anything, press releases are more important today than they were back in the day when they took over newsroom fax machines and made one of my editors “cry for the trees” they were written on. (Fortunately for those trees, press releases are now almost entirely distributed electronically. You’re welcome, Earth.)
The reason press releases are more important today is that we’re no longer solely, or even primarily, interested in winning over increasingly hard-to-win-over reporters. Lawyers and law firms are essentially their own publishers now. As long as you have a website, social media or email (ideally, all three), you can tell your own story directly to your clients and potential clients.
Here’s why a good old-fashioned press release is still a great way to get your story out there:
You set the tone: If there is more than one side to a story, and there usually is, whoever tells the story first has the advantage because everyone else has to respond to that version. Your press release can provide an accurate timeline and recitation of the facts, as well as establish who is the proper source for more information.
Your hands are tied, in a good way: Press releases follow a formula, the same formula most news stories follow: most important information up top, a few paragraphs of explanation, a quote or two from important players that put the news in perspective, and, usually, a boilerplate paragraph about your firm. That formula forces you to tell your story clearly and concisely. And, ideally, it forces you to do all that in 400 words or less (online press release distribution services, like PR Newswire, tack on an extra charge for releases longer than 400 words, so brevity is usually in your economic best interests as well). The process of writing a press release helps you see your story the way others will see it and tell it more effectively.
Boost your SEO: Search engines reward websites that provide new, relevant content with better rankings. Posting news releases regularly and driving traffic to them via social media, online distribution and e-announcements can ultimately help your firm’s website achieve a higher ranking on search results.
Tell stories the media won’t: If you win a $500 million verdict, lots of publications will write about it. But if you get named to a “best lawyer” list, or you get appointed to an important, but arcane, task force, or you hired a new associate, don’t expect the news media to care. But that doesn’t mean nobody cares. Clients appreciate knowing that their lawyers are well-regarded by their peers, and that arcane task force may be devoted to a subject near and dear to your clients, and that new associate is a sign that your firm is healthy and growing. A press release can distribute that good news across the Internet via free and paid services, and that online content can drive traffic to your firm’s website and your lawyer’s bio pages. Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, primarily) can further slingshot that message across multiple platforms and reach even broader audiences when your contacts share your posts. If you’re feeling really ambitious, a press release can serve as the jumping-off point for an e-announcement to your firm’s mailing list.
For all those reasons – and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting – the press release remains a valuable tool in your firm’s communications toolbox.
Muse Communications, LLC, helps lawyers, law firms and legal services companies tell their story by providing sparkling content across a wide variety of platforms. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.