When you see a colleague quoted in the news, you probably wonder why the reporter contacted her and not you for your pithy insights.
Here’s why: Reporters call the attorneys they know. They do not call a lawyer they never heard of.
This article discusses how you can introduce yourself to reporters as the year draws to a close. Many reporters at industry, local business and legal publications will prepare a year in review to summarize the significant legislation, litigation and deals of the past 12 months.
Reporters also want to know what awaits the companies in their industry and individuals in their local market, in order to alert their readers and scoop the competition. Attorneys and business leaders are among their primary sources for these round-up news stories and forecasts.
You can tell the media what lies ahead and be among those quoted in such news stories. You can gaze into your crystal ball and anticipate the trends and issues around the bend.
Here’s how to position yourself as a thought leader and participate in this year-end discussion. List the issues that the individuals, businesses, nonprofits and corporations that you already represent may encounter in the next year, and your foresight may help attract potential clients.
As an attorney with substantive insight, you will demonstrate that you have your finger on the pulse of the market -- whether the issues are best practices in construction law, patents or immigration. Plus, you are already anticipating solutions for your clients’ best interests on the subject.
Start with these four categories:
- Legal and Regulatory
- Recent Litigation
- The Big Picture
Assemble the highlights of the past year and predict the trends that await, by addressing these and related questions.
Dive into current legal issues and other regulatory challenges:
Is there a timeline for newly enacted regulation to take effect? Point out how it will affect the industry.
Outline best practices to be implemented so companies will not be vulnerable to litigation fines or other retribution.
As a thoughtful adviser, you probably have already alerted clients about these aspects of their operations so they can manage the new situation. Put together a calendar or a checklist with instructions for them and prospective clients to keep current with the new regulatory requirements.
Litigation and settlement:
- What did the biggest cases of the year teach other companies in the industry?
- What do those verdicts or decisions signal for the next crop of cases?
High profile cases may unleash a raft of imitator lawsuits for the next few years. Raise these issues for the reporter and guide their understanding. There may be a pre-emptive defense that will help companies mitigate similar litigation or even avoid it altogether.
How will technology affect companies and consumers in specific sectors:
- Do your clients keep current with best practices to manage privacy and cybersecurity concerns?
As you know, technology is essential to nearly every aspect of business operations. The occasional data breach is a reminder that every company, nonprofit organization and family must take steps to keep data secure. Demonstrate that your practice is aware of such concerns; you may even provide guidelines to review privacy, security and related technology matters.
The Big Picture:
- Consider any other issues on or off the radar screen that local companies should address this year.
- What are the unforeseen surprises hiding in the wings?
The ups and downs of the national and regional economy, shifting consumer confidence, the national elections and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will cascade across many industries. Consider these factors as well in your assessment.
There is often a wild card: extreme cold, heat or drought; military activity and gasoline prices, to name a few possibilities. Don’t frighten readers with a doomsday scenario. Instead, fully outline the what-if repercussions of such an event hovering in the distance and the potential remedies appropriate for that sector or region.
Take note that you are not necessarily going out on a limb. Plan your thoughtful assessment to include:
- What may occur
- The factors suggesting such an outcome
- How companies and/or clients might take advantage of the situation or protect themselves from the downside.
Prepare your forecast and get ready to speak to reporters in key media.
Select the publications:
You probably read many of the industry magazines and newsletters that your clients and prospects focus on. Peruse some of the latest issues to locate which reporters and editors cover the subjects related to the trends you have identified.
When you write an email to a reporter or two at each publication, introduce yourself and your practice in a three-sentence paragraph. Note that you wish to contribute to their year-end review and year-ahead predictions. Offer a few examples of a look-back topic and others of a look-ahead nature. Many publications put their masthead on the website, from which you may obtain (or deduce) the reporter’s email address. Some journalists post their email address on their Twitter account. You can also write a letter via the postal service.
Reporters are eager for sources like yourself who will provide meaty quotes for these year-end news stories. With luck, the journalist will call you to elaborate on your ideas in a phone conversation. If there is no immediate response, wait one week before sending the note again; perhaps the reporter was pursuing a different news story.
Twelve months from now, the reporter will not check up to confirm how accurate your predictions were. However, the journalist will likely remember that you were a source for that story and will re-connect with you when the topic rolls around again.
Remember, journalists and prospective clients, contact the attorney they have heard of and read about. By calling attention to yourself as an industry observer with an eye for trends, gleaned from closely watching legal issues that affect businesses and individuals, you step ahead of your colleagues. With the modest effort described here, you may become the attorney quoted in the news, which may cause potential clients to set your phone ringing.
Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research provides media relations and marketing communications services to law firms and consultants. She may be reached at 212-677-5770 or [email protected]