By Jon Quick
A lot of lawyers have expressed to me that they’d really like to do commentary on legal cases in the media. “I see (so-and-so) on TV all the time. Can you help me with that?”
The secret to being a lawyer that’s a “go-to” source for legal commentary in the media is simple. Most of the time, these attorneys are proven experts in their field of practice. They also are articulate, able to speak concisely, prepared and, in the case of television, somewhat camera-ready. Some of it is just a natural ability. Trial lawyers tend to do well in the media as they are used to “performing,” so to speak.
So how to you become the authority in your practice area?
Get out there and speak to groups. Volunteer to write for law publications. Blog regularly expressing your opinion. Teach a course. Get involved in your local bar association. Write a newsletter and distribute it to the right people, including key media people. Hold workshops. Create a “go-to” website. Network.
Realize that there are so many media opportunities these days, not just the traditional television, radio and newspapers. There are specialized websites for any practice area and online radio shows. You can even create your own show. Podcasting on your website is a way to get your message heard around the world.
A few years back, Carmel attorney Josh Brown decided to specialize in franchise law, a niche practice area. He networked with companies that franchise and their franchisees. He attended industry functions to meet the players. He volunteered to speak to groups, offering advice on starting a business and how to franchise it. Finally, he created an exceptional website, IndyFranchiseLaw.com.
Arguably, Josh is now one of the legal experts in this field. The media is calling him as a source, and he’s in demand as a speaker to business and franchise groups.
Brown said in creating and expanding his website, he asked, 1) “What are the questions/concerns/problems my target market has?” and 2) “How can I answer them through my site? People come to your site because they want answers to their questions/problems. If you can’t help them get answers immediately, they won’t remain on your site.”
The most impressive part of Brown’s web outreach is the creative use of podcasts. Every week, Josh interviews an expert in the field of business. People are listening to his podcasts around the world. By forming strategic alliances with these experts, he’s now considered an authority himself.
Another notable example of a “go-to” website in the practice area of personal injury is WKW.com. The Indianapolis firm Wilson Kehoe Winingham has produced a website that contains an enormous amount of valuable information for anyone who may have a personal injury case. One of the highlights is the extensive use of video. A visitor to the site will see various aspects of the personal injury practice explained in easy to understand language by the attorneys themselves. Don’t forget to consider testimonial videos by some of your clients.
Statistics these days clearly show that video on a website increases usage substantially. People just love to see video.
I can hear many of you saying, “But it’s so expensive. I don’t have that kind of budget.”
The answer is that video isn’t nearly as expensive as it once was. The reason is two-fold. First, there are more people offering that service these days on a professional level and the pricing has become more competitive. Secondly, the cost of video cameras has come way down. In the case of Matt Houston, marketing manager at WKW, the purchase of a digital camera and some lighting has easily paid for itself. Some people have even gotten by making simple videos with their iPhones. The quality has gotten that good. Matt has taught himself how to do a great shoot and how to edit and display it on web platforms. When looking for someone to work on your marketing, many of the young college graduates out there come already equipped with digital expertise. It’s an almost essential part of the training for college marketing majors in this new world. Look for people who have that kind of versatility.
According to Houston, “One of the main purposes of a website is to provide information to potential clients in both written and in video form. Today, buyers are more educated and informed than ever before. Your website should be focused on empowering and informing those looking for your products or services through using a variety of media tools available to us today like never before.”
Whether it be the use of timely blogs on your website, podcasts or your firm’s own video channel online, if you’re willing to invest the time and money, you can enjoy huge rewards by showing that you are the big dog in your area of practice.•
Jon Quick is the president and founder of Carmel-based Q Public Relations and Marketing, specializing in marketing for law firms. With over 25 years of experience in media, Jon is a former manager with CBS and Emmis Communications. He can be reached at 371.432.0309 or by email at his website QPRmarketing.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.