The role of the legal PR has complexified over this decade. But which attributes and tools remain top of legal communications specialists’ minds as we hurtle towards 2020?

In the wake of new technology, the tools at the legal communications specialist’s disposal have diversified. Content and social media continue to present an array of opportunities for PR and marketing teams to drive engagement to their firm or legal business’s website and multiply the effects of any media coverage secured as part of media relations.

Within media relations itself, new technology, such as tools for journalist tracking and media monitoring, has also empowered comms teams to maintain a firm grip on the control wheel of their business’s reputation. Comms teams have more agency in defining the trajectory they want for their business's public perception.

But as we fast approach a decade in which their roles have considerably complexified, what do in-house legal PR and marketing specialists deem the most important attributes and skills?

Byfield has teamed up with the PRCA to produce the PRCA Legal PR Guide. The guide’s contributors include leading legal PR, communications specialists, business development, marketing directors and more. According to the contributors, these are the attributes and tools that should be front of mind for all legal communications specialists.

Know how to manage relationships in media relations

In media relations, your ability to orchestrate for your law firm good, regular coverage comes down to two sets of relationships, writes Georgina Bennett-Warner, Communications Manager at BCLP. The first is the relationship that your law firm PR has with journalists; and second, the relationship lawyers themselves have with journalists. As a PR, your role is to help introduce your lawyers to journalists and teach your lawyers to keep the relationship positive.

Get to know what legal journalists want

Legal journalists have an ultra-rapid process by which they’ll decide whether to use a quote from your lawyer or not. They also have their own bugbears among things legal PRs do. Getting a feel for the lens through which legal journalists view work – and learning how to work with them – is key to securing good coverage for your wider firm and will ensure you have a greater success rate once your email hits their inbox.

Create content and use social media

Content and social media offer ways to build a relationship with your existing and potential clients without face-to-face discussion. Research shows your website carries serious weight in the minds of website visitors making buying decisions. Having content that (really) resonates with them is an effective way of providing buyers of legal services with the conversation they want to have to move closer to their decision. 

As a law firm, it can help your clients see themselves and their problems within you the orbit of your service offering, making them more likely to choose you over your competitors. Stay abreast of the latest features of social media platforms to find ways to build a stand-out presence in the legal market. 

Be well prepared for a crisis

Every in-house legal PR needs to have a solid plan in case an event does occur that prompts a PR crisis. It’s important to know who your team would be and focus on how you would respond to a crisis. If one does occur, this will save you critical time and help you focus minds on preparing a thoughtful, proportionate response. 

Aim to make a positive impact on your firm

The cultures of law firms are gradually shifting. And it's part of the PR's job to embrace and accelerate necessary change. For instance, those who work in comms in the legal industry are well-positioned to foster diversity, writes Helen Obi, and they can do so by "challenging and widening the narrative". 

Helen's chapter provides additional tips for making your mark as a legal PR, such as how to improvise in PR, how to become a trusted adviser, how to take advantage of future trends, and many more.

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Join the launch event on 19th November and get your copy of the PRCA Legal PR Guide.