Falk Communications and Research
Dobson Law LLC
When you see a colleague with a similar law practice quoted in the news, do you think, “Why are they talking to HER and not ME?”
The answer is simple: Reporters call the people they know. They do not call an attorney they’ve never heard of.
If you want to be seen in the news, you must professionally—and ethically—introduce yourself to reporters.
Consider why you want to be quoted in the media. Is it to attract potential clients? Perhaps you want to stay top of mind with referral sources. Maybe you want to keep in touch with your many contacts or advocate for the cause of the nonprofit on whose board you serve.
As a litigator, you might issue a press release to generate a news story that will put pressure on opposing counsel and make him want to settle the case without going to trial. You might seek to attract associates and laterals who want to work for your hot firm that’s always getting in the news.
The first step to connecting with the media is to think like a reporter and use journalism's five W’s: who, what, when, where and why:
Having answered these questions, you are now ready to compose a Media Profile (
Now you arrive at the meat of the matter. Reporters know what has happened already. They want to know what is going to happen before it happens. You have a unique perspective as an attorney working on specific matters and issues in a particular industry.
The Trends on the Horizon/Upcoming Hot Topics section is where you address topics that are not being widely discussed but will have an impact on operations and profitability across many players in the sector. Pinpointing these trends, deadlines or big picture views will position you as an authoritative source who has her finger on the pulse of the market, making you the attorney a reporter will want to contact.
Now, before you send the Media Profile to reporters, make sure that you have stayed within the boundaries of the ethics rules regarding advertising. If you have any doubt about which states’ rules apply, compare Rule 8.5 in each of the jurisdictions involved.
Under the relatively new
Older versions of the ABA Model, New York’s for example, might revolve around the definition of advertising. According to
In dealing with reporters, note also that
Often lawyers are called upon by reporters because they are, in fact, specialists. However, the rules of your jurisdiction might prohibit your referring to yourself as such. See, for example,
Lawyers commenting on their own cases should be keenly aware of
A Media Profile may be updated twice a year, as new, pressing issues emerge for which you can weigh in on those topics.
You can also use a time-sensitive version of a Media Profile to position yourself as a source for commentary on a breaking news story. As an example, several Boston-based attorneys provided much of the day-to-day commentary when the trial of the Boston Marathon bombing was underway. That’s to be expected; the proceedings were in their backyard. When the verdict was announced, one news story, however, quoted an attorney from Miami! Miami? Why HIM and not YOU?
Here’s how that attorney probably got in the news article. He likely contacted reporters covering the trial and offered this snapshot of a Media Profile:
Whatever your reason to be seen in the media are—connecting with contacts and lapsed clients, building your reputation and personal brand, speaking at a conference—you must professionally and ethically introduce yourself to reporters, keeping in mind the rules on advertising. Once you get a reporter’s attention, you must be mindful of how to conduct that conversation, which is a future discussion.
Craig Dobson, Esq. has a practice in ethics and immigration at
Janet Falk is the head of
Falk and Dobson presented
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