Public Relations: The value of visibility in the marketplace
By Ellen Keiley
It is no secret that lawyers face pressure to bring in new business. In some firms, being elevated to the partnership depends on whether an associate has proven professional development skills. Business development is very individualistic and can grow out of each lawyer’s strengths and interests. It is not one size fits all. One thing is clear, lawyers who are not visible and actively networking miss out on opportunities for business development ranging from attracting new clients to speaking engagements.
This is why a strong focus on increasing a lawyer’s visibility can play a valuable role. It is never too late to start building a brand. Here are two ways to get started.
For attorneys, a large portion of new client business derives from referrals. Keeping up contacts and making new ones requires sustained visibility and targeted networking. Visibility and networking go hand in hand. Maintaining visibility within a network can be easily accomplished by being active on social media and doing regular outreach, whether it is to meet for a cup of coffee or reaching out via email to say hello.
It is important to continuously build one’s network and to meet new people. Sign up for events, virtual or in-person depending on one’s comfort level. In-person events are most effective and ideal, but virtual events can also be impactful. Commit to attending at least one event per month, more if possible. Becoming active within an organization is another great way to build a network. Join a board, volunteer, sign up for an event host committee, get into a leadership position, or just become a member and participate.
There is absolute return on investment with media coverage, and it can be used afterward as shareable thought leadership content. A client of mine recently was profiled in the media around her new firm. She posted the article to LinkedIn, and it went viral. She was shocked at the reach it had. Not only did many contacts from her existing network reach out, but she heard from people who had not been in touch for years. This led to referrals and new client work.
I’ve heard many times “Is it really worth it to write an article for publication?” The answer is yes. Time and time again, lawyers are approached after someone reads their article.
There are various ways to raise one’s visibility in the media depending on one’s appetite and comfort level. The key is to become known as a thought leader and expert. This can be accomplished through publishing articles, getting quoted, being profiled in a Q&A, appearing on the radio, a podcast or TV, and sharing news such as a promotion, board position, or award. Media opportunities are available, but finding them takes the right connections. A PR professional can save time and help secure these opportunities.
Lawyers should invest in their careers by making it a priority to raise their visibility, build a personal brand, and incorporate PR into their business development plan for the year ahead. There is tremendous competition in the legal market, and it is imperative that individual attorneys stand out. Don’t pass up opportunities to be visible and network. It will be well worth the effort when new client work comes in the door.
Ellen Keiley, CPC, is president of EMK Consulting Group, a public relations and business development firm for lawyers and law firms. She can be reached at [email protected].