Why spend on PR when the economy and profits are flat?
By Ellen Keiley
When the economy sags or profits are lower than expected, firms often think of cutting their public relations, marketing, and business development budgets. However, those are the last things that should be cut.
Reducing costs is important, but marketing and business development are areas that can put a firm on the road to success now and in the future. There are other ways to reduce costs such as performing a spending audit, reducing subscriptions or software that are not being used, or putting on hold memberships or long-time sponsorships that are not bringing in a return on investment (ROI).
No matter how the economy is performing, it is critical for the firm to stay visible and active with public relations outreach, marketing and business development. New business doesn’t appear overnight, and a firm must consistently work on building a pipeline of clients.
Certain practice areas flourish during tough economic times and firms and attorneys should take advantage of the added media opportunities available. A public relations firm can help secure positive media coverage. Getting a firm’s name in various media will build brand awareness and provide a competitive advantage. And a public relations campaign can have the benefit of energizing a firm at a time when positive energy and morale is needed.
Disappointing profits can be a signal that it’s time for a change. The final quarter of the year is a great time to reflect on what firm strategies have been working, which have not and whether there are projects that have been put off but should get underway.
This is a perfect time to do outreach to current and past clients, current and past referral sources, potential clients, and contacts. Stay visible and focus on relationship building.
There have been many instances where a lawyer I worked with reached out to a client or referral source and a new matter came through. There may be a project that a client has been thinking about, but it hasn’t been a priority. Meet with your clients, whether virtually or in person, to learn what is going on in their personal and professional lives, and try to be a helpful resource.
It is worth it to block time in your schedule to create a contact and outreach list. If you have an existing list, run through it, add to it, prioritize it, and start regular outreach.
If you are a social person, and the firm has the resources and wants to maximize marketing opportunities with in-person networking, plan a social gathering with referral sources and others you would like to include. Invite contacts to bring a guest. The firm will stand out, contacts will appreciate it, and there is the added bonus of reaching numerous people at once.
The lawyers that pound the pavement and actively network are often financially successful lawyers.
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].