In my conversations with law-firm partners and leaders, I hear a frequent question: How does the Internet’s increasing dominance in delivering news stories affect law-firm media relations?
In some instances, there’s not much of an effect. If, say, you’re promoting a win at trial to the American Lawyer, or responding to an inquiry from a Wall Street Journal reporter, the approach is essentially the same — even if the product will appear electronically and in the printed version.
In many other instances, however, it’s critical to consider the unique dynamics of online publications when working with reporters. A recent New York Times article analyzing Bloomberg’s recent buyout of BusinessWeek magazine offers at least three helpful insights for PR professionals working with law-firm clients.
1. Speed kills. “One speaker [at a training session following the buyout] was the head of Bloomberg’s ‘speed desk,’ who was especially proud, according to people at the meeting, when the desk published a headline seconds ahead of Reuters,” the article says. Bloomberg leans heavily on its writers to post content before its competitors, and they are compensated in some measure according to their ability to scoop the competition. PR pros who can work at the hyper-speed of that environment (not an easy task, given the more deliberate speed at which cautious lawyers prefer to proceed) will earn the gratitude of writers fighting to be first.
2. Content is king. “News meetings are held at 7:30 a.m.,” the Times reports. “Every writer has a ‘dashboard’ where the metrics determining his compensation — any scoops, hits an article attracts — are tracked.” The competitive pressure means that if you can help reporters write the next story, while presenting well-trained lawyers who can provide clear, compelling analysis, those reporters will come back to you time and again.
3. The market mantra. At Bloomberg, writers are constantly reminded that their content must “move markets.” Bloomberg’s core subscribers are Wall Street types — traders, bankers, hedge-fund managers, and so on. Wall Street types are always on the prowl for information that will affect share pricing, and Bloomberg became a media colossus through its ability to provide that information. PR pros pitching their clients’ stories to Bloomberg should thus be prepared to explain how their pitch will move markets.