Building the 21st-Century Law Firm

Ask Daliah: Want media attention? Take these four steps toward making the news

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Dear Daliah: You've been in newspapers and on TV. How do you attract media attention?

Dear Reader: A potential client who looks at my website will quickly see that I regularly appear as a “talking head” on various networks to discuss the latest tech, social media and business-related legal stories, and that publications regularly include my quotes about a trending topic. All this press gives my firm increased visibility, provides credibility, and, amazingly, costs me nothing.

To become a go-to resource about a legal issue, you need to establish yourself as a resource and be proactive. There a million lawyers a reporter can call. It is your job to make them call you.

First, establish yourself as an expert in a particular area of law. Have you handled a high-profile case recently? Do you constantly share information about certain types of cases? Have you written a book? Given an interesting lecture? What makes you stand out?

Second, be able to explain how your expertise is relevant to a news story. In other words, it is great that you won that personal injury case and settled it for an undisclosed amount. It is great that you just got an award from the bar association. It is great that you have the best resumé ever. But so what? Why is that interesting? And, why is that interesting now? Being a resource, in and of itself, is not going to get you any press.

Third, don’t be afraid to create a story (i.e. “Hey reporter, did you know XYZ is a thing!? You should cover it!”) or to reach out to a reporter to offer your insight on an existing story. For example, I handled a novel catfishing case that I took all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. Several years later, Manti T’eo, a well-known college athlete, was the target of a similar catfishing scandal. I quickly sent an unsolicited email to a 20/20 reporter (it is not hard to find a reporter’s contact information), explained my experience handling catfishing cases and offered to provide commentary. The next day, I was on a plane to New York to get interviewed in their studios. All expenses paid. Then I used the media attention for my own PR.

Building the 21st-Century Law Firm: See the rest of our coverage.Finally, ask yourself how comfortable you are in the spotlight. Print interviews can be easy, but how would you fare on live television? Are you self-conscious in front of a camera? Can you articulate responses quickly? Can you reduce a complicated topic into a 1-minute sound bite? When I was interviewed about a social media platform updating its terms of use to ban nudity, I explained the change with this quip: “What we have here is a ‘No Nipples, No problem’ policy.”

If none of this comes naturally to you, do not worry. There are plenty of great PR firms that can work with you to help you attract media attention. It is well worth the investment.

Daliah Saper, founder of Saper Law Offices, is answering reader questions about building a 21st-century law firm. She can be reached at [email protected].

Daliah Saper opened Saper Law Offices, an intellectual property, digital media, entertainment and business law firm based in Chicago, in 2005. Saper is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio and in several publications, including Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, 20/20, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

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