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Reporters hate law firm PR people

September 7, 2006

David Maister picked up a copy of a speech given by Tommy Fernandez, the journalist who covered the legal beat at Crain’s New York Business, at the July meeting of Law Firm Media Professional. Tommy holds no punches:

There are too damned many of you. (He gets more than 100 calls involving law firm pitches per day. Do the math.)

It’s getting nearly impossible to tell your pitches apart. There is no trend you can imagine that I have heard several times today.

You don’t listen (or keep promises about when you’re going to get back with a quote or supporting evidence for a story.)

You treat reporters like your social worker (‘you’ve got to help me out of this situation’.) I am not here to help you. I am not your social case worker. I am not here to protect your job, make you feel good or help your clients. The sooner you accept that reality, the better of you’ll be.

You treat reporters like a social trophy (Come to lunch and meet our top executives and discuss the latest developments in document flow management software.’ ‘What do you mean you don’t want to spend three hours with our management committee to educate us on ….)

Your clients are dumbasses and you don’t tell us: ‘Is that really the right question to be asking? Is this really the right story to be writing? I’ll tell you a story you should be working on, although it won’t really be a story until the winter, but that’s beyond your deadline, isn’t it?’

Reporters hate you (PR) because you act like used car salesmen. ‘A study in nausea’ he calls it. -Drop your fantasy. There is no spiel, no gimmick you can use to compel me to abandon my common sense.  The attitude of reaching (PR) goals is actually one of the easiest ways you can shoot yourself in the foot.

Wild thing is you go to a legal marketing conference and there’s senior law firm PR people teaching young legal marketing professionals the same tricks. No wonder the legal profession is light years behind other industries. We’re lemmings, scared to death to try something different.

40% of journalists use blogs as a source at least once a week. A Wall Street Journal reporter calls blogs and RSS the lazy man’s way of doing investigative reporting. Hell, I can be a reporter doing a story, looking for an expert source and find a lawyer in your firm just by monitoring keywords/key phrases at Technorati. And I never knew the lawyer existed before.

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