Future of law firm PR is participation by lawyers, not pitching by PR agencies

Blogs are not meant to be published by a PR agency or law firm communication folks. By their very nature, blogs are written by the lawyers participating in an online conversation on their niche area of expertise.

Steve Rubel explains in his post this weekend that PR is participation, not pitching.

Communities like Facebook, the blogosphere and digg are becoming even more influential than certain traditional media outlets. Their relevance to PR pros is rising and the industry is responding by wisely trying to beef up its new media acumen.

Unfortunately, the biz is not evolving quickly enough. Many in PR seem to be treating Web 2.0 as simply an extension of the traditional media – another venue for buzz. They are pumping thousands of email pitches into the community every day……Journalists are accustomed to the PR mating dance. They know that as soon as they get a desk, a phone and an email address they’re going to get bombed with inquires from PR pros. Some of these will be helpful, others won’t be. Journalists know that PR inbound is an occupational hazard that comes with the territory.

Online social networks and communities are completely different. Bloggers, social networkers, diggers, social bookmakers and Wikipedians don’t want to be pitched. They’re collaborating on these sites for a reason – to share, be entertained, to become informed, to connect, etc. They place value on people who contribute regularly and selflessly.

Unfortunately, most PR agencies and communications professionals working with law firms do not understand PR by participation. Worse yet are the agencies that belittle blogs and social media when law firms bring them up.

I’ve heard more than once that a law firm’s PR company did not think blogs were appropriate for the firm. In each case, the PR agency did not understand blogs, how they were used, and had never used blogs themselves.

Innovative law firms need to educate themselves or find agencies that are keeping up to speed with the changes in PR. As Steve Rubel says, “the PR community must step out in front of the curtain, become a bit more technically adept and participate transparently as individuals in online communities.”

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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