For journalists to quote your niche blog and curate content that you post, they have to know about it. Good PR professionals will need to know which journalists are on the related beat, and help them to follow and find your blog post amidst the thousands of others out there. This is more than just sending out a press release when the blog is launched — it is finding more frequent ways to flag your content and ensure that your voice is added to the conversation when appropriate.
Interesting what he was saying as I was asked again yesterday by a large law firm what role their PR professionals should have in getting word out on their blog.
My advice to lawyers who are blogging is to establish real relationships with reporters. And to establish and nurture those relationships by engaging reporters through your blogging and the use of Twitter.
A lawyer should be able to identify the publications and reporters covering their area of the law and the industries they represent. Subscribe to feeds from their publications, browse their publications on and off line, and subscribe to a search of the names of reporters/editors/publishers in Google News and Google Blog Search. When there’s a story of interest to your blog readers, cite it and the reporter (linking to the reporter’s profile in LinkedIn) and share your take.
Even if you weren’t blogging, it’s good practice for you as a lawyer to follow what’s being reported on that’s relevant to your area of the law and the industries you represent. It’s common sense to be reading what your colleagues, referral sources, clients, and prospective clients are reading.
Good reporters will know when you referenced them on your blog because they are following their name in a RSS feed. Many, including quite a few reporters at the NY Times, will drop you a thank you note. For other reporters drop them an email letting them know you shared their story, commented on it on your blog, and, if appropriate, tell them to keep up the good work.
You as a blogger, perhaps associated with a large law firm brand, got their content out in social media to a demographic they may not have reached. The reporter might be pumped as a result.
Follow the relevant reporters, publishers, and editors on Twitter. Share (re-tweet) what they are sharing if it’s of real interest to your followers. Maybe you’ll pick up on some of their personal interests. I have gotten to know more than one reporter or editor a little better because of our mutual interest in college and professional sports.
Doing this you establish a relationship at a more meaningful level than to say I have a great blog – make note of it. Connect with the reporter in LinkedIn, put them in your LinkedIn folder marked journalist, and keep them on a short list of folks you email when you have stories they may have an interest in. Working together as colleagues is a win/win for both of you.
I am not saying lawyers ought to suck up to those in traditional media. Treat what is being reported on in traditional media as part of a giant conversation – blogs, Twitter, what have you. Pull up a chair to the table and join in.
Is this too much to ask of many lawyers? Probably so. Most lawyers who have PR professionals will rely on them to go out and spread the word. But they’ll not have near the success in getting word out of their blog to traditional media or in getting quoted as the lawyers who have chosen to build relationships will have.
Maybe a middle ground is to have your PR professionals identify the reporters, publications, and editors — and show you how to properly engage these folks (assuming the PR professional knows).
Really knowing people, establishing relationships, and building trust is at the heart of social media. My gut tells me this is best achieved by lawyers directly as opposed to PR professionals.