twitter public relations law firmsShauna Causey (@shaunacausey), VP of Marketing at Decide and veteran PR/Communications professional, told the lawyers at Avvocating last Thursday that she is nine times more likely to get a response to a Twitter direct message to a reporter than if she sent a press release. Nine times.

The day before, Kevin Livingston (@k_livingston), a veteran reporter, PR/Communications director at three AmLaw 200 law firms, and now a principal with Bame Public Relations, told the lawyer audience at a PLI social media program in San Francisco that Twitter was the one of the most powerful tools he had to connect his client lawyers with reporters covering relevant stories.

Despite Twitter being more effective than traditional PR, many law firms and public relations professionals working with and for law firms are ill equipped to use Twitter.

  • Some don’t use Twitter.
  • Some have policies limiting the use of Twitter.
  • Some only use Twitter in brand or law firm names, severely hampering the trust and engagement that using Twitter in your own name fosters.
  • The majority of those who do use Twitter haven’t mastered how to use Twitter effectively.

I am not saying public relations professionals no longer play a role in law firm PR. They do, perhaps more than ever.

Good PR professionals have historically been a trusted source for reporters. They had exellent relationships with ‘go to reporters.’

The Internet has not changed the value of trust and relationships. In fact Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and the like has strengthened relationships founded on trust. But you have to use these social media platforms — and use them well.

Livingston, while sitting on a PLI panel in San Francisco, was following news on the Google-Oracle trial via Twitter hashtags and engaging reporters covering the trial via Twitter and Facebook. He wanted to be right there – virtually sitting with those reporters at the courthouse waiting for the verdict.

Livingston was going to have a client lawyer ready to go to speak with reporters who trust Livingston the minute the verdict came down. Probably a lawyer who uses Twitter and other social media to build trust and influence.

There is simply no way PR professionals not adeptly using Twitter the way Livingston does could do PR the way he does. And my guess is Livingston’s social media methods are much more cost effective.

I keep a list on Twitter of hundreds of reporters, columnists and media professionals who cover our nation’s courts and legal profession.

I follow this list to get information and insight from these media professionals. I share Tweets of theirs which would be relevant to my Twitter followers. Many of the media professionals follow me on Twitter in return. We’re building relationships founded on trust.

The beneficiaries of my work on Twitter? Members of LXBN (LexBlog Network) and my company, LexBlog. I know how valuable mainstream media coverage remains. So I work on getting the coverage via my use of Twitter, my blog, and other social media.

Are you using Twitter for public relations? Have you found it effective? I welcome hearing from you. I also welcome comments from PR professionals who think I’m nuts.