As a trial lawyer I’d make pre-midnight trips down to the newsroom of the local newspaper to brief a reporter on an evolving legal story.
I knew that coverage in the morning’s paper would drive continuing radio and television coverage the next day. The newspaper reporter knew by providing coverage of the matter that I was involved in meant I would come to them first again.
If a matter was too controversial, ala involving state or local politics, reporters would not want me to be seen coming in to the newsroom to brief them. In which case, I’d leave documents relating to the story under the windshield wiper of the reporter’s car.
Of course there were always press releases, phone calls with reporters and press conferences inviting all of the local media to a briefing at our law office.
This has all dramatically changed in the world of blogs and social media.
Lawyers and law firms are journalists, they can break and report stories via blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Reporters quote blog posts and tweets directly without contacting sources via phone.
Alex Evans, a communications specialist writing for PR Week, reports social media has totally changed journalism from just a few years ago.
Seldom would you publish something verbatim, and the only ‘sharing’ an article would get would be when you browsed the newspaper clippings folder on coffee tables in company reception areas or when the articles in your local daily were discussed in the pub.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the world has transformed. News stories can break on Twitter well before printed editions of a newspaper are published.
In 2015, everyone can be a journalist, or at least that’s the idea.
Cheryl Bame, a leading PR and media professional, tells me blogs are a popular place for the media to find content and sources to enhance their stories.
Reporters may not even speak to their lawyer source, per Bame:
It is the same thing as the media quoting Tweets by celebs or public officials. Today, the media uses Tweets and Instagram photos in their stories but I always see them being referenced from the sources of the content…
Evans shares that this “direct reporting” can extend to video as well.
Rather than emailing a media list with the same old press release, hoping for success, I can post a YouTube video I’ve produced about a campaign to each of our digital channels and watch it go viral in a matter of hours, generating thousands of views / clicks and reaching out to our audience directly, without even speaking to a journalist.
The takeaway for law firms is that if you want to reach the media in an effective fashion, you’ll want to be blogging and using social media.
Reporters competing at Internet speed don’t always have time for press releases or even interviews. Reporters are going to sources directly by quoting a tweet or a blog post.
Furthermore, reporters are also apt to see lawyers blogging and using Twitter as thought leaders on niches. Such lawyers can be seen as more reliable sources.
We’ll still some press conferences and press releases, but the world has totally changed in the last five or seven years.