PR is often associated with printed articles in newspapers, advertisements, and reputation management. These methods are of course useful but, in a world where “having an online presence is the best method to engage your audience and generate leads”, you need to be seriously considering online PR methods.
With this push for businesses to be online, Digital PR has taken the fore. This is because it works in two ways:
- it allows companies to build a brand image, highlighting employees as experts in their fields, and;
- it also increases traffic to the company website, therefore boosting leads. For more information on what Digital PR is, I’ve written up a guide on Digital PR for law firms.
So, now you know why Digital PR is useful, how can you do it? In this blog, we’ll first be exploring what makes a newsworthy campaign. We’ll then be taking you through four of our tried and tested methods for delivering stories to journalists that they want to cover.
What Makes a Newsworthy PR Campaign?
The truth is, journalists are bombarded with emails every day, each claiming to have a story for them. That said, there’s a difference between something that will either get sent to the trash folder, or something that will be picked up by the journalist and published in the news.
This difference? Providing journalists with a story – something that will engage their readers.
It’s all well and good sending your local newspaper stories about your new business acquisition but, if you want to consistently make it into local papers, and have a chance at making the national news, you need to think differently.
As a law firm, it can be tricky to see how you can provide an engaging story unless there are changes in a law related to your firm. However, the reality is that you can simply make your own news stories! And no, I’m not saying you should make something up – I’m saying you should create a story, with a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking.
In the rest of this article, we’ll be taking you through four methods we love using to gain coverage for our clients.
4 Types of Digital PR Campaigns to Try
1) Reactive PR Campaigns
These campaigns are centred around current news and trends, where you piggyback off of something that’s already being spoken about and provide your own take.
For these campaigns, we:
- Scour the news for relevant topics each morning to find anything clients can provide "expert commentary" or a different angle on.
- We also take a look through Twitter’s #journorequest search page to see if there’s anything relevant to our clients worth responding to.
- Another place to find potential stories to get involved in is Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Anything like this, where you are handed a story on a plate, can be a great place to start, especially if you’re new to the game.
Equally, you could jump on a current topic or pop culture reference that people aren’t currently speaking about in the news, but that you think is newsworthy. For example, say there’s a new law being discussed in parliament that directly relates to your services – be the first to tell journalists!
Even though you’re a law firm, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with this. If you see a social media trend, get involved. You might even watch the next season of Bridgerton, notice they discuss inheritance, and create an angle from this. The story could be “Wills expert explains Lady Bridgerton’s inheritance debacle”.
REACTIVE PR CASE STUDIES
Eurocell Data Breach - Hayes Connor
- The Eurocell data breach in Shropshire broke. That morning, we wrote a press release detailing the news, including expert commentary from the client.
- We sent the press release to local and national newspapers.
- We generated over 15 pieces of coverage (on the same day the Queen died) in publications such as Shropshire Star, Infosecurity Magazine, Derby Telegraph and Express & Star.
#journorequest Andrew Tate Human Trafficking – JD Spicer
- Scrolling through the hashtag on Twitter, we came across a journalist who was asking for an expert comment on Andrew Tate’s human trafficking method.
- We DMed the journalist, wrote up an answer to their questions, sent it to the client for approval, and it was published within hours after sending the information.
- It achieved coverage in Insider, Yahoo and MSN.
2) Data-Led PR Campaigns
This requires you to research current topics and data sets, whether that be using Google Trends, Ahrefs, ONS data, or another reputable source. You could even create your own brand-new set of data by commissioning an external survey from a company, like OnePoll, to get answers to questions you think would generate interesting answers (although this incurs an extra cost).
Once you have the data, you need to sift through it to find patterns, percentages, and differences. You can then use this to create your own story, using key elements of the data as your headlines.
These campaigns are usually more time-consuming than most other types, but often aren’t as time-sensitive, so you can take your time and wait for the right moment to jump on them. For example, you might want to wait for an appropriate awareness day that relates to the data to arrive before approaching journalists with the story.
These campaigns give you the chance to be the first to talk about something that nobody else is, so you’ll hopefully have more chance of getting coverage.
DATA-LED PR CASE STUDIES
Cyber Security Survey - Hayes Connor
- Using a commissioned survey: in 2021, we used a survey company to ask 2,000 UK office workers various questions about their work-from-home habits.
- During lockdown, we were interested to know how businesses were handling data whilst employees were working from home.
- The shocking results generated coverage on over 20 sites, including the BBC, and the landing page still generates organic links to this day.
Most Popular Places to Move to - Bird & Co
- Using ONS data: we used recent net internal migration statistics from the ONS to show which counties people living within the UK were moving to most.
- This generated a top 10 list.
- We wrote individual press releases for some of the areas in the top 10 list our client wished to target.
- We sent these to local news sites, generating over 30 pieces of coverage over three months in outlets such as Essex Live, Hampshire Live, Kent Live, Kent Online, Sussex Live, Romsey Advertiser, Devon Daily and Exeter Daily.
3) Expert Commentary PR Campaigns
Like reactive campaigns, these require you to jump on current news topics to provide an expert opinion or commentary. This can accompany reactive PR, but you can also create your own stories depending on the time of year, political and social affairs, awareness days etc.
EXPERT COMMENTARY CASE STUDY
2023 House Buying Predictions - Bird & Co
- We wrote a landing page for our client providing predictions for the property market in 2023.
- We approached national UK journalists in December 2022 with this landing page, in an email with the subject line “2023 PREDICTIONS, Property Expert Predicts Buyer Trends”.
- One of the predictions was related to sustainable housing, so we also went a bit more granular and approached sustainability journalists with the subject line “Property Expert Predicts Demand for Sustainable Housing in 2023”.
- So far, we have seen 9 pieces of coverage, 8 of which have links to the client’s site, on sites including Bloomberg (2 expert commentary articles came from this campaign), IFA Magazine, and Inside Conveyancing.
4) Awareness Day Campaigns
If you know what awareness days will be coming up months in advance, you can pre-plan a campaign surrounding this, with data to accompany it.
AWARENESS DAY CAMPAIGNS CASE STUDY
ICO Data Led Campaign for National Computer Security Day in November – Hayes Connor
We found a great data set that we felt would be a brilliant insight into how various sectors have been dealing with GDPR laws since 2018.
The data set itself wasn’t necessarily brand-new information, so we accompanied it with National Computer Security Day in November to give it an extra leg up in the press.
We approached national journalists, as well as sector-specific journalists, with headlines like:
- Over 32,000 Data Breaches Have Been Reported Since 2019, ICO Data Reveals
- 1 in 5 Data Breaches Affect Health Sector, ICO Data Reveals
- 1 in 10 Data Breaches Affect Finance Sector, ICO Data Reveals
- We achieved 5 pieces of coverage from highly authoritative sites, all with links to the client’s site.
Will You be Considering Implementing Digital PR Into Your Law Firm Marketing Strategy?
As you can see, there are some exciting ways to generate coverage for your law firm website, as well as paint your employees as experts in the fields, building their brand image.
It is very important to note that these tactics alone aren’t guaranteed to get you coverage. Most of the tactics above will require you to write a landing page on your website and/or a press release to accompany it.
You will also have to build a list of journalists to target, especially if there’s a specific theme or location you wish to home in on. What’s more, you need to be writing quality emails, with catchy subject lines, to generate email opens and, therefore, coverage.
On top of this, it’s good to have a wider understanding of what makes good news, as well as a creative mind to see how various current topics and trends could relate to your services.