More from a recent Q-and-A session about how to deal editors and reporters in the legal media. The Wednesday entry is on what law firm websites do and don’t get right from a media perspective.
Q. Are there any specific items on the media pages of law firm websites that you and your editorial team preferred?
There are very few good media pages on law firm websites, to be honest. Some sites squirrel away their media contacts on an obscure “Contact Us” page. Others create media pages, but fill them with old press releases — or worse again, lists of the latest publications to feature one of their lawyers. Put it this way: if I see that one of your lawyers has been interviewed by a competitor publication, why would I now want to interview that lawyer for my publication? That would make me look like I was scouring the competition seeking sources. Firms invariably place this information, which is nothing more than marketing bumpf, on their media pages — which is kind of pointless, because the people least likely to be impressed that a lawyer was interviewed by a reporter are other reporters.
The firms that get it right are the ones with media pages that serve the media’s purposes, not the firm’s. These websites make it incredibly easy for a reporter or editor to find a complete list of media contacts, two clicks at most from the home page. These pages specify which personnel handle which sorts of matters, so that the reporter needing a quote for a deadline 30 minutes away doesn’t wind up in the voicemail of the person who handles reprint permissions. These sites also comprehensively index their lawyers’ written work according to subject area, so that reporters looking for experts don’t need to skim through individual lawyer pages hoping to find an article on a topic of interest. When designing your media page, remember that its purpose is to make it easy for reporters to get your lawyers into their publication on the right topics. It’s not there for the firm to brag about itself.
Also, and I wrote about this on Law21 a while back, one of my major annoyances was that many law firms fail to list their professional staff on their websites. If I wanted to talk to a firm’s marketing director or recruitment chair or IT supervisor for an article, many firm websites were useless — as far as the sites were concerned, these positions didn’t even exist. The only employees many firms list on their sites are lawyers, and the firm often adds insult to injury by giving this list the title “Professionals.” Or worse: “People,” which presumably means that the director of professional development is either vegetable or mineral.