Megan Braverman from Berbay Marketing and PR is joining us today to walk us through the challenges and opportunities for personal injury lawyers trying to score some media attention.
Great PR can do so many wonderful things for law firms. Not only does it tout your professional achievements, but it also positions you as an expert in your practice area. Additionally, the backlinks your website gets from the coverage dramatically helps your overall SEO positioning. While some law firms naturally get press for big cases, some legal sectors struggle to get attention. This is especially true for small to mid-size personal injury firms. But there are ways to make that happen.
Contact Megan Braverman at 310-405-7343 or visit https://www.berbay.com/.
See all episodes or subscribe to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute here: https://optimizemyfirm.com/podcasts/.
Welcome to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute, where we quickly cover the hot topics in the legal marketing world. I’m your host, Lindsey Busfield. Great PR can do so many wonderful things for your law firm. Not only does it tout your professional achievements, but it also positions you as an expert in your practice area. Additionally, the backlinks to your website gets from the coverage dramatically helps your overall SEO positioning.
While some law firms naturally get pressed for big cases, some legal sectors struggle to get attention. This is especially true for small to midsize personal injury firms, but there are some ways to make that happen. Megan Braverman from Berbay Marketing and PR is joining us today to walk us through the challenges and opportunities for personal injury lawyers trying to score some media attention. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Thanks, Lindsey. Happy to be here.
Well, tell us a little bit about yourself and about Berbay.
Sure. I’m the owner and principal of Berbay Marketing and PR. We specialize in working with law firms. We’ve helped hundreds of law firms increase their visibility via the media, speaking, nominations, online and more. We have been around since 1995, and really serve as law firms outsource marketing departments and becoming their strategic asset to help increase their visibility and get more business in the door.
How Public Relations Helps Law Firms:
Well, this is a really simple question, but why is it important for personal injury firms to get PR?
Public relations helps in a wide variety of ways. I mean, first and foremost, it helps increase your visibility. It gets your name out there more. The other really important piece is it reinforces your credibility. So, you get that recognition, but it’s enhancing your credibility. This is a third party quoting you, a third party featuring you, and that really adds a lot to your credibility.
It also positions you as a thought leader. Think of you’re the expert in your practice area. PR is a very powerful mix of your marketing. That top-of-mind awareness among prospective clients and referral sources is really key because what you’re trying to do is that prospects and referral sources think of you first when there’s a need. And so, ultimately, that’s what PR does, is it keeps your name out there. And then, the end goal is really to bring in new qualified leads.
Right. And so, when somebody either sees your name multiple times and they think of you first, or if they’re looking on the Google search results and see your name pop up, they know that they have seen you somewhere else before. And that credibility and that presence of mind will hopefully push them over the edge so that they call you before they call someone else.
Absolutely. And that’s a really good point because you’re a search engine optimization firm. And so, the more things that point to your website, the better. These placements and media coverage is a great way to propel SEO efforts.
Well, and I liked what you were saying earlier about how it gives your firm credibility, and Google looks at your PR coverage in the same way that a user would where Google sees you being a credible source through a backlink on a website that a news article would give you, and that backlink gives your website more credibility as well. So, while an end user might see your name being quoted somewhere, Google is actually seeing your name being quoted somewhere and boosting your website. And so, from an SEO perspective, that helps.
But definitely want to focus on more of the client side and what great PR can do for your law firm and helping that client convert to be an actual perspective case for you. So, talking about different media coverage, a lot of law firms who haven’t done a whole lot of PR just think about PR in one of two ways. One is either issuing a press release about XYZ or natural press regarding a big case, but there are a lot of different ways that law firms can get PR and obtain media coverage. So, can you talk a little bit about what those are?
Sure. So, I think an important distinction is that we’re pursuing earned media for our clients. So, this is not paid media. You can think of paid media that you’re paying a publication to run your ad. You’re paying a radio station to run your radio spot. You’re paying a broadcast or TV station to run your commercial. So, this is a very different marketing tactic, which is pursuing earned media. And there are many different forms of earned media. You can be quoted online.
You can be featured on a spot in a broadcast clip. You can have a Q&A in a print publication. You can be a guest on a podcast, interviewed by a radio reporter, even be featured on a reporter’s social media. So, there’s a wide variety of forms of earned media. So, I’ll talk a little bit about how do you obtain media coverage. One is, this seems like… and I’ll explain this, but it’s inserting your name into the media stream. So, how do you do this? You have to be an advocate for yourself with the media, pursuing these media opportunities.
You have to pursue them. Don’t wait for them to come to the door. Your competitors are not hesitating to pursue them. So, you have a lot of brain power. If you looked around your desk and what you’re working on, reading, researching, or even communicating to clients on, it may seem like day-to-day stuff, but there are little nuggets of information that we look for as a PR agency that we can use. So, the media members of the press, they’re looking very simply for trends, forecasts, industry insights, what’s changing, et cetera.
And so, we look for these little nuggets of information and we craft story ideas around those nuggets. So, this is not necessarily a verdict, a settlement, a case filing. This is just finding trends and forecasts that we can pitch to the media featuring you as the expert. We package this in an interesting way to reporters because we want to pique their interest. We’re doing it very targeted. If you’re pitching a local publication, it has to speak to the local audience.
If you’re pitching a legal publication, it’s got to speak to the legal community, so on and so forth. So, that’s one way of inserting your name into the news stream is identifying these trends and packaging them to reporters. The other piece which you mentioned is touting your successes. So, lawsuit filings, verdict and settlements, case milestones, trials, anything that you can leverage as a milestone you should do. Now, obviously, there’s a lot of caveats to this.
I mean, one is client confidentiality. There’s some cases that have confidential aspects that you can’t tout. Sometimes the client is sensitive and you don’t want to feel like you’re stepping on the shoulders of your clients. So, these can be few and far between. Maybe it’s just such a run-of-the-mill case that there’s not a whole lot interesting there. So, that’s why the first piece of inserting your name into the news stream is so important. But obviously, press releases and touting client successes is another one. There’s a couple other that I’ll touch on.
One is what we call newsjacking. It’s like a jargon word in our industry, which is basically leveraging headlines and news that’s not yours. So, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re a personal injury firm and you do a lot of work on slip and fall cases, or you do a lot of work with auto accident cases. Let’s say there’s an auto accident or slip and fall case that’s in the press that’s getting a lot of tension. You can then comment on those cases.
You can talk about the case, what’s next, what to consider. We’ve done this for a lot of clients, and it’s been really successful. So, really focusing on your areas of expertise and what you would comment on. And sometimes those cases don’t necessarily, they haven’t hired a lawyer yet. And so, we’ve actually seen newsjacking work in business development opportunities where the lawyer is actually commenting, and they end up landing the case.
The two other things that I’ll mention, one is byline articles. So, a lot of publications are accepting outside contributors to author articles. And these are really wonderful marketing pieces. One is that you control the message. You don’t have to worry about being quoted… or misquoted, I should say, or being taken out of context. You get to write an article, they’re usually around a thousand words. And what this does is one, obviously for anyone searching on the subject, there’s a high likelihood that your article is going to come up, but it’s also your virtual bookshelf in a way.
I mean, you can use that for your bio, for your website, for your social media, and it lives online forever and can be a great and powerful marketing tool. This is also really good for junior associates or junior partners. This is one way to get their foot in the door. And then, the last piece is nominations and rankings. So, there are hundreds of legal rankings out there, both local, regional, national rankings. And that’s a great way to get earned media is to submit yourself to these legal rankings. And some are voting-based super lawyers, best lawyers. We keep an eye on all of those and help our attorneys get included.
Those are all phenomenal ways to just get… especially your digital footprint out there. And I know that if I were to be looking for an attorney and there are four different attorneys that I’m trying to decide between, I would probably start Googling them and seeing what they have out there, what their experience is, what their expertise is.
And if it comes down to one lawyer who has a great digital presence that has a lot of information, a lot of articles published and has really showcased what they know, I’m probably going to lean more towards them than if I can’t find a whole lot either positive or negative on another lawyer who doesn’t really have much of a reputation out there that I could dig into. So, those are all fantastic ways to get that earned media coverage. But a lot of the law firms that we work with are personal injury firms obviously, and they have struggled to get that earned press. Why do you think a lot of personal injury law firms struggle to get that attention?
Why Some Personal Injury Firms Struggle to get Earned Media:
I think it can be difficult for a number of reasons. This is a lot based on the type of personal injury firm. So, for example, some personal injury firms, they work on high-profile cases and land high dollar amount or have high-impact cases. Those are very newsworthy and easily leveraged for press purposes. But a lot of firms don’t have those types of cases. Their cases are what I like to call more run-of-the-mill. For example, slip and falls, auto accidents.
These are usually not high profile in nature and perhaps they don’t have any interesting underlying issue. That’s why I say run-of-the-mill. They look very similar to other auto accident or other slip and fall cases. But keep in mind, the dollar amount isn’t the only thing that the media cares about.
In fact, some very high-dollar cases, they don’t get coverage because there’s nothing interesting about the case itself. So, one of the ways that I mentioned we get media beyond touting wins is positioning you as an expert based on trends. So, one of the uphill battles with this is that many trends we talk about with PI firms are evergreen stories, bike accidents, car accidents.
These happen so frequently that the media tends to shy away from riding stories that have been so extensively covered year after year. They’re going to ask the questions, “What’s new about this this year? Why should my audience care? What has changed?” And so, the more that you can answer those questions with the evergreen stories, the better.
One example, I’ll give you a law firm client we were working with, was leveraging this trend around the use of live jury focus groups. Okay. He mentioned that it was a growing trend, but the media didn’t really see it this way. They saw it as, “Well, live jury focus groups have been around since really the beginning of time. And we had trouble with that pitch idea because it didn’t really hit some of the timely relevancy issues that members of the press want to know about.” So, those are a couple of the challenges, and there are ways to combat that.
That’s really helpful. And it’s nice to know that there are so many personal injury firms out there that are struggling with the same thing, but making something interesting or again, getting those quotes and looking at trends are always that you can combat that and try to get a reporter’s ear.
One of the other things that you talked about with the newsjacking, I know that there are some personal injury lawyers that we have worked with who’ve had success reaching out to reporters individually. So, if there’s a reporter who is known for covering child injuries or dog bite cases, getting in touch with them. So, how would a personal injury lawyer go about making the connection with a reporter who might cover something that a personal injury lawyer would have relevancy with?
Sure, it makes sense. So, I’m going to answer your question and I want to answer another question. I talk about the challenges, and I really want to give a few examples of, okay, I am that personal injury firm that has these “run-of-the-mill” cases. So, what can you do with that? How do you get press? So, members of the press, they want claims substantiated. So, let’s go back to the live jury focus group as an example. Can you provide statistics behind this?
Can you point to a growing trend beyond that, that it’s just coming from your gut? A lot of these trends sometimes will like, “This is just what I’m feeling.” Another example actually stemmed from what an SEO firm put together. They created a nationwide map of where auto accidents occur.
So, you can visually picture this. You would hover over a specific state, you would see the number of auto accidents, what type of accidents, where these accidents were taking place, et cetera. The next year when this was updated, we noticed some major shifts, like some states saw this big spike, others saw these big drops, and that piqued our interest. And so, we framed a story around it, but not only were we able to provide press with statistics, but we were able to give media a visual, which is very important.
So, we didn’t really discuss visuals, but those are often really big selling points for media. So, they don’t want to just write a story about a trend. If they have a nice visual to pair with it, all the better. So, you think about it as the whole package you’re giving press. And this is especially important for broadcast.
Broadcast needs to pair it with a visual. So, sometimes they’ll cut the story for lack of a good visual. And newsjacking is obviously, I mentioned and it’s a great way for PI firms to get press, and there are so many opportunities for you to create this stuff. Just because you don’t have this nationwide map, there are ways that you can create it. Maybe there’s some research you put into a case that we can pull some data out of it. So, I just wanted to give those as tips.
But back to answering your question, which is how do lawyers and law firms make these connections? Pick up the phone and call people. I mean, you said it yourself. It’s like, identify the people that are writing these stories, get together with them, go in person over coffee or lunch. They’re humans too. The more personal connections you have, the better likelihood they are to call you.
Also, sometimes you have a really great pitch to this reporter, let’s say, that you have a relationship with, but the timing is off. Let’s say it’s the middle of an election or there’s something really big happening. Getting in front of them regularly is really critical. It’s just like you want top-of-mind awareness with your potential clients. You also want the same with press members. So, they may put you on their Rolodex for the next story, but the more you stay in front of them, the better. So, make those personal connections. I think there’s a lot of power in that.
I think that that is so true and so helpful. There are a lot of personal injury lawyers that we’ve talked with who have just been issuing press release after press release after press release, over the same run-of-the-mill stuff and are wondering why they aren’t getting picked up. Why is nobody calling them about this? Well, I mean, you have to put in a little bit more work than that. You have to really work on making those connections, or you hire a PR agency to do that legwork for you, one would think.
So, talk to me a little bit about why hiring a PR agency can help you with this legwork.
Hiring a PR Agency:
Sure. It’s a question we get all the time. “Should I hire a PR agency? Should I do this in-house?” You hire an agency for a lot of reasons. One is bench strength. It’s almost impossible for one person to be good at everything. With an agency, you have a team of folks at your disposal experience.
We’ve worked with hundreds of law firms for nearly 30 years. We know what works; we know what doesn’t work. We’ve also had a lot of media connections. Unquestionably, an agency will have more connections. I think agencies will certainly give you a lot of creativity. It’s not that one person can’t give you that same creativity, but even the most creative person in the world can’t be the most creative person every day.
And they will often get bogged down to fulfill the day-to-day projects. And I think that efficiency goes back to just the bench strength and resources. I think agencies have a lot more resources at their disposal. We subscribe to very expensive media databases. A lot of law firms aren’t going to do this and spend the money on that. And also, even if they do, it’s difficult to navigate those resources. You really have to be trained on them and be using them. So, those are a couple of reasons why you’d hire an outside agency.
Absolutely. And lawyers, law firms, unless you have somebody who is dedicated and has these connections and is putting everything behind it every day, you’re just not going to be able to get the same results from one person or as the lawyer yourself because there’s just so much time and effort that needs to go into it. And the other thing, in addition to time and effort is money and PR is an investment. So, how much should lawyers be setting aside every month to invest in PR?
How Much are PR Services:
So, that depends. To give you an answer, I mean, roughly in our experience, we see agencies typically priced anywhere from 50,000 annually to 150,000 annually. Obviously, there are firms that fall outside of those parameters. That’s generally what we see. And it’s dependent on scope of work. So, if you’re just one lawyer versus 15 lawyers and how many folks are the agencies supporting, those are all things that will come into play.
Well, if listeners want to learn more, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
How to Contact Berbay Marketing & Public Relations:
You can pick up the phone and call me. I am available anytime. I offer free advice regularly. So, 310-405-7343 is my direct line. And you can find all and any information on our website at berbay.com, B-E-R-B-A-Y. We have a whole what we call our learning hub. We’ve got nearly 30 years of experience, that we write regular blogs and talk about all kinds of issues that law firms face.
And so, you can get a lot from our website as well. But I’m always here to help people navigate this because I know that it’s the same when you’re looking for a lawyer. You want the lawyer to hold your hand and navigate you through the situation. So, we do the same for our law firms.
Well, that is awesome. We will be sure to put all of that information into the transcript for the podcast. And thank you again so much for coming on and sharing all this with us.