Becoming a media source for legal news articles in magazines, newspapers, and other publications is one of the most effective ways to establish yourself as an expert in your area of law practice. Many people would be surprised to learn that the lawyers providing commentary in news stories are not necessarily the most knowledgeable lawyers in the field. The difference is that the lawyer being quoted by the media knew how to put his or her name in front of a journalist.
To become a media source for legal news articles, try some of these suggestions:
- Register and Read HARO
- Be a Guest on a Radio Talk Show or Podcast
- Introduce Yourself Locally
- Speak in Sound Bites
HARO refers to the Help a Reporter website and email newsletter. Created by Peter Shankman, HARO provides an efficient way to connect journalists with sources. Reporters register with the HARO site and post queries for sources on articles they are writing. Experts like you register with HARO as a source, and then read the email bulletins that are sent out by HARO listing what kinds of sources the reporters want to interview that day. When you see a query that matches your background or expertise, simply send an email to volunteer your comments.
While most of the HARO inquiries are not going to be relevant to your law practice, patience and persistence in monitoring the HARO list will eventually provide you with opportunities to be quoted. There is no fee to register as a HARO source, so you really have nothing to lose other than a few minutes a day checking to see if a reporter wants to talk to someone like you.
Radio talk shows are always in need of guests. While the major radio interview hosts have plenty of publicists and booking agents pushing for their clients to appear on the big shows, radio talk shows and podcasts with a local or specialized audience have to actively seek out guests. You can locate the producers of these shows by searching online for radio shows and podcasts that discuss topics related to your area of law practice, or by registering with a free service like RadioGuestList.com to receive daily emails listing what shows are looking for guests on particular topics.
If your law practice involves spending time around the courthouse, find an opportunity to introduce yourself to the news reporters who cover legal news stories for the local newspapers and television news broadcasts. The best way is to do it casually, by simply approaching them when you see them around the courthouse at a moment when they don't appear busy. Introduce yourself, say that you enjoy reading their articles or watching their news reports, tell them what area of law you practice, volunteer to help any time they need information for stories related to your area of law practice, and give them your card. Smart reporters keep a list of sources handy for when they need a quick quote for a story, and most will appreciate being able to add your name to their list of lawyers to call for comments on legal news articles.
Even if your law practice does not present opportunities to casually bump into news reporters at the courthouse, there is nothing wrong with cold calling reporters and/or sending them letters about yourself. You are not soliciting them as clients, and you should not do a "hard sell" of yourself. Reporters frequently need comments from lawyers for stories they are writing, and the first lawyers they call are usually going to be the ones they already know will discuss the issue with them. Make yourself available, and you are likely to get some calls.
Politicians speak in "sound bites" because it makes it easy for reporters to quote their views on an issue. If you want to start being a source used in media news stories, you have to learn this skill too. Reporters have little use for your long-winded explanation of the complexities of a legal issue. They need you to boil the issue down into layman's terms that the average reader can easily understand. If you talk over people's heads, you are not of much use to a reporter. As the old saying goes, "you have to put the hay down where the goats can get to it." Discard legalese, speak in plain English, and think of memorable ways to express the essence of your opinions.
Booking media interviews is a great way to build publicity for your law practice, and can help establish you as the expert in your legal field. To learn more about becoming recognized as a legal expert, read 4 Steps to Becoming Recognized as the Expert in Your Legal Specialty.