what is a press release

What Is a Press Release and Why Is It Important?

If your only point of connection with PR is shows like Mad Men, you’re not alone. You get that public relations firms are out there, but the depth of your understanding may not go much deeper, and that’s ok because we’re here to provide you with a refresher course. The truth is that a solid PR firm can help you run a tighter ship, allowing your law firm to shine in the process, and one element of this strategy is press releases. 

Let’s journey forward together into the mysterious world of PR firms and press releases – with a savvy legal PR pro as your guide. 

A Press Release? 

You’re running a law firm, which means you’re busy, and you may not have a clue about what a press release has to offer your business. A press release refers to content that focuses on something new and noteworthy about your firm and is published on an online distribution platform. The bottom line when it comes to effective press releases is keeping all the following points at the forefront:

  • You don’t want to be the firm who cried wolf. It’s important to reserve press releases for those moments when there’s something newsworthy to share. 
  • It’s also important not to be too modest. You don’t want to cheat yourself out of any golden opportunities to help solidify your online reputation. 
  • It’s important to keep press releases professional, accurate, and well-written. While your blogs can take a conversational tone, a press release should generally be more polished. 
  • Don’t forget to keep your prospective clients’ interests in mind. Relevant legal matters and community involvement tend to cover all the bases. 

What Drives Press Releases? 

Press releases are designed to share the news with the media, which they – in turn – share via their own news outlets. Press releases, in other words, represent those rare instances when you’re basically inviting others to copy your content. Press releases can act as definitive road maps of your firm’s accomplishments, growth, challenges, commitment to your field of law, and commitment to your community. Press releases can also be optimized to enhance SEO and generate leads, which affords them an even bigger punch. While blogs, web pages, social media presence, and articles all have their place, it’s hard to outdo a well-crafted, well-positioned, and newsworthy press release. 

It’s important to note that flooding the internet with press releases only serves to dilute the impact you’re going for – and could end up doing more harm than good. Press releases are an excellent opportunity to share legitimate news and shouldn’t be confused with daily Twitter posts or any other means of sharing bites of information. By reserving your press releases for real news, you help to ensure that the reporters who peruse them afford them the attention they deserve – instead of glossing over them as a result of being burned by fluff in the past. In other words, use your press releases responsibly. 

Pointers for Making Your Point 

If you’ve got a press release in the works, you’ve got a point to make, and there are several press release pointers that can help you get the job done. 

Professional Is Not the Same as Boring 

While it’s true that press releases generally require a more formal writing style, this does not have to mean dry, brittle, and boring text. Let’s face it – the law has a bad enough rap when it comes to dull writing, and it’s high time this myth was dispelled. Your press release is your opportunity to share your achievements, accomplishments, and other notable occurrences, and you’re not required to curb your enthusiasm or alter your style in the process. Guidelines that can help you strike the right note include:

  • The writing itself should be professional, which includes employing impeccable grammar that is free of typos and spelling errors. 
  • The piece should be informative but also interesting to your readers, and there are no rules that preclude you from striking an inviting tone that draws readers in. 
  • While you shouldn’t be afraid to let your creative juices flow, the piece should be tasteful. 

A sharp legal PR specialist can help you find your firm’s press release groove, ensuring that you maximize the inherent potential without overstepping. 

Now’s No Time to Be Shy

We spend so much of our lives making sure that we stay in our own lanes that it can be challenging to attract attention to your pride in your firm. A press release, however, is not the right time to give in to your impulse to downplay your success. It’s more than possible to highlight your firm’s accomplishments in a press release without sounding pompous while also accomplishing all the following:

  • Optimizing SEO
  • Generating leads
  • Skillfully targeting prospective clients
  • Solidifying your firm’s branding

Sure, it’s a tall order, but that’s what PR professionals are for.  

You Control the Narrative 

An important point to make about press releases is that they represent that rare occasion when you are able to shape and control the media’s narrative. This means that it is within your power to set the tone, share the highlights, gloss over the insignificant matters, emphasize your points according to your firm’s priorities, and create interesting and compelling copy. This may sound like a high bar, but a professional legal PR writer with a wealth of experience generating journalistic interest has the chops to help you make your press releases sparkle. 

Further, press releases don’t have to focus solely on those big settlements or your colleagues’ latest accomplishments. Press releases are an excellent vehicle for sharing what is near and dear to your firm’s heart. This can mean any of the following:

  • A charity that your firm started, heads up, or makes it a point to contribute to 
  • A charitable board that a member of your firm serves on
  • Your firm’s commitment to pro bono work
  • Community events that your firm sponsors

This list could go on. Wherever your firm connects with the community at large is a resource to consider in relation to press releases. Too many law firms lose sight of how invested they are in their own communities, which translates to lost opportunities to share. This isn’t just about tooting your own horn – sharing your commitment to the greater good may inspire other firms to follow suit.  

The Craft of Writing Law Firm Press Releases 

No two press releases are ever identical to one another, but too many strike the same note and fail to get the attention they deserve as a result. When it comes to writing a compelling press release that captures the imagination, there are some basic tips you should follow. 

Remember that They Don’t Call Them Headlines for Nothing

While the beloved Broadway musical that put newsies on the map maintains that headlines don’t sell papers, newsies do – a more accurate interpretation is that newsies sell headlines and that the better the headline, the better the sales. Your headline is your press release’s calling card, and it can mean the difference between taking flight and falling flat. There are a lot of press releases to choose from, and if your headline pops, it’s far more likely to catch a reporter’s attention. Some pointers to keep in mind include the following:

  • Make your point with fewer words whenever possible. 
  • Capture the essence of your press release in the title. A misleading headline is not going to do you any favors.
  • Dig deep – your headline is your opportunity to get a little jiggy with it. 
  • Clever is fine but don’t sacrifice meaning for being too cute.

Make the First Paragraph Information Rich 

While your headline is critical to whether or not your press release makes it out of the gate, the first paragraph is the next test. When you succinctly answer the when, where, why, what, who, and how in those first lines, you ensure that reporters have the information they need to pull the trigger and share your story. If the information has to be mined from later paragraphs, the piece is far more likely to lose momentum. You can flesh things out in the following paragraphs, but tightening up your first paragraph is a primary goal. 

Clean Up Your Writing 

Law firm press releases run the risk of being overly technical and full of legalese, but you’re in control and can change all that. Your target audience is not fluent in legal writing, and even if they are, they deserve a break. The best press releases are accessible, which means they are clear, concise, well-written, and free of overly complex language and sentence structures. When you focus on writing that flows, is free of grammatical errors, and makes clear points, you’re in the right ballpark. It’s worth noting that this streamlined, straightforward approach is one of the most difficult writing styles to achieve with any level of panache, which is yet another reason why turning to a professional legal PR firm is always well advised.

Can I quote you?

By including a well-considered quote or two in your press release, you accomplish all the following:

  • You put the matter into your own words, which can be difficult to do in a straight narrative. 
  • You highlight what you want to highlight. 
  • You afford reporters easy access to dipping in and copying and pasting your quote, which can serve as a springboard for more in-depth analysis and can make your release more inviting.

Never underestimate the leverage a good quote can afford. 

Include a Release Date 

The thing about press releases is that they are intended to share a recent occurrence. By including a release date, you make it clear that the information you’re sharing is, indeed, new. If there is a time-sensitive component, it’s important to highlight the date the information can be shared with the public.

Don’t Forget the Boilerplate

Just because it’s a press release doesn’t mean you can leave out the boilerplate. By including the following, you ensure that any interested reporters have the information they need to follow up:

  • A brief firm bio
  • Contact info
  • A link to your firm’s website

Public Relations Generally

After diving into press releases, it’s important to circle back to the role they play in public relations. The idea behind public relations is imparting information on behalf of a business, person, or entity that is intended to bolster its relationship with the public and to help guide public perception. PR firms tackle many important tasks that include the following:

  • Guiding crisis management 
  • Fostering brand awareness 
  • Managing events
  • Coordinating public communication and the dissemination of information

What PR Can Mean for Your Firm? 

PR has many options that can benefit your organization, and if you haven’t explored what collaborating with a focused PR firm could mean for your business, it’s time to give it some thought. Some of the highlights include:

  • A deeper dive into what it is that makes your brand stand out
  • Sharper marketing, which can translate to increased leads and sales
  • An advantageous shift in public perception
  • A bolstered online presence
  • A clearer representation of your firm’s values

All told, a trusted Legal PR firm can help you shine a light on your firm’s strengths while shifting the focus away from anything that might need work. 

Aiming for Game-Changing Press Releases? A Seasoned Legal PR Firm Can Help 

Focused brand building is the essence of public relations, and while content is always king, few forms of content pack as solid a punch as press releases do. When your press releases are well-considered, well-timed, and well-written they can elevate your brand, generate leads, and build solid connections in the space of a few paragraphs. 

Unfortunately, many organizations do not have the time or knowledge to handle their own press releases. This should be left up to PR professionals. The legal PR pros at Newsroom PR have the press release savvy you’re looking for, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at 213-422-2738 today.