You only get one chance to make a first impression, so when you are ready to launch why not make it a good one? Whether you hold a launch party that is the toast of the town or you simply issue a press release; careful planning can make it more effective.
According to Gus Sellitto, Director of Byfield Communications, a company specialising in legal PR, new law firms should think carefully about how to gain the maximum exposure from their launch. “Hosting a launch event is a good way to network with clients and potential clients and I always advise clients to try and bring these to life with additional elements. For example, could you produce a piece of original research to coincide with your launch that clients can take away with them? Could you arrange a keynote speech by a supporter from the local business community?”
When it comes to generating publicity, particularly from a standing start don’t forget social and new media. You might not get coverage in the Times, but exposure in well-chosen blogs or LinkedIn groups can reach a large and targeted audience, so think about who your target audience is. Also, don’t forget the local and trade press. Again, according to Gus Sellitto, “The local press like local business stories and that will help you reach potential clients. A press release is the end of the process, not the beginning. Start before you launch by identifying an appropriate journalist and cultivating a relationship with him or her. Most local press have blogs and are online, so they need regular and fresh content. The golden rule is have a strategy, identify your target market, speak to those you identify as key in advance and then issue your release when it will get most exposure – if a key title for you is published monthly for example then you should time your press launch to coincide with their schedule. Finally, think about building your own communications channel through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It is hard work at first, but soon becomes a very cost effective way of doing PR.”
PR establishes credibility and provides you with publicity. By itself it will seldom bring in clients. However, when used in conjunction with a marketing campaign it becomes very powerful.
According to Sue Bramall, Director of Berners Marketing, “it takes time to build awareness of a new firm, trust in the lawyers and an understanding of areas of expertise. Having agreed a set of clear and consistent messages that convey the benefits you can offer, make sure that you have a regular programme of communication with your clients and prospects. When a need for legal advice arises, you need to ensure that you or your firm’s name is the first to come to mind. Don’t forget that as you build a firm, you will also be competing for legal talent, and so your firm’s brand will also be important when trying to attract the best lawyers.”
There is an alternative solution if you seek all the flexibility and freedom of setting up your own law firm but wish to avoid the investment inherent in setting up.