PR that drives BD: PR professionals are partnering with their business development counterparts to increase visibility, strengthen brands and elevate relationships.

Author:Taylor, Burton
Position:Public relations and business development

Times are changing. As the legal industry grows increasingly competitive, proactive, rather than merely reactive, public relations (PR) professionals are evolving their role by collaborating with business development (BD) counterparts and leveraging their unique role to catch the attention of prospective clients for their firms.

In particular, the PR team's value is rising given its ability to increase visibility, enhance credibility, and create outcomes that can lead to actual conversations and relationships with general counsel (GC). This target audience is increasingly hard to reach, yet makes clear the expectation that outside counsel understand their business and demonstrate thought leadership on issues relevant to their companies.

The GC whisperer

Given this unique position to give a law firm a voice with in-house counsel, the public relations team is emerging as a "GC whisperer" of sorts. In a recent article, Law360 reported law firms that are able to articulate an exceptional understanding of their clients' business are winning more work and are nearly 19 percent more profitable than other law firms, according to a BTI Consulting survey.

"Today's legal decision makers want to understand what factors pose a threat to their business, industry and their specific business objectives," the report stated. "Clients put--and pay--a premium for receiving legal advice cloaked in business context."

Your Client's Coffee Table

As you engage in public relations work that complements your firm's business development strategies, it is important to identify media that your prospective clients consider to be of interest to their business, as well as relevant and credible. General counsel will certainly be interested in legal media, but they're also going to be equally interested in media that provide news and information specific to their business.

It may be helpful to identify those media by imagining what may be on their office coffee tables: What publications do they feel are important enough to subscribe to for staying up to date on developments, trends and news important to their business? LinkedIn is a great resource for this as well, as many general counsel will often "follow" their favorite media.

Either approach allows you to identify media that align with your client's business. A public relations professional can explore how to contribute as a source or guest columnist and, in turn, position their attorneys as thought leaders within...

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