PR (Public Relations) Tips for Lawyers: Interview with Erica Hess

| October 08, 2013

public-relationsFor attorneys, public relations management can be a challenging part of the profession. You’re focused on practicing law but as a legal professional, there are stereotypes (that you may not have helped perpetuate) that you must learn to manage. In this post, +Erica Hess, Account Manager at marketing and public relations firm +Berbay Corp., gives us some tips for managing an image.

Erica Hess

How do I combat disgruntled people leaving bad reviews online?

Depending on the site, you may be able to have the review removed or tell your side of the story. For example, on a Yelp business profile, if your firm receives a negative or false review, you might consider emailing the reviewer directly, apologizing for any wrongdoing, and kindly asking them to remove the review. Explain to them the importance of the firm’s online reputation and perhaps offer something in return.

If the negative review is not removed, the next best step is to obtain positive Yelp reviews. Consider former clients, vendors, etc. who might be willing to provide a review. We also recommend that you offer to draft the review for their review and approval. If the negative review sticks on your profile, at least you will have positive reviews to help balance your overall rating.

The Internet has become a go-to source for consumers to share their experience which makes it all the more important to strive for positive reviews.

Do the types of clients I take on influence my image?

Yes. If you’re working with Fortune 500 companies you may be perceived one way versus if you’re dealing with local mom and pop shops. The types of clients you take on can influence how your company is perceived which why it is important for firms to be selective with their clients.
How can I use my website to help my public relations?

Your website and public relations should work closely together as two components of your marketing. Marketing is the idea of creating the visibility and credibility through tactical means, such as authoring articles and developing your website. Public relations provides the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field, while your website is a vehicle to leverage the media attention you receive and expand the distribution and “shelf life” of news. For example, if you were quoted or published an article, it is important to add this to your website, LinkedIn profile, etc.

Do I really need a public relations campaign to help my practice?

Not every firm needs a PR campaign, but it goes a long way in creating top of mind awareness among your target markets, as well as positioning yourself as an expert in your field.

bookI see a lot of books out there on public relations for lawyers, should I use these to go at it alone or is it better to hire someone to help me?

It depends on the amount of time you have, your budget and how much you’re looking to do. There’s only so much that you can do in terms of your own marketing while also running a practice, so it might be better to hire someone to help. Consider what the best way to spend your time is – is it serving clients and running the business or focusing on marketing? We typically find that the marketing just never gets done when you go at it alone because of time constraints. A marketing firm can shoulder the majority of the work which allows you to focus on what you do best. While I’m not familiar with every book out there, based on our experience, we would recommend hiring someone to help.

How do I know if I need public relations help?

Prospective clients come to us looking to engage in a PR campaign simply because people don’t know who they are – whether that’s other attorneys, prospective clients, etc. If you’re looking to create more visibility and generate more leads, that would be an indicator that you want a public relations specialist’s help.

What are some red flags to watch out for when hiring a PR manager?

Find a firm that suits you. For example, a real estate company might consider seeking out a firm that has experience working within the real estate industry. Some firms don’t specialize; they are more generalists who might work with consumer products, law firms, etc. We specialize in working with professional service firms which is a value we bring to clients. Additionally, if you aren’t sure about the firm, consider the amount of experience they have and ask for referrals.

Erica Hess is an Account Manager with Berbay Corp., a marketing and public relations firm that specializes in working with professional services firms in law, financial services, real estate, architecture/engineering/contracting (A/E/C), and business-to-business (B-to-B) industries. She can be contacted at or (310) 405-7335.