Like it or not, if you run an accountancy practice, a law firm or any other professional service business, you need to think about PR. Why? For many reasons. Good PR can create a new brand or repair a damaged one, raise awareness of a product or service, create ‘go to’ experts, limit the effect of bad news, establish advocates or fans, and ultimately, drive business.
So, you’ve won a ‘mega-contract’ – what next? Those ‘in the know’ realise that this is exactly the sort of thing to be shouting about. Any PR worth their salt will be able to immediately advise you whether or not your contract win is newsworthy. Remember – a huge contract for you may be small fry for the business community you work in; your PR will tell you if this is the case and ignore their advice at your peril. If you email rubbish to journalists they will soon just ignore everything you send.
The point to note here is that you should be utilising the power of PR as often as you can – all the time really. Whenever you have good news – shout about it. Why? Nobody else will shout for you. You can shout about partner promotions and charity work; you can announce increased profits and new products. New office? Shout about it. Won a huge court case? Shout about it. You get the picture.
Although ‘good news’ PR has its place, it’s during difficult periods that your PR officer or agency will really earn their keep. Over the past few years, many professional services firms have been forced to dismiss staff to cut costs. During redundancy consultations, re-organisations or management changes; the provision of consistent, clear and frequent communications for all staff not only helps raise morale; but also trust. Nobody likes being kept in the dark when it comes to job uncertainty. Opening the lines of communication and keeping them open is fundamental to keeping employees happy, and again this is where your PR officer or agency should provide support.
During challenging times, it’s also important to think about journalists; who just want to report the news, negative or positive. Open and honest relationships with the journalists writing about your sector are fundamental and will assist when it comes to damage limitation and rumour control. Your PR officer or agency should manage these relationships on your behalf. Just remember, if you are making redundancies, or sacking the managing partner – it will be reported. Make sure you are ready for this, and have your response planned.
In essence, PR can help to make or break your brand, and appreciating the power of positive or negative reporting is key. If you’ve shouted loudly and frequently enough when times were good, then when the tough times roll, you may find that your brand has greater ‘bounce-back ability’ than a long-silent competitor.
Just a little something to think about…
About Victoria Moffatt
Once described as a ‘memorable redhead’, Victoria Moffatt is the founder of boutique Legal PR agency; LexRex Communications. In her previous incarnation as a solicitor, Victoria was a litigator and practised in both Doncaster and Leeds.
Passionate about great communications and measurable results, she creates and implements bespoke PR and social media campaigns for law firms in Manchester and across the UK.