Guest blog – Why professional services and public relations make a powerful combination
Professional services firms, which by their very nature are experts in their field, are right up there when it comes to naming the types of business most capable of earning a strong media profile.
It is, after all, a natural fit. On one side you have a company full of knowledge and expertise looking to build its reach, on the other hand, a media desperate to talk to experts about topics that are high on the news agenda – but which journalists know little about.
In fact, reporters are so keen to use quotes from experts to add credence to their stories, and to help readers understand complicated issues, that they are more than willing to include company names when the quotes are published. They may even agree to a regular by-lined column – something that would normally cost a fortune to buy as an advertising feature. The question, however, is how to fit the two sides together – and that is where PR has been proven to bring positive results.
A good PR agency is trained to spot the ‘hidden gold’ in a company. It may be an employee with a great story to tell, a subject matter expert with specialist knowledge, or a media-ready spokesperson who has the knack of making sound bites out of complicated issues. Often the early weeks of a PR campaign are dedicated to finding that gold; but what happens next is what really builds the reputation and profile of a business in this sector, whether it is a law firm, accountant, tax expert, chartered surveyor, or architect.
“It is media contacts across all sectors that really enables a PR agency to take gold and make it shine.”
If you turn on the television tomorrow morning and there is a lawyer giving his or her opinion on a topic in the news, it didn’t happen by accident. It was almost certainly the result of a long-term PR campaign in which journalists, editors, and producers were targeted in a bid to ease a client into the limelight. Perhaps media training was offered, too, to prepare them for the challenge.
“It is certainly a tactic that can help smaller firms punch above their weight in terms of public and professional profile, appearing in national newspapers, on television, and online as subject matter experts; and when a company’s profile is raised, the sky is the limit.”
Brighton-based national PR agency Midnight Communications, for instance, worked for 13 years with law firm Thomas Eggar LLP, supporting its growth from a small local firm with one office to one with six offices in the South East – until the firm was eventually acquired by legal behemoth Irwin Mitchell.
The brief for this PR campaign included:
- Position Thomas Eggar as a national law firm – and help it punch above its weight.
- Communicate the firm’s specialisms in five key sectors – Private Client, Sport, Retail, Technology, and Construction.
- Focus on relevance and quality of coverage.
- Achieve 30% top tier coverage.
- Continually find new ways to keep the PR campaign fresh and to maintain its position.
Midnight’s strategic approach was to target national, trade, and regional press, offering proactive and reactive comments to breaking news stories, informative think pieces, and ‘talking heads’ video, as well as the usual mix of company news, CSR activity, and regional stories.
It took hard work to convince the media to feature Thomas Eggar spokespeople as thought leaders at the start of the campaign, but thanks to the firm’s commitment to respond quickly and informatively to media requests, and thanks to Midnight’s ability to craft copy from telephone interviews and to sell-in television opportunities, that soon changed.
Over time, journalists began proactively asking for comment from Thomas Eggar lawyers, especially in the sports sector, and lawyers realised the benefits of a raised profile. In one year alone 307 items of coverage were recorded, including 161 in national and top tier titles. So, earning the right to be the firm’s ‘PR star of the month’ became pretty competitive!
It wasn’t only PR that enabled Thomas Eggar to grow, of course, but the campaign played a significant role over more than a decade, and it’s a good example of how professional services and PR fit together so well.
One of the reasons that relationship is so powerful is that professional services firms are not selling products, they are selling expertise – which is extremely attractive to the media and feels less like advertising to readers.
So, whether you want to raise its profile, build your reputation, punch above your weight, or attract investors, it’s a combination that could bring real results. To find out more about how PR can help your professional services firm, call us on 01903 530787 or contact us via the form below.
|Midnight is one of the UK’s leading public relations consultancies and helps businesses and brands to tell the world their stories through a powerful combination of PR and content services.