Oct 26, 2009

How to Get Free Press for Your Practice in the New York Times

Call me old fashioned, but even with the recent decline in newspaper circulation, I hold a special place in my heart for the old Gray Lady.  For all the exposure that the Internet offers, nothing quite parallels the reach of a mention in the pages of the New York Times, or rivals the cache of a "quoted in the New York Times" entry on a lawyer bio.

Guess what?  You don't need to be a bigwig to snag a mention in the New York Times, or at least, at one of its online sites.  These days, the New York Times gives readers the ability to contribute posts to its local blogs or to cover local news stories.  And lawyers are already taking advantage of these opportunities to contribute to the local community while gaining exposure for their practice.

Consider Livingston, New Jersey-based new solo, Jodi Rosenberg (whose office, coincidentally, is located in my hometown, right around the corner from where I grew up).  Rosenberg wrote this post for the New York Times' local Maplewood blog about an author's talk that she organized for a working mothers' group.  In the post, Rosenberg shares useful tips on how to locate published authors to speak at events as well as information on Workmoms, a social networking group for working mothers that Rosenberg co-leads.  But Rosenberg also discretely slips in mention about starting her new law firm.  Rosenberg's post thus brings exposure both to her Workmoms group (which can generate membership and lead to increased connections and potential clients) and directly to her law firm.

Former lawyer turned author, writing coach and speaker Ari Kaplan has also posted on the New York Times blog, once about his experience of writing his book at the local library and once about family activities.   Kaplan's articles help build a local following, not to mention that he garnered a nice byline with information about his business.

The Times offers another opportunity for lawyers to get exposure and even meet prospective clients face to face with its Virtual Assignment Desk.  The Virtual Assignment Desk lists local events where news coverage is desired, and then solicits volunteers who are willing to cover those events and file a blog post and story.  Past assignments  include school board meetings, a League of Women Voters' workshop offering tips for citizen journalists and a town board of trustees meetings.  By attending these events as a journalist, lawyers have the opportunity to get to know the key players, and even have a chance to interact with them directly by interviewing them for a story.  Consider a lawyer interested in a niche practice advising bloggers and citizen journalists.  Attending a meeting on citizen journalism and reporting about it can get the lawyer's name out in front of prospective clients. 

Does the metropolitan newspaper in your area offer these kinds of opportunities?  Not only can your effort help rebuild the newspaper industry, but you can help build your own practice in the process.