How to achieve marketing and PR standout in a crowded marketplace

Whether applied to business plans, recruitment strategies or PR and communications programmes, the words of US author W L Bateman are more relevant than ever in today’s tough economic climate and saturated legal sector.

With predicted snail’s pace growth ahead coupled with a myriad of challenges besieging the profession – such as legal aid cuts on fees in crime and civil work and the introduction of best value tendering for legal aid work which will also drive fees down – former national TV journalist and Quest PR MD Sharon Cain stresses that powerful profiling and media recognition have never been more critical.

In a packed market place, the headaches of falling sales, low brand recognition and peer-awareness are intensified. Slashing marketing spend can further exacerbate the migraine and prolong the uphill road to recovery.

In the countdown towards 2013, what are you doing differently to leapfrog your competitors? The companies that emerged triumphant from the 90s recession were the ones who maintained a strong market position. Marks & Spencer’s accelerated PR and marketing was key to its comeback – while Innocent and GHD’s fast growth are likewise attributable to harnessing the power of the media.

Almost two decades on and another recession later, many sectors are pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones with sustained and ‘joined up’ PR, marketing and social media campaigns are stealing a proverbial march.

Against a backdrop which demands flexibility, innovation and creativity, professional services are grasping the mettle – law firms, for example, are offering 20 per cent off wills to Twitter followers, spearheading and sustaining LinkedIn discussions groups, featuring in video blogs and videos and utilising Facebook as a recruitment platform to vie for the top talent. Successful practices will reveal they are winning new business through adopting this potent formula.

In my experience as a national journalist and PR consultant, the power of positioning yourself as an expert with print and broadcast media to drive sales cannot be underestimated. In the same way that, as a former BBC and Sky TV reporter, I would call on the most articulate and interesting interviewees, editors and journalists today also seek spokespeople who can succinctly translate the latest legislation into layman’s terms and spell out its implications, comment on milestone legal cases, provide tops tips and add value to round table debates

As PR practitioners at Quest we can vouch for how the media loves to profile ‘new kids on the block’ – presenting a fantastic opportunity for lawyers to be a fresh face and voice for readers, listeners and viewers.

When reacting to the news agenda, it’s vital to be quick off the mark in approaching journalists because you are competing with hundreds of internal or external PR teams who are also racing to secure their clients a coveted slot.

Patience, perseverance and tenacity in great store are also required and you will savour the sweet taste of success when the situation is reversed and the media start to call you or your PR agency for comment. Celebrate this extremely exciting milestone – after eleven years of catapulting clients from a standing start to national commentators we still cheer loudly at Quest PR!

Finally, before approaching the media as a potential commenter – ensure you are competent and confident in driving and steering the interview. Conducting live or pre-recorded interviews with radio and TV reporters and presenters requires specific skills and techniques to ensure you are invited back.

If in doubt commission a media training specialist so that you emerge from a live Sky TV interview – or address millions of listeners on Radio Five Live in the confidence that you have done yourself and your business justice.