Friday, January 29, 2016

When The Press Comes A'Calling

In the course of your work as a legal professional, you may receive the occasional call from the media, seeking your comments or insights on a recent legal development or issue.

Handling these enquiries with expertise and grace will always be beneficial to you and your practice.

Here are a few tips on working with the media in this context:

  1. Generally speaking, media enquiries will initially come by email, with the journalist specifying the topic to be covered and asking for your availability to participate in a telephone interview.
  2. If you wish to participate, don’t delay. Journalists work on very tight deadlines, so an immediate response will always be appreciated. It will also increase the odds that you will be included in the article to be written.
  3. Do some research before your phone interview. Read up on the topics to be discussed, and ensure that you have the relevant statutes and caselaw at your fingertips during the interview.  The more detail and precision you can provide, the more value you will be adding to the article being written.
  4. Be helpful. Most journalists appreciate it if you provide them with links to source materials by email. Remember, you have been contacted because of your expertise. If you can provide helpful background materials to the journalist, this will make  the writer’s job easier, and also make it more likely that you will be called again, next time.
  5. Speak slowly and clearly during your interview, to give the writer opportunity to accurately record your comments.  Pause occasionally, to allow the journalist time to catch up.  Ask if you are going too fast, and listen to any cues your interviewer is providing about the pace and content of your comments.
  6. Be yourself.  Be engaging and communicate your enthusiasm about your topic.
  7. If you are logistically unable to participate in a telephone interview, but still want to contribute, consider sending a comment by email.  You never know – your short blurb could be exactly what the journalist needs.
  8. Always be mindful in your dealings with the press of your duty to maintain client confidentiality.  Don’t comment on cases in which you are professionally engaged without your clients’ express permission.
  9. Also be mindful of  your various ethical duties when dealing with the press, with special focus on the legal professional’s overarching duty to foster public confidence in the administration of justice.
  10. When your telephone interview is finished, always ask the journalist to send you a link to the article being written, once it’s published online.
  11. Ask that the online version of the article, where possible, include a link to your website.
  12. If you note an error in the article, once published, don’t hesitate be in contact with the writer to request a correction. This can usually be  done expeditiously, particularly with online publications.
  13. Consider sending a thank you note or follow up email to the journalist involved with feedback about the completed article, and kudos for a job well done.
  14. Once published, leverage the article in your marketing efforts. Post it to your blog. Tweet and retweet it, and share liberally on social media.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Office website: www.wiselaw.net

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