Lawyers Measure Their Words (and Need To Also Measure Public Relations Efforts)

measuring-your-pr-successIn the Washington Post, it was reported that social media is no longer a fad in the legal industry. The story referred to a study that found “about 40 percent [of law firms] said blogging and social networking initiatives have helped the firm land new work.” Recently, a study at the American Bar Association revealed more than 60% of large firms surveyed have a blog and use social media such as LinkedIn.

With all that social media use, in addition to getting press coverage in more traditional media outlets, it can seem challenging to measure how well your publicity plan is doing. Here are tips to help you get started:

The biggest. It’s helpful to break down the kind of coverage that you are measuring. There are three categories: owned media, earned media, and paid media. “Owned” is content that you produce on your website and blogs, in your newsletters, and on your social media channels. “Earned” media is what others say about you, whether it’s through comments on other websites or social media, or what is printed or broadcast by journalists. “Paid” media is money you spend on advertising.

Decide what to measure. A law firm can land in the New York Times or on CNN, but if these outlets don’t attract a response from potential clients, or if the featured content doesn’t relate to your law firm’s specialty, then it won’t fit within your statistical target. For instance, the Chicago Tribune might do a story about a power outage in the suburbs. If you live in the area that was affected, you might be asked to comment, especially if the reporters have your contact information that they got through a legal story they previously did with you. If you’d already decided what your publicity goals are, then this Tribune story wouldn’t be counted in your results. Basically, it’s not enough to simply get any kind of media coverage, but what you want to get that will help your firm’s business and reputation.

Pick the right tools. Once you establish your goals, you’ll have to find the right analytics tools. There are many different opinions of what is the best, and if you search online, you’ll find numerous “best of” lists. If you’re not sure what kind of social media analytics program you need, try the free ones to help you determine what you feel comfortable with and how much data you want. The more robust programs are usually not free, and will supply a variety of ways to analyze data and create customized reports. At the very least, you should use Google Analytics and Google Alerts.

Yes, publicity is difficult to measure precisely, which is why you should have a plan. If you define your audience, target the types of media you want to reach that audience, and use effective tools to create detailed reports, you will feel more comfortable with the public relations strategy you’ve implemented and will get more concrete results. If you would like a more extensive explanation and breakdown of public relations measurement and how it’s evolved, this article at PR Week can help.

A version of this blog post first appeared at the Law Firm Consultants Network of Chicago.