As the fourth quarter draws to a close, many industry, local business and legal publications will compile a year in review to summarize the significant deals, litigation, legislation and court decisions of 2019.
Reporters and editors will likely invite attorneys and business leaders to peer into their crystal balls and imagine the trends and issues of 2020. How will regulation, the election, the economy and other factors affect activity in specific sectors? Which factors will have the greatest impact and reverberate in the local, regional, national or global markets? Reporters want to know what is going to happen, so that they may share this insight with their readers — and scoop the competition.
Step forward to position yourself as a thought leader and participate in this discussion. Point out the issues that the individuals, businesses, nonprofits and corporations that you already represent may face in the year ahead, and you may well attract potential clients.
Show that you have your finger on the pulse of the market — whether the issues are best practices in employment, intellectual property, healthcare, trusts and estates – and you are prepared to look out for your clients’ best interests on the subject.
Emphasize the business consequences of timely legal issues, as you introduce yourself to reporters as a source and you’ll be among those whose ideas and predictions will be quoted in the perennial look-back and year-ahead review stories.
Consider some of the following questions and contexts as you select the highlights of the past year and predict the new year’s trends; guidelines for contacting reporters follow below:
Litigation and settlement:
- What are the lessons learned from the biggest cases of the year?
- How will those decisions or judgements impact the next wave of cases?
These precedents will likely have an echo effect for a few years. Advise business executives what they should do, perhaps to adopt pre-emptive defenses that may avoid or mitigate similar lawsuits.
Examine current legal issues and other regulatory challenges:
- If there were newly-enacted regulation, what is the timeline for it to finally kick in? How will it affect the industry?
- In response to these regulations, have companies implemented best practices or are they vulnerable to litigation?
Presumably, you have alerted clients about these changes and have advised them to manage the new situation. Create a checklist or a calendar with instructions on how to adhere to the regulatory requirements.
Look at technology as it affects companies and consumers:
- How are businesses managing privacy and cybersecurity issues, as data breaches become more frequent?
Technology plays an important role in nearly every aspect of business operations. Plus, each company, nonprofit organization and family must take steps to keep data secure. Demonstrate that your practice is aware of such concerns; you may even provide guidelines to review privacy, security and related technology matters.
The Big Picture:
- Are there other issues lying on the horizon that local companies should address this year?
- Are there any surprises hiding in the wings?
The election season, the fortunes of the national and regional economy and changes in consumer confidence will ripple across many industries. An unexpected factor, such as a sudden hurricane or wildfire, military activity or a surge in gasoline prices may await around the bend. Without painting a doomsday forecast, consider the likelihood of selected disaster-like events and what their respective repercussions would mean for the industry or region.
Overall, your ideas of upcoming trends do not necessarily entail sticking your neck out. These what-if scenarios will address:
- What might happen;
- The factors pointing in that direction;
- How market participants and/or clients might protect themselves or capitalize on these trends.
With your predictions in hand, you are ready to reach out to the media.
Identify the publications:
Make a list of the magazines and newsletters that your clients and prospects are most likely to read. Review a few recent issues and select the names of reporters and editors who cover the areas that best align with your practice.
Write an email to one or two reporters at each publication, identifying yourself and your practice in no more than three sentences. Mention that you wish to share your year-end review and year-ahead predictions; give three examples of a look-back topic and three of a look-ahead idea. You can usually find the reporter’s email address on the masthead of the publication’s website or on the journalist’s Twitter account; email the note. Alternatively, you can send the reporter a note via LinkedIn.
With any luck, the reporter will reply and ask you for more details. If you have not heard back after a week, send the note again; perhaps the reporter was busy with another article.
It’s doubtful that a reporter will check back in December 2020 to confirm how accurate your predictions were. However, they will remember who their sources were on that forecast news story, so they may contact you for an update to prepare for 2021.
Journalists, like prospective clients, contact the attorneys they have heard of and read about. You have the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader with insights, gleaned from close observation of legal issues with consequences for businesses and individuals. With a modest effort, you may be seen in the news, which may help make your phone ring with new business inquiries.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.