“No Comment” Is Not A Media Strategy - Why Legal And Financial Firms So Often Struggle To Get Into The National Press

Author:Mr Jason Bennetto
Profession:Dr Tabloid & Mr Broadsheet

Within the national press, legal and financial firms are

notorious for failing to use their first-class expertise and

involvement in newsworthy stories and controversial cases to

achieve the public profile they merit.

There are a number of factors at play here, but the main

root of the problem seems to lie in a basic lack of

understanding of journalists and their motives.

Legal and financial firms often have little idea what

journalists want, what stories and features will interest a

newspaper or magazine, and few contacts within the national

media to remedy this situation.

Consequently, they lack confidence in their ability to shape

their media profile and often adopt a defensive strategy in

which they are usually reactive, rather than pro-active, and

rely on mundane press releases, that often read like internal

staff notices.

Drawing on our joint experience of 40 years in national

newspapers and magazines - backed up by evidence from

journalist colleagues working in the city, business and legal

sectors, we believe there are some mistakes that regularly crop

up. These include:

A failure to make proper use of your in-house pool of

expertise. This includes staff who can comment on topics of

the day, as well as reports, cases, and on-going research

that is newsworthy, or could form part of a piece of analyses

or a feature.

Fear and unfamiliarity with the national media. Too often

firms stick to trade magazines and journals, or specialist

websites, rather than forming working relationships with the

national press and broadcasters.

Badly written and poorly distributed press releases,

reports and notices. Relying on your internal website and

randomly emailing or posting out press releases is usually a

waste of time, and a wasted opportunity.

Acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights and giving

a "no comment" response is usually a missed

opportunity. Unless you are legally bound to stay quiet, then

you should be looking to take advantage of press interest.

Saying nothing will not make the story go away. Although it

is important to say the right things - and that means having

a strategy, not just making something up on the phone.

Not registering with national newspaper specialists and

business desks as a source of good news stories, ideas or

quotes. By upping your PR game you can move from a state of

near-anonymity among the national press towards a position

where you would be approached for comments on stories and


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