Whether to inform or educate; entertain or set the record straight, good quality legal articles saying something new are accepted and appreciated by most editors.
But what will make yours stand out from the rest and keep publishers coming back for more?
Target the article
This may sound obvious but making sure the article is relevant and tailored to the audience of a particular publication is something many people forget once caught up in the intricate details of case law and regulations.
For example if your legal PR strategy focuses on building your profile in the insurance industry then make a point of highlighting why this particular topic is one that will have implications for that industry. If it is directed at human resources managers interested in employment law then consider the issue from the unique point of view of that particular cohort.
Get to the point
Everyone has their own style but article writing is certainly not the same discipline as writing an essay or thesis. It’s important to be aware that readers are often skim-reading through the pages so you have to get to the point quickly. Give the reader a taste of what they are about to experience and think of your writing as a pyramid structure built from the top down; make the deal now, worry about the details later.
You need to hook a reader in so it’s essential to make it clear what your audience is about to see and crucially why it is relevant to them.
Avoid legal jargon
Unless you are writing for an audience of peers, try to avoid legal jargon. Article writing is a cornerstone of legal PR and an opinion article is meant to be an accessible insight into your way of thinking – not a piece of regulated legal advice. Resist the temptation to sacrifice fluency for that technically correct but needlessly complicated phrase.
Stick to the word count
Magazines and newspapers operate tight ships with set word limits for each page. If the editor has asked for 800 words don’t provide 1,200. The chances are that someone less qualified than yourself will be tasked with editing the piece to fit the bill.
Whether you have spent a few (possibly billable) hours writing your contribution to the firm’s client newsletter or a national newspaper, make sure it has been a worthwhile investment. A good conclusion should leave the reader thinking that perhaps they need your advice.
Finally: honour the deadline
It is not a rough estimate. Whether you are writing for a daily newspaper, a weekly magazine or a monthly publication, the deadline is there to allow everyone to do a good job; the sub editor to run a thorough spell check, the designer to do your piece justice with beautiful images and the printer to hit the button in time for tomorrow’s delivery.
Editors who are let down rarely commission another piece from that source. So make a good impression and you will be remembered for that next good idea.
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.