Tips for Talking to the Media about Collaborative Practice

You have been trained in collaborative practice, you know it can benefit clients and their families and you want to educate the public and attract more clients to your practice.  Unfortunately, in your community not enough people know about Collaborative Practice and the value it can provide.

A key strategy for increasing awareness about collaborative practice is media relations. Clients listen to and are influenced by what they read in the newspapers and internet, see on the television or hear on the radio. A notable story about Collaborative Practice in a reputable publication can significantly increase the visibility and credibility of collaborative practice in your community.

At the same time, a negative story can raise concerns and have the opposite effect. How do you attract the media to notice Collaborative Practice in your community and assure your strategy results in a positive story?

You have two opportunities to attract the press. One is through initiating the story though a press release that you create or pitching a specific story concept to a reporter. The second is responding to a call from a reporter for a comment.

The following tips will assist you in talking to the media for both opportunities.

1.     Speak to the interests of your audience. Focus on what your audience wants to hear verses what you want to say. Avoid talking about the features of Collaborative Practice.  You will increase your opportunity for success if your story is on the benefits (verses the features) of Collaborative Practice, is newsworthy and has a hook.

2.     Provide a real life example of how Collaborative Practice works.  Reporters are not interested in what you say Collaborative Practice can do, they want to know, “how has it helped people?” What is working?

3.     Know the media source– Research the reporter’s web site, publication or radio station. Who is the audience for the publication? What is important to this audience?  Pay attention to the tone and view point of the media source. Is the view point consistent with your message?

4.     Research the reporter– What is the reporter’s style of writing? A simple Google search will provide relevant information on the type of stories they have written before.  Be careful when talking to a “gotcha” reporter. This type of reporter may be looking for a story that conveys a completely different message than you intended.

5.     Ask about the reporter’s deadline and agenda.  Clarify the reporter’s deadline and the focus for the interview. Call the reporter back before the deadline and take a few moments to organize your thoughts and write down talking points. Try to avoid “spur of the moment” interviews without advanced preparation. Remember everything you say can be quoted.

6.     Avoid legal or Collaborative Practice jargon. Try to stay away from too many academic terms and industry jargon, i.e. interests based negotiation, four way meetings, containers, paradigm shift, etc. Journalists like to hear human interest stories that tell a story verses an institutionalized description about process.

7.     Control the interview. Make a list of the points you want to make.  Try not to have more than three key talking points. Find every opportunity to deliver your key messages. Think in headlines and respond in quotes. Don’t just answer the reporter’s questions

Collaborative Practice is an exciting story that is benefiting families across the globe. Take the first step by telling your story through online press releases, calling your local media or writing articles for local and national publications.

A glance at Google alerts for Collaborative Practice demonstrates the collaborative community world-wide has been successful in increasing stories about Collaborative Practice in the media.  By being media savvy you can maximize the opportunity to increase awareness of Collaborative Practice and position yourself as a leader in the industry.

About Elizabeth Ferris: With more than 25 years of experience as a consultant for business development, Elizabeth Ferris helps lawyers, law firms, and collaborative professionals to find a focused path to accelerated growth. She has a strong record of achieving optimal results for her clients through developing and executing strategic and marketing plans.

She launched Ferris Consulting in March of 2000 to help lawyers and other professionals to build and grow a profitable practice that bring significant value to their clients along with personal fulfillment to the individual practitioner.  Elizabeth specializes in working with family law firms and other collaborative law professionals. She and her team of marketing specialists were the original architects for the Collaborative Practice brand, including the logo, tagline, brochure and marketing campaign. That campaign resulted in worldwide name recognition for Collaborative Practice, thus significantly increasing the awareness and demand for Collaborative Practice throughout North America and Europe.

Elizabeth is an author and frequent speaker on the topic of marketing and growing your practice.  She has conducted marketing workshops and strategic-planning retreats throughout North America, much of Western Europe and Australia. Some of the most successful Law Firms in North America and the UK are among her clients.

Elizabeth Ferris can be reached by email at
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