Beyond the Billboard – Marketing for CredibilityIt’s a sight we have grown accustomed to: the face of local attorneys on billboards, in tv ads or on the side of buses. Each promising great results for clients. The law firms that eschew this type of bold advertising still often pay large amounts for newspaper and/or radio promotions.

While advertising certainly can help with name recognition, it doesn’t necessarily move the needle in terms of integrity. Every client wants to feel confident the attorney they choose is reliable and trustworthy. While law firms can buy in-your-face advertising, they can’t buy credibility.

That’s where earned media comes into play. The third-party recognition of a trusted media outlet and word-of-mouth recommendations still resonate most deeply with consumers.  In fact, an extensive global Nielsen survey found that 92 percent of consumers indicated they trust earned media, while only half say they trust paid media.

Consumers have become more sophisticated in terms of filtering out “paid” media. Mar Tech, a marketing trade publication, reports that 40 percent of surveyed consumers use ad blockers on their laptops. Another 15 percent utilize mobile ad blockers as well.

While paid media is getting blocked and filtered, earned media is reaching a growing, and increasingly diverse audience, with Hispanic, Black, Asian and young news viewership expanding significantly in recent years. A 2020 Nielsen study found consumers ages 18-34 increased their news consumption by 134 percent from 2019 to 2020. Even local television news, which had been perceived as targeting an older audience, is capturing the attention of younger viewers, with an increase in local news consumption of 30 percent for audiences as young as 12-17.

With the help of experienced public relations professionals, law firms can promote their attorneys as thought leaders in their field to the media through interviews, op-eds, and guest columns to garner the recognition needed to promote their credibility and convert potential clients.