Celebrity Lawyer Chris Melcher Reveals How to Become a Reliable Media SourceCelebrity Lawyer Chris Melcher Reveals How to Become a Reliable Media SourceChristopher C. Melcher
[Source: Spill the Ink]
Celebrity Lawyer Christopher C. Melcher Explains How to Become a Reliable Media Source on Spill the Ink Podcast
Michelle Calcote King: Welcome to Spill the Ink, a podcast by Reputation Ink where we feature experts in growth and brand visibility for law firms and architecture, engineering and construction firms. Now let’s get started with the show. Hi everyone it’s Michelle Calcote King here. I’m the host of this show and also the principal and president of Reputation Ink, a public relations and content marketing agency for law firms. This episode is sponsored by Reputation Ink.
Christopher C. Melcher is a top family law attorney and partner with Walzer Melcher LLP. They’re one of the best family law firms in California focused on family law. Business owners, celebrities, trust beneficiaries across California turn to Christopher for his assistance, protecting their most valuable assets. With deep experience in complex family law litigation and premarital agreements, Christopher helps his clients achieve successful outcomes despite extremely challenging circumstances.
But we’re not going to talk to Christopher about family law, we’re going to talk to Christopher about his prowess and becoming an extremely well quoted and well featured media commentator on family law issues, celebrity divorces, all of that kind of thing. If you look on Google News and search Christopher’s name, you’ll see that he’s been quoted and featured extensively in national, international media outlets like USA Today, CNN, 60 minutes, CBS News, Good Morning Britain, Entertainment Tonight, Bloomberg, Fox News.
Those are just a few of the outlets I wrote down when Googling him last night. And he’s quoted talking about all the big news stories right now, the Britney Spears conservatorship that Christopher was on the phone with a media outlet when we first jumped on this call, the Bezos high net worth divorce, the Gates celebrity divorce, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s paparazzi issues, Elon Musk’s child’s name. I mean, you name it, he’s been quoted in it. So Christopher is a big believer in earned media. And so we’re going to talk to him about how he’s been able to do this and what it’s done for his practice. So thanks for joining me.
Christopher Melcher: Well, thanks Michelle for having me on the show. I’m a fan of your content, your blogs, all the help that you’re giving lawyers and that’s how I came across you. And so just so honored to be invited to be on the show.
Michelle: Well, thank you. Well, let’s start with, if you don’t mind, telling us about your practice, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it…
Christopher: I’m a celebrity divorce lawyer based in Los Angeles. I handle cases across California. These are high stakes high net worth divorces. They’re very personal acrimonious disputes that unfortunately people find themselves in and I navigate their way out. I like what I do, but it’s also a kind of an awful job to be in. It’s a necessary, but unwanted service. And so I am passionate about it. And also just having learned so much about the industry and why we have some lawyers out there who are just so excellent but nobody knows about them and then we have these other lawyers out there that we know well, but aren’t necessarily very good.
Christopher: And that’s what kind of got me intrigued about marketing and messaging and branding.
Michelle: Great. Well, tell me about your path to really becoming such a well quoted media source. So tell me how that happened and how you got to where you are today.
Christopher: It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. And when I started in 1994 as a lawyer, I was a solo. I was still living at home, my office was in my little bedroom. And so I’d roll out of bed and take probably one or maybe two steps and there would be my desk. And I did that because I wanted to save money so I could buy a house. And so they were very humble beginnings. And it was the OJ trial that was happening, I think right when I was getting out of law school and I saw all the media attention on that trial and it was just riveting watching it.
And then I saw that there were commentators, there were lawyers who were going to the courthouse being interviewed. Some of them became regular featured legal analysts on news stations, local news stations or some even got national TV shows from it. So I saw that pathway and I thought I would just love to do that because it’s really translating the law to people.
And that’s one of the failures of the legal profession, one of the failures of law school is that they teach us all of this lingo, this legalese that nobody understands and the lawyers use that language maybe as code to communicate quickly between them or with the court, but also maybe to make it seem like we’re smarter than we are.
And so we’ve lost connection with people and they don’t understand us, they don’t understand the law. And so I like being that translator, that bridge just naturally saying the law’s honestly not that complicated, it’s just rules of reason.
It’s a joke how easy it is actually. And so I like translating that and I just am passionate about the law. I could talk about any aspect of the law. I just love it. So this is what’s fit me so well and why I wanted to go into the legal commentary, legal analyst route. And so that’s what sparked the passion for it.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s great. I preach that exact point so much, about the importance of being able to translate these legal topics and issues into simple language even for a sophisticated audience, how important that is. So tell me before we get… we’re going to get into your tips for how to do this, but tell me how because one of the things I’m often doing is convincing attorneys that this is worth their time, tell me how this has impacted your practice.
Christopher: It has been amazing. The journey from being unknown, completely unknown lawyer to now having a connection with this big audience that I just enjoy on social media sharing information, getting involved in these stories, so it’s just been fulfilling to me personally to have that role. And then for business, it’s incredible because the clients, when they’re selecting or prospective clients when they’re selecting a lawyer, they don’t have a lot of information to go on. Many times, they’ve never hired a lawyer before.
Sure, if they’re big corporation or something like that, they’ve hired lots of lawyers, but most people, they don’t hire a lawyer very often. And how do they select? Well, they’re going to go do their Google search, they’re going to go on their website. The website is all puffery, it’s just something created by the lawyer for themselves, so that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
But if they’re looking at a lawyer and they see that you’ve been quoted in the media, it is instant credibility. So this is the most powerful thing that you can do as a lawyer to set yourself out from others and for clients to evaluate you.
And also the attention has been so much on social media, almost exclusively on social media. You need to be on this and this and that. And I agree, you do need to be on social media, but we’ve forgotten about traditional media. When I grew up, it was all about the TV and newspaper.
And I’m sure that’s true for most of us, most of us older folks. And newspapers are pretty much dead and TV is struggling, but it’s still there and it’s a gigantic audience and the reach is so much bigger. And I think being on television, whether that’s a local, national or international show has so much more impact than a tweet about you or a post on LinkedIn.
Michelle: Do your clients mention the media coverage when they’re coming to you? Do they say, “Wow, I did a Google search and I saw this.” Do you hear that?
Christopher: I do hear it from perspective clients. They’ll say, “Hey, I was Googling and looking for a lawyer and I found you commenting on this.” A large celebrity case actually sourced that way. And so this celebrity had tasked his assistant to do the search for the lawyer as many wealthy and busy people do. They don’t do their own Google research.
They task somebody else to do it for them.
So this assistant went and did the search and found these interviews that I did on celebrity divorce cases and thought, “Aha, this would be a good choice.” So I can source one really significant case to that. Many people have said that they’ve seen it and what’s good about it is that they get a sense of who you are because I like to think of everything through the client’s eyes and I think that’s where a lot of us lawyers have gone wrong in marketing, is we think about, “Well, what do we respond to as lawyers? Well, nobody cares about that. The lawyer’s not hiring the lawyer, it’s the client.”
And so I think of the journey from the client’s perspective. And if the client’s trying to figure out, are they going to hire you or not, there’s kind of this beauty contest that happens between you two or three other lawyers. Well, do we really want the client to have to pay you your hourly rate to sit for a consultation to only find that maybe it’s not the right fit for the two of you?
If you have extensive video coverage and you can create this yourself obviously, probably should be.
If you have an extensive video bio out there and coverage, the client doesn’t have to spend money to have an interview with you. You don’t have to spend time realizing that it’s not a good fit. They can get a sense from you who you are, how you speak, how you articulate very quickly on video without having to do that. And we are after all spokespeople for our clients.
So I think this is just so significant on many levels to have the media reach.
Michelle: Right. Yeah, that’s great to hear. Tell me is there… And again, before we get into the how-tos, if you were to do anything differently before you started down the path, and I don’t know, how long do you think you’ve been kind of aggressively pursuing media cover and been involved in commenting in the media? How long would you say that’s been?
Christopher: So I had the dream from 1994, but I didn’t start this till about 2007. So what is that? 14 years ago. And what was holding me back before from pursuing the dream were a couple of things. One, I was a young lawyer. I didn’t know anything or I wouldn’t specialize anything, so I thought that I needed to build my resume, I needed to know more. That’s partially true, but it’s not entirely true.
And I think that I hear that a lot when I’m mentoring other lawyers, they say like, “I want to build my resume, then I’m going to start networking.”I think that’s a mistake.
I think you started obviously small and within scope, but you start when you’re a lawyer. And you’ll never have the best resume in the world. It’s an elusive thing. And so I was waiting. I also shifted practice areas. So originally I was in personal injury and criminal defense and then I switched over to family law in 2002. So I had to learn the area. And then it was just budgeting. I didn’t have previously much spare cash to spend on stuff.
And so the first campaign I did, I hired a publicist to help me try and get on some TV shows about what I was seeing as a trend or people separating on Valentine’s Day. And I saw a lot of clients who would list their date of separation, their breakup date as February 14th. And so my theory was, “Well, gee, it’s kind of hard to hide that you’re having an affair.” If I told my wife, “Well I got to go to… I can’t, I have a working late tonight,” you now know that that’s going to expose the affair. So I think that’s or we just have expectations that weren’t met for that day. So I put this pitch together and we pitched and pitched it and we got no traction on it.
Christopher: And I thought, “Why are they not using this? This is so interesting.” And we started in January, so there was plenty of lead time to ramp up, to get everything going. And it was just like it was beautiful. It was just a great story. I’m going to re-pitch this. And if anybody wants to steal it, steal it. This is a great story. But we put money into it with a publicist and it went nowhere. And the lesson is try and try again. And I’m glad I didn’t give up.
Michelle: Yeah, it’s very true. I liken when you said start early, I always liken it to compounding interest. It really does build on itself? So yeah, the longer you do it, the more successful you’re going to get. And I am surprised you didn’t get that. The media loves trends. So yeah, that’s surprising that didn’t get, but who knows what was also happening at the time or yeah.
Christopher: This is the thing, is what I’ve learned from it and if you’re wanting to embark in this journey yourself, is to look at trends in your industry. And because you’re a practicing lawyer, you know, and this applies to any service provider, any business owner honestly, look at trends and what’s going on in your community, in your business and comment on that, pitch that. But then there’s also the stories that happen that are particular to an event.
And so after we did our unsuccessful Valentine’s Day pitch, there was this scandal involving Anthony Weiner or Weiner, I’m sorry where he had sent some explicit photographs of himself to a girlfriend. And that thing blew up and it was this whole social media trail that was being used to expose him and that went to a national nightline interview.
Christopher: And so you can look back at that, if you’re looking at it, that was a very young person back then or younger looking. But it wasn’t the story we were working. We wanted the Valentine’s Day, and then the Anthony Weiner thing, I’m sorry Weiner thing hit. So that just goes to show the media will pick the story that they want, not necessarily the one that you’re pitching.
Christopher: But it’s always good to be throwing ideas out there because even if they reject it, they might say, “Hey, we don’t like this one, but hey, how about this other story that we’re looking at?”
Michelle: How about this? Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. There’s a book that’s called Newsjacking, I don’t know if you’ve read it, but that’s the concept, is to insert yourself into a media story that’s going to be covered or that’s being covered anyways and how to do that. So they’re taking the play off of carjacking, but you’re inserting yourself into that story. And it’s a lot of what we do.
I mean, we did put pitches around the divorce rate during COVID and how there was a trend and a rise and it started in China and it started coming over here. So yeah, you get it. Let’s talk about some of the things… some of your tips for lawyers who are looking to do this. And you sent me some ideas and one of them is that you said it takes work. And I guess that goes back to what you were just saying, some pitches aren’t going to work, some are, but you have to be regularly putting them out there.
Christopher: That’s right. I think first, it comes from knowing your why, why are you doing this? Because it isn’t easy. And so for me, I was just passionate about it, like I described earlier, but if you have that spark and interest in and you just want to do because we don’t get paid for this, by the way.
So this is free time and it’s also on a rush. So many times these stories happen, there’s a deadline attached to it and it’s like now. So it’s kind of drop everything, cancel your appointments, we’re doing now. Mostly the video appearances or interviews by Zoom. So that makes it easier. But before you’d have to go to a studio and that might happen again when things kind of go fully to normal. So it’s dropping everything, going somewhere. It’s, and especially in these international ones, different time zones.
And if you want to be successful at it, it’s really prioritizing it, number one and saying, “Hey, this is really important to me so I’m going to cancel stuff if it comes up.” The other tip would be to work with a publicist such as yourself, Michelle, I think is super important to get that insight from somebody who’s doing this full time and understands the process, and at least at minimum, doing a consultation, if not really a retainer. Because what I found is that if you try and do it on a project basis like my Valentine’s thing, it’s not going to hit. It is a relationship and it takes time and it’s an investment and it will eventually click. So that’s one thing.
The other thing is, is that I think as professionals, we kind of hope that we’re just going to pay somebody some money and they’re just going to get a result. It does not work that way. This is a team effort. The publicist can’t know what you know, all they are is your advocate to get in front of the media. So you have to come up with the content.
They’re not going to write the story for you, they’re not going to write your comments for you. They can certainly give you ideas on how it should be presented, but you’re the source of the idea typically. So what I’m doing is looking at stories, I’m reading the news several times a day. So I’m understanding what are the trends, what’s going on? Is there an angle here to comment on this story from my level of expertise?
Looking at who the reporters are that are working on it, working then with a publicist on, “Hey, is this a good angle? Here are some comments on this. This might be good for this outlet versus that outlet.” And it’s just really being switched on and constantly looking at this and working as a team. We can’t just delegate this. And it’s unfortunate, there’s some stuff maybe you can in marketing, this is not a delegable task.
Michelle Calcot…: That’s funny. I just wrote an article with that whole point. So we call our process, I explain it, I heard this term from somewhere else and I thought, “Oh, that’s so perfect.” I call it knowledge extraction. So we just get on the phone and pull out that knowledge from attorneys because you’re right. You have that legal expertise. We are the facilitators, the matchmakers between. So we do regular and we don’t… all of our clients aren’t as I guess as advanced in this practice as you are.
So often I always tell them we try to interview them like journalists, tell us the issues your clients are facing. But we also try to follow the news too so that we can prompt them. We saw this story, is this something you could add to? So yeah, it’s exactly true. So you mentioned the fact that you read the news, you look for those trends, tell me about the pitch process. What are some of the best practices you have there in terms of… and for anyone listening, a pitch is just a few paragraphs over email usually convincing a reporter that a story is worthwhile, or if it’s an ongoing story you know and they’re working on, it is you telling them why you’re a good source and giving them some insight and analysis, so some tips to that or a flavor of how you think. Tell me your best practices for pitching.
Christopher: So once you have this idea, you read an article or you saw a trend in your industry and you now want to be interviewed about it, it’s really now creating a proposal to the media outlet or reporter. It’s not as formal as the word proposal would imply, but basically, it’s a very quick and easily understood concept for a story. And it has to be that quick. There has to be a hook to it… And it’s really written in headline form, at least initially, probably the first sentence would be written in headline form. So they would say, “Oh yeah, I get that. I would want to read that or I would want to write about it.”
Christopher: And then you put the meat below that. But you got to hook them in, otherwise, they’re going to say, “Well, I’m not going to just spend my time trying to figure out what your story is and interview you because you don’t even know what it is.” So we want to be very concise, write it like a headline. And it’s the same way that they’re doing that in their stories when you’re looking at your newsfeed and you see a headline and you click on it. And so it’s the same type of writing style to start off with that hook. And then we then provide some value to them to say, “Okay, now we’ve hooked them in, you’re interested in this.
And I like to talk about, well, what other statistics out there? Why do I think that this is a trend? What other people have commented on this? Source materials, maybe a link to some study or other article that was done on it. How frequent is this? What is the broad appeal?” Because a lot of times the reporters don’t want to do a story about one individual or one specific case, unless there’s somebody prominent like a Britney Spears…
We’re going to talk all day about Britney, but your client that nobody’s heard about, no. But we’ll talk about a trend. And so the broader the interest, the more people this affects, the more often that this happens, and especially if it’s surprising, it’s going on, but we don’t know about it kind of thing, that’s what’s going to get their interest. And then also looking at the root causes like, what is our theory about why this trend is happening? Why is it so often but we don’t hear about it?
So you throw all that together and it’s maybe a paragraph or two, and that way understand like, “Hey, this is something I’m interested in.” You as the pitcher have industry knowledge about this so you’re going to be one of the sources that they use and you’re now handing them it. And it’s understanding and thinking like a reporter does because if you follow a reporter, you’ll see they’re cranking out stories every day, sometimes several stories every day.
It’s hard work. And if you come out of nowhere and say, “Hey, I have an idea for you,” on a platter, they’re going to be super appreciative of that.
Michelle: Absolutely. Oh my gosh, yeah. Absolutely because you’re right. They have tremendous deadlines to meet, multiple stories to file. They don’t want to have to work more than is necessary. So that’s exactly what I tell clients that we’re doing. We’re really trying to make it as easy as possible for them to work with us and to use our sources. And the other thing I see, we work with a lot of corporate attorneys and often they want to regurgitate the news.
So we’re trying to push them to give that analysis, that insight, all of the things you just said. What are some possible reasons this happened? What are some likely next steps? All of that kind of thinking is what they’re looking for.
So tell me about once a reporter comes back to you and says, “Yes, I’d like to speak to you,” tell me about some best practices that you’ve learned over the years in terms of responding to that request to comment.
Christopher: So we want to be on this quick because they might find somebody else.
Like this morning I got an email from Sky News at 6:18 in the morning. And so I’m worried like, “Wow.” By the time I responded to that, it was 6:45, have they already found somebody?
So we want to be on it quick. And then once they are committed to doing the story, then we start really diving into figuring out, “Okay, what are your comments going to be?” And I even proposed questions because that’s going to then lead to the comments that I think I want to do. Because again, reporters don’t know this, you’re the expert, not them. They’re reporting on it and they know a lot about it, hopefully, but then you’re going to know more. That’s why they’re asking you. So I write the questions.
And even there’s a local TV show, a morning news show that I like to be on, I write the whole thing even the intro. And so I basically write it as a script because I saw one day when I was in there, the producer had the script written and I was like, “Oh, okay. I can use that as a template.”
And so when I pitch and it’s like, they’ve even used my intro as the anchor’s teleprompter statement. So again, trying to be a good consumer here or a client of this reporter or news agency to say, “Hey, here are some proposed questions. Here are some comments that I made. Here are some other sources that you might want to contact.” And then also really providing value here to their audience so it’s not you bragging. And that’s the hard part because I think a lot of times we get ahead of ourselves and it’s like, “Oh, they want to interview me.”
No, they don’t want to interview me. They want my expertise. They want my insight.
Christopher: There’s nothing about me. So I try and take myself out of that equation a lot because if you’re out there bragging, you’re not going to get called back. So the journalistic standard that we’re normally seeing in these outlets is that they want to present the news objectively. They’re not looking to sell people’s stuff, they’re not looking to give one side of a story. So you as the expert need to come in with that mindset that you are not advocating necessarily for something, you are explaining something and you’re providing it in an objective way that they could use.
Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you write out questions. I’ve always considered that sort of that ultimate success when a media outlet uses our exact language in the story. Because that’s exactly what we’re trying to do, we’re just trying to hand them on a platter a story that will work for them. So yeah, phenomenal. So you’re doing a lot of TV and obviously appearance matters and your voice and all that. Tell me how you’ve worked to become TV ready so to speak on the aesthetic side of things.
Christopher: So this is a work in progress, and certainly I’ve put a lot of thought into it. And what I’ve noticed when I first started commenting, especially on morning news, sometimes the producer, there’s one producer who’s tough. And she would be like, “Hey, what happened? What happened out there? You didn’t bring it. Your energy was low.” And I’m like, “What?” And it’s hard because as a lawyer, I mean, just personally I’m not a showboat kind of guy. And so when I look at the clips, I would say, “Okay, I understand what she’s saying.”
And what happens there is we’ve heard like, “Oh, TV puts 15 pounds on you.” We’ve heard that statement. Well, TV takes 15% of your energy away. And it’s hard because people are watching you, not in person, they’re watching a digital representation of you and it’s not as dynamic as in person. So what I’ve learned is just really you got to amp up that energy so you don’t appear to be flat or disinterested. So that’s one thing.
The other thing is also being confident and because you’re there as an expert so you need to portray yourself as such. And I listen a lot of YouTube videos on people on how do you get on camera. Because there’s so many YouTubers that have basically created their own TV studios. I mean, it’s an amazing media outlet that these folks have done sometimes with a camera in the bedroom.
Michelle: On their own.
Christopher: And so there’s a lot of info out there that I learned from them. And one gentleman, and I wish I remembered his name, but he said comfortable is confident. And so just being comfortable with yourself, just be yourself and let that go and the confidence that you have and what you’re talking about will come out. And avoiding soundbites, don’t try and joke around, don’t be nervous. It’s I guess easy for me to say because I’m very comfortable. I’ve done a lot of presentations to other lawyers at conferences so I can get on a stage and speak with 500 people, no problem. But if I’m in a cocktail party that I don’t know anybody or a party that I don’t know anybody, I am terrified.
Michelle: I tell people that all the time, I’m the same way. It’s an ambivert kind of thing. I can get up, do a speech, no problem. But yeah, networking events, urgh.
Christopher: So I guess it’s just knowing yourself. And then it’s getting rid of the uhs, ums, ands, so’s. The other thing I hate right now, a lot of people’s doings, right, right. I don’t like that. Trying to get rid of that from my vocabulary. Because you listen to people, anchors that are on the news all the time, they’ve deleted all that stuff. So that’s something that I’m conscious about. If you’re going into a studio, they’re usually going to provide hair and makeup, or a lot of times, not hair, sorry, but makeup. So I do that myself which I just went… it was a little embarrassing as a guy, but I just went to whatever, a beauty store, and I just said, “I need help.”
And they were just so gracious and it’s like, “Yeah, here’s the product.” Because I never used a step before. So it’s like, “Here’s everything you need and here’s how to do it.” And so you will just have to get over that if you’re a guy and do that. And then it’s just about, are you going to look at the camera or not? So most of these interviews, you’re not looking at the camera, you’re looking at the interviewer and that’s their style. If you’re on a Zoom thing, then you do look at the lens.
Michelle: Oh, okay. I was going to ask you about that. And in terms of getting rid of the ums and things like that, is it literally just practice during these interviews or have you done any exercises outside of the interviews to help with that?
Christopher: There was an online course by Roger Love who I really like, I saw a lot of his videos. And a lot of his stuff is out there for free on YouTube. And so he’s a vocal coach and that’s helped me a lot about breathing. I noticed that I was kind of holding my breath while I was talking. So it’s something to look at, how are you breathing? And that’s certainly going to affect your comfort level too. What I’m struggling with is trying to get my speech faster because I’m kind of more contemplative and thinking and processing so my speech is slower compared to what it really needs to be. So I’m thinking, trying to talk faster.
The problem is that you’re on live TV and they hit you with questions sometimes you don’t expect, and you have to be super careful because you don’t want to say something that’s going to make you look bad or make the show look bad. So you have to process extremely quickly and that’s why I found myself slowing my speech down so I’m trying to talk faster.
Michelle Calcot…: Right. Interesting. Most people I find have the opposite problem. They get nervous so they speak too quickly. So at least you’re kind of coming at it where I think a lot of people want to be. So let’s talk about relationships and the role that relationships play in this process. I’m often asked who I know, what relationships I have with people. My answer is that relationships matter but if the reporter was my husband and it was a bad story idea, he wouldn’t run it? So that’s my answer to that. But I’d love your take on how that works and your relationships you’ve built up with reporters.
Christopher: This is the next level for me, and honestly, should have been the first level, I just didn’t know about it. So the way I approached it was traditionally hire the publicist and go that route. And now what I’m seeing is that reporters are contacting me directly.
And then now I’m kind of understanding them better and what I’m trying to do is build relationships with them on social media. So it’s LinkedIn or Twitter, giving them some story ideas that are outside of my area if I find something interesting.
Christopher: Watching their stories because they put their heart and soul on these things. So if they’re posting a story on social media that they just did, they’re proud of that. And so if I like the story, I’ll comment on it or I’ll share it. And that helps them because this is the problem as a content creator, we don’t know there’s anybody listening.
I mean, it’s like we spent all this time putting it out there and then sometimes we get crickets.
And so if somebody is out there showing up saying, “Hey, I heard what you did and I love what you did,” you’re now not only doing a nice thing for them, but you’re also getting yourself attention with them. And so that’s where I’m working on and honestly, that’s where you should start. And so if you’re in the legal industry like I am, go on LinkedIn, go on Twitter and just search for legal reporters. You’ll find them, they’re there.
And then connect with them, follow them, comment on their stories. If you have something, pitch them. If you have some area that you’re not an expert on, admit it, “Hey, I’m not an expert on this area, but you may be interested in this story.” That’s gold.
Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. So important. And yeah, Twitter and LinkedIn are the places to be so you’re definitely doing that right. And I often joke that we work ourselves out of a job because you’re right. They will start just directly working with you and circumventing the publicist, which is fine, as long as the client’s happy with that, doesn’t want them to go directly to the publicist. But that’s a sign of success to me. We’ve kind of prepared our client to be able to deal directly with the media and then they can have those direct relationships. So absolutely. What do you do once you’ve gotten coverage? What are some of your best practices once you’ve been quoted in that outlet?
Christopher: So we want to share that and preserve it because what I found is that the link to the story, so say you’ve now got on your morning TV show and they hopefully are going to post a link of that on their website. And you could share that link and that looks really cool because it’s coming from the source. But that link might go away later on and now you don’t have this in your kind of catalog.
So I would definitely be ordering a copy of it. There are news clipping services, or sometimes a producer will send you a clip of it. And so now you want to save that, that’s gold. I mean, you spent maybe a year trying to get this thing and now you got it and you don’t want to lose that. So my first thing is, get the clip, save the clip. And then you can promote it. So if they have a link to their website of it, you’re promoting that to social media so people can see what you did. It also helps the media outlet that you’re doing that promotion.
But we have to be careful about how we’re doing it because just going out there and shouting like, “Hey, I was on the news.” People don’t like that, that’s kind of like better that maybe you don’t even say that. So I don’t want to post it for the sake of posting it. I don’t want to brag, I want to be humble. So I’m only going to share a clip on myself if that’s something interesting and I want engagement…
I was on the news and I have these comments and views about it, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me on that? So building engagement, having a reason to post it is important. If we are stripping the clip and saving it or putting it up on YouTube ourselves, we want to attribute the copyright to the news agency to respect that that belongs to them, it doesn’t belong to us because we certainly don’t want to get in trouble with them.
They’re not going to call us back. And also giving attribution to the reporter, not just the news agency. So who actually wrote this story and put all that hard work in there, tag them on, they’re mostly on Twitter but if they’re on LinkedIn, pop them up on there. It’s super important and then we are ready for story number two.
Michelle: It really is. And it’s a lot of people don’t know that journalists that part of their job assessment, that they get assessed by its clicks and social media followers. It’s a different game for them nowadays. So they are themselves trying to boost their own profile. So if you can help that, you’ve just become an even better source. And you’ve mentioned a few of things that you would’ve done a little bit differently, but are there any mistakes or as you look back things you might’ve done differently that you can share that might be a mistake to help someone else avoid any? And you’ve mentioned a few, but I just want to see if there are any others.
Christopher: So Michelle, I think we hold ourselves back and I’ve held myself back. I’ve thought, “I’m not good enough for this. No one wants to listen to me. I haven’t arrived there as a lawyer. I’m this family lawyer in Los Angeles, why do people want to hear from me?” Or, “I don’t want to put something out there that’s going to be embarrassing. I don’t want to cheapen my image because I don’t want people to think that I’m just sitting there commenting all the time and when am I going to be actually working?” You can talk yourself out of this real, real easy.
And so I think that’s a mistake and I’ve certainly overcome that now.
I think that the other part of it is, and this was a shift in my career from being a billable hour unit basically just sitting there, I’m going to work my cases, I’m going to do my job and then if I have any more time left over, then I’ll market network business development. Now I’ve shifted as a firm owner and leader, I’m now really thinking of the opposite. And I wish I had that approach or mindset earlier. It’s hard when you’re a younger professional to be that because you’re expected to generate all these hours.
But to get freedom, to bring in work, to call your own shots, you have to shift the mindset from, “I am a billable hour person,” or, “I am here cranking out this work,” to “no, I’m a leader in my industry and I am going to develop the work.” And so if you shift that mindset now and carve out, maybe it’s going to be an hour every day. And it sounds incredible amount of commitment, an hour every day, you’re going to spend thinking about marketing, posting on social media, coming up with ideas, pitching things, just one hour, one hour every day. If you do that consistently, you will be doing exactly what I’m doing.
Michelle: That’s so powerful. And it’s so true about all the many things that often hold back, especially attorneys. Because there are old beliefs in the profession that great lawyers don’t need to market themselves, those kinds of beliefs that I think hold back a lot of attorneys from engaging in this kind of work and it is very, very powerful. Is there anything else? So I’ve kind of gone through all my questions. Is there anything else that we didn’t touch on that you want to make sure that we include in this conversation for an attorney who might be listening who wants to get started and wants to be more well-known and participate in the media?
Christopher: So, Michelle, I think what’s important is we can’t do this ourselves, and I’ve got a team of people helping me with this. And it was hard to delegate, that’s one of the things I’m still struggling with honestly. But the more I delegate, the more I get done and the different aspects here that I get to see or angles that I get to see of the problem. So I think part of this is that mindset of, “Hey, I do want to bring in more business. I want to have industry recognition.”
Fine, you’ve made that decision, you’re also deciding you’re going to carve out an hour a day, let’s say to do that of your Workday. And then I think the third thing is that bringing in a team and somebody like yourself who knows this stuff. You understand, Michelle, how lawyers work, what the obstacles are, what the opportunities are. And so I think bringing in a professional is necessary. And this can be outsourced so we don’t have to hire all these as full-time employees. We outsource the professional.
It is leveraging your experience. It is absolutely magic in a bottle. It needs to be done. And the rewards that I’ve had from doing that have been incredible. Number one, personally, I feel great about what I do, I love the recognition that I’ve gotten and then financially, it couldn’t be better. There’s so much work out there. It doesn’t really matter what industry you’re in right now, there is an avalanche of work there that is waiting to be triggered.
And we can’t just wait for people to find us, we have to get the message out there and if you are that leader and you are such a great professional, shout it from the top of the mountain. And we can’t just sit there and hide. And so that’s where it’s like don’t wait and just start executing.
Michelle: Fantastic. Oh, I love that message. So thank you very much. So we’ve been talking to Christopher Melcher of Walzer Melcher LLP. If people do want to learn about you, obviously, it’s pretty easy to Google you, but where should they go to to learn more?
Christopher: So if you go to my website, walzermelcher.com or go to the firm’s YouTube channel. We don’t have very many subscribers, so if you like what you’re seeing there, if you subscribe, that would be great. You go to LinkedIn, please go to LinkedIn and connect up with me to send me a message. I would love to learn more about what you’re doing. And if you need more help or direct contact here with me about this privately, I’m happy to help, just say that you listened to the show. I don’t charge and this is not my business. I’m just a divorce lawyer. But if you want help, just say you were on the show and I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about it.
Michelle: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. Thanks for listening to Spill the Ink, a podcast by Reputation Ink. We’ll see you again next time. And be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.