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Lateral Move Media Coverage: Be Realistic

Hey, why don’t our lateral partner announcements get coverage in The Wall Street Journal or the New York Times? The simple answer: you aren’t Robert Mueller.

Half the battle with providing public relations services involves setting expectations, and lateral announcements are no exception.

The business of law, despite being a massive industry, remains opaque to most “business” reporters. They are generally tapped to follow multiple different industries, and admittedly, law firms are very different corporate structures. Lateral moves are important for firms and clients, but also fairly common and prima facie not very material to the outside world.

Who will generally cover lateral moves? – The legal trade media.

Will the business journals? – Sure, but increasingly these are paid spots.

Will daily newspapers? – Rarely. Outliers like The Washington Post’s “Appointments and Promotions” do exist.

What about community newspapers – Sometimes. Be sure to tell your communications team your hometown and ask that they look for hyperlocal outlets.

Will alumni publications – Often. The “Class Notes” section is where moves will generally appear. Sometimes alums are profiled in stories, but this is rare.

Well, who does get covered in national publications like the Journal or the Times? Bob Mueller.

Who else?

High-profile political appointees, regulators and politicians entering private practice, generally. Sometimes high-ranking law firm leaders lateraling are mentioned, but not often.

“On the Move” mentions and lateral profile articles are important tools for conveying firm direction and boosting profiles. And, there are still many good and attainable options for visibility. Let’s just not carried away.

Fun passage on Mueller’s move from the Times story:

On his first day back, Mr. Mueller had a somewhat simpler puzzle than determining whether a presidential campaign engaged in a sprawling criminal conspiracy with a foreign power.

“He’s just being refreshed on how to use the computers,” Mr. Novick (Robert T. Novick, a WilmerHale managing partner) said. “If he’s doing any more than that, I’d be really impressed. I doubt it’s a highly revenue-generating day.”

Stars, they’re just like us!

Michael Bond

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