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Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

Awards are a great reputation builder

I was a little sceptical about Zoom-based award ceremonies but having attended the Next 100 Year’s Inspirational Women in Law Awards last month, I found myself enjoying the experience, listening to the stories and insights of some outstanding female lawyers, including Cherie Blair QC who won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Of course, I would have preferred to be chatting to my fellow human beings face to face with a glass of wine in hand but with a bit of creativity such ceremonies make for a worthwhile replacement.

As the awards season for this year draws to a close, winners and nominees might be wondering how to make best use of their new accolades, whilst others may be wondering whether they ought to have put themselves forward for their achievements.

But is it worth entering awards and if so, which ones? What are the benefits from a legal PR perspective and what makes for a winning entry?

The legal communications team at Black Letter have worked with clients to secure a wide range of award wins for firms, individuals and practice areas including the FT Innovative Lawyer Awards, Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards, the Legal Business Awards and Law Society Excellence Awards.

Here are my top tips:

  • Consider wider business objectives. Why does winning awards matter to your business? Are you looking to improve your reputation amongst clients and referrers? Which practice areas need to raise their profile? Do you want to boost recruitment or gain recognition for particular individuals within your organisation? The answers to these questions will help you decide where to focus your efforts.
  • Do your research. Once you have a clear idea of your objectives, look at which legal industry awards and wider business awards are most appropriate. Which are reputable and will be impressive to your target audiences?
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be warned – awards can be lucrative and there are companies that claim to give out accolades on merit but will contact swathes of firms offering ‘winner’ status to whichever firm or individual is happy to pay for the privilege. These are best avoided.
  • Be realistic about your chances of success. Once you are clear on which awards you want to focus on, look at the criteria and evaluate whether an individual or a practice area has a compelling story to tell. Have they worked on a landmark or high-profile case? Have they acted in one of this year’s biggest property deals? Has one of your lawyers gone above and beyond what is expected of them, campaigning or taking on pro bono work in their spare time?
  • Referees are all important. Third party referees who will vouch for the entrant’s good work are crucial. So, whether it’s a client, a referrer or another independent voice, including their viewpoint will make all the difference.
  • Include proof points. State tangible examples of what the entrant has achieved. Perhaps they have increased revenues – if so, include the figures. If their actions have led to client wins, give examples. If you are claiming their deal is the biggest of the year, include values and point to any press reports that back up your statement. Perhaps your lawyers’ expertise led to winning a case that changed a specific area of law or triggered a change in government policy.  If so, explain how.
  • Make the most of the accolade. If you win or are nominated, make sure you make the most of it. That means including it on your website, in biographies and in marketing materials. Ensure you get the message out on social media and that the winning team or individual gets a write up in your internal communications. If there is a physical event – and here’s hoping that won’t be far off – use the opportunity to invite clients, treat colleagues or spend time with those who have contributed to your success.

If you are targeted in the awards you enter and ensure you capitalise on the event and on any success you have, entering can be an important part of the legal PR mix. It’s a great way to build your brand reputation amongst clients, potential recruits and your own people.