Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sourcing Scotus

Lawyers want to be quoted. Reporters want quotes. It's E-Harmony for sharks and minnows!
And here's how it works. Lawyers, law professors and their public relations allies cold-call reporters pitching insights on Supreme Court cases. The truly efficient ones embed a quote in an e-mail, piping hot for off-the-shelf use. It's cut-and-paste reporting; which I, for one, am not immune to.
In recent days, for instance, my in-box brought me a pitch from the public relations firm StarToplin, offering Temple Law School professors and other experts able to discuss "the hot issues." The public relations counsel for the law firm Reed Smith piched an interview with Chicago-based employment law expert Jim Burns, including a three-paragraph ready-made quote. The public relations gurus for the law firm Proskauer Rose promoted the firm's experts on three separate employment-type cases. The Federalist Society sent along a link to their recent Supreme Court preview. University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias offered himself, as he does on many cases.
Personally, I am a fan of self-promotion: How else do you think items get linked on Romenesko or Above The Law? And, it can work. A DoyleReports Special Investigation -- You're the best, Mr. NEXIS! -- finds that Professor Tobias was quoted in 283 newspaper articles over the past year. Here's the thing: reporters use smart guys use Professor Tobias to put things in perspective, and the smart guys use hacks to get their ideas out into wider circulation. It's a beautiful use-use relationship.

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