Rubbish press release: take a bow, Slaughter and May

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By Judge John Hack on

Old skool City law firm fails to get a grip on this new PR thing


A generation ago, most law firm marketing techniques were no more sophisticated than the senior partner conducting a spot of schmoozing down the 19th hole.

Now press offices and business development teams have been carefully crafted, employing a phalanx of keen jargon-meisters to promote everything from partnership promotions, deal minutiae, office openings and even open-plan restructuring projects.

But some law firms have resolutely resisted the temptation to pander to the ever-growing needs of the legal profession media.

A last bastion of that stubborn stand against the tide of modernity has been the old-school-tie brigade at Slaughter and May. For years the firm refused to create a press office.

But even S&M has broken, recently appointing a “communications executive” to liaise with the media.

However, the road to PR heaven is paved with cock-ups. So it is fitting that Slaughter and May features in the launch of a new Legal Cheek occasional series — “Rubbish law firm press notices”.

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The thing about PR press releases is that ideally the media will publish your message. After all, the “P” stands for “public”. That’s a fairly big clue.

However, Slaughter and May is perhaps the only law firm in the country that would fail to grasp that concept, earlier this week headlining a media missive announcing its involvement in a worthy social mobility programme as … “Confidential”.

Note to comms exec: press releases are meant to be for public consumption.