With the long summer days, it’s easy to forget that the directory submission process will be upon the UK again soon enough.

We speak to many frustrated BD and marketing teams who, year on year, try to start the process earlier and avoid the last-minute directories nightmare. Inevitably, they find themselves pleading with lawyers for matter highlights and referee names at the 11th hour. A frequent question we’re asked is – ‘how can we make it easier’?

The World Cup and Wimbledon are over, demanding partners will soon be on annual leave and the events calendar will have died down for the summer. While the office is a little quieter, lay some groundwork now so that when the directories do come into view, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Build relationships with the directories

The summer period is the perfect time to contact the directories and arrange a coffee. Editors and researchers will often be able to give you more tailored advice on your submissions, and generally on best practice, when you meet them in person.  More importantly, it will help to make sure your firm is front of mind when they come to review submissions and consider the market.

Get your messages straight and audit strategic business plans on the way

Before you come to draft any submissions, you need to make sure you are clear on your key messages (the ‘what are your team best known for’ bit if we’re talking Chambers & Partners, question B10).  This aspect should be easy, as it should map your planned growth strategy.

Use the quieter holiday period to revisit practice area business plans and client care programmes. Are you on target this year for where you said you would be? Have there been any surprises in the market, or in the workstreams you have seen so far this year? Are you talking regularly to your key clients and continuing to innovate in how you add value (how many of you have been surprised at some of the client comments you’ve read in Chambers Unpublished?). This exercise will have wider benefits than just directory submissions.

Identify your matter highlights and content

You know that the next round of UK submissions will focus on work carried out during 2018. Now is a great time to take stock of key transactions and cases over the last few months and those in the pipeline which would be perfect to include as matter highlights.

You will also have an easier time tracking down missing information while deals are still fresh in everyone’s minds. It’s worth having a read of our blog on using directories data to support other BD and marketing initiatives.

Think about referees

It’s also a good time to be thinking about those clients and peers you have worked with over the last few months who will really champion your firm and key individuals, when it comes to compiling referees.

As part of your BD process, when a matter closes, in addition to enquiring about publicising a matter, ask whether the contact would be happy to be a referee at the same time. This gives them plenty of notice rather than being bombarded with requests in the run-up to directory time.

Update your website

Your website is often one of the first places researchers will check and if information about a particular practice area isn’t readily available then it will appear as though it’s not a key focus for the firm.

Use this time to make sure you have updated content available on your key practice areas – something as simple as writing a new blog post or adding recent cases to your site can help back up your submissions.

Our second white paper exploring how legal directories are adapting to and keeping pace with change and innovation in the legal sector will be published later this year. If you would like to contribute to the research, please complete this quick survey.

About us

MD Communications are experts at boosting the reputation of law firms and suppliers to the legal sector- whether that’s raising your profile in the mediaenhancing your legal directory submissions or improving your social media presence.

Linsay Leslie is the head of directories and tenders at MD Communications, the international legal PR agency. MD Communications is on Twitter @mdcomms

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